Joel 1:1-2:17 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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A Foretaste of the Day of the Lord
Comments for Study 1

Joel 1:1-2:17
Memory Verse: 2:1

BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW AN THE INTRODUCTION.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW AN OUTLINE.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF THE KINGDOMS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS TIMELINE.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT ISRAEL'S HISTORY.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF MAJOR EVENTS FROM BABYLON TIMES TO ROMAN OCCUPATION OF JUDAH.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ISRAEL'S KINGS AND PROPHETS.

I. A Call to Mourning and Prayer (1:1-14)

Joel the prophet

* See the drawing "The Prophet Joel" by Michelangelo to the right.

>1. What does it mean that the word of the Lord came to a prophet?

* Joel 1:1 "The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel."

* "The word of the LORD" -The prophets needed to distinguish their wordings were from the Lord because there were many false prophets and prophets of other gods and idols.

* "The word of the LORD that came to" -The Lord gave messages to his prophets. Just how they came to them is seldom noted. Since the prophets were "carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21) those who are now full of the Spirit can experience that same thing. Jesus said, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)

* Although Joel doesn't call this a vision, it is in nature a vision. A vision has to do with the Lord God's revelation to man. One definition of a vision is; "A prophet's ability to see the revelatory nature in the meaning of a historical event."

* We are now called to spread the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit it can be done.

>Who did the words in this book come to?

* "Joel son of Pethuel" -Little is known about Joel and his father. Joel means "The Lord is God". For more information on Joel see the introduction by using the link above.

>Who was it direct to and what were they to do with it? (2-3, 5)

* Joel 1:2-3 "Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation."

* Joel 1:5 "Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips."

* "elders" -Joel did not address the king probably because the king was the boy Joash. (See the introduction.) Instead the Lord speaks to the elders, the leaders of the people. The elders started with the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes. Since then every generation had elders. They were leading men of each tribe and family group. The elders were mediators between spiritual and civil leaders and the people. Today each congregation of Jesus Christ have elders who are representatives of the people. If the religious group you are in does not have elders who lead, but a person, then you are in a cult and should leave right now. A pastor, father, shepherd, mentor, or whoever else be his title should never be the leader of a congregation.

* "all who live in the land" -The message was not just for a select few, not just for the elders. The Lord gives his word to all. Many cults claim they have secret messages and understanding of God. The message of God is in the Bible and anyone who claims they have a special message, their words need to be examined in like of the Bible.

* "you drunkards" -Alcoholism was common in Joel's time. This is the only specific sin mentioned in Joel. Drunkenness is a sign of self-indulgence and materialism that leads to depression and dependants.

* The three fold calamity that Joel described was happening. In the mist of the calamity the Lord tells Judah why they were happening. Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens that the Lord doesn't plan. Everything that happens to his people is for their good.

* "Has anything like this ever happened" -The Lord did something new. Judah should therefore take note of it.

locust swarm

* See a picture of a swarm of locust to the right.

>2. What had happened in Judah? (4, 6-7, 10, 12, 19-20)

* Joel 1:4 "What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten."

* Joel 1:6-7 "A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white."

* Joel 1:10 "The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails."

* Joel 1:12 "The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree-- all the trees of the field--are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away."

* Joel 1:19-20 "To you, O LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the open pastures."

* "my" -All throughout the book the Lord uses the word "my" to describe his people and his land. Belonging to the Lord should be a a comfort for it means love and intimacy. How can calamity come from love? Doesn't a wise parent discipline his children? Doesn't love stop someone from destruction even if it means discomfort for a time?

* "locust" -The first calamity that Joel witnessed and describes were swarms of locusts. Ancient peoples as far back as Ugaritic literature (15h century B.C. Semitic language of Ugarit) knew locust swarms were the judgment of God and often called armies swarms of locusts and visa versa. One of the plagues that the Lord brought against Egypt to force them to release the Israelites was a swarms locusts. Now locusts were sent to the sinful kingdom of Judah.

* The full life cycle of locust is depicted.

* "a nation" -Joel describes the locust as a nation and an army.

* "without number" -Also used to describe the locusts sent to Egypt. (Psalm 105:34; Exodus 10:4-6, 12-15)

* "teeth... fangs" -Also in Rev. 9:8 when describing locusts.

* "the ground is dried up" -The second and consecutive calamity Joel saw and described was drought. Even in modern days there is no way to counter drought.

* "fire has devoured the open pasture" -The third and consecutive calamity Joel saw and described were wild fire. The heat, flames, and smoke of a wild fire is frightening. Ancient men had no defense against them.

* The three calamities Joel witnessed and experience had never happened consecutively in Israel's past. The Lord brought them to sinful and rebellious Judah so that they would repent. He also used it to foreshadow the last days and through Joel's prophecy we have learned of it.

>How did the people respond to the calamity? (8-9)

* Joel 1:8-9 "Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the husband of her youth. Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the LORD."

* Joel 1:11 "Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed."

* 2 Chronicles 24:17-19 seems to describe what happened here. This was during Joash's reign. It says, "After the death of Jehoiada (the high priest), the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king (King Joash mentor was Jehoiada), and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God's anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although the LORD sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen."

* "mourn" -All segments of society; priests, farmers, drunkards, old and young mourned.

* "virgin" -The community is addressed. In Israel, when a women was pledged to be married to a man, he was called her husband and she his wife even though she was still a virgin. This verse refers to such a husband who died before the marriage was consummated.

* "grain offerings and drink offerings" -These were daily offerings and friendship offerings dating back to ancient times. (Exodus 29:40-41, 40:29; Lev. 2; Num. 28:5-8) The daily offerings, morning and evening were required by the covenant the Lord had with Israel. (Exodus 28:38, 42-46) If the daily offerings were to stop the covenant would be at risk. To suspend the sacrifice was to suspend the covenant relation between God and Israel. No greater calamity could happen to Israel.

* "your God" -Joel uses this term eight times.

>3. Why were the priests to put on sackcloth? (13)

* Joel 1:13 "Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God."

sackcloth

* See a picture of sackcloth to the right.

* "sackcloth" -Sackcloth is course, dark clothing worn by ancient middle eastern people as a sign of:
    1) mourning (Gen 37:34; Ps. 35:13),
    2) earnest prayer (2 Kings 19:1,2; Dan. 9:3),
    3) repentance (1 Kings 21:27; Matt. 11:21).

>What else were they to do? (14)

* Joel 1:14 "Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD."

* Matthew 6:16-18 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

* "holy fast" -Since the food was all gone because of the threefold calamity Joel calls it a holy fast so that it would include seeking the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul.

* "a sacred assembly" -They were to gather together.

* "to the house of the Lord your God" -When Solomon dedicated the temple he specificity said that when Israel sinned they should come to the temple, repent, and seek the Lord's forgiveness. (1 Kings 8:35-40)

* 1 John 2:1-2 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

>When trouble comes what should we do? (John 16:33; Matt. 11:28-30)

* John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

* Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

* "To you, O LORD, I call" -Verse 19a

* Hardships and trouble come for several reasons. None happen for no reason. Those who trust in Jesus can be assured that all things happen for the good of those who believe. One of many reasons hardships and calamity happen is shown in this study; to bring us back to God. Job went through a series of calamities too. He wanted to know why because he knew he was righteous (the Lord also said he was righteous). The answer the Lord gave Job was not what he expected. The introduction to Job on this web site starts with a serious look at why hardships come and responses to them.

II. The Announcement of the Day of the Lord (1:15-2:11)

>4. What is "the day of the LORD"?

* Joel 1:15 "Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty."

* "Alas for that day!" -What Joel and the people of Judah was experiencing was great, but when he saw the future he was shocked. Ancient writers pressed hard when they wanted to show great emotion, thus the exclamation point here.

* "The day of the Lord" -In Hebrew this is "yom YHWH". "The day of the Lord" is the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence. Joel uses the term five times. The day of the Lord is the dominant theme of Joel.

* "In the last days" and "in that day" and "in the day of the Lord" all referred to the future from the Old Testament prophets' point of view. They all referred to events concerning Jesus first and second coming. The day of the Lord is the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence.

* The Old Testament prophets often spoke of "The day of the Lord" as the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence. Besides Joel six other Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Malachi 4:5; perhaps Zechariah 14:1 too) uses the term "the day of the Lord". Sometimes the prophets of Israel and Judah abbreviated it to "that day". It was familiar to their audience, a term by which the audience expected light and salvation (Amos 5:18), but the prophets painted it as a day of darkness and judgment (Isaiah 2:10-22; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-11,31; 3:14-15; Amos 5:20; Zephaniah 1:7-8,14-18; Malachi 4:5). The Old Testament language of the day of the Lord is aimed at warning sinners among God's people of the danger of trusting in traditional religion without commitment to God and to His way of life. It is language that could be aimed at judging Israel or that could be used to promise deliverance from evil enemies (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 30:3; Obadiah 15). The day of the Lord is thus a point in time in which God displays His sovereign initiative to reveal His control of history, of time, of His people, and of all people.

* The apostles Peter and Paul also used the term "day of the Lord" (in place of "Lord" they also put "God" and "Lord Jesus"). (Acts 2:20; and 1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5; and 2 Corinthians 1:14; and 1 Thessalonians 5:2; and 2 Thessalonians 2:2; and 2 Peter 3:10-12)

* The apostles used the terms "last times" and "last days" referring to the whole period introduced by Jesus' first coming. (John 11:24; Jude 1:17-18; Acts 15:16-18; Hebrews 9:36; and 2 Peter 3:3) These days are last in comparison to Old Testament days, which were preliminary and preparatory. (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26) Also, the Christian era is the time of the beginnings of prophetic fulfillment. (1 Corinthians 10:11) The "days" can be interpreted as "ages" (Matthew 12:39, 13:39-40, 49, 24:3, 28:20; Ephesians 1:21, 2:7; and 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 2:12; Jude 1:25) (periods of time) that reflect the six days of creation with the seventh day as a day of rest. Indeed the apostles very clearly call the one thousand year reign of Jesus as "the Lord's Sabbath" and "the day of rest". (Hebrews 4:1-11, 6:5; Revelation 14:13) Jesus himself invited us to his day of rest (Matthew 11:19; Luke 18:30, 20:34-36) and to work now and rest in the future (John 9:4). Since this is the time just before the Sabbath rest, then we are in the sixth day, the time when man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created. The Lord God Almighty is called the "King of the ages". (Revelation 15:3)

* Blackstone wrote in his book Jesus is Coming “The division of time into sevens, or weeks, permeates the Scriptures. A fundamental enactment of the Mosaic Law was the keeping of the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8). This was based upon God's great rest day in Genesis 2. Upon this is founded not only the week of days, but also the week of weeks leading to Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-16); the week of months, with the Atonement and seven days’ feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (Lev. 23:27-28); the week of years, ending with the Sabbatic year (Lev. 25:4); and the week of weeks of years, ending with the seventh Sabbatic year, and followed by the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12).” He continues with more and quotes 2 Peter 3:8 then continues, “…so we also have the great week of Millenniums. Six thousand-year days of labor and then the Millennium, or blessed seventh thousand-year of rest.” He is not the first to see the significance.

* For more on this time period read the manuscript "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" found on this site.

* Eschatology is the teaching concerning the last things in world history. The Greek word "eschatos" means “"last" or "final".” Accordingly, eschatology is the study of the things expected to occur at the end of history. This does not include what will happen after the Lord Jesus creates the new heaven and the new earth as described at the end of Revelation.

* "is near" -Near here is not from man's perspective but from God's perspective. Psalm 90:4 states, "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Thinking of this and other verses Peter wrote, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." (2 Peter 3:8-10)

* First, Joel saw and experienced what happened to Judah, God's people. Then he called for a national fast. Now he transforms that into a similar judgement to come which he called "the day of the Lord". Joel is the first prophet to use the term with the possible exception of Obadiah. (See the introduction.)

* Babylon would conquer and deport Judah well after Joel died. So the immediate fulfillment of "the day of the Lord" wasn't near. However, since "the day of the Lord" concerns Jesus' coming was it near? From man's point of view, no. Even in the apostles days the question was asked, "When will Jesus come to set up his kingdom?" Thus, Peter's words as recorded above. (2 Peter 3:8-10)

* Imminence is about being ready even though we don't know when Jesus will come, more than what most understand as the Christian meaning of the word.

* Habakkuk 2:2-3 "Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."

* Jesus often told us the same thing in parables about his return; the nobleman who went to a far country, the servants given talents while their master is away, the ten virgins, etc. The letters of the apostles also address the timing of Jesus' return. Many who call themselves Christians believe in imminence, that is, that Jesus can return at any time since his ascension. Is this in line with Jesus' parables? And what of claim that the gospel must be preached in the whole world before he came again? This did not happen until recent years. Below is a quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry in chapter 3 under the heading "Expectation and Imminence".

* If the second coming could not have been imminent for those originally commanded to watch at the time they were so commanded, then the commanded expectancy could not have implied imminence of the event looked for. It then becomes unnecessary for us to regard Jesus' coming as imminent, for we have received no further and no different exhortations. In other words, if a delay in the Parousia of at least several years was compatible with expectancy in apostolic times, a delay for the several years of the tribulation is compatible with expectancy in current times. Jesus clearly indicates to the early disciples that His coming will be delayed for some time. The express purpose of the parable concerning the nobleman who went to a "far country" is that the disciples should not think "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19: 11-27). "While the bridegroom was delaying" also intimates delay (Matt. 25:5). In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens His return to the lord who "after a long time" came back from a far country (Matt. 25:19).

Jesus bases the parable of the servants on the presupposition of a delay in His coming, for without the delay no interval would have provided opportunity for the servants to display their true colors (Luke 12:41-48; Matt. 24:45-51). And when Jesus has the wicked servant say, "My master will be a long time in coming," He tacitly admits that there will be a delay. As the wicked servant's eternal judgment "with the unbelievers (or hypocrites)" shows, the contrast in servants distinguishes true disciples, whose characteristic it is to watch, from false disciples, whose characteristic it is not to watch. The necessary delay made no difference to the expectant attitude of the true servant, but it revealed the falsity of the wicked servant. Jesus does not condemn recognition of delay, but the attitude which takes selfish advantage of the delay. Moreover, readiness denotes not so much tiptoe anticipation as faithful service day by day: "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes" (Luke's version).

We might suppose that the long period of delay required in the parables would be satisfied by "a few years." But a few years is all the delay post-tribulationism requires. Jesus could not have given in good faith the great commission with its worldwide extent -"all the nations" and "the remotest part of the earth" -without providing a considerable lapse of time in order that the "disciples might have opportunity to perform the task. The long-range missionary endeavors of Paul may not possess independent argumentative weight (Paul's journey to Rome was contingent on the Lord's will, Rom. 1:9, 10). Yet as the Lord's commission for him to go "far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22: 21) and to witness before "kings" (Acts 9:15) and as the promise in Jerusalem that he would "witness... at Rome" (Acts 23:11; cf. 27:24) link up with the great commission generally, they gain considerable weight.

It may be countered, with an appeal to Paul's statement "the gospel... was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1:23), that "the extensive preaching of the gospel in the first century might . . . satisfy the program of preaching to the ends of the earth." However, Paul wrote his statement during his first Roman imprisonment, some thirty years after Jesus gave the great commission, an interval more than four times as long as the tribulation. And Paul had not fulfilled his intention of visiting Spain, where the Gospel had not yet been preached (Rom. 15:20, 24). Evidently he himself did not regard the great commission as fulfilled. Apparently, then, in Colossians 1:23 Paul is not affirming a fulfillment of the great commission, but is setting the universality of the Gospel (the good news is for all men, even though it has not reached all men) in opposition to the esotericism of the Colossian heresy.

Of corroborative value is the personal history of Peter (John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:14) . Jesus foretold that Peter, then middle-aged ("when you were younger ... "), would die at an infirm old age ("when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you ... "). If we try to save the imminence of the Parousia by saying that Peter could have been martyred at any time, we forget that his infirmity and old age were not imminent. And if we say that the prediction concerning Peter was not common knowledge among Christians until long after his death, we overlook the presence of other apostles on the occasion of the prediction. Furthermore, John writes of the incident in order to correct a misimpression which had arisen concerning his own death. The whole matter, then, must have received some publicity in the early Church.

To claim that these delays were "general in nature, without specific length;" merely avoids the issue. Whether general or specific, long or short, the delays were delays and, by being stated, rendered the second coming non-imminent to the apostolic Church. Moreover, the delays were not entirely general in nature. The specificity of the great commission ("in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), of the promise that Paul should bear witness at Rome, and of Peter's old age as a time of infirmity to the degree of inability to dress himself make the delays much more pointed than the doctrine of imminence can allow.

Again, to claim that "the delays had been fulfilled by the time the exhortations to watch were written" runs afoul of historical facts. At least those exhortations to watch in the epistles appeared in writing before the disciples could have fulfilled the great commission, before Paul had completed his extensive missionary efforts, and before Peter had reached old age, become infirm, and died. From the very beginning, even before the written exhortations, Christians knew that they were to watch through the oral ministry of Jesus and the apostles and prophets. In one of his earliest epistles Paul already commends believers for their watchfulness (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). The point remains that if watching could not have connoted imminence in the apostolic age, it need not connote imminence now.

But should we not think that all else was contingent upon the second coming, that an "only if Christ does not return beforehand" qualified every other expectation? Possibly, but only possibly, in connection with the personal circumstances of Peter and Paul. It is very hard to think, however, that an imminent return of Christ might have taken away sufficient opportunity to fulfill the great commission. Moreover, when imminence becomes the ruling principle by which all else was and is rendered contingent, even the events of the tribulation do not have to take place; they might "die on the vine" just as the great commission and the predictions concerning Paul and Peter would have done had Jesus returned beforehand.

* This ends the quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry.

* "it will come" -Future tense. What the Jews were experiencing in Joel's time was not the day of the Lord. It was a foreshadow of the day of the Lord.

* "like" -The KJV has "and as a destruction". Its not clear why "like" is here except that the destruction may not be directly from the Almighty; rather it my be through the workings of men and demons.

* "like destruction from the Almighty" -"Destruction" here and "Almighty" are a pun on the other; like a "shod" from "Shaddai".

* "Almighty" -Almighty is "Shaddai" in Hebrew.

>How did God reveal what would happen during the day of the Lord? (16-18)

* Joel 1:16-18 "Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes-- joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. To you, O LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the open pastures."

* The Lord revealed to Joel that the three fold calamity of locust swarms, fires, and drought that befell Judah in his lifetime would be repeated when Jesus comes again as judge. This type of revelation is often called a vision.

>See who else saw these things happening in the day of the Lord. (Rev. 6:5-6, 8:7)

* Revelation 6:5-6 "When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"

* Revelation 8:7 "The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up."

* The apostle John also spoke of great calamity just before Jesus' second coming. Other prophets between Joel and John also foretold it.

>5. Why blow the trumpet? (2:1)

* Joel 2:1 "Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand"

shophar

* See a picture of shophars to the right.

* "trumpet" -The Hebrew word here for trumpet is "shophar". Two silver trumpets were kept at the temple from where the message of the Lord originated. The rest of Isreal used rams' horns.

* The trumpet in this verse is to sound an alarm. The trumpet in verse 15 is a call for repentance.

* Numbers 10:1-10 and Joshua 6:1-20 state the reasons to blow a trumpet. Reasons for blowing the shophar are; to call the community together (Psalm 150:3), to call the elders together, to have the Israel camp set out, before going into battle (Judges 6:34), during a battle, taking a city, at the beginning of each month (new moon), during the time of rejoicing (1 Kings 1:34), during the holy feasts, over burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and the presence of God (Exod. 19:16).

* The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Terium) proclaims the bride's resurrection, God's judgment on the wicked, and Jesus' second coming.

* Revelation records seven trumpets sounding. When the last of the seven trumpets sounds several things will happen including Jesus physically arriving on earth as King. Revelation 11:15-18 states, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth."

* Isaiah 18:3 also states, “All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.”

* Isaiah 27:12-13 records worshipers being gathered at a trumpets sounding. It states, “In that day the Lord will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” This seems to be the threshing Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13.

* The apostles also speak of the sounding of trumpets during the tribulation; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.

* The above note on trumpets is from "The Believer's Future -Hope That Inspires" found on this site.

* The sound of the trumpet in ancient Israel provoked fear in the hearts of all.

* "Zion" -Here Zion is parallel to God's holy hill referring to Jerusalem as the capital of the nation.

Revelation Time line

>What else is revealed about the day of the Lord? (2)

* Joel 2:2 "a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come."

* "a day of darkness and gloom" -Darkness is used to illustrate sin, rebellion, and judgement in the Bible. It's a metaphor for distress and suffering when referring to the day of the Lord. Darkness fell over Jerusalem for three hours when Jesus was crucified. (Matt. 27:45)

* "a day of clouds and blackness" -Clouds would be one of the sources of darkness.

* "Like dawn" -Dawn comes when light expels the darkness. It often symbolizes hope. The army here is like an army of light.

* "a large and mighty army comes" -The locusts that came on Judah in Joel's time was a foreshadow of a great army in the day of the Lord.

* "such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come" -The army that will come during the great tribulation will be the biggest army ever. D-day, the Allies' landed on the shores of Normandy on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 A.D. included an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops and the largest amphibious invasion in world history; over 160,000 soldiers landed and 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were also involved. The army during the Day of the Lord will be greater.

>Who is in control of this army? (11)

* Joel 2:11 "The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?"

* "The Lord" -Lord here is YHWH in Hebrew. The most widely accepted pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is Yahweh, though Jehovah is used in many Bibles, but in few modern ones. It is connected to the passage in Exodus 3:14 in which God gives his name to Moses, "I am that I am" (or "I Will Be What I Will Be", "I Will Be What I Am"). The Israelites consider it the name of the covenant at Mount Sinai.

* "thunders" -Thunder is the loud clap that happens when lightning burns the oxygen in the atmosphere. The hole in the atmosphere that is created is quickly filled up causing shock waves to emanate. God at the head of his army thunders against Jerusalem, so he will thunder against Jerusalem's enemies (3:16) and he will do so from his royal city, from which he rules his "inheritance". (Amos 1:2; Jer. 25:30)

* "his forces are beyond number" -As the locusts were beyond number. The forces are so many that they can't be counted. This sounds like the promise that the Lord gave Abraham, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be." (Genesis 15:5)

* "mighty are those who obey his command" -As the locusts obey the Lord's command so this army will obey his word. The army in this verse is the army during the day of the Lord.

* "The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful." -A common description of the day of the Lord. See question 8 and 2:31 and notes there.

Olivet Discourse Chart

>6. Verses 2-11 describe the army at the Lord's command. What is the land like before and after them? (3)

* Joel 2:3 "Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste-- nothing escapes them."

* "before them fire devours"

* "behind them a flame blazes"

* "nothing escapes them"

>What does verses 4-5 reveal about their appearance and actions?

* Joel 2:4-5 "They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle."

* "they have the appearance" -The army is not horses.

* "they gallop along like cavalry" -The army is not Calvary.

* "a noise like" -The army is not chariots.

* "like a crackling fire" -The army is not fire.

* "like a mighty army" -The army is not drawn up for battle.

* Joel could not describe them exactly. He could only say what they are like.

>How do the nations respond to them? (6)

* Joel 2:6 "At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale."

* "nations" -All nations on earth will see this army coming.

* "nations are in anguish" -They know judgement has come; like Judah knew the locusts were the Lord's judgement against them.

* "every face turns pale" -The skin of our face has a certain amount of color of its own, but the main part of the color of the face – at any rate, among people with light-colored skins – is the color of the blood shining through the skin. It is the heart that drives the blood through the skin of the face. When a person is frightened the nerves running from his brain to the heart interfere with the circulation, so scarcely any blood is sent through the blood vessels directly underneath the skin of the face, and we see the pale color.

>7. What is this army's advance like? (7-8)

* Joel 2:7-8 "They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defences without breaking ranks."

* "like warriors... like soldiers" -They are not an army as armies of men in this world. In ancient days armies lined up so they could move quickly, so that they wouldn't trample each other, and so they could do the most damage.

* "charge... scale walls... march in line" -Organized.

* "plunge through defences" -Men try to stop these at the Lord's command but are not able to even make a dent in their advance.

* The descriptions here begin to make it clear that this army is not like the armies of men who have been fighting each other for millenniums.

>What do they do when they enter cities?

* Joel 2:9 "They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows."

* Joel does not say why they enter cities and homes. They are not thieves. They have another mission from the Lord.

>How is the environment affected by this army? (10)

* Joel 2:10 "Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine."

* Consider being a person on the earth when they come. This is what you would experience.

Jesus Coming in Glory

* See a paining of Jesus Coming in Glory with his army following him to the right.

>Does another prophet describe such an army during the day of the Lord? (Jos. 5:14; Rev. 19:11-16)

* Before Israel was to march around Jericho, the commander of the army of the Lord appeared to Joshua. Joshua 5:14 states, ""Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"

* Revelation 19:11-16 "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

* The apostle John (and other apostles) describes a similar scene when Jesus comes again with his angles and saints following. Joel is most likely describing the same thing that they foretold.

* Matthew 16:27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."

* Matthew 24:27-31 "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

* Matthew 25:31-33 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."

* Matthew 26:63-64 "But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

* The exchange in Matthew 26:63-64 is also in Mark 13:26, 14:62; Luke 9:26, 21:27. Mark 14:61-62 "But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

* Zechariah 9:14-15 "Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with sling-stones. They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar."

* Acts 1:11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

>8. How can the day of the Lord be great and dreadful?

* Joel 2:11b "The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?"

* Joel 2:31 "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD."

* Malachi 4:5 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes."

* Two ideas often associated in the Old Testament, though sometimes the Hebrew word underlying "dreadful" means "awesome". The terms are frequently used to describe the day of the Lord.

* Some say it will be great for God's people and dreadful for God's enemies.

>Who can endure it? (Luke 18:8, John 11:23-27)

* Luke 18:8 "I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

* John 11:23-27 "Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

* "Who can endure it?" -Only those who truely believe in Jesus can endure the seven years of the tribulation to come.

III. A Call to Repentance and Prayer (2:12-17)

>9. What was Joel's instruction? (12)

* Joel 2:12 "'Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.'"

* "Even now" -Even when those who are commanded by the Lord to come at the end of the tribulation there will be a time to repent. Even now in Joel's time they should repent. Even now in our life we should repent.

* "return to me" -This is addressed to those who were the Lord's but went from him.

* "all your heart" -All your heart means with sincerity.

* "fasting, weeping, and mourning" -The same three things Joel told Judah to do earlier.

>What does "rend your heart" mean?

* Joel 2:13 "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."

* "rend your heart" -Rend your heart is the same as break your heart. A heart that is not in love with the Lord is called hard, cold and lifeless. (Mark 6:52, 7:6, 10:5)

* The heart is depicted in the Bible as the center of the whole man. They were called to a radical change of mind, the adoption of a different way of looking at all of life.

* Mark 7:20-23 "He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"

* Luke 6:45 "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

* Luke 8:15 "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

* Luke 21:34 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap."

* Luke 24:25 "He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"

* John 5:41-42 "I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts."

* John 12:39-41 "For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them." Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him."

>Why is it wise to return to the Lord?

* "for he is gracious and compassionate"

* "slow to anger and abounding in love"

* "and he relents from sending calamity"

* Joel quoted what the Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai after the Israelites had sinned by building a golden calf. (Exodus 34:6-7)

* This is also quoted in Num. 14:18, Neh. 9:17, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, and John 4:2.

* Sinful man believes that God is either not concerned about the affairs of man or is vicious and quick to zap sinners with lightening bolts. As a youth I asked, "How can God know what it is like to be a human? He is God and cannot identify with or understand my life." I did not realize that Jesus is God in the flesh. The Lord God is neither unconcerned or callous towards us. He loves us. He is also holy and therefore demands that we be holy if we are to be in his presence, in his eternal kingdom. However, he knows that we cannot make ourselves holy. So he sent us his son, Jesus Christ who died to take our sins away and thus make us holy. After accepting the gift of holiness we still need to remain holy and so he sent his Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." (John 13:10) And he said, "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." (John 15:3)

>10. Why is the trumpet in verses 15-17 to sound?

* Joel 2:15-17 "Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, 'Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?''"

* "Blow the trumpet" -The trumpet in this verse is different than the trumpet in verse 1. The former trumpet was one of alarm, to announce the Lord's coming with his army.. This trumpet is a call to repentance. (Lev. 23:24, 25:9; Num. 10:10; Jos. 6:4-5; and 2 Chron. 15:14; Psalm 47:5, 81:3, 98:6, 150:3)

* "declare a holy fast" -Fast denies the flesh as to concentrate on the Lord and his works.

* "call a sacred assembly" -The who nation was to come before the Lord as a community. We are to come before the Lord as a group of believers on a regular basis. If anyone believes he doesn't need to go to a formal assembly of believers they are wrong.

* "Gather the people, consecrate the assembly" -In Joel's day the assembly was consecrated by a formal ritual bath and putting on clean clothes. (Exodus 19:9-22) Today we are consecrated by the Holy Spirit and Jesus' word and blood. (John 15:3; 1 Peter 1:2)

>What are they to pray?

* "Let them say, 'Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?''"

* "your people... your inheritance... their God" -They are God's people.

* "byword among the people" -The Hebrew word here is used elsewhere meaning an object of scorn and belittling.

* "Where is their God?" -They were to point out that all the nations knew that God brought them out of Egypt to be his chosen people, not that God didn't know that. But that they wanted to be his people and bring honor and glory to his name.

>What can be learned about the Lord in this study?

* Even tough we sin, even though he bring corrective punishment to us we should never forget that the Lord God love us and will forgive our sins if we turn to him and ask for forgiveness and cleansing.

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