Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—
In Joel 1, the prophet spoke of the judgment that had arrived in Judah (a plague of locusts and drought). In Joel 2, he begins by describing judgment that will come — a mighty army set against Judah.
–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.
3 Fire devours in front of them,
and behind them a flame burns.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
but after them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them.
The contrast could not be greater: before the invaders come, the land of Judah is like the Garden of Eden; afterwards it is a complete desolation.
4 They have the appearance of horses,
and like war-horses they charge.
5 As with the rumbling of chariots,
they leap on the tops of the mountains,
like the crackling of a flame of fire
devouring the stubble,
like a powerful army
drawn up for battle.
6 Before them peoples are in anguish,
all faces grow pale.
7 Like warriors they charge,
like soldiers they scale the wall.
Each keeps to its own course,
they do not swerve from their paths.
8 They do not jostle one another,
each keeps to its own track;
they burst through the weapons
and are not halted.
9 They leap upon the city,
they run upon the walls;
they climb up into the houses,
they enter through the windows like a thief.
Windows of the time were covered with lattice but no glass. Such windows would not have kept the locusts out.
10 The earth quakes before them,
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
11 The Lord utters his voice
at the head of his army;
how vast is his host!
Numberless are those who obey his command.
Truly the day of the Lord is great;
terrible indeed—who can endure it?
When the plague of locusts and the drought devastated Judah, you might have thought that Joel would encourage the people. He might have said, “Hang in there! Things are bad, but they will get better. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” Instead Joel said, “You think that was bad? Worse is to come if we don’t repent.”
12 Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for 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 aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
“Between the vestibule and the altar” — this site in the temple was the usual place for priestly intercession (1 Kings 8:22; Ezekiel 8:16). (The Reformation Bible)
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
God’s Response and Promise
There is a distinct break or turning point in the book at 2:18. Up to that verse, Joel has been speaking of the desolation that would come on Judah. From then on, God tells of the deliverance which He will bring to the nation.
18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land,
and had pity on his people.
19 In response to his people the Lord said:
I am sending you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a mockery among the nations.
20 I will remove the northern army far from you,
and drive it into a parched and desolate land,
its front into the eastern sea,
and its rear into the western sea;
its stench and foul smell will rise up.
Surely he has done great things!
21 Do not fear, O soil;
be glad and rejoice,
for the Lord has done great things!
22 Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
23 O children of Zion, be glad
and rejoice in the Lord your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.
“It will strike you at once that the locusts did not eat the years: the locusts ate the fruits of the years’ labor, the harvests of the fields; so that the meaning of the restoration of the years must be the restoration of those fruits and of those harvests which the locusts consumed. You cannot have back your time; but there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wasted blessings, the unripened fruits of years over which you mourned. The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
God’s Spirit Poured Out
28 Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
This was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the disciples gathered in the upper room, waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come (Acts 1:4-5). When the outpouring of the Spirit came, the 120 followers of Jesus were all filled with the Spirit and began to praise God in other tongues. Jerusalem was crowded at that time, because of the feast of Pentecost — so a crowd quickly gathered because of the commotion. Those who heard the disciples praise God in these miraculous languages began to mock them, claiming they were drunk. Peter stood up and boldly set the record straight: the disciples were not drunk at all, but this was a fulfillment of Joel’s great prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit.
30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.
So why don’t I call on His name? Why do I run to this person or that person, when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I set down to plot my own course and make my own plans? Why don’t I immediately place myself and my burden on the Lord?
Straight ahead is the best way to run, so why don’t I run directly to the living God? Instead, I look in vain for deliverance everywhere else, but with God I will find it. With Him I have His royal promise: “(I) will be saved.” And with Him I never need to ask if I may call on Him or not, for the word “everyone” is all encompassing. It includes me and means anybody and everybody who call upon His name. Therefore I will trust in this verse and will immediately call on the glorious Lord who has made such a great promise.
My situation is urgent, and I cannot see how I will ever be delivered. Yet this is not my concern, for He who made the promise will find a way to keep it. My part is simply to obey His commands, not to direct His ways. I am His servant, not His advisor. I call upon Him and He will deliver me.
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
HERE is Steve Green and “Breath On Me, Breath of God.”
Breathe on me, breath of God. Fill me with life anew
that I may love what thou dost love and do what thou wouldst do.
Breath on me, breath of God until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with thine to do and to endure.
Breathe on me breathe on me so that I will never die.
Breathe on me, breathe on me. Grant me everlasting life, everlasting life.
Breathe on me, breath of God, till I am wholly thine,
until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.