Joel 2: Misery, Judgment and Grace

Joel 2  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 12
Joel 2
In the second chapter, we have again a detail of national miseries, but with a near approach to that great, final, judicial day, which is to close, in righteous, wrathful visitation, the story of Israel in apostacy. The call to repentance is repeated with the hope of a turning of God’s anger away. And however suitable to the calamity of that day these calls of the prophet may have been, we know that there will be this spirit of humbling and confession in the coming days of his nation, and on the eve of their deliverance. A spirit of grace is then to be poured out, and every one is to mourn apart. The punishment of the people’s sin is then to be accepted. If the trumpet has blown “an alarm,” to tell of the enemy at hand (Joel 2:11Blow 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; (Joel 2:1)), it will be blown, but not as an alarm, to call the people in assembly to the mourning (Joel 2:1515Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: (Joel 2:15)).
So that in this feature of the prophet’s day, we may trace again the moral circumstances of the closing day. Calamity comes as the judgment of the Lord in righteousness; repentance comes as the fruit of the Spirit in grace. And then, as the fruit of this repentance, the whole system in Israel is revivified; all fruitfulness is pledged to the land now wasted (Joel 2:21-2421Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. 22Be 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. 23Be 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. 24And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. (Joel 2:21‑24)); times of refreshing and the restitution of all things are anticipated; and “My people,” says the Lord again and again, “shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:2626And 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. (Joel 2:26)). The gift of the Spirit is promised, and the times of “the day of the Lord” are seen to end in the destruction of the enemies, and the deliverance of the Israel of God (Joel 2:31-3231The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. 32And 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. (Joel 2:31‑32)). In all this we have Matthew 24 and Acts 2 combined: the one giving us a sample of the promised gift; the other detailing the terrors of that day which is to make an end of the confederated enemies of Israel, to deliver God’s remnant who have called on the name of the Lord, and to bring in the elect for whose sake those days of terror are to be shortened (Matt. 24:2222And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)).
Indeed, all the great characteristics of this coming day are clustered here. The pouring out of the Spirit (Joel 2:2828And 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: (Joel 2:28))—the deliverance of the elect brought to call on the name of the Lord (Joel 2:3232And 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. (Joel 2:32))—the judgment of the apostate nation by the hand of their great enemy, as in “the great tribulation” (Joel 2:1-111Blow 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; 2A 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. 3A 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. 4The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. 5Like 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. 6Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. 7They 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: 8Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. 9They 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. 10The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 11And 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? (Joel 2:1‑11))—the destruction of that enemy, the confederated Gentiles, by the Lord Himself, when sun, moon, and stars shall be disturbed (Joel 2:30-3230And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. 32And 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. (Joel 2:30‑32))—the peaceful reign and glory of the King in Zion (Joel 2:19-2919Yea, 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: 20But 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 savor shall come up, because he hath done great things. 21Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. 22Be 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. 23Be 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. 24And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25And 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. 26And 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. 27And 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. 28And 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: 29And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:19‑29)), following all this; these things are together here, as we find them scattered through all the prophets. I say, we see them here clustered together. We may not be competent to settle them in their order, or to put them in the presence of each other, and in their relations, as they will, by and by, be the living materials of the scene around; yet do they contain rich principles of truth, which we can be edified in knowing, and in which we can justify the ways of that wisdom that has ordered them, which is now revealing them, and will in due season accomplish them.