About Jesus Steve Sweetman
My Commentary On Joel
This Section - Chapter 2:12 - 17
Verse 12 is like verse 1. God
calls for His people Israel
to repentance. Of course, this
passage applies to Jews but the principle of repentance applies to all peoples,
including Christians. One cannot
walk uprightly before the Lord without a spirit of humble repentance in their
lives. At initial salvation one must
repent before he can possess genuine faith in Jesus.
Then, once a person is saved, obedience to God requires an ongoing life
In Old Testament Hebrew thought,
repentance meant more than acknowledging one's sin as many Evangelicals tend to
believe today. It meant to depart
from one's sin. It meant to leave
your sins behind. Repentance was a
serious matter in the Old Testament and it is also a serious matter in the New
Testament. We see the serious nature
of repentance with the arrival of John the Baptist.
He was executed because of his ministry of repentance as seen when he
rebuked King Hared for his adultery. John
was to prepare the way for the Lord by calling
Joel says, "even now, return to
me with your heart." God doesnít want His people to wait for another day
to repent. Today is the day, lest there be no tomorrow.
The words "even now" show this to be true.
God gives time for us to repent, but that time is limited.
This is especially true with the nations.
He always gives nations time to repent, as we see here with Israel, but, once that time is up, and, once God declares judgment, judgment is
The words "with your heart"
mean that this repentance is not a matter of the mind.
The Greek way of thinking concerning repentance was to change your mind
about sin. This is basically what
much of the Evangelical
This heart felt repentance is seen by
God saying that the Jews must return to Him with fasting, that is, with weeping,
and mourning. This is not a casual decision in the eyes of God. The return of
His people to Him is a very serious issue.
I don't believe that such repentance
as is seen here can be done in our own strength.
I believe that God Himself will give us a spirit of repentance if we are
willing to receive it. Acts 11:18
states that it is God who grants repentance, or as some versions have put it,
"led them to repentance." As Zechariah 12:10 says, God Himself will pour out a spirit of grace and
2 Timothy 2:25 speaks of God
granting people repentance. The
Greek word "didomi" that is translated as "grant" here means
"to give." It is thus
clear to me that God has a hand in the process of repenting.
If we are willing to repent, He will help us repent.
Acts 26:20 tells us that true
repentance will be seen in our deeds, or, in how we live.
If there is no evidence of repentance in your life, you have not
I'm not convinced that an emotional
state of weeping and mourning is always necessary for one to exhibit true
repentance. Since repenting means to
walk away from a life of sin, it's the walking away that is the important thing. Any emotionalism that comes
with this walking away is secondary. I
might add that the way in which
In verse 13 God says to "rend
your hearts and not your garments." The
tradition in those days, and even in Jesusí day, was to rip your clothes when
you were disgusted and wanted to show this disgust outwardly. Here,
God says that the outward ripping of clothes means nothing if your heart isnít
ripped apart. This is what repentance is all about. Yes, it is a matter of
changing your mind, but once you change your mind about your sin you act
upon this change of mind by departing from sin.
The ripping of one's heart is a very good way of saying it.
When one really meets the Lord Jesus Christ and finds true repentance and
trust in Him, you feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest.
The more one sees the sinful condition of his life as Paul speaks about
in Romans 1, 2, and 7, the more his heart will feel ripped out of his chest when
he repents. This tells me that any
outward expression of repentance is secondary to the inner response.
I believe, at least in part,
this verse speaks to religious tradition, which can easily be applied to the
church today. God is not interested
in the outward tradition of repentance as can be seen at times in our times of
corporate prayer. Unless corporate
prayer is a serious matter from the heart and there is evidence of true
repentance in the way we live, it is pure tradition.
God is not interested in our tradition.
Amos 5:21 actually says that God hated, even despised,
Note here that fasting was part of the repentance process, or, I might say, helped the people repent. Fasting in Old Testament times was always associated with repenting.
In the rest of verse 13 we see another
side to God that has not yet been seen in the book of Joel as yet. God
says that His people should return to Him because "He is gracious and
compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love, and relents from sending
calamityÖ" The picture here
is that God is very loving, kind, and gracious.
You can only experience the full measure of God's love, however, once you
return to Him in repentance. He
relents of calamity means that He really doesnít want to send calamity. He
will not bring calamity on you if you repent, and in this case the pronoun
"you" that I use is in reference to Israel. So, the plea goes out to God's
people to come and experience Godís love. If
God's people, whether Jew or Christian, fail to come to Him in repentance,
sooner or later, calamity will come, and as the book of Revelation portrays it,
it is an explosion of God's wrath on an unrepentant nation or person. God holds
back His wrath but there will come a time that His wrath will explode upon the
earth, but not after everyone has had a chance to repent and experience His
Verse 14 says that "who knows, He
may turn and relent Ö" The
word "relent" is probably not a well understood word today.
It means to abandon a harsh intention.
Joel is saying that if Israelis repent, then God might relent.
In other words, if Israelis repent, God just might abandon His harsh
intension He had planned for Israel. This phrase, however, does suggest
to me the possibility that God might not relent. On the other hand, the
wording Joel uses might just be poetic license. That is to say, He is
making his point in such a way that he is doing his best to get his readers to
repent, even if he exaggerates a bit by suggesting that maybe God won't relent.
One thing we should understand is that in the period of time when God through His prophets spoke the warning of coming judgment, as He is hear, He can change is mind. This means He can, and will, abandon His intentions to judge with calamities. That being said, once the time period ends, and, once He declares judgment, I do not believe He changes His mind. Judgment and sentencing will come.
process of relenting here means more then God changing His mind about sending
calamities. It includes blessings that He wants to give His people.
The reference to the grain offering is
Although what I say now is debatable,
there are many Prophetic Futurists who believe that during the thousand year
rule of Christ on earth the Jews will obey the Law of Moses as they promised
God. God will hold them to their
promise. The thousand year rule of
Christ, at least in part, is to have Israel
be what it was meant to be, and that is a godly example to the nations of the
world and live as they were meant to live. This
means that the sacrificial system for the Jews would be re-instated during the
thousand years, and thus this reference to the blessing of grain being restored
for the grain offerings. That being
said, many Bible teachers don't see this reference to the grain offering as
futuristic. They see it as being in
Old Testament time if Israel
repented of their sins. If,
however, this grain offering is in reference to the 1,000 year rule of Christ,
let me suggest that all of the sacrificial offerings would be thought of in
terms of their Messiah having already come and already redeeming them.
This was not the case in Old Testament times when the offerings were
prophetic of a future day in time. This
time they would be in reference to a past day in time.
At the moment I believe that
the word "relent" should be understood in Joel's day.
This call for repentance, although will be a call for a future generation
of Jews to repent, was a call for the Jews in Joel's day to repent as well.
Verse 15 tells us that Israel
was to blow the trumpet in
Note the name "Zion." If you believe in
Replacement Theology, that is, the church has replaced the Israel
in prophetic history, then you would understand
From verses 16 through 18 we see the
call to repent again. Everyone is to
come and gather together for a mass repentance. The
priests, the ministers, the elders, and the whole congregation, including mothers
feeding babies and brides and grooms who are preparing for marriage.
This is more important than anything else in life, including marriage. This
is not a time to be doing other things. You
can feed your children in the congregation of prayer. Bring
the babies along with you God says, because you need to be there to repent. This
shows us how serious repentance is in the mind of God.
In these verses we see one reason for
the need for Godís people to repent, and that is so scorn and shame will not
come on His people from the world around them. It
is one thing for the world to look upon Godís people and shake their heads in
scorn because of their sin and hypocrisy. It
is quite a different thing for the world to scorn God because of His people's
sinful hypocrisy. This is what is
happening in many parts of the western world today.
Because God's people, the church, are not living like they should, not
only are they being scorned but the God they claim to serve is being scorned.
I don't think God is very happy about that.
The whole point to these few verses is
that the assembly of God's people, whether Old Testament Israel or the New
Testament church, must gather for a time of serious and meaningful prayer and
repentance. Both the Jews of old and
the church today must repent. If we
are indeed living in the time of the end, this message is for us.
This section ends with, "why
should they say among the nations, 'where is their God.'" Like much of what
weíve been reading here, all that is said about Israel
and their relation to their God can be said about Christians and the church in
their relationship to their God. Why
should the world say, "where is their God?"
They shouldn't say such a thing but they do, and they do for good reason.
God can no longer be seen in much of what is commonly called church in
the western world today. Therefore,
the world says, "where is the God you claim to serve?"
We should realize that God
will not restore
Verse 16 says to "consecrate the
assembly." This simply means to
call the people of God together and set them aside for a time of prayer. Consecrate
means to set something aside for a specific purpose.
In this case people are to be set aside for the purpose of both prayer
In verse 17 the people of God are to
ask God to spare His people and not allow "His inheritance to be
scorned." Note that God's
people are His inheritance. God's
people belong to God and for this reason; His people should pray that He would
save His inheritance, save those who belong to Him.
Of course He will if His people repent.
God is not so insecure that He cannot destroy what belongs to Him.
He has done it before and He will do it again.
Verse 17 is right when it speaks of
God's people being scorned among the nations.
That has been the life of the Jews for centuries.
In one sense of the word that is the life of the church as well.
One reason why Christian and Jews are scorned because of their faith
in their God, but far too often they are scorned is because of our hypocrisy.
This should never be. May no
one ever say to you, "where is your God" because of the way you live.