Joel Chapter 2 Sounding the Trumpet of Warning

Sep 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Joel, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Joel Chapter 2

Joel 2:1 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;

Verse 1 emphasizes several principles. The priests were instructed to “blow … the trumpet in Zion” because they were the responsible parties between the people and God. The responsibility to warn fell chiefly on the religious leadership and the prophets. Next the responsibility was on the elders, and then it went on down the line. A trumpet was to be blown and an alarm sounded to create a mood conducive to prayer, fasting, and repentance if so be that God would be merciful to the nation. Thus the circumstance was a matter of not only individual survival but also collective survival with the people calling to the Lord for deliverance from a coming calamity. However, the people did not really respond in the final analysis because when something else happened, they forgot.

Q: Is the “day of the LORD” the great Time of Trouble at the end of this age?

A: The “day of the LORD” came with regard to the people of Israel shortly after Joel’s writing, but it hinted of a doomsday way down at this end of the age. Therefore, the trouble first started with something that happened back there, which we will discuss to get the picture straight before jumping to our day. In other words, chapter 2 gives the interpretation of the first chapter—before going to the third chapter. The purpose of the alarm was to make the people tremble and to wake them up as to the realization of what was about to happen.

Q: Who will “Zion” be in the future?

A: At the time of Gog and Magog, a trumpet will be blown in natural Israel (“Zion”), and an alarm will be sounded in God’s “holy mountain,” or kingdom, i.e., Israel. Natural Israel will be affected in Jacob’s Trouble. In addition, some prophecies zero in on only spiritual Christendom. Of course, since our chief opponent in the future will be Christendom, there is a moral lesson.

To blow the trumpet, or the alarm, means that each of us has a certain degree of responsibility to inform others who are similarly trying to please God. We should alert or warn of the trouble  that is about to occur. However, the account here is painting a more natural picture. The Lord’s Great Army of the future will be somewhat like what happened in the past along literal lines. They will pillage and cause destruction in pulling down the present order and feeding upon the remnants of civilization as they now exist. As Christians, we have a responsibility, knowing that a judgment is coming and that judgment begins with the “house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17).

Q: Is there a responsibility at present to tell natural Israel that another time of trouble is coming?

A: Yes, if God’s providence places us in such a position. As we get opportunity to speak, then to withhold such pertinent information would be wrong. Our first or primary responsibility is to do Harvest work, which is to look for those who are already spiritually minded. But as circumstances arise—should our condition change where we have a Jewish audience or ear— we would inform the Jew on his level. As conditions develop more and more and people are concerned about what they are to do, we should instruct them accordingly. For instance, at the First Advent, John the Baptist preached repentance and cleansing from sin when soldiers asked him, “What should we do?” And others who were not looking for a spiritual hope also asked for advice.

To repeat, the primary work of the Gospel Age is the ornamenting of the bridal garment—to seek others with the high calling. However, if Providence changes the situation, we would give a message to Israel and to others. Our problem will eventually be with nominal Christendom, who will apply the heat to us. After Babylon falls, the chief responsibility of the Great Company will be to the Jew; their message will be to natural Zion. In other words, as time passes and the end of the age gets nearer and nearer, responsibilities can change. If we find that

Babylon is being destroyed and we are not one of the very elect, our next responsibility will be for our fellow brethren and natural Israel. But that does not mean something cannot be done beforehand if Providence opens the door. The door should not be forced. We can try various doors, going around to see if the handle opens them, but we are not to kick the door to force it open. When the door does open, we may have different or additional responsibilities.

Joel 2:2 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.

Verse 2 describes this “day of the LORD” as being “a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains.” With the coming of “a great [and strong] people … there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.” Joel was still hearkening back to the locust plague. He was saying that what had literally happened with a “dark cloud” of locusts coming in and denuding the land pictured that a northern army would come down into Israel to despoil the land. This coming judgment of God, instead of being a plague of creatures of nature, would be a plague of the human species. In other words, an enemy host would invade the land. Back there this invasion was awesome, but at the end of the Gospel Age, the trouble will be even more awesome. An unbelievably immense host will come down against Israel in Jacob’s Trouble. But in the time frame back there in the prophet’s day, with earth’s population what it was, something very similar happened and also subsequently when a northern army came down. Joel was saying, “You think what you just experienced with the literal locust plague and crop failures was bad, but an even worse judgment is coming.” Why would it be worse? Now the people were surviving (even though with great difficulty) on the food that was in storage, but when the northern army came down, many people would be killed.

What about the expression “a great people and a strong”? If we have ever held a large grasshopper in our hands, we felt the proportionately great power and strength of the legs of that insect. The counterpart would be the people of the northern army, whose physical stature and military prowess and armaments would be superior to those of the native Israelites. The is the Lord’s Great Army at this end of the age, but an inbetween experience helps us to see certain other points.

Joel 2:3 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.

Riots, accompanied by looting and lawlessness, that have occurred in some of our cities give us an idea of how “a fire” can devour. Some of the people even destroyed the homes they lived in. People who get wild in their demands and desires can self-destruct in certain situations. Thus we get a little clue as to what humanity can do to itself.

For another example, Napoleon said that an army travels on its stomach. Many armies have followed a scorched-earth policy of destruction, meaning they took everything before them to feed themselves and then burned the land behind them to prevent a future uprising.

Joel 2:4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

Verse 4 continues to draw an analogy with the locust plague of the first chapter. “The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run [or charge]” and not break ranks. An army would come and devour so that the land would be like the “garden of Eden before them” and barren after them. That which was literally a locust plague in Joel’s day was to be replaced by another type of plague—a plague of man’s inhumanity to man—as pictured initially by a near coming invasion of the land back there by a barbarous enemy speaking a hard, crude language. As in the locust plague, the army would be like horses and would travel without a division of their ranks; nothing would be able to stop them. It has been said of a locust plague that when people dig trenches and build fires, the locusts just continue on, putting out the fires and filling up the trenches with their dead bodies.

Then other locusts march over their backs and keep going. The sheer numbers of locusts defeat any effort to stay them from despoiling what is in their path.

Joel 2:5 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.

A noise is attached to a locust plague. Depending on what stage of locust is being considered, the scrunching of their mandibles can be heard when the insects are eating grass. The noise of the wings in flight can also be heard and has been likened to the sound of a forest fire, to the sound of crackling flame in the distance. The locusts can be so thick in the sky that they obscure the sun like a cloud or an eclipse. Depending on the season of the year and if circumstances are unusual, the swarms can cover a hundred miles square.

“On the tops of mountains shall they leap.” Nothing deters the locusts or is an obstacle—not fire, trenches, poison, or mountainous terrain. This was figuratively true of the armies that devastated the land of Israel back there, and it will also be true at the end of this age. When God’s judgment is due, nothing stops it.

Joel 2:6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

From the perspective of the victim, the picture was dark indeed with the opposing force coming down. The Hebrew word for “gather blackness” can also mean “turn pale.” The translation depends on context, for faces become darkened in time of famine, and fright causes color to drain from the face.

Joel 2:7 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:

Like the locusts, the armies have a determination and a continuity of purpose.

Q: Will the Lord’s Great Army be an organized host or a combination of individuals from various sources?

A: Guerrilla warfare is organized, even though the bands operate in a roughshod manner.

There is a certain degree of agreement. What we believe to be the unifying factor of Gog and Magog will be their hatred of Israel and starvation—the desire to get food. Their hunger will drive them on. They will think that after these two primary desires are satiated, Israel will be an ideal strategic location in the navel of the earth. Those comprising the Lord’s Great Army will no longer be loyal to a particular country.

From a human standpoint, the picture is dark indeed, but thank God, there is a way out. Otherwise, we would not want to study these prophecies but would want to immerse ourselves in pleasure.

Joel 2:8 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.

Comment: The Revised Standard Version has, “They do not jostle one another, each marches in his path; they burst through the weapons and are not halted.”

Joel 2:9 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.

In a plague, the locusts run to and fro and come in the windows. Similarly, nothing will deter the Lord’s Great Army of the future. There will be no secret or safe place of refuge from them. Thus Joel was advising that nothing could stop this trouble but praying to the merciful Almighty God for help. If the nation would not pray, then individuals should do so.

Joel 2:10 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:

The earth and all authority—the heavens, the sun, the moon, and the stars—will lose their influence. Along another line, the Book of Revelation takes some of these verses almost verbatim, including verse 4 about the horses and this verse about the sun, moon, and stars.

Here Joel was discussing the practical and natural effect; i.e., without the light of the sun, moon, and stars, both day and night are dark. There will seem to be no recognition of authority and leadership. Conditions will be dark and gloomy. Joel was saying that this judgment was of God to bring the people to their knees. At the end of the age, the people will get down on their knees in the realization that if the trouble is not cut short, no flesh will be saved. For one to be among the survivors, the repentant attitude will be more lasting than in the past. The great Time of Trouble on the world will be trouble along natural (or earthly) lines in a very real and practical fashion.

Joel 2:11 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?

The question “Who can abide it [the day of the LORD]?” is very meaningful. Conditions sound hopeless. No one will be able to abide that day except God be the Deliverer. Joel was talking to natural Zion back there, and that will also be the responsibility of Jacob when its final holocaust comes. At that time, God will hearken to the Holy Remnant, the right-hearted Jews.

The answer to the question “Who can abide it?” is given in Psalm 24:4, “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” David was speaking along natural lines, showing that the unconsecrated must straighten out their affairs. As any of the consecrated get nearer and nearer to that day and find they are not of the Little Flock, they will have the responsibility to help others see the situation as it really is.

Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

First, we will give a little perspective of the books of the Bible. While we have spoken in the past about contemporary prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, we are now in another time slot with the Book of Joel. The Period of the Kings was 513 years, and the Minor Prophets starting with Hosea were approximately the midpoint of the 513 years. (We are purposely giving rough figures so that we can retain the sequence.) About halfway down the Period of the Kings, which extended from Saul to Zedekiah, the Minor Prophets came into play. We will mention the prophets who were contemporaries, some for many years and others for only a few years. Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Micah were contemporary prophets, and after their decease came a blank period of prophecy, mostly during the reign of King Manasseh, when much evil occurred. During that time, not many prophetic books were written that we know of, until the Major Prophets came along. In between the contemporaries Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel and the Minor Prophets already mentioned were Obadiah, Zephaniah, Jonah, and Nahum, whose prophecies were very brief and specialized. For example, the whole story of Jonah pertains to his mission to Nineveh, and the burden of Nahum was also to Nineveh.

Now we will continue with the study of the Book of Joel, which, in round numbers, was written in 800 BC. In verse 12, Joel was advising those he addressed in his time period to turn to the Lord with their whole heart, accompanied with fasting, weeping, and mourning. They were to turn to Him with sincerity, rending their hearts and not their garments.

Q: Does this verse indicate that the judgment of 606 BC could have been averted if there had been genuine repentance?

A: Yes, that is true, especially before the conflict became irrepressible, for in time, the judgment on the nation could not be averted. In other words, the 70 years’ desolation had to be fulfilled, for the land had to have its sabbaths. However, Joel was speaking earlier, about 800 BC.

Joel 2:13 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.

God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil”; that is, it is possible for God to change His course of conduct toward the sinner if the sinner turns to Him with a truly contrite and repentant heart. However, for national judgment to be averted, the repentance has to be done collectively, not individually. If judgment is coming on a nation, the people themselves would have to representatively, in a collective fashion, manifest repentance in order to avert a national disaster. On an individual basis, repentance has been acceptable all along, for the Lord has had His people throughout all ages as individuals.

Joel 2:14 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?

This question was asked about the national situation. If the sincere repentance and heart contrition were a large enough majority in being representative of the nation, then who knows but that God would change His mind regarding the punishment He had said He would inflict? Since the nation was involved, not an individual, the result was questionable in regard to repentance.

The literal locust plague of chapter 1 was a past event, but it prefigured an invasion of the army from the north. Therefore, Joel’s prophecy occurred between these two events, and he was saying, “God is determined to visit a judgment upon Israel, and if you thought the suffering under the locust plague was bad, the enemy coming from the north will have no compassion. The desolation he will reap will be similar to what the locust plague did in a literal fashion.”

Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Joel 2:16 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.

Joel was admonishing the people that whether or not this judgment would be averted depended on a wholesale confession of the nation, and he directed his warning to different strata, starting at the bottom with the common people and going on up to the leadership.

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders.” In addition, “gather the children, and those that suck the breasts.” Not only people of responsible age but also infants were to come to this fast. In other words, mothers were not to stay home to nurse their infants. Minor children also had to attend the solemn assembly, for if they stayed behind, their mothers would be with them. There would be no excuse for not attending this assembly to be gathered in the Temple. Even newlyweds were to separate themselves and attend: “Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.” There would be no excuse for nonparticipation in the fast. (We are reminded of what happened in the days of Ezra, but that occurrence took place several hundred years later.)

Joel 2:17 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?

“Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them [as prefigured by the locusts].” The invading army from the north was now the counterpart of a literal plague that had occurred earlier. Even this army, which eventually came down, was in itself another picture—a picture of what Joel was bringing up, little by little, of what will happen at the end of the Gospel Age. When Joel advised the people to “weep between the porch and the altar,” he was referring to a judgment back there. However, the prophet’s advice prefigured what the nation of Israel should do at the end of the present age. If, in the near future, the nation followed Joel’s advice as best they could in lieu of the fact there is no Temple and went to the Wailing Wall and showed sincere national repentance, a national disaster would be averted in connection with Jacob’s Trouble. Some modifications are involved, as will be seen in the third chapter, but the lesson is true: God is gracious, slow to anger, and forgiving. First, however, conditions have to be met. Certain things have to be done by those who need correction before He can manifest His mercy and kindness in deeds on their behalf.

The account does not say here whether all of the people gathered for this solemn assembly and fast. It would be interesting to know if they followed through. In the case of Ezra, the people did obey, for their obedience is recorded as a historical fact.

Comment: The implication is that the Israelites did not “sanctify a fast” (verse 15).

Reply: The northern ten-tribe kingdom was taken away, but Judah was another situation. Joel advised the Israelites to come between the Temple and the altar, so perhaps those in Judah responded favorably. Those in the ten tribes probably counted the cost of what was involved in going to Jerusalem for a national mourning and then declined to go. Therefore, the judgment did come on the ten-tribe kingdom but not on the two-tribe kingdom until 606 BC.

Joel 2:18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

Joel 2:19 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:

Joel 2:20 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.

Verses 18-20 tell what God would do if the advice given through Joel were followed. God would remove far off from Israel the northern army that was coming down. In other words, verse 18 was conditional based on verses 15-17. With a proper response to the prophet’s advice to go to the Temple and have a sincere national mourning with a rending of the heart, the Lord would be merciful. In this case, Judah might well have so responded but not the ten tribes.

When the northern army (the Assyrians) came down in the time frame of Joel, it was not defeated, but the ten tribes were. And when the northern army of Babylon came down to Judah a couple of centuries later in 606 BC, it still was not defeated. Therefore, Joel was building up to the picture at the end of the age, when the northern army of Gog and Magog will come down against Israel and be defeated. We are being eased into the third chapter, which focuses on Jacob’s Trouble.

Verse 19 was not fulfilled in Joel’s day, and even though Judah was not taken captive, the reproach was never really lifted. It took two or three years for the Israelites to fully recover from the literal locust plague of the first chapter because the locusts not only ate every green thing but also debarked fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. The people had to live very miserly with the food they had in storage. The restoration of the corn, wine, and oil took place with the two-tribe kingdom in that they were given some relief and were spared the harshness of the judgment that came on the ten tribes. However, the statement “I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen” is again hinting that this information is valuable in regard to conditions at the end of the current age. The implication of Joel’s advice, as applying to the Jews in our day, was, “Study this advice closely, for it will be helpful to those living at the very end of the Gospel Age.” When the Holy Remnant of Israel is delivered at that time, the Jews will no longer be a reproach, and that lasting security will initiate Messiah’s Kingdom.

Next we will consider the literal aspect of verse 20. “But I [God] 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 [the Dead Sea], and his hinder part toward the utmost sea [the Mediterranean Sea], and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he [God] hath done great things.” When Gog and Magog come down, that host will eventually be defeated. The northern army was not defeated either earlier with the ten tribes or later in the two-tribe desolation of 606 BC. But the northern army of Gog and Magog will be defeated, as described in verse 20. When the host of Gog comes down and God saves His people as He did in the days of old, there will be so many corpses that a big “stink” will be in the land, requiring seven months for burial (Ezek. 39:12). Thus chapter 2 is leading up to Jacob’s Trouble and Israel’s deliverance. The “great things” are the awesome acts that the Lord will exercise at that time.

Comment: The face of the enemy host will be toward the Dead Sea. An earlier study suggested that verse 20 was alluding to the fleeing of the Holy Remnant through the split Mount of Olives when the tremendous deliverance comes. The loss of life will be great at that time.

Reply: Yes, that is right.

Q: The account states that the northern army will be driven “into a land barren and desolate.” Is the reference to the burial of the corpses in the desolate land of Edom?

A: We think the burial place will be going down toward Jericho. The earthquake that Zechariah speaks of will open up a horizontal fissure or divide, from west to east, causing the Mount of Olives to move north and south (Zech. 14:4). When we look at the Mount of Olives today and then go down to Jericho and the Dead Sea, we travel on a road that weaves and curves around and goes between two higher elevations. The suggestion in verse 20 is that this terrain will open up, and the army of Gog and Magog will pursue the Jews fleeing to Azal, their front facing Jericho as they go down toward the Dead Sea (Zech. 14:5). However, the Lord will make sure that five-sixths of the enemy die, leaving exposed, unburied corpses (Ezek. 39:2). A great number of fatalities will be involved. The mention of Azal is significant, for the Jews who flee there will be saved as part of the Holy Remnant.

Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

Joel 2:22 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.

Joel 2:23 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.

Joel 2:24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

The restoration of the land that took place after the locust plague had to do particularly with Judah, which is approximately half of all Israel. The northern kingdom was very populous, but the southern half was essentially all Judah, for Benjamin had only a little footprint, relatively speaking. Under Joshua, Simeon was given certain cities in Judah but did not have the land. The other tribes received special territories.

“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice.” There is a proper paragraph break at verse 21. The locust plague occurred in Judah, but the northern army that came down took only the ten tribes captive to Kir (called Kars in modern terminology). The sparing of Judah was evidently effective. Not only was the threat of the northern army removed, but henceforth the people of Judah noticed that crops, fruit, grains, etc., were beginning to sprout miraculously in spite of the locust plague. Hence Joel was saying in effect, “God has heard your prayer. By your compliance with the advice given, things are now prospering, and the land will be restored.”

However, the people of Judah should have kept in mind that the conditions which brought the judgment on the ten-tribe kingdom were just as applicable to them. God’s mercy to Judah should have caused them to walk anew.

God “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.” Many who study the Bible both in and out of the Truth movement know that the rains in Israel are beginning to increase. They will return in fullness when God establishes His Kingdom. At that time, the whole land will be blessed in a lasting way.

Joel 2:25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” The locust plague had so denuded the land that the people had no hope of getting fruit for several years, but what happened?

New growth was beginning to sprout, and God was making His face shine on them for a while. The recovery from this unprecedented plague in Judah was miraculous. The implication is that when Jacob’s Trouble occurs, Jews who look back on history for lessons will see that repentance can bring forgiveness. If they truly repent and rend their hearts, the Lord can forgive and restore them. If the repentance is lasting and sincere, then not only will the refreshment and blessing be permanent along temporal lines, but also Israel will have no more enemies, as promised in God’s Word. The great day of Messiah will have a lasting benefit and blessings for those who respond properly.

Joel 2:26 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.

Joel 2:27 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.

When the people of Judah saw their temporary recovery after the locust plague, they took verse 27 to say that God’s blessings were permanent. They forgot that the blessings were conditional on not just a momentary repentance but on a sincere and lasting return to God. For example, as Christians, we consecrate and give our heart to the Lord, but the act of consecration is no guarantee that once saved, we are always saved. However, once one is saved at the end of the time period allotted for his calling, that is another matter. Another example is the Ancient Worthies, who made their calling and election sure. That age is past, so when they come forth from the grave, their blessings will be lasting. When the door of the high calling in the Gospel Age is closed and the Church is complete, those who have proven faithful will be faithful forever. At the end of the Millennium, the calling of mankind will be over, and those who pass the test of the Little Season and go into the ages of ages will be like the holy angels and not die anymore (Luke 20:35,36).

But the repentance and blessings of Judah in Joel’s day were only temporary. The people did rend their hearts and their garments, and there was a miraculous recovery of crops. However, they forgot that their blessings were still conditional—as they will be in the Kingdom of Messiah.

Joel 2:28 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:

Joel 2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

Verses 28 and 29 are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:16-18). However, when Peter quoted these verses as having a fulfillment, he was referring to verse 29, “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” He also quoted verse 28, but his point was that the “handmaids” represented the calling of the Church in the Gospel Age.

Verse 28 applies to the calling in the next age, when God will bless Israel at the setting up of the Kingdom. In other words, to confuse the subject until the due time for understanding, the Holy Spirit purposely put the verses in reverse order. Marvelous things will happen after Jacob’s Trouble, for God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. That pouring will start with natural Israel, particularly in the Holy Land, and then work outward until it embraces the other nations.

Q: What was just stated is the usual explanation, and it does fit in the Book of Acts. However, if we consider verse 29 here in context in the Book of Joel, can we leave the verses in the order given? Couldn’t the servants and handmaids apply to those who will cooperate with Israel in the Kingdom? For instance, couldn’t the Gentiles who will help in the construction of the Temple be considered “servants” and “handmaids”?

A: Yes, that is true. Of course, Peter quoted these verses with the aid of the Holy Spirit, but the application at that time was only a partial fulfillment. For a fuller understanding of these verses, it is necessary to read verses 30-32, as follows.

Joel 2:30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

When Peter quoted these verses and gave a very convincing lesson, the fulfillment was partial in the sense that signs in nature occurred while Jesus was on the Cross and also at the time of his resurrection. Effects in nature in our day help us to understand some of these natural phenomena. For example, a large earthquake in Mexico in recent years exploded a mountain, causing a dark ash cloud that lasted for a long, long time. Not only were sunsets unusually red because of the ash, but also the moon appeared red for a short time. At the time of Jesus’ death, the darkness was not caused by an eclipse but by an ash cloud from an earthquake. That dust cloud obscured the sun for the three hours from 12 noon until 3 p.m. We know that an earthquake occurred, for the Temple veil was rent. Moreover, some came forth from their graves and three days later appeared to many in the city (Matt. 27:51-53). Thus phenomenal signs occurred that were timed to coincide with Jesus’ agony and death on the Cross.

From 9 a.m. to noon, Jesus was carrying the Cross and impaled, but he was not raised up in public view until 12 noon. From then until 3 p.m., the darkening came, that is, while he was on the Cross. Imagine such a sudden and strange dark foreboding for three hours on a sunny day!

In his sermon, Peter used these signs in nature as an evidence that the Jews had crucified the Messiah, the Son of God. Thus natural signs and wonders accompanied the Crucifixion.

Joel prophesied, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” From the Jewish standpoint, the people of the first century thought that “the great and the terrible day” was AD 69-70. As the Jews looked back on their experience at that time, they considered the trouble to be very momentous. In fact, the Diaspora is dated from that time onward. Nevertheless, Peter’s application was only a partial fulfillment. The full fulfillment is still future in regard to Jacob’s Trouble and the great Time of Trouble on the nations as a whole. The indication is that when Jacob’s Trouble and deliverance come at the end of the age, they will be accompanied with phenomena of nature.

Q: Along the lines of these literal signs in nature, the word “before” in verse 31 seems to be significant. The natural signs and wonders will happen “before the great and the terrible day of the LORD.” Therefore, shouldn’t we expect some literal fulfillment between now and Jacob’s Trouble as well?

A: Yes.

Q: Could one such sign be an earthquake along the rift going from Egypt up to Jerusalem that will cause the Construction Chambers of the Great Pyramid to fall?

A: Yes. If our surmise is correct, then just as there was an earthquake at the First Advent when Jesus died and made his calling and election sure, so a similar event will occur at the end of this age when the Church has finished its course. We have suggested that the split in the ceiling blocks of the King’s Chamber is providential and that the only thing holding up that ceiling is friction thrust. In other words, the fracture occurred, but the ceiling did not collapse because friction is holding it in place until an earthquake happens in that geographical location. As the veil in the Temple was rent when Jesus died, so an earthquake will destroy the interior of the Great Pyramid when the Church is complete. That sign will happen before Jacob’s Trouble.

Joel 2:32 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.

Notice what verse 32 is saying. The verse is both conditional and individual: “Whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.” Repentance based on the subject matter earlier will have to be a rending of the heart, a true contrite spirit. Those individuals who respond wholeheartedly, directing their heart to the God of Israel, will be delivered, “as the LORD hath said, and [even] in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (The Hebrew word rendered “and” should be “even.”)

Let us read verse 32 again: “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, even in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” This verse is referring to the Holy Remnant, to those whose names are written in the book of survival (Dan. 12:1; Isa. 4:3).

Q: Is the thought that one class will be delivered in “mount Zion and in Jerusalem”?

A: Yes. However, a distinction could be made in the sense that the supervision of this deliverance will be spiritual. For instance, Obadiah 21 reads, “Saviours [plural] shall come up on mount Zion” to rescue Israel (that is, the Holy Remnant) out of Jacob’s Trouble. Those whom God deems the true Israelites at that time will be rescued, but The (glorified) Christ will bring about the deliverance. Thus, out of or from the spiritual phase of Zion will come deliverance in the vicinity of Jerusalem, which will be center stage at the very end of this age.


1992 Study with Frank Shallieu

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  1. […] Joe 2:1-3 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. (see verse by verse study on Joel 2) […]

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