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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the December 8 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: December 8
<< Hosea 14
Kings & Prophets

For New King James text and comment, click here.

 

Joel 1-3     Listen Podcast

 

An introduction to Joel
Theories about the date of the writing of the Book of Joel vary from the ninth century B.C. all the way down to the second century B.C. There is no king mentioned in this book to give us a time reference point. Some have suggested that because the priests seem to be in the lead rather than a king, it must belong to the period after the exiles return to their land in the late sixth century when the priests were the de facto leaders of the people. There is no lineage given to Joel that might help us find an absolute century for him. You'll see from my comments in chapter 2, that I favor the way the prophecy seems to fit into the events surrounding the unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. by the Assyrians (see notes on II Kings 18:13-19:37; II Chronicles 32:9-22; Isaiah 36-37).

Have you ever seen so many locusts? (Joel 1:1-12)

1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’S ministers, mourn.
10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.

Something terrible has happened in israel that prompts Joel to write the words of this prophecy. These verses talk about a terrible invasion of locusts on the land, as described in verse 4, "That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten." They ate everything. The fact that four different Hebrew words are used in verse 4 to describe these locusts probably is to emphasize their thoroughness in the devastation left behind.

It's interesting to remember that God sent locusts as one of the steps leading up to the release of Israel from Egyptian captivity. Furthermore, just prior to Israel's entry into Canaan in Deuteronomy 28 (see notes) we see Moses issuing a decree to Israel that rebellion will lead to curses upon Israel, including locusts (the grasshopper's cousins). In II Chronicles 7:13 (see notes), God, speaking to Solomon at the time of the temple dedication, includes locusts as a potential judgment of God if Israel ceases to serve the one true God. Their massive numbers in these periodic swarms that engulfed the whole region gave locusts a reputation - a bad reputation as we see incidental references to them in Judges 6:5 (see notes), Judges 7:12 (see notes) and Jerermiah 46:23 (see notes). In those passages we see their reference regarding soldiers that were too many to number...like a swarm of locusts. Having passed through, it was common that all crops in the land would have been destroyed. This phenomenon still occurs from time to time in that region today. In November/December, 2004 the inhabitants of that region, including the southern portion of Israel, were once again fighting massive swarms of locusts.

Joel calls for national repentance (Joel 1:13-20)

13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
15 Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
16 Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
17 The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.
18 How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
19 O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Joel directs the priests (verse 13) to call for "a solemn assembly" (verse 14), which is to consist of "the elders and all the inhabitants of the land." You will notice that no king is mentioned here. That has caused some to believe that this call by Joel must have taken place when there was no king on the throne...like after the exiles returned to the land. However, the warning of verse 15 says, "Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." That "day of the LORD" commonly referenced one of two events by the prophets in the Old Testament, the destruction by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. or the destruction by the Babylonians in the seventh century. See the notes on chapter 2 for greater insight. So...here's the bottom line: The land is experiencing a national crisis as a result of the locusts that have just passed through. Likewise, the nation needs to repent in order to avoid a greater chastisement from God.

Joel warns of a bigger judgment (Joel 2:1-27)

1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.

You think this is bad (the locusts), hang on for an even greater judgment of God on his people. If Joel prophesied between the fall of Israel (721 B.C.) and the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.), then this coming judgment could be a reference to another wave of the Assyrian army or perhaps even the Babylonian army. Whatever the coming judgment, it was likened to the army of locusts in chapter 1. You will recall that at the demise of the Northern Kingdom, Jerusalem (aka Zion) was surrounded by the Assyrian army, and all food and supplies were cut off from the city. Famine was prevalent in Jerusalem because of this. It would make sense to assign this prophecy to that period, likening the massive Assyrian army to the locust plague of chapter 1. There is a call for repentance here to avert this judgment. You will recall that, in fact, Jerusalem was spared from the Assyrian army - miraculously. I like the way this passage seems to fit here in this time period. Verse 20 could have reference to the retreat of the Assyrian army ("the northern army") after God miraculously killed 185,000 troops around Jerusalem in 701 B.C. The historical record is found in II Kings 18:13-19:37; II Chronicles 32:9-22; Isaiah 36-37 (see notes). Hezekiah did turn to God for deliverance from the Assyrian army as Joel proclaims must be done if deliverance is to be possible. You know...Joel's prophecy just fits nicely here during this era.

Back to the future (Joel 2:28-32)

28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Whatever the time period of the immediate crisis, Joel takes his prophetic word to a yet-future period of restoration for Israel beginning in verse 28. Peter takes off on this passage in Acts 2:16 (see notes) on the day of Pentecost. He sees the miraculous events of that day as a presentation of the kingdom of God to Israel once again for their acceptance. However, while many Jews were saved that day, as a whole the Jews rejected the Gospel message he preached in Acts 2. The events of Joel 2:28-3:21 were not fulfilled at that time. As a matter of fact, note the similarity of Joel 2:31 with Revelation 6:12 (see notes), "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;" The happenings are identical. Those events will actually take place during the tribulation very near the midpoint of that period.

So, while Joel's prophecy is not to be fulfilled until the days leading up to the second coming of Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, the internalization of God's spirit in Believers is the aspect of the New Covenant that Peter emphasizes in Acts 2. In fact, since Peter and Paul made references in their writings with regard to the imminent return of Jesus, Peter was probably anticipating these cataclysmic tribulation events mentioned in Revelation 6 to follow within his lifetime.

Israel's Restoration (Joel 3)

1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.
4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;
5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:
6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.
7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:
8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.
9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:
10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.
12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

The prophetic events of chapter 3 must be assigned to the judgment of the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the tribulation and the restoration of Israel at the beginning of the millennium. The wording regarding Jerusalem in verses 20-21 cannot be plausibly fulfilled any other way. We see the judgment of the nations which Christ addressed in Matthew 25:31-46 (see notes) in that passage as well. Israel will be restored in Joel's prophecy, just as will take place immediately following the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21, see notes) leading into the millennium where Joel's prophecy will find complete fulfillment.

Notice the river in verse 18. It extends from the millennium temple all the way to the Dead Sea through the "valley of Shittim." Ezekiel also mentions this river in Ezekiel 47:1-12 (see notes).

Incidentally, "Palestine" in verse 4 is translated from the Hebrew word "Plesheth" and should be understood as "Philistines." The KJV also translates this word as "Palestina" in Exodus 15:14 (see notes) and Isaiah 14:29 & 31 (see notes). In the other four usages, all found in the Psalms (60:8, 83:7, 87:4 and 108:9), the word is appropriately translated Philistines or Philistia. The actual name of "Palestine" to describe the region of today's Israel was a late designation of the second century ascribed to it by the Romans in an attempt to prevent the Jews from laying claim to the land after the Bar-Kokhba revolt of the early second century A.D. Today, "Palestine" is still used as a universally accepted designation for the whole region of the "Holy Land" which is deemed to be politically correct in that it conveys no God-given rights of ownership to the Jewish people. You'll pardon me if I continue to refer to that region as "The Holy Land." During the millennium, that designation will be indisputable.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner