The Book of JOEL
James J. Barker
BLOW YE THE TRUMPET IN ZION
- We started a series two weeks ago in the book of Joel, and I mentioned that the theme of Joel’s prophecy is “the day of the LORD” (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31).
- The term “day of the LORD” refers to God’s final intervention to punish both Israel and the nations. It is not a 24-hour day.
- The locust plague described in chapter 1 was a foreshadowing of the future day of the LORD. The prophet Joel used the locust plague of his day to illustrate the future judgment of Israel and the nations (cf. Joel 2:31; 3:14ff).
- Joel vividly describes the devastating locust plague, but he looks beyond the locust plague to the future day of the LORD (2:1).
- The great surging armies (“multitudes, multitudes”) gathered at the battle of Armageddon will be like the locusts covering the land for as far as the eye can see.
- The locusts represent nations (Joel 1:6). They are called a great people” in Joel 2:2 (cf. 2:5b). They are called the LORD’s army in Joel 2:11 because He is sovereign and this invasion is His judgment.
- It is the day of the LORD (cf. Rev. 16:16).
THE TRUMPET OF ALARM (2:1)
- Back in the OT, the priests had the responsibility of sounding the alarm (cf. Numbers 10:1ff).
- Joel 2:1 indicates there will be a restored priesthood during the coming tribulation. I recently read this article on the Internet: “Jews inch towards their Temple” (Jerusalem Newswire, Stan Goodenough, July 2, 2008).
- “Another step on the long road towards the restoration of Temple Worship in Jerusalem was reportedly taken Monday with the opening of a new workshop in which robes will be manufactured for practicing priests. According to a report in The Jerusalem Post Wednesday, a number of Kohanim, (Jews in the Cohen family line who trace their ancestry back to Aaron, the first High Priest) have already had measurements taken for the biblically-described vestments. One of them is the well-known chief rabbi of Efrat Shlomo Riskin. For the new garments, special flaxen thread is being imported from India, and worms from which just the right color crimson dye is obtained are being brought in from Istanbul, according to the report.
The new workshop was inaugurated by the Temple Institute which is situated in Jerusalem’s old City, just a stone’s throw from the Temple Mount - the site of the first and second temples and the place where, according to the Bible, the Third Temple will be built to welcome the Messiah.
Over the years the institute has worked to create - in strict accordance with the biblical pattern - many of the implements required for Temple worship, including the golden seven-branched Menorah, the Table for the Show Bread, and the Breast-Plate, Crown and Robe for the High Priest.
Fully one-third of all the commandments handed down to the Jews through Moses cannot be kept without a functioning Temple, said the Post.
Many Jews (and a growing number of Christians) believe that just as God is keeping His millennia-old promise to reconstitute the scattered people of Israel in their ancient homeland, He will follow through on His pledge to restore the Temple they have been without since Rome razed it to the ground nearly 2000 years ago.
This divine design will not be thwarted despite the fact that Islamic control extends over the Temple Mount to this day, and while Muslims the world over threaten violence and mayhem if the Jews try to build on the site.”
- “Sound an alarm in my holy mountain” (2:1) refers to Mount Moriah (cf. Genesis 22:2), one of the hills of Jerusalem on which King Solomon built the temple. It is the spot once occupied by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (cf. II Chron. 3:1).
- Many Jews believe that the altar of burnt offerings in the temple stood upon the very same spot on which Abraham proposed to offer up his son Isaac (cf. Psalm 2:6; Dan. 9:16, 20; Zeph. 3:11).
- Joel 2:1 teaches that God’s judgment is about to fall – “alarm…tremble…for the day of the LORD cometh…”
THE INVASION (2:2-11)
- The army is described in locust-like terms to emphasize the continuity between the literal locust plague of Joel 1 and the future day of the LORD to which it prefigured.
- The literary parallels between chapters 1 and 2 draw attention to this continuity without requiring Joel 2:1-11 to describe literal locusts.
- The day of the LORD is a “day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (2:2). In the Bible, darkness represents misery and distress.
- Isaiah 60:2 says, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”
- Amos 5:18 says, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.”
- Zephaniah 1:15, 16 says the day of the LORD “is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.”
- The figure of a locust plague is very appropriate because locusts’ swarms by their density do obscure the light of the sun.
- “As the morning spread upon the mountains” (Joel 2:2) refers to the sudden and unexpected invasion from the “great people and a strong” (2:2).
- This is a fierce human army, not a locust plague.
- As we saw last week, this probably refers to Russia and her allies invading Israel (Joel 2:20; cf. Ezekiel 38 & 39; Daniel 11:40-45).
- Recently Russia has invaded Georgia. To invade Israel, Russia would have to come down through Georgia, then Turkey, then Syria, and then into Israel.
- Before the invasion, Israel is compared to “the garden of Eden” (Joel 2:3; cf. Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 36:34-36; 38:6, 11, 12).
- The invaders will devour Israel like a raging fire (Joel 2:3).
- These locust-like invaders are likened to horses (Joel 2:4). In fact, the head of the locust looks very much like that of a horse. The Italian word for locust is cavalette (“a little horse”). The Germans call them heapferde (“hay horses”).
- The terrifying sound of the locusts’ buzzing wings resemble the sound of chariot wheels (Joel 2:5).
- The invasion sounds frightening (Joel 2:6-9).
- HA Ironside said, “They enter wherever their prey may hide, and overcome all obstacles as they press on in the fury of their power.”
COSMIC DISORDERS (2:10, 11)
- The entire world, from the earth below to the sky above, will quake and tremble. The “sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (2:10; cf. Isa. 13:9, 10).
- Our Lord said in Matthew 24:29, 30, “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.”
- Joel’s prophecy is expanded upon in the book of Revelation. In fact, all Bible prophecy is expanded upon in the book of Revelation.
- Joel describes war, bloodshed, famine, and death (Rev. 6:1-8), and terrifying demonic locusts (Rev. 9:3-12).
- The sad outcome: men still will not repent (Rev. 9:20, 21).