1960.) Joel 3

November 4, 2016

Joe3 roar

Joel 3   (NRSV)

For then, in those days and at that time,

Joel’s prophecy still concerns the time period connected with it shall come to pass afterward mentioned in Joel 2:28. This is the broad period of the Last Days, initiated by the Ascension of Jesus and the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.

–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)

when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.

This is a judgment of all nations. Joel was written at a time when a terrible plague of locusts brought the judgment of God upon the people of God. At a time like that, it is easy to think “God, You are dealing harshly with us, but what about the ungodly nations? We may be bad, but they are worse. Don’t you care about them?” God assures Israel that the nations will be dealt with.

God’s complaint against the nations is that they have mistreated His people. Primarily, this has in view the way the nations treat Israel, but also extends to how the nations treat the Church. When God’s people are mistreated, God notices and will avenge it.

What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away; for the Lord has spoken.

joel3-vengeance

When others hurt God’s people, God takes it personally.  Remember what Christ said to Paul on the road to Damascus:  Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9:4). And what He may do might be amazing and astonishing to us!

Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat

Joel issues an ironic invitation to those nations who will be defeated by the Lord.  (The Reformation Bible)

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare war,
    stir up the warriors.
Let all the soldiers draw near,
    let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
    and your pruning hooks into spears;
    let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”

Though the nations come against God and His Messiah with every weapon and the most positive frame of mind, it is all for nothing. They will be plucked like a ripe harvest and crushed in judgment.

11 Come quickly,
    all you nations all around,
    gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O Lord.
12 Let the nations rouse themselves,
    and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge
    all the neighboring nations.

Psalm 2:1-6   (NIV)

Why do the nations conspire
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
    and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,         
“I have installed my king
    on Zion, my holy mountain.”

13 Put in the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
    for the wine press is full.
The vats overflow,
    for their wickedness is great.

14 Multitudes, multitudes,
    in the valley of decision!

But the deciding here will not be for us to do; it will not be our decision. It will be the Lord’s decision. He is the Judge of all the earth.

For the day of the Lord is near
    in the valley of decision.

Joe1 day of the Lord

15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.

16 The Lord roars from Zion,
    and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
    and the heavens and the earth shake.

The power of God Almighty! — compared to the weaklings who are trying to tell themselves “We are warriors.”  It reminds me of a phrase which appears in James Weldon Johnson’s sermon “The Prodigal Son”, which was published in his 1927 book of sermons, God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. 

Young man—
Young man—
Your arm’s too short to box with God.

But the Lord is a refuge for his people,
    a stronghold for the people of Israel.

The Glorious Future of Judah

Joe3 Jerusalem

17 So you shall know that I, the Lord your God,
    dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
    and strangers shall never again pass through it.

18 In that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
    the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the stream beds of Judah
    shall flow with water;
a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
    and water the Wadi Shittim.

19 Egypt shall become a desolation
    and Edom a desolate wilderness,
because of the violence done to the people of Judah,
    in whose land they have shed innocent blood.
20 But Judah shall be inhabited forever,
    and Jerusalem to all generations.
21 I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty,
    for the Lord dwells in Zion.

God will show mercy to His people, and grant them forgiveness.  This prophecy of Joel, which began with the desperate plague of locusts, ends with a promise of restoration and redemption.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “The Day of the Lord” — written by Joe Romeo, sung by Jud Field.  What glorious wonders God has in store!

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Joel 3:16.    http://blessedmamasheaven.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/joelversewithlion.jpg
Vengeance is mine.   https://static1.squarespace.com/static/50438d1dc4aa994481346f77/t/555f88c8e4b0fcaf8c916229/1432324297667/
Jerusalem.    http://www.israeldiscoverytours.com/images/Jerusalem-sunset.jpg
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1959.) Joel 2

November 3, 2016

joel2-restore

Joel 2    (NRSV)

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)

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.

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.

–William MacDonald

They have the appearance of horses,
    and like war-horses they charge.
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.

Before them peoples are in anguish,
    all faces grow pale.
Like warriors they charge,
    like soldiers they scale the wall.
Each keeps to its own course,
    they do not swerve from their paths.
They do not jostle one another,
    each keeps to its own track;
they burst through the weapons
    and are not halted.
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?

Joe1 day of the Lord

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;

Sincere repentance is to turn to God, and therefore away from our sin.

Sincere repentance is done with all your heart, giving everything you can in surrender to God.

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.

joel2-rend-your-hearts
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.

–William MacDonald

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;

joel1-wheat-wine-oil

Grain, wine, and oil means the resources are there for worship, for meals, for daily life, for celebration!

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.

Joe2 restore-what-the-locust-has-eaten

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

Joe2 pour out doves

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.

Joe2 v32

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

_________________________

Music:

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.

Breathe 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.

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
I will restore.   https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3293/3058479827_7c0cbef911.jpg
Rend your hearts.   https://dailyverses.net/images/en/NIV/joel-2-13.jpg
I will restore to you.    http://deanneleblanc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/joel-2-25-i-will-restore-what-the-locust-has-eaten.jpg
two doves and verse.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/62ea4-joel2b2_282bwallpaper.jpg
Joel and Romans.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/21/a4/6f/21a46fa3d60790d6df7d263f960d6280.jpg

1958.) Joel 1

November 2, 2016

Joe1 alas

Joel 1   (NRSV)

The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel:

Lament over the Ruin of the Country

Hear this, O elders,
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your ancestors?
Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children another generation.

Joe2 locusts invasionWhat the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.

Why are we turning to read Joel now?

The prophet Joel spoke to the southern kingdom of Judah, and makes no reference to the northern kingdom of Israel. Its hard to pin down his exact time, because he doesn’t mention any other kings or prophets. Many scholars date the book of Joel to 835 B.C.

This makes Joel a pre-exilic prophet, who ministered before the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel (721 B.C.) or the southern kingdom of Judah (586 B.C.). Other pre-exilic prophets include Obadiah, Jonah, Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and Micah. Joel is one of the earliest prophets – only Obadiah prophesied before his time (845 B.C.).

835 B.C. was a time of turmoil and transition in Judah, at the end of the reign of the Queen Mother Athaliah and the beginning of the reign of King Joash. Athaliah seized power at the sudden death in battle of her son Ahaziah, who only reigned one year (2 Kings 8:26, 2 Kings 11:1). Athaliah killed all her sons heirs, except for one who was hidden in the temple and escaped – one-year-old Josiah (2 Kings 11:3). Her six-year reign of terror ended in 835 B.C. when the High Priest Jehoiada overthrew Athaliah and set the seven-year-old Josiah on the throne (2 Kings 11:4-21).

During her six years as queen over Judah, Athaliah reigned wickedly. She was the granddaughter of the wicked King Omri of Israel–making her daughter or niece to Ahab, one of Israel’s worst kings (2 Kings 8:26). Athaliah raised her son Ahaziah to reign in the wicked pattern of Ahab, and even brought in Ahab’s counselors to advise him (2 Chronicles 22:2-4). When Ahaziah was killed in battle and she seized power, she set her other sons to evil, even desecrating the temple and its sacred things (2 Chronicles 24:7).

If we are accurate in thinking that Joel prophesied in 835 B.C. then the judgment he described came toward the end of the six-year reign of ungodliness under Queen Athaliah. No wonder God brought a heavy hand on Judah!

–David Guzik

The name Joel means Jehovah is God and therefore constitutes a short confession of faith, somewhat like the primary New Testament confession, Jesus is Lord.

–James Montgomery Boice

Wake up, you drunkards, and weep;
    and wail, all you wine-drinkers,
over the sweet wine,
    for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has invaded my land,
    powerful and innumerable;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
    and it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has laid waste my vines,
    and splintered my fig trees;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
    their branches have turned white.

Lament like a virgin dressed in sackcloth
    for the husband of her youth.

They are mourning with the passion and emotion of a young widow. Joel doesn’t minimize the suffering. The country is looking straight in the face of devastation and ruin.

The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
    from the house of the Lord.
The priests mourn,
    the ministers of the Lord.

These offerings, which were to be offered twice daily (Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 2:1-2), were lacking because the crops were destroyed. (The Reformation Bible)

10 The fields are devastated,
    the ground mourns;
for the grain is destroyed,
    the wine dries up,
    the oil fails.

joel1-wheat-wine-oil

Grain, wine, and oil were the three staples of the agricultural society of that day. (The Archaeological Study Bible) How could they survive without them?

11 Be dismayed, you farmers,
    wail, you vinedressers,
over the wheat and the barley;
    for the crops of the field are ruined.
12 The vine withers,
    the fig tree droops.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple—
    all the trees of the field are dried up;
surely, joy withers away
    among the people.

Joe1 drought

In an agricultural society, the withering of the crops leads to the withering of the joy of the people.

A Call to Repentance and Prayer

13 Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests;
    wail, you ministers of the altar.
Come, pass the night in sackcloth,
    you ministers of my God!
Grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God.

14 Sanctify a fast,
    call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
    and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
    and cry out to the Lord.

A public fast is proclaimed so that the entire nation could stop all regular activities for a time (probably a day, Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24; Jeremiah 36:6-9) to acknowledge God’s judgment and to repent. (The Reformation Bible)

15 Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
    and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.

Joe1 day of the Lord

“The day of the Lord” has the sense of God’s time, as opposed to humanity’s time. In Old Testament prophetical books, it often refers to a day of the Lord’s wrath against Israel.

16 Is not the food cut off
    before our eyes,
joy and gladness
    from the house of our God?

17 The seed shrivels under the clods,
    the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are ruined
    because the grain has failed.
18 How the animals groan!
    The herds of cattle wander about
because there is no pasture for them;
    even the flocks of sheep are dazed.

19 To you, O Lord, I cry.
For fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness,
and flames have burned
    all the trees of the field.
20 Even the wild animals cry to you
    because the watercourses are dried up,
and fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness.

Joe1 prayer

I do believe that sometimes the Lord brings us to a place where we have no power in our situation to do anything but cry out to Him. In our hardness of heart, when all our resources are exhausted and only heaven can help, we say senseless things like, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray,” as if that is a small thing. In fact, that is the one thing the Lord is waiting for — for us to turn from ourselves to our loving Father and mighty God for forgiveness and for help!

_________________________

Music:

A powerful song for corporate confession.  HERE  is “Lead Us Back” from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The lyrics are by Bobby Gilles and Brooks Ritter. One reviewer has written:  “This song has its finger on the pulse of the church, and poetically describes some of our shortcomings. I found myself convicted of the sins mentioned in this song and convinced of my need for God’s grace.”

Falling down upon our knees
Sharing now in common shame
We have sought security
Not the cross that bears Your name
Fences guard our hearts and homes
Comfort sings a siren tune
We’re a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in You

Lord we fall upon our knees
We have shunned the weak and poor
Worshipped beauty, courted kings
And the things their gold affords
Prayed for those we’d like to know
Favor sings a siren tune
We’ve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in You

You have caused the blind to see
We have blinded him again
With our man-made laws and creeds
Eager, ready to condemn
Now we plead before Your throne
Power sings a siren tune
We’ve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in You

We’re a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in You
We’ve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in You
We’ve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in You

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Alas.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/f7/a6/eb/f7a6eb0f2fa862b744116c262205f1ca.jpg
locust invasion.    http://biblestudyoutlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/locustsinvasion.jpg
wheat, wine, oil.   https://christmyshepherd.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/oil-wine.jpg?w=840
dry dead crops, photo by Robert Ray, AP.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/drought-in-us-reaching-levels-not-seen-in-50-years-pushing-up-corn-prices/2012/07/16/gJQA01SopW_story.html
The Day of the Lord.    http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/359/788/359788141_640.jpg
praying.    http://www.christianfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/prayer-on-my-knees42.jpg

1248.) Joel 3

February 12, 2014

Joe3 roar

Joel 3   (NRSV)

For then, in those days and at that time,

Joel’s prophecy still concerns the time period connected with it shall come to pass afterward mentioned in Joel 2:28. This is the broad period of the Last Days, initiated by the Ascension of Jesus and the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.

–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)

when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.

God’s complaint against the nations is that they have mistreated His people. Primarily, this has in view the way the nations treat Israel, but also extends to how the nations treat the Church. When God’s people are mistreated, God takes it personally and will avenge it.

What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away; for the Lord has spoken.

When others hurt God’s people, God takes it personally.  Remember what Christ said to Paul on the road to Damascus:  Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9:4)

Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat

Joel issues an ironic invitation to those nations who will be defeated by the Lord.  (The Reformation Bible)

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare war,
    stir up the warriors.
Let all the soldiers draw near,
    let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
    and your pruning hooks into spears;
    let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”

11 Come quickly,
    all you nations all around,
    gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O Lord.
12 Let the nations rouse themselves,
    and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge
    all the neighboring nations.

Psalm 2:1-6   (NIV)

Why do the nations conspire
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
    and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,         
“I have installed my king
    on Zion, my holy mountain.”

13 Put in the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
    for the wine 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.

Joe1 day of the Lord

15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.

16 The Lord roars from Zion,
    and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
    and the heavens and the earth shake.

The power of God Almighty! — compared to the weaklings who are trying to tell themselves “We are warriors.”  It reminds me of a phrase which appears in James Weldon Johnson’s sermon “The Prodigal Son”, which was published in his 1927 book of sermons, God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. 

Young man—
Young man—
Your arm’s too short to box with God.

But the Lord is a refuge for his people,
    a stronghold for the people of Israel.

The Glorious Future of Judah

Joe3 Jerusalem

17 So you shall know that I, the Lord your God,
    dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
    and strangers shall never again pass through it.

18 In that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
    the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the stream beds of Judah
    shall flow with water;
a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
    and water the Wadi Shittim.

19 Egypt shall become a desolation
    and Edom a desolate wilderness,
because of the violence done to the people of Judah,
    in whose land they have shed innocent blood.
20 But Judah shall be inhabited forever,
    and Jerusalem to all generations.
21 I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty,
    for the Lord dwells in Zion.

God will show mercy to His people, and grant them forgiveness.  This prophecy of Joel, which began with the desperate plague of locusts, ends with a promise of restoration and redemption.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “The Day of the Lord” — written by Joe Romeo, sung by Jud Field.  What glorious wonders God has in store!

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Joel 3:16.    http://blessedmamasheaven.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/joelversewithlion.jpg
Jerusalem.    http://www.endtimes.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/images/gifs/jerusalem.jpg

1247.) Joel 2

February 11, 2014

Joe2 pour out

Joel 2    (NRSV)

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)

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.

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.

–William MacDonald

They have the appearance of horses,
    and like war-horses they charge.
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.

Before them peoples are in anguish,
    all faces grow pale.
Like warriors they charge,
    like soldiers they scale the wall.
Each keeps to its own course,
    they do not swerve from their paths.
They do not jostle one another,
    each keeps to its own track;
they burst through the weapons
    and are not halted.
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?

Joe1 day of the Lord

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.

–William MacDonald

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.

Joe2 restore-what-the-locust-has-eaten

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

Joe2 pour out doves

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.

Joe2 v32

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

_________________________

Music:

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.

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
And after this it shall be.    http://scripture-and-inspiration.followersofyah.com/scripture/Joel-2_28-29.JPG
I will restore to you.    http://deanneleblanc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/joel-2-25-i-will-restore-what-the-locust-has-eaten.jpg
two doves and verse.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VaKY2OXKjU0/USbqPmr8z7I/AAAAAAAAIEw/aBwqJRVtgAs/s1600/joel%2B2_28%2Bwallpaper.jpg
Joel and Romans.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/21/a4/6f/21a46fa3d60790d6df7d263f960d6280.jpg

1246.) Joel 1

February 10, 2014

Joe1 alas

Joel 1   (NRSV)

The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel:

Lament over the Ruin of the Country

Hear this, O elders,
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your ancestors?
Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children another generation.

Joe2 locusts invasionWhat the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.

The plague of locusts.  Are they to be taken literally or is this symbolic of invading armies?  Probably both.  Sometime during the prophet’s lifetime–the date is very much controverted–an all-pervasive plague of locusts invaded Judah and completely devastated the land.  This natural phenomenon is a vivid picture of the coming invasion of troops and the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.

–William MacDonald

Wake up, you drunkards, and weep;
    and wail, all you wine-drinkers,
over the sweet wine,
    for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has invaded my land,
    powerful and innumerable;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
    and it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has laid waste my vines,
    and splintered my fig trees;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
    their branches have turned white.

Lament like a virgin dressed in sackcloth
    for the husband of her youth.
The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
    from the house of the Lord.
The priests mourn,
    the ministers of the Lord.

These offerings, which were to be offered twice daily (Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 2:1-2), were lacking because the crops were destroyed.  (The Reformation Bible)

10 The fields are devastated,
    the ground mourns;
for the grain is destroyed,
    the wine dries up,
    the oil fails.

Grain, wine, and oil were the three staples of the agricultural society of that day.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

11 Be dismayed, you farmers,
    wail, you vinedressers,
over the wheat and the barley;
    for the crops of the field are ruined.
12 The vine withers,
    the fig tree droops.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple—
    all the trees of the field are dried up;
surely, joy withers away
    among the people.

Joe1 drought

In an agricultural society, the withering of the crops leads to the withering of the joy of the people.

A Call to Repentance and Prayer

13 Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests;
    wail, you ministers of the altar.
Come, pass the night in sackcloth,
    you ministers of my God!
Grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God.

14 Sanctify a fast,
    call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
    and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
    and cry out to the Lord.

A public fast is proclaimed so that the entire nation could stop all regular activities for a time (probably a day, Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24; Jeremiah 36:6-9) to acknowledge God’s judgment and to repent.  (The Reformation Bible)

15 Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
    and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.

Joe1 day of the Lord

“The day of the Lord” has the sense of God’s time, as opposed to humanity’s time.  In Old Testament prophetical books, it often refers to a day of the Lord’s wrath against Israel.

16 Is not the food cut off
    before our eyes,
joy and gladness
    from the house of our God?

17 The seed shrivels under the clods,
    the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are ruined
    because the grain has failed.
18 How the animals groan!
    The herds of cattle wander about
because there is no pasture for them;
    even the flocks of sheep are dazed.

19 To you, O Lord, I cry.
For fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness,
and flames have burned
    all the trees of the field.
20 Even the wild animals cry to you
    because the watercourses are dried up,
and fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness.

Joe1 prayer

I do believe that sometimes the Lord brings us to a place where we have no power in our situation to do anything but cry out to Him.  In our hardness of heart, when all our resources are exhausted and only heaven can help, we say senseless things like, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray,” as if that is a small thing.  In fact, that is the one thing the Lord is waiting for — for us to turn from ourselves to our loving Father and mighty God for forgiveness and for help!

_________________________

Music:

A powerful song for corporate confession.  HERE  is “Lead Us Back” from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  The lyrics are by Bobby Gilles and Brooks Ritter.   One reviewer has written:  “This song has its finger on the pulse of the church, and poetically describes some of our shortcomings.  I found myself convicted of the sins mentioned in this song and convinced of my need for God’s grace.”

Falling down upon our knees
Sharing now in common shame
We have sought security
Not the cross that bears Your name
Fences guard our hearts and homes
Comfort sings a siren tune
We’re a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in You

Lord we fall upon our knees
We have shunned the weak and poor
Worshipped beauty, courted kings
And the things their gold affords
Prayed for those we’d like to know
Favor sings a siren tune
We’ve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in You

You have caused the blind to see
We have blinded him again
With our man-made laws and creeds
Eager, ready to condemn
Now we plead before Your throne
Power sings a siren tune
We’ve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in You

We’re a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in You
We’ve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in You
We’ve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in You

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Alas.    http://old.faithgateway.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/alas-for-that-day-Joel-1-15-300×284.png
locust invasion.    http://biblestudyoutlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/locustsinvasion.jpg
dry dead crops.    http://www.greenretreat.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/US-droughts-affect-farmers.jpg
The Day of the Lord.    http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/359/788/359788141_640.jpg
praying.    http://www.christianfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/prayer-on-my-knees42.jpg