|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:28-32 The promise began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and it was continued in the converting grace and miraculous gifts conferred on both Jews and Gentiles. The judgments of God upon a sinful world, only go before the judgment of the world in the last day. Calling on God supposes knowledge of him, faith in him, desire toward him, dependence on him, and, as evidence of the sincerity of all this, conscientious obedience to him. Those only shall be delivered in the great day, who are now effectually called from sin to God, from self to Christ, from things below to things above.
Verse 31. - The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. These wonders in the heavens follow the wonders on earth, and these obscurations of the heavenly bodies - the darkening of the sun and the dull blood-like appearance of the moon - were portents of coming judgment. These miraculous phenomena, if literally employed, may refer to those portentous sights which, as the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus testify, were witnessed, both by besiegers and besieged, during the siege and before the destruction of Jerusalem. But taken symbolically, as is preferable, blood symbolizes bloodshed; fire, the firing of a town in time of war; and pillars of smoke, the clouds of smoke rolling up to heaven from the burning or smouldering ruins of a town or city set on fire by the enemy; while the darkening of the sun and the turning of the moon into a dull blood-red would portend approaching judgment, and a change, political and ecclesiastical, in the existing constitution of things. Here particularly, by reading Joel's prophecy in the light of the New Testament, we shall understand with tolerable clearness the meaning of the symbols of the sun and moon. The symbolic language of Joel's prediction found its fulfilment, at least in part, within less than half a century from the time when Peter spoke. Scarce forty years from that Pentecostal outpouring and the ruling powers, civil and ecclesiastical, of the Jewish nation came to an end. The Jewish Church and Hebrew commonwealth went out in darkness. The moon of the latter began to wane from the first day the Roman power was set up in Palestine, but at the destruction of the capital the light of that moon was extinguished for ever; the sun of the former was long getting obscured by clouds, but at last it underwent a total and final eclipse. But why, it may be asked, are sun and moon thus symbolic of rulers superior and inferior, or of rulers of greater and less importance, or of rulers in Church and state? By the original constitution of these luminaries, as specified in the record of Creation, they were actually appointed to this, and so naturally enough the physical here, as elsewhere, underlies the symbolic, as we read, "God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." Thus what was commenced when Judaea became a Roman province was completed when Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple burnt by the Roman army under Titus. "The day of the Lord" is an expression very common with the prophets, and always expressive of some severe visitation or special judgment. Thus we read in this same Book of the Prophet Joel, "The day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." Again in Amos 5:18, "The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light." But other days of judicial visitation were not to be compared with this. The day of Babylon's destruction is called by Isaiah simply "the day of the Lord;" so Jeremiah speaks of the day of the destruction of Pharaoh's army at the Euphrates as "the day of the Lord;" and Joel himself designates the day of Jerusalem's destruction of Nebuchadnezzar as "the day of the Lord." But the day mentioned in the text before us is "that great and notable day of the Lord," and so it was the day of the final destruction and desolation of Jerusalem.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,.... Not by eclipses, as Aben Ezra; but by the clouds of smoke arising from the burning of towns and cities, which would be so great as to obscure the sun, and through which the moon would look like blood: or all, this may be understood in a figurative sense of the change that should be made in the ecclesiastic and civil state of the Jewish nation, signified by the "heavens" and "earth"; and particularly that their king or kingdom should be in a low, mean, and distressed condition, designed by the sun; and the change of their priesthood is signified by the "moon": so Vitringa on Isaiah 24:23; interprets the "sun" here of King Agrippa, the last king of the Jews in obscurity; and the "moon" of Ananias junior, the high priest, slain by the zealots:
before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come; not the fall of Gog and Magog, as Kimchi; not the day of the last judgment, but of the destruction of Jerusalem; not by the Chaldeans, but by the Romans; their last destruction, which was very great and terrible indeed, and in which there was a manifest appearance of the hand and power of God; see Malachi 4:1. Maimonides (u) interprets it of the destruction of Sennacherib near Jerusalem; but if that sense is not acceptable, he proposes that of the destruction of Gog and Magog, in the times of the Messiah.
(u) Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 19. p. 271.
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