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My Commentary On Joel

This Section - Chapter 1:13 - 20 

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A Call To Repentance (ch. 1:13-20)  

In verse 13 the priest and those who serve at the altar are told to dress in sackcloth and ashes, symbolic of the repentance that should be in their hearts and lives.  It is the priests and those who serve at the altar who are to pray prayers of repentance because they were responsible for Godís people and they have neglected their jobs.  God is not happy with Israel. 

I would suggest as God was not happy with Israel,
He is not always happy with the church.  Church
leaders need to gather and find true repentance in order to bring the church back to God.  You can't expect the church to follow its leaders if its leaders aren't obeying God.

The reason why there isn't any grain offerings at the altar is because Israel is suffering through an agricultural disaster.  The simple fact is that if God judges a nation today and it affects the nation's economy, it will also affect the church.  

I mentioned this earlier but since the subject arises here again some will wonder what these grain offerings are all about in New Testament times.  You may wonder about these offerings at a Jewish temple when there is no temple, and, according to the New Testament, Christians are the temple of God. 

Many prophetic Futurists believe that there will be a Jewish temple build in Jerusalem beside the Islamic Dome of the Rock that will be a result of a treaty the anti-Christ makes with the Jews and the Arabs.  If this is a correct scenario, and, if Joel speaks of end time prophecy, this rebuilt temple might well be what is spoken of here. 

Many Bible teachers don't believe there will be a Jewish temple rebuilt because they believe it would not be New Testament thinking, and that is right, but, Prophetic Futurists don't necessarily claim this rebuilt temple is rebuilt because of God's doing.  It is rebuilt because of Jewish doing.  That being said, all that is done at the end of this age, whether good, bad, or indifferent is due to God's will.    

In verse 14 we see that once the priests have come to repentance, they should call the elders, and all of the people of Israel to the temple and call a fast so all can repent. We should understand elders here as being different from priests.  Elders were more civic in nature while priests were religious in nature

Note the word "LORD," with all capital letters.  LORD is translated from the Hebrew word "Yahweh" which in its simplest form means "I AM."  God just is.  He exists in the eternal present.     

Verse 15 says that "the Day of the Lord is near."  I believe, as many do, that this particular Day is the time of the end, those last 7 dreadful years of this age that will ultimately end in that "One Day of the Lord" when Jesus returns to the earth.

The term "Day of the Lord" always speaks of judgment.  Although I've just said that the Day of the Lord might well speak to the end of the age in which we now live, it could have had a historical meaning in the day that Joel wrote this book.  If Israel did not repent, then, a Day of the Lord, a day of judgment, would surely fall on them.  It did just that in 722 B.C. when the northern tribes of Israel fell to the Assyrians and then in 586 B.C. when Babylon overthrew the southern tribes of Israel known as Judah.

If you believe the Day of the Lord spoken of here is in reference to the end of this age, then to be consistent, you must believe all that has been said in the first part of this chapter will take place at the end of this age, and that would include a rebuilt temple since we see the temple in this passage.

In the last half of this verse it says that this day will come with great destruction as from the Almighty.  Before this age ends, the tribulation period will bring great destruction to both Israel and the rest of the earth, and, it is from God Almighty.  That being said, if we are thinking of either 722 or 586 BC, there was great destruction there as well, although obviously not as bad as it will be at the end of this age.    

It's a Biblical principle that before God brings restoration that which needs to be restored often needs to be torn down and that takes place during a period of God's judgment.  This tearing down might well be what Paul spoke about when he predicted a great falling away in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2:3).    

In verse 16 through 18 we see the vastness of the destruction.  It even affects the cattle in the field.  All joy is gone because things are so bad, and they are bad because Israel forsook their God.  Whether it's with Israel, any other nation, or the church, disobedience to God will catch up with you.    

This chapter ends with verses 19 and 20.  The animals, streams and pasture lands have all being effected by the great judgment.  The verses speak of fire and burning.  We can ask whether such devastation took place in either 722 or 586 BC.  I'm not sure that it did, and if that is correct, this would suggest that when we saw the word "the Day of the Lord" it was speaking of the last days of this age. Again, I suggest that there might be a historical reality to chapter 1.  Something that this chapter speaks of did happen in a time past, but with much of prophecy, that which happens now or in the past can be prophetic of something that will happen in the future.  

Verse 19 is very important to this chapter because it speaks of fire and the field ablaze. I don't think this portrays any Old Testament judgment.  I think the mentioning of fire might well be in reference to modern warfare.  It makes sense.  This verse also suggests that the locust invasion means more than a locust invasion.  I don't believe locust can cause such fire that destroys the agriculture of a nation as we see here.  

Verse 19 begins with the words "to you, LORD,
I call."  We will see later in Joel that in these horrible times that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  This is that call spoken here by Joel.

It is important to note that the call for prayer, fasting, and repentance in this section is in direct response to the disaster stated in the first section.  I believe in our day we need to call the people of God, both Jew and Gentile believers, to prayer, fasting, and repentance for the disasters that are beginning to come our way, and there has been many in recent years.  We normally complain and ask, "Where is God?"  We should be falling to our knees instead because God might well be in the midst of the disaster.    

Verse 20 ends chapter 1.  Again we see the wide spread devastation.  It seems to me that such devastation is caused by something more than locusts.  I believe this chapter is prophetic of the events of this age that we call the Great Tribulation.  

Note in verse 20 that even the wild animals pant for God.  Have you ever thought of wild animals panting for God as humans would pant for God?  Well, this verse seems to suggest this.  Although I cannot explain it, I believe that all of creation has some kind of connection to God.  It seems to me that wild animals in one way or another are aware of God. In relation to this, Joel 2:22 speaks of God speaking to wild animals.  Don't you think if God took the time to speak to wild animals, wild animals might have some way of hearing and understanding what He is speaking to them?     

There are two other passages that you might want to consider when thinking in terms of animals and their relation to God.  Genesis 9:5 and 6 states that wild animals will give account of themselves to God if they kill a human being.  Also, Isaiah 43:20 speaks of wild animals honouring God because He provides water for them in the wilderness.  Both of these passages suggest, at least to me, that animals, somehow, can communicate with God.  There is some God given ability for them to do so.            

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