Notes from Joel
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Yesterday we studied the short book of Joel from the Old testament, as we go through the Minor Prophets. Joel has a lot of prophecy of Pentecost as well as the final battle at the end of the Tribulation. Below are my notes on Joel, mainly from the first two chapters.
Next week we'll look at the book of Amos which has a big theme of God’s displeasure with mistreatment of others. It is a very appropriate book to look at with the ongoing persecution of the Church that we are living through!
Ok today I want to look at the book of Joel. Like Hosea it’s a fairly difficult book to grasp the full meaning and there are a few different views on the prophecies, especially in chapter 2.
It’s 3 chapters long in our Bible and the big question throughout the book is “when?” – when will these things occur, or have they already occurred?
1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
We don’t know anything about Joel except this. We don’t know what year this was written, though many scholars date it very old around 800 B.C. or older but we don’t really know.
2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
So listen up! You haven’t seen anything like this but it will be remembered a long time.
4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
So the rest of this chapter talks about a plague of locusts which was common, but it seems this was sent by the Lord as a punishment on Judah. Some commentators view the palmerworm, locust, cankerworm, and caterpillar as the same locust plague or a poetic description of waves of these critters.
The other view is that the locusts were not real bugs described here but invading armies.
My view, is that like in Hosea where a real event was an illustration of something else (marriage to Gomer, God’s relationship to Israel), here we have a real plague of locusts and their destruction which Joel, through inspiration of God, weaves into talking about real armies and the different kind of destruction. But we’ll see as we go through.
5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
Perhaps part of the reason for the locust plague was drunkenness! Why is wine cut off for them? Because the bugs ate and destroyed all the grape vines!
And through this chapter we see God point out three different groups of people: Drunks, farmers, and priests.
NJ governor was on Tucker recently and basically said that churches need to be closed to stop the spread of Corona, but liquor stores needed to stay open for comfort to deal with all that is going on. What?! How backwards! So here, God is calling on the drunks to wake up and pay attention!
6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
So by calling the invading locusts a “nation” is why some people think this is allegory, but look at Proverbs 30:25-27, it says the ants are “not a strong people,” but they prepare their food, they are wise in other words. So it’s no problem to call invading locusts a nation.
But just to be clear, this isn’t one of those passages where one interpretation is correct and all others are totally bogus! I always appreciated teachers that would give you different views and let you decide for yourself which one was correct (those teachers were very rare).
7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord's ministers, mourn.
Why do the Lord’s ministers mourn? Because of the loss of food and sacrifices from the locust invasion.
10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
So this year, this Spring and right now, Kenya and Somalia has had their worst locust plague of the past 70 years or so. In Kenya a swarm was 25 miles long by 37 miles wide. Crazy! A swarm of just 1 square kilometer can consume as much food as would be eaten by 35,000 people in a day.
Have you seen that verse going around that kinda mirrors what the world is like today? 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people.”
One of the things C. S. Lewis talks about regarding the “Problem of Pain” is that sometimes hardships are a way to get our attention. He said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
The next verse in 2 Chronicles gives us the solution, just as we see in Joel when we go back to the next couple verses. "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I think we should be praying the prayer in the very chapter of the Bible. “Come Lord Jesus!”
Ok back to Joel, where we have major devastation from Locusts, verse 13:
13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,
So why the sackcloth? Sackcloth was rough and uncomfortable and was associated with mourning, sorrow, or repentance. A fast is similar and that, to afflict ourselves and focus on God. King David writes in Psalm 35:13, “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.”
So Judah is having a serious bug infestation, and God is telling them “Wake up! Seek me!”
15 Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
The Day of the Lord is a common message in Joel. At the least it means vengeance and destruction, not something you’re going to miss, not peaceful. There might be other “days of the Lord” that are shadows of THE Day of the Lord, but at the least I think it is clear that it refers to judgment day, to the battle of Armageddon at the end of the tribulation period before the millennium.
And this is a hard study because there are so many verses scattered throughout scripture that provide these eschatological clues. See Isaiah 13:6-9. Let's go to verse 20.
20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
Even animals cry out to their Maker.
1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
The Day of the Lord is coming. And in this chapter the metaphors of locusts look more like military and less like bugs.
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
So verses 2-10 are often thought of as a description of the 7-year tribulation period and there are some parallels in Revelation that we’ll look at.
3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
That it says nothing escapes them is a clue that we’re not talking about bugs anymore. Locusts don’t eat people or attack people. “He must be speaking of real warriors under the figure of real locusts.”
4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
Ok, let’s go to Revelation 9! Rev. 9:1-7
5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
Doesn’t sound like locusts to me! Matthew 24:29-30 says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Very similar language here in Joel!
We also have Revelation 6:12-17 a similar description.
11 And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
Rev. 6:17 says, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
12 Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil [or calamity].
Repent (your translation might have “relent”) does NOT mean “repent of sin” since God is sinless. “God's repentance is a change of his will toward the people and is the result of a change of will and conduct on their part. Their repentance would cause God to pour out a blessing instead of judgment.”
14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
In Deuteronomy 24:5 it says the husband shall not have any public duties for the first year of marriage to devote to his wife. So this is calling everyone! Let's jump to verse 26.
26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Romans 10:11 “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." Who are God’s people? Those who do His will.
And these next 5 verses or so are kind of the climax of the book:
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered [Romans 10:13]: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance [Obadiah 17], as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
First we can look at Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in a room together and they began speaking in tongues to all the travelers passing by about the gospel, so people thought they were drunk! And Peter was like “no bro, it’s only 9am!” but this is what the prophet Joel talked about and Peter basically quoted these 5 verses.
But here’s the thing. Peter didn’t say this was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. The Holy Spirit hasn’t been poured out on ALL flesh (just believers, unless you interpret “all flesh” to just mean “all believers”), there no record of the wonders in heaven (unless you consider the sky darkening and earthquake at Jesus’s crucifixion, which could be a shadow of the prophecy of it in Revelation), and the “great and terrible Day of the Lord” has not come.
So Joel’s prophecy began in Acts 2 but we haven’t seen the end of it. That’s my view.
Let's jump to verse 11.
11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord.
12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
Have a wonderful week! We will see you Sunday July 26th at Cabot Park in Laguna Hills!