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My Commentary On Joel

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Army Of Locusts (ch. 2:1-11)  

Verse 1 says that the Day of the Lord is coming.  So, this tells us that what is being spoken of now in the book of Joel concerns the time of the end, assuming you understand that the Day of the Lord refers to the time of the end of this age that ushers in the thousand year rule of Christ on earth, as Prophetic Futurists believe. 

The end of days, or, the Day of the Lord as understood by many if not most Bible teachers includes a time of judgment, the return of Jesus, and His rule for a thousand years on earth.  This does not discount the fact that there can be other such days of the Lord that apply to specific nations because God has judged nations before in the past.  He has especially judged Israel and has caused her to fall.  That being said, it is generally understood that this Day of the Lord is the end time Day of the Lord, despite the fact that this prophecy might have had an Old Testament fulfillment that was prophetic of the most important Day of the Lord yet to come to the earth.         

Note that the Lord, through Joel, says the day of the Lord is close at hand.  It has been centuries since these words have been uttered and the Day of the Lord, as understood to be the end of the age and the coming of the next age, has not yet come. We see the word "near," or other words like it, associated with end time prophecy all the way through the Bible.  We often see it in the New Testament, but here it is found in the Old Testament, and, as some think, the very first prophetic book in the Bible.  Clearly, the word "near" has a different meaning to God than it does for us.  It seems to me that whatever generation in which we live, we should live as if the time of the end is near, as in our generation.     

Because the time is close to the end the Lord through Joel tells the Jews to sound the trumpet.  The trumpet is often associated with Israel.  Back in Numbers 10 is where we first see the trumpet with this association.  God tells Israelis to make 2 trumpets.  These trumpets were to be used as an alarm, much like an alarm clock.  Depending on the number of trumpet blasts would determine just how Israelis should respond to the sound of the trumpet.  The trumpet could be blown to call people to the tabernacle or to prepare for war.  Here in Joel 2 it is blown so Israel can prepare for the soon coming day of the Lord.  Many Prophetic Futurist see this trumpet blasts as the 7 trumpets found in the book of Revelation.  The Revelation trumpets are associated with judgments on Israel that is meant to call Israelis to repentance, that is, to prepare the way of the Lord's return, just as John the Baptist did prior to Jesus' ministry on earth.      

Verse 1 says to blow the trumpet in Zion and sound the alarm.  We see here that the sound of the trumpet is indeed an alarm and it is to be blown in Zion, or, in Jerusalem. Zion is associated with Jerusalem throughout the Old Testament because Zion is one of Jerusalem 's mountains, actually a large hill, something you would see in parts of upstate New York.  This speaks to the seriousness of the return of Jesus to earth and to the seriousness why this trumpet is being sounded.   

Verse 1 also tells us this.  "Let all who live in the land tremble."  The land refers to Israel.  Israelis will indeed tremble when they see the 7 trumpet judgments of Revelation come upon them.  They will begin to experience the 7 judgments associated with these trumpet blasts, and they will tremble.  They will experience hard times that they have never experienced before, and that includes the days of suffering under Hitler.  Jesus specifically said that those days of suffering are unmatched in human history.  See Mark 13:19.   

In regard to these days being very bad, Zechariah 13:8 states that two of thirds of Israelis will be killed in the last great war.   

In verse 2 we see that the Day of the Lord is a very dark and gloomy period of time that we call the tribulation or the Great Tribulation, and why?  It is because at the end of this age the wrath of the Lamb will be poured out on Israel in such a way that no one has ever seen up to that date in history.  Jesus said this exact thing in Mark 13:19. This time of trouble will affect all aspects of Israel, and really, all aspects of human existence on earth. When those final days of judgment come, all on earth will experience the wrath of Almighty God. 

Joel pictures this day as the sun dawning over the mountains.  He says that as the sun dawns over the mountains so a great army will rise over the mountains, much like in the old western movies where the enemy can be seen coming over the hill for their attack.  Many Prophetic Futurists believe this attack could well be the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39.  Others see it as the Battle of Armageddon, the last great world war of this age.  Others say it is the war seen in Revelation 9:16 where we see an army numbered twice then thousand times ten thousand.  Some prophecy teachers see this war as the last war of the age.  

I mentioned the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 in chapter 1.  Chapter 1 may be speaking of something different than chapter 2, or, it may be speaking of the same thing as chapter 2 but in a more symbolic way.  Chapter 2 does seem to suggest a war, an attacking army on Israel that is very great.  Great devastation will result as seen in the war that is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, which could easily be a nuclear war.   

We should note the words "such was never seen in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come."  This statement clearly tells us that whatever this war is, it was not seen in Old Testament times.  It could not be the Assyrian or Babylonian attacks on Israel in 722 BC and 586 BC.  This has to be the war of all wars, a war that ends this age.  It might well be the war we often call the Battle of Armageddon.  This seems to be what Jesus was talking about and even quoting when He spoke of the trials of those days that end this age as being worse than any in history.  See Mark 13:19.    

The words "a day of clouds and blackness"
in verse 2 might well speak of modern warfare,
of fire that produces black clouds because of
bombs dropping on the Middle East. 

In verse 3 we see the devastation that takes place in the battle that ends this age.  Nothing will "escape the flames that blaze" throughout the land of Israel.  The good agricultural land that the Jews brought to life from the desert since their arrival to the Holy Land in the mid 1800's will become barren and desolate from the flames of war.  To me, this sounds like a nuclear disaster, or at least a very bad war.  I say this because of the word "fire" in this verse.  Back in Old Testament days men fought with swords and spears, not with bombs and nuclear weapons that burn up everything in sight.  Fire tells me that this is a modern war.

When the text mentions the Garden of Eden in this verse it might well refer to how Israelis have transformed the desert lands into a garden like environment.  Ever since Jews began to immigrate to the Middle East in the mid 1800's they have turned the desert into farm land, something Arabs in the past never could do.  In fact very few people lived in Palestine back then.  It wasn't until the Jews began to restore the desert land that Arabs also began to migrate to Palestine.

When verse 3 speaks of fire before them that devours and behind them flames ablaze, this suggests to me of the movement of armies as they approach Jerusalem.  Missiles are causing destruction in the direction of their movement and destruction is behind the armies as they advance forward.    

Verse 4 says that "they," meaning the great army that attacks Israel, "appear to be like horses."  The word "appear" is interesting to me.  This suggests that what Joel saw was somewhat unknown to him.  The advancing army seemed, or appeared, to be on horses, but were they really horses?  I don't think so.  It only appears that they were on horses.  Joel probably did not know how to describe our modern machines of warfare.  The best way for him to describe them in his day was like their cavalry.   

I think verse 5 is similar to verse 4.  Joel tries to explain something he has never seen before.  He hears "the noise like that of chariots."  Again, this is the best way that he can explain our modern tanks, airplanes, missiles, and maybe drones.  He says they leap over mountains, and of course, airplanes, missiles, and rockets do leap over mountains.  Joel must have been dumbfounded by what he saw.  He must have been beside himself as he saw these things and attempted to speak of them.  

Joel says these missiles are like "cracking fire."  Again, this would typify what our modern airplanes with nuclear war heads sound like.  I live near a military airport.  I know what these jet fighters sound like.  Joel's description is right on.    

Verse 6 continues by saying that "at the sight of them every nation trembles, every face turns pale."  This to me certainly does sound like a nuclear attack.  If an atomic bomb is launched anywhere in the Middle East , you know that every nation of earth will indeed tremble in fear.  You know that all people will be filled with fear.  This has been the fear of nations since the first atomic bomb exploded in Japan that ended the Second World War.  It's the fear that is in the hearts of men and women as I write these words here in 2017 as North Korea and America is in a showdown over nuclear weapons.  All the faces of peoples of the world will go pale.  Fear will grip everyone.  They will attempt to hide themselves by hiding in caves and in mountains as Revelation 6:15 and 16 says, but with no success.                       

Verse 7 says that this army "will not swerve from its course."  They scale walls and they all march in line.  That sure sounds like jet fighting planes to me.  It might well sound like tanks moving across the face of the earth as well.   

Verses 8 and 9 continue in the same vein of thought. Picture jets flying across the sky.  Picture drones actually entering through the windows of houses.  If you were Joel back in his day, how would you describe such things.  You would certainly have a difficult time explaining the Word of the Lord to your fellow Old Testament people, but in today's world we can easily imagine what he is talking about.    

Verse 10 shows us the powerful ability this attacking army has on the land.  Joel says that the earth shakes, and no wonder.  With the military might of modern man, the earth does shake, but there is more.  The heavens tremble and the sun and moon darken.  This darkening of the sun and moon is most likely due to the fires and smoke caused by missiles, and bombs, and probably atomic warfare.  This may or may be what is seen in Joel 2:31 where the prophet predicts the sun and moon darkening and turning into blood. Some see Joel 2:31 being fulfilled at the moment of Jesus' return to earth.  At the moment, I see Joel 2:11 and Joel 2:31 being two different occasions, but I could be wrong.

In my version of the NIV Bible verse 11 begins with he words "the Lord thunders at the head of his army."  Many translations don't say that the Lord thunders.  They just say that He utters His voice.  Like all Hebrew words that are translated into English, there is a variety of meanings or shades of meaning.  It seems to be that incorporated in this uttering is a thunderous sound, much like you see Jesus speaking in Revelation 1:15.  I'd dare say that if God speaks, at least to our human ears, it would sound like thunder.

Note in verse 11 that the army is His army that obeys Him.  This army is beyond numbering and is mighty.  This army is the army that we have been talking about that is represented by the army of locust.  It is the very army that is invading God's land and God's people.  You might wonder how this attacking army would be called God's army, especially since that when it is all said and done, God destroys this army.

The answer to this question can be found in the first few verses of Ezekiel 38.  There we see an attacking army that some believe is the army spoken of here.  Ezekiel states that God drags this army into the Middle East to fight Israel , His people.  The text suggests that God drags this army down for war, even if id did not want to go to war.  What is happening here is that God is using an opposing army to accomplish His will.  He makes the army obey Him.  He can do this because He is the sovereign God over all things.  He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.  This army is His tool to do His will, just as the anti-Christ and even the devil himself, who both oppose God is His tool.  In all of these cases, when God is finished using these tools, He destroys them.

It might be that this unnumbered army is what is seen in Revelation 9:16 where we read of an army of twice ten thousand times ten thousand. 

This section ends with the question, "who can endure it?"  The word "it" refers to the Day of the Lord, the exact day Jesus returns to earth.  Jesus will put His feet on the Mount of Olives.  The mountains will split in two, creating a valley with a river that flows from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea.  If you study the last 6 chapters of the book of Ezekiel you will see this to be true.  See Ezekiel 47.  At this point Israel's enemies will be defeated by Jesus Himself, with the very words of His mouth.   No one will endure that day.  No one will be able to stand before Jesus the Lord.  Everyone will fall to the ground, bow their knees, and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord as the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:10 and 11.  It is at this time that I believe all Israel will be saved as Paul says in Romans 11:26.  When Paul says "all Israel " will be saved I believe he means that all of the Jews who have survived the Great Tribulation will be saved, because many will die during that great time of trouble.  Zechariah 13:8 states that two thirds of Israelis will die in the tribulation that ends this age.  The one third that remains will be saved when a spirit of grace and supplication from God falls on them as Zechariah 12:10 predicts.     

You might say that Jesus answered the question. "who can endure it" when He said that unless those days were shortened for the sake of the elect, no one could endure it (Matthew 24:22).  Jesus will cut those days short at His return.


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