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My Commentary On Joel

This Section - Chapter 2:18 - 27

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The Lordís Answer (ch. 2:18-27)

Verse 18 says that "the Lord was jealous of His land." What is meant by "this land?"  People who believe that Israel has no more prophetic and historic significance after Jerusalem's fall in 70 AD say that every time you see Israel, Zion, Judah, or related words like His land, spoken of in prophecy, we are to take it to mean the church.  It's called Replacement Theology.  God has replaced Israel with the church when it comes to Biblical prophetic history.  I don't believe that for many reasons, thus the land spoken of here is the land that God promised Abraham and His descendents Israel.  The land will some day become Israelís again, and thatís all of it, not part of it.  This land is special in Godís eyes, and weíll see the reality of this in the thousand year reign of Jesus on earth.  The land that was promised to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant is more land than what Israel presently possesses.

If you read Genesis 15:18 and 19 you will see the land covenant that God spoke to Abraham.  God said that all of the land from Egypt to the Euphrates River will belong to Abraham's descendents Israel.  That has yet to happen, but it will happen. The land would include present day Israel, along with Jordon, Syria, Iraq, and probably parts of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank.  

For those who believe that this is not a prophecy yet to be fulfilled, they must then believe that it has been fulfilled already.  History proves otherwise and thus what we see in this chapter is a prediction of the future.  

Note the word "His land."  The whole earth belongs to God because He created it, but, the land He promised Abraham is special.  It is truly His land.  It's not even Israel's land.  They have only been given the right to occupy God's land.     

Note that verse 18 begins with the word "then."  The word "then" in this context suggests that what comes next in this prophecy begins when Israel falls before God in repentance.  Zechariah 12:10 tells us that it is God Himself who will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on the remnant of Israel.  Only then can what we see in this portion of Joel be fulfilled.  This is what the word "took pity on His people" here in verse 18 is in reference to.    

We see that God is a jealous God.  We see this throughout the whole Bible.  This is a godly jealousy.  It's not a jealousy based on any insecurity that God may have because He is not insecure in any respect.  This simply means that what is His is His and He will protect and defend it no matter what.   

Verse 19 says that the Lord will send
Israel grain, wine, and olive oil.  The reply spoken of here is in reference to Israel's repentance that God grants them at the end of the Great Tribulation.  God always responds to His people positively when they repent, whether it's Israel or the church.

Over the centuries Israel has won the land and lost it many times over, but there will come a time when God will intervene and He will give all of the land back to them, all that He promised Abraham.  This land promise to Israel must be understood as Abraham understood it, which would have been physical land, not spiritual land as some suggest.  If God meant some kind of spiritual land, or something different than how Abraham understood it, and did not correct Abraham's thinking, then that would be a blemish on God's part.  I don't believe God would promise something to anyone and have that promise misunderstood.  It would have been deceptive on God's part to promise land to Abraham when it wasn't real land.

We see the prediction of agricultural prosperity also in verse 19.  When the land is restored, that is, after the return of Jesus to earth, the land will produce even more than it is producing today after the Jews have done such a good job in restoring the land with their own ability apart from God.  Just imagine what it will be like when God restores the land, which by the way, includes all of the deserts in the near east that will belong to Israel.        

We also see in verse 19 that God will restore Israel to such a place that it "will never be scorned again."   This has got to speak of the end of this age or else the word "never" would not be found in this phrase.  It is no secret that the Jews have been scorned and ridiculed throughout the centuries.  That continues to this day.  The words "never to be scorned again" make it clear that this passage is an end time passage that predicts the events of the end of this age.      

Throughout Old Testament prophecies you often see invading armies onto the land of Israel coming from the north.  There is a geographical reason for this.  To avoid the mountains, if you are coming, say, from modern day Iraq to the east or Turkey to the west, you would travel down a valley from the north.  In this way you avoid the mountains.  This is how Abraham originally entered the land of Canaan .

In verse 20 we see God saying that He will drive the northern army away from Israel.  Most Prophetic Futurist for many Scriptural reasons believe that Israel will be attacked by a northern army during the time of the Great Tribulation.  They see that is what is being spoken of here.  Some think this northern army is what is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, that being the army of Gog of Magog.  Most Prophetic Futurists, but not all, believe this northern army is the Russian army.  I can't say for sure that this attack is the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39.  At least, it looks like what is envisioned in the book of Revelation.

We also see an eastern flank of the army and a western flank of the army mention in verse 20.  To me, the armies from these 3 directions look pretty much like the battle that ends this age.  We call it the Battle of Armageddon.  On the other hand, it could well be the Ezekiel 38 and 39 armies because along with Gog of Magog are other armies that join the battle, from both the east, west, and the south.  There are a few end time wars spoken of in the Bible.  It's just hard to know when they take place.            

Notice the specifics in verse 20.  The front column of soldiers in the attacking army from the north will be driven into the desert.  The western army will be driven into the Mediterranean Sea while the eastern army into the Dead Sea.  This is why some Prophetic Futurists think this might be the war of Gog of Magog as seen in Ezekiel 38 and 39.  The desert areas spoken of in this verse would be present day Saudi Arabia . 

I think it is interesting to note that the mentioning of the Mediterranean and Dead Sea 's in this verse.  These two seas form the present day eastern and western boundaries of Israel, boundaries that would need to be in place for this war to happen, which they are right now.

Verse 20 ends with "surely He has done great things."  The pronoun "He" obviously refers to God.  Whatever war is predicted here is implemented by God to perform His will.  If you read Ezekiel 38 you will note that it is God Himself who literally drags the northern army down to fight against Israel.  The war is started by God.     

We should understand the term "great things" here to mean not only the restoration of Israel but all of the horrible calamities that fall on this earth as this age comes to an end.  They are truly awesome and great.    

Verse 21 says that God encourages His people Judah not be afraid but be glad and rejoice.  The name " Judah " refers to Israel.  It's just another name for Israel we see throughout the Old Testament.  They can be glad now because good things will soon happen to them.  They have finally come out of their dark ages and into the light.  They have repented and God is responding to their repentance.  Of course, they would have much reason to fear.  If this is the Ezekiel 38 and 19 war, or the Battle of Armageddon, there would be much to fear.      

Notice that God is telling the Jews not to fear in the midst of that which would cause them to fear.  It wasn't before or after the calamity falling on them.  This is the way it always is, even for Christians today.  In the midst of our struggles and trials, we look to Jesus and do not fear.  As 1 Peter 5:7 and 8 says, we are to cast our cares on Jesus. 

When thinking in terms of Christians repenting, this does not mean that once we repent just good things will happen to us.  Many good things will happen to us, but there will be times of trouble as well.  The good things spoken of in this verse are specific to the restoration of Israel at the end of the age.  Itís poor hermeneutics to apply this to us as individual Christians today.

In verses 20 to 23 we see the restoration applies even to the land, as has already been stated.  The land will become fertile and produce crops as it should.  We see this in a number of Old Testament prophecies.  Part of the reason why the land will prosper is that there will be a river flowing from under the millennial temple that will flow west to the Mediterranean Sea and east to the Dead Sea .  I will comment more on this in chapter 3.    

Verse 21 tells us that the defeat of this northern army is actually a great thing from the Lord.  For peace lovers, it might be hard to swallow that God would call a massive defeat of an army, killing thousands, a great thing, but that is exactly how He feels.

Verse 22 is somewhat interesting because God is speaking not to Israel, not to people, but to animals.  These animals aren't pets.  They are wild animals.  God tells them not to be afraid because the land in which they roam will produce all the food they will ever need.  Animals do fear.  They do get afraid.  There's no doubt about that.  God is telling these wild animals that there is nothing to fear because better days are ahead.  It is my thinking, and I can't prove it, but animals in one sense of the word are in touch with God.  How this happens I don't know.  It just appears to be the case from this verse.  God is clearly speaking to animals here.  If animals can't hear Him speak why would He speak to them?  See also Joel 1:20 where the prophet  also speak of wild animals in relation to God.     

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.            

In verse 23 God reverts back to talking to people.  The text calls them Zion.  That's Israel.  He tells Israelis that He will give them latter, or, autumn rain.  The KJV says, and I believe with good reason, that God gave the former rain, the spring rain, in moderation, but the latter rain, the autumn rain will be far beyond moderate.  

Many Pentecostal sermons have been preached concerning this verse.  Many say that the former rain began in Acts 2 while the latter rain comes at the end of the age when the Spirit is once again poured out on Israel, the church, and throughout the world.  This might be reading into the text a bit, but in context the rain appears to be literal rain.  Whether the allegorizing of this verse presents a truth, you can decide.        

If you read Joel 2:23 in a variety of versions of the Bible you will note some significant differences.  This is basically a textual problem due to variations in Hebrew manuscripts.    

Verse 24 speaks of the threshing floor being filled with grain and wine will overflow.  This will be literally true as we saw a few verses ago.  Israel's restoration will include their land being more productive than ever.

Many Prophetic Futurists see these words as an analogy. The showers are the rain of the Holy Spirit. The New Wine is the filling of the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers as we see in the New Testament.  They say this portrays a spiritual outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews at the end of this age.  Many, not all, believe that every time a prophetic event takes place in Israel, there is a similar event in the church.  For example, Israel becomes a nation in1948 and around that same time, almost to the year, the Holy Spirit was poured out on parts of the church in a big way.  This movement was called "the Latter Rain Movement."  The name was taken from this very verse. Then, as the Jews regained Jerusalem in 1967 the Charismatic Movement swept across parts of the church as well.

However you think of this verse, whether literally or prophetically figuratively, in context, we are first speaking agriculturally.   

In verses 25 and 26 God tells Israel that He will repay them for all the damage done by the locust invasions over the years.  This is only so because they have repented, and, we should also note that the locust infestation was really Godís way of punishing Israel.  It was a way to eventually bring Israel to the point of repentance.  Verse 25 specifically states that it is "my army" that God had sent the Jews.  This gives us a bit more information about the locust invasion we saw in chapter 1and also the army we saw in chapter 2 verse 11.   

I think verse 25 is key to this prophetic book and how we should view the locust invasions of the first chapter.  Here in chapter 2, we, at least in my thinking, are at the end of this age.  When this verse speaks of the many locust invasions it seems to be the invasions that have taken place over the centuries by Israel's enemies that are represented by the locust, or, it could be a multi-faceted invasion that takes place at the end of this age.  Whether the locust invasion was a literal event or not is not really the important thing.  The important prophetic thing is that we understand the invasions to be the invasions of Israel's enemies.      

Verse 25 clearly states that the attacking army that invaded Israel, as symbolized in the locust infestation, was God's army.  I've mentioned this earlier, but this time I mention it for another reason.  This army was not a blessing for Israel .  It was a curse to bring the Jews to their knees of repentance.  It was a negative thing.  As Christians we often times view negative events in our lives as something to be prayed against.  In this instance, if you were praying against this army, you would have been praying against God's will.  It is thus necessary for us to do our best to know His will before we pray, lest we pray in opposition to God's will.  I was raised in Methodist circles where attempting to understand God's will was important.  It seems to me that when I entered the Charismatic Movement attempting to understand God's will might not have been so important.  Many of us figured we know God's will so we prayed accordingly.  One example was that we believed it was always God's will to heal a sick person, so that what we prayed for and claimed of the Lord.  I no longer take that stance.  I want to know God's will before I pray.               

In verse 26 God says, "never again will my people be shamed."  The Jews throughout the centuries have been shamed over and over again, but, God says that this will end, and not only end, but will never return.  Again, we see the word "never."  If never means never, then this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled because Israel is still being shamed by many.  The word "never" suggests that this will take place at the end of this age.  I think this is clear.     

The end result of all of this is that Israel will give praise to their God.  The LORD (all capital letters meaning Yahweh) is the God of Israel.  Christians have been adopted into the family of Israel in one real respect.   

Verse 27 repeats what verse 26 said.  Israel will never be shamed again.  Never does mean never.  This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.  It is at this point in history, after Israel , or, after the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the Great Tribulation, will finally embrace the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as their God.  What a day that will be.  It will be totally awesome.   

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