Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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;SECTION II
The Day of the Lord cometh! Repentance alone can avail to meet it. Hence the Demand for a Day of Public Humiliation
1 BLOW the trumpet1 in Zion,
Sound2 an alarm on my holy mountain.3
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
Because the day of Jehovah cometh,4
It is nigh at hand.
2 A day of darkness and of gloom,5
A day of clouds, and of thick mists,6
Like the morning7 dawn spread upon the mountains;
So shall come a people numerous and mighty,
The like of which hath never been before,
And the like of which shall not come again,
In the years of many generations.
3 A fire devoureth before them,
And behind them a flame burneth;
Before them the land is as the garden of Eden,8
And behind them a desolate wilderness,
And nothing shall escape them.
4 Their appearance is like9 the appearance of horses,
And like horsemen shall they run.
5 Like the noise of chariots, on the tops of mountains10 they shall leap,
Like the sound of a flame of fire devouring stubble.
Like a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before them the people11 are in pain,
All faces gather paleness.12
7 They shall run like mighty men,
They shall climb the wall like men of war;
And they shall march, each one in his way,
And they shall not turn aside13 from their paths.
8 And no one shall press upon another,
They shall march each one in his path;14
And though they rush15 upon the dart, they shall not be wounded.
9 They shall run to and fro in the city,
They shall run upon the wall;
They shall climb upon the houses,
They shall enter behind the windows like a thief.
10 Before them the earth trembleth,
The heavens quake,
The sun and the moon shall be darkened,
And the stars withdraw their brightness,
11 And Jehovah shall utter his voice before his host,
For his army is very great,
For he that executes his word is mighty;
For great is the day of Jehovah, and very terrible,
And who can endure it?
12 Yet even now,16 saith Jehovah,17
Turn unto me with all your heart,
With fasting, and with weeping, and with lamentation,
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments.
And return to Jehovah your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger and of great kindness,
And repenteth Him of the evil.
14 Who knoweth?18 He may return and repent
And leave a blessing behind,
A meat-offering and a drink-offering
For Jehovah your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Sanctify a fast,
Call a solemn assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify a congregation,
Assemble the old men,
Gather the children,
And those that suck the breasts;
Let the bridegroom desert his chamber,
And the bride her closet;
17 Between the porch and the altar,
Let the priests weep,
The ministers of Jehovah,
Spare thy people, O Jehovah,
And give not thy heritage to reproach,
That the heathen should rule over19 (or use a bye-word against) them;
Wherefore should they say among the heathen (—the peoples)
Where is their God?
This portion of the prophecy consists of two parts. The first is contained in Joel 2:1–11, in which the prophet explains more fully than he had before done, the misery that was coming on the land, a harbinger of the great and terrible day of the Lord. The second part includes Joel 2:12–17, and declares that timely repentance would secure God’s gracious help, and therefore that the priests should earnestly deal with the people to this end.
Joel 2:1. Blow the Trumpet in Zion. This is a call to the priests. They must give a signal of alarm from Zion, which is to be understood not in the local sense, but as including the whole of Jerusalem. Then comes the more precise locality, “the holy mountain.” The design of this signal is to arouse the inhabitants of the land, and to apprise them that an event of terrible magnitude is close at hand. The Day is the judgment day of the Lord. There is a climax in the clauses announcing its approach, “it is coming,” “it is near,” i. e., its coming is not an event of the far distant future, but it will be very soon.
Joel 2:2. The Day is one of darkness. Four terms are used to show how intense it will be. See Ex. 10:22; Deut. 4:11. It will be darker than that of Egypt, and than that of Sinai. Here the “darkness” is to be understood in a literal sense, for by the vast swarms of locusts, the sun would be obscured (Joel 2:10, and Exod. 14:15). That the prophet had these swarms of locusts in view is evident from what follows. כשַׁהַר belongs to the following עַם רַב. As the early morning dawns upon the mountains, so this “people” comes. “This,” says Keil, “is to be understood of the shining caused by the reflected rays of the sun from the wings of a swarm of locusts.” [Some, says Dr. Pusey, have thought that there is here an allusion to the appearance which, the inhabitants of Abyssinia well know, precedes the swarm of locusts. A sombre yellow light is cast upon the ground from the reflection, it is thought, of their yellow wings. But that appearance seems to be peculiar to that country.—F.] The image naturally exhibits the suddenness and universality of the darkness, when men looked for light. As to the meaning of שַׁהַר, expositors are greatly divided. Bauer thinks that the points of comparison are the quickness with which, and the wide extent over which the dawn spreads itself. Credner’s view is, that as the morning light overspreading the hills is a symbol and pledge of life and joy, so these clouds shall come overspreading the land with darkness and misery. [Wünsche takes it in the sense of the “morning gray,” i. e., the time when the morning is wrapped in a sort of darkish or dusky gray; the meaning being, that the nature of this “day” will be made known, just as the gray dawn of morning proclaims the coming day.—F.] There hath not been ever the like. The phrase seems to have been borrowed from Exod. 10:14,—a passage on which the prophet, in a general way, seems to have had his eye,—where the same thing is said of the plague of locusts sent upon Egypt.
Joel 2:3. A fire devoureth. This description is based on what had been already experienced, namely, that the desolation caused by locusts had been attended usually by drought and terrible heat. But now the heat grows into a fierce flame, analogous to the awful displays when God revealed Himself at Sinai. So here, the army of locusts is God’s host. פלֵיטָה. That which has “escaped,” namely, the “fire,” or the desolation caused by it, has not remained in the land. [This is a strained sense. The exposition of Newcome, Pusey, and Wünsche is more natural and sensible. “There is nothing that has escaped it, i. e., this army.” Pusey adds, “the word being used elsewhere of the persons who escape,—captivity or captives,—suggests in itself that we should not linger by the type of the locusts only, but think of enemies more terrible, who destroy men.—F.]
Joel 2:4, 5. Their appearance—in battle array. The entrance of this fearful host is described. The head of the locust has a certain resemblance to that of the horse. Their celerity of movement is compared to that of horsemen; and in Joel 2:5, the noise caused by their leaping is likened to that made by chariots on rough mountain roads, so that their appearance is somewhat similar to that of an army advancing in battle array. Their noise in devouring plants and herbs is also compared to the crackling of flames in a field of stubble. [Pusey: The amazing noise of the flight of locusts is likened by those who have heard them, to all sorts of deep sharp rushing sounds. The prophet combines purposely things incompatible, the terrible heavy bounding of the scythed chariot, and the light speed with which these countless hosts should in their flight bound over the tops of the mountains where God had made no paths for man.—F.]
Joel 2:6. Before them the peoples, etc. עַמִים here has the usual sense of “peoples,” “nations,” since the day of the Lord would not be confined to one country. All faces lose their glowing color, i. e., the blood retires from the cheeks, so that they grow pale. קָבַץ is here to be taken in the sense of אָסַף in Joel 2:10 and 3:15.
Joel 2:7. They shall run, etc. With resistless power they advance and march toward their goal. They run to attack. In like manner they climb the wall. עָבַט = to change or shift the way, i. e., to turn from one’s way and go into that of another, so that the latter, is hindered. [Pusey: They are on God’s message and they linger not. Men can mount a wall few at a time; the locusts scale it much more steadily, compactly, irresistibly. The picture unites the countless multitude, condensed march, and entire security of the locusts with the might of warriors.—F.]
Joel 2:8–10. And no one shall press, etc. Those behind shall not press upon those before. No weapons can stop the advance of this host; or arrest its march. They rush through, or between, or under the darts, or swords. They go forward as if no obstacles were in their way. Of course this does not mean that any attempt was actually made to oppose their progress, but simply that it would be vain to resist them, by the means ordinarily used to arrest an army (Joel 2:9), comp. Ex. 10:6. The picture in Joel 2:7–9 is perfectly true to nature. Jerome (in loc.) says, “We have ourselves lately seen this very thing in this province (Palestine). When the locusts come and fill the whole space betweeen earth and sky, they fly in perfect order, as if obedient to a divine command, so that they look like the squares of a pavement. Each one holds its own place, not diverging from it even so much as by a finger’s breadth. To these locusts nothing is impenetrable, fields, meadows, trees, cities, houses, even their most secret chambers.” The accounts of more recent observers agree with this description. There is a design in this picture so elaborate in its details. The more terrible the visitation of locusts appears, the more certain would it be, that when the day of the Lord came, this host would become God’s instrument in the infliction of his judgment. What follows in Joel 2:10 is fully consonant with the fact, though there is some rhetorical amplification, as the prophet, once for all, sees in the swarm of locusts not a mere natural phenomenon, but an evidence of the coming of the day of the Lord. The view we take of an event naturally gives a certain coloring to the picture of it, and a certain climactic amplication is proper, when the event is one that surpasses all previous experience. Before them, or it, i. e., this great and mighty people. The earth trembles. What more natural than that heaven and earth should be terrified by such a host,—one so dreadful in fact, so much more dreadful when viewed as the host of an avenging God? This most awful effect cannot, indeed, be seen or heard, like these marching hosts and the noise they produce; it can only be felt, and thus all the wider scope is given to the terrified imagination. The obscuration of the sun, moon, and stars is real, but this darkness becomes more fearfully impressive, since the locust swarms appear as a tempest cloud of divine wrath. (Comp. Jer. 13:10; Ezek. 12:7; Mark 13:24.)
Joel 2:11. And Jehovah shall utter his voice. Probably a real event is referred to,—a thunderstorm in connection with the coming of the locusts. The prophet hears the thunder not so much with his outward ear as mentally, recognizing it as a manifestation of God. Only such displays of power as those described in Joel 2:10, 11, would befit the greatness of the host sent to do Jehovah’s will, and the terribleness of the day of the Lord that was coming,—a day so terrible as to wring from the prophet the inquiry, “who can endure it?” See Jer. 10:10; Mal. 3:1.
Joel 2:12–17. Yet even now, etc. Though the anger of God is so clearly revealed that men may see his day coming, yet He says, Turn unto me, and thus points out the way in which his anger may be averted. If they repented, they would escape these judgments, and find God gracious. With all your heart. This is the most essential thing, and so is named first, yet this hearty repentance will also manifest itself outwardly. But the prophet warns the people that a merely external repentance will effect nothing (Joel 2:13), comp. Ps. 51:19; Ezek 36:26. Such repentance, however, as that described in Joel 2:12, 13, will avail, because “He is gracious” (Ex. 34:6; 2 Sam. 24:16). Therefore is there hope that He will avert his judgments. Who knoweth. That God is such as He is here described is beyond a doubt, but whether, under present circumstances, He will display his mercy, is not so certain. This depends on the conduct of the people, and hence the prophet would have them to bear in mind, that pardon would not come to them as a matter of course, and that their repentance must not be of an easy and formal kind. He will return. Jehovah is conceived of as on his way from heaven for the purpose of judgment; but He may stop, and return to heaven. Leave behind Him, i.e., when He returns to heaven (Hos. 5:5). A blessing, i. e., an abundant harvest, so that there may be no lack of those offerings, the materials of which had been destroyed by the locusts (1:9–13). Instead of a day of judgment (involving a greater desolation than any as yet experienced), there was hope that God would give another crop to replace the one destroyed (Joel 2:5). Since repentance opened such prospects of blessing, the priests should summon the people to meet for the purpose of humiliation and prayer, and they should themselves, in the name of the people, implore God’s mercy.
Joel 2:16 repeats what was said before in 1:14, but more in detail. Sanctify a congregation, i., e., call a meeting of the congregation for sacred purposes. No age should be excepted, because the entire people deserved punishment and needed to repent. Even the joy of the bridegroom and the bride must give place to penitential mourning. What the priests should do, when the people were assembled, is defined in Joel 2:17. They shall stand between the porch and the altar, i. e., immediately before the entrance to the sanctuary and turning toward it, they should pray to God, appealing to Him in behalf of the people as his own covenant people.
[Pusey: The porch in this, Solomon’s temple, was in fact a tower in front of the Holy of holies, of the same breadth with the temple. The brazen altar for burnt-offerings stood in front of it. The space between the porch and the altar, became an inner part of the court of the priests. It seems to have been a place of prayer for priests. It is spoken of as an aggravation of the sins of those twenty-five idolatrous priests, that here, where they ought to worship God, they turned their backs toward the temple of the Lord to worship the sun. Here Zechariah was standing, when the spirit of God came upon him, and he rebuked the people, and they stoned him.—F.]
1. The day of the Lord (1:15; 2:1; 3:4–14), is a phrase used only by the prophets. If, as some think, Obadiah is the oldest, the phrase occurs first in Ob. 15, and next in the above marked places in Joel. If this view of the relative ages of these prophets be correct, we may assume that the phrase was introduced into prophetic language by Obadiah. Certainly Joel uses it in a way to show that he regarded the idea expressed by it as one well known to those for whom he prophesied, though, as Ewald suggests, the expression may be here presented in its oldest and simplest form. “As the king of a vast empire,—Ewald adds,—may for a time so completely disappear from the view of his subjects, as to be the same as if he had ceased to exist, and then suddenly reappear among them, in the fullness of his power to hold a long delayed assize, so the Invisible One may put off, or seem to put off the day when He will appear as the Supreme Judge. The idea of the “day of the Lord” is closely connected with that of Jehovah as king, who as such has a “day” for men,—a day in the pregnant sense of the word, a day for judgment. Jehovah as king must and will, in due time, suddenly and miraculously judge and subdue all who are in rebellion against Him. He will subject all things to his own holy and righteous control, thus showing that his will is the only and absolute rule; and will rectify all that is now disorderly in the condition of things on the earth. As Israel was then the kingdom of Jehovah in a special sense, “the day” for Israel as God’s people, would be the epoch of their perfect and glorious deliverance from all their enemies. This appears in Joel 3. The “day” is that one on which Jehovah sits in judgment on all his foes, and when Israel’s prosperity begins. Yet it is even for Israel a day of judgment,—one that shall make it manifest whether they are faithful or not to their obligations as God’s people. If not, even they shall be destroyed, unless timely repentance intervenes. This view is presented in chaps, 1–2. Thus while the ultimate result of the judgment will be the salvation and glory of Israel, the immediate design of the day of the Lord is the punishment of the heathen as the enemies of his people, and of the latter as well if untrue to their covenant relation. Hence all the predicates that describe the day, mark it as one of judgment. It is “great and very terrible” (2:11; 3:4); “dark and gloomy” (2:2; Amos 5:18; Is. 2:12). In the announcement of this “day,” Israel is not so much consoled, as warned against self-conceit and security,—a warning all the more earnest on account of the uncertainty of its coming. Hence men should be always ready for it. Still, Joel does not as yet seem to know how far the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah may be faithless to their calling as God’s people, nor what divine judgment shall overtake them. He sees them, on the one hand, menaced by judgments, but on the other hand, by their penitence averting them, so that actually these judgments in their destructive power fall upon the heathen alone, while Israel and Judah are redeemed and glorified. The יוֹם־יְהוָה is the ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου of the New Testament. Joel, however, does not use the phrase “day of the Lord” with reference to the hope of Messiah’s coming, since we find no such hope in any part of his prophecy.
2. The next question is this,—Considering the “day of the Lord” as one of menace to Israel, how was it regarded by the prophet himself? We begin by saying that the “day,” as viewed by Joel, was not marked by a series of events, but by a single, sudden, and conclusive act. And therefore Keil applies modern speculative notions to the exposition of the phrase, when he says, “each particular judgment by which God chastises his own people for their sins, or destroys the enemies of his kingdom, may be regarded as a moment in the ‘day of the Lord.’ ” If so, why should Joel connect the approach of that day with the visitation of locusts? As already mentioned in Joel 1. the allegoric signification assigned by some to the locusts (i. e., hostile hosts), has arisen out of the union of two heterogeneous things. This allegoric sense may be found in those other prophets, one of whose chief themes was the judgment to be inflicted upon Israel by means of heathen nations—a judgment which then appears as “the day of the Lord” for Israel. But the verbal text will not admit of this principle of interpretation in Joel 1. The objection, however, does not hold in Joel 2, where the prophet describes the entrance of swarms of locusts into the land as an actual event, and also designates it as the coming of the day of the Lord. Some interpreters take the locust visitation as a presage and a symbol of an invasion by hosts of a different kind, partly on the ground that it is denoted as the coming of the day of the Lord, and partly from the use of the term “northern” in Joel 2:20, which cannot be applied to the locusts. There is, however, not much force in the first of these considerations, for while there is, in a general way, an obvious analogy between the swarms of locusts and an invading army, much is here said about the one that will not apply to the other. The reference to Is. 13. is more to the purpose, for he quotes the very words of Joel, and describes the judgment of Babel in terms that show that he understood the locust invasion in an allegoric sense. But though the language of the two prophets is so similar, it does not follow that they refer to the same events, nor that their words are to be understood in precisely the same sense.
But there are positive difficulties in the way of the allegoric interpretation of this chapter. For example, what can be meant by “driving the locusts into the sea” (2:20)? Again, the question arises, if Israel is threatened by an enemy, by what one? The word “northern” proves nothing. It is strange, on this theory, that while Joel describes the judgment on Israel by some foe, he gives us no hint even by which to identify him. There is no indication that the heathen nations were to be the chosen instruments for this purpose. On the contrary, what they do against Israel is exhibited as a crime which shall bring down God’s judgments on their own head. This method of exposition also overlooks the differences in the times when the several prophets lived. In Joel’s days, the great empires had not yet appeared as the special instruments of God’s judgments on his covenant people. In this character they had not yet come within the range of the prophet’s vision. He knew, indeed, that Israel’s sins deserved, and would receive chastisement, but he had not yet been told that the heathen nations would be God’s agents in inflicting it. Whenever they are named, it is as being themselves the objects of wrath, while Israel appears as a penitent and the recipient of God’s mercy.
But it may be said that while the prophet describes a real locust visitation, he sees in it, at least to a certain extent, a type of the “day of the Lord—a day of judgment; or in other words, what the land had already experienced might warn its inhabitants that they would have a still more bitter experience when that “day” arrived. But the difficulty is that if we suppose one event to be in any sense formally typical of the other, we find in the minutely detailed account of the type much that in no way corresponds with the antitype. The darkness, the terror, and the desolation produced by the locusts might be in themselves typical, but these are the features on which the least emphasis is laid by the prophet.
The view which we prefer is this. The land had been desolated by locusts to an unparalleled extent. The prophet had reason to fear that this was the harbinger of a worse calamity of the same sort. He sees in the visitation the beginning of the day of the Lord. The locust army is led by God himself, and hence the lively colors of that picture of it which he draws. The plague of locusts and the day of the Lord are not to be taken as two distinct things. They differ, not like the type and the antitype, but as the beginning and the end of the same thing. And so he says, “the day of the Lord cometh, it is near.” He sees its approach, still he hopes that the repentance of the people in answer to his earnest appeals, will ward off its further effects,—that Israel, warned and taught by the earlier and merely relative judgment, may escape the final one, and that the enemies of God’s people alone shall be overwhelmed by it. The day of the Lord in the highest sense of the words, did not, indeed, come with the calamity by which Israel was then chastised, but each preliminary judgment was really the precursor and pledge of the absolute and final one. All that we can affirm is that the prophet saw in this locust visitation not merely a natural phenomenon, but the finger of God. In these terrible scenes he hears the voice of the Living God calling his people to repentance. As God’s messenger he reechoes the earnest appeal, knowing that ere long He will come to judge his people, though the exact time of his coming none can tell.
3. The plague of locusts was a punishment of the nation’s sins. The prophet, therefore, demands hearty repentance, and a return to God. He, however, does not name the sins which had brought down this chastisement. There seems to have been no one prevalent form of corruption at that time; and, in particular, there is no distinct trace of idolatry. But this shows how earnest God is in punishing sin, since not only do gross iniquities awaken his displeasure, but also sins of the heart, though there may be no outward display of them. His love to his people also appears, since He summons them to repentance, in circumstances, in which, without such a call, they might have sunk into a condition of dangerous security. The earnestness of the prophet is also shown by his recognizing these calamities as divine judgments for sin, and his evident belief that although the people might outwardly seem to be in the right way, they might really be at the same time ripe for punishment. The repentance he demands, should consist essentially of turning with the whole heart to God, and which would outwardly manifest itself by fasting, weeping, and rending the garments. These were expressive symbols, and on this very account there was danger of putting them in the place of the inward feelings which they implied and represented. Against this mistake he warns the people, “rend your hearts and not your garments.” But even their sorrow for sin, however real, would be of no avail without an actual turning to God. The repentance which He demands, is such as both has its seat in the heart, and displays itself in the life. Prayer for pardon is a prominent feature of the public solemn humiliation described in Joel 2:17. As the whole land had been already chastised, and was still threatened with a severer infliction, the repentance suited to the occasion was not simply that of individuals, but of the whole nation as such. Of course, this national penitence has its root in that of individual men, but it does not rest there. As Israel had only one legal sanctuary—the Temple,—all public religious ceremonies must take place there, and through the ministry of the one priesthood. The public fast-day demanded by the Prophet is a Biblical precedent for the observance of similar days in Christian times and lands. They are as proper under the New Economy as they were under the Old. In this penitential prayer, there is not only an appeal to God’s mercy, but a declaration that his honor is concerned in the continued existence of Israel as his people. To abandon Israel wholly would give occasion to the heathen to blaspheme, as if God had been unable to save his people, or had forgotten his promises to do so. This relation, and these promises were not designed, nor did they really tend to beget a sinful security, but to keep alive in the hearts of God’s people an humble faith and hope. Israel bows I under God’s hand, but at the same time trusts Him as his God. This relation of ancient Israel is repeated, but in a far higher form and degree in the sonship of God’s people under the New Covenant.
Repentance is necessary. It alone can help, yet the punitive justice of God has also its influence for good. For while it is certain that the righteous Lord will punish sin, his grace, and pity, and patience are no less certain. And so if there be no defect in the repentance of the sinner, forgiveness will not be wanting on the part of God. This truth is most emphatically expressed in Joel 2:18, where a rich promise immediately follows a severe menace. Yet the observation of Reiger is a very just one, namely, that the true penitent must and will leave wholly in God’s hand the mitigation of the temporal punishment which he may have brought upon himself on account of his sins.
Joel 2:1. Blow the trumpet. It is the office of a minister of God’s Word, when great calamities are imminent, to sound an alarm, and call men to repentance. The day of the Lord, etc. All the remarkable judgments with which God visits individuals, or a land, are harbingers of the final judgment of the world, and whatever there is of the terrible in the former, will be found in the latter, in a far higher degree, by godless sinners. How stupid the security of those who, in the face of such events, with ruin impending over their heads, are not disturbed even for a moment. The day of the Lord cometh. (1) Nothing is more certain than the fact of its coming. (2) But nothing is more uncertain than the time of its coming. The call to prepare for it should be continually sounding. It does not come so quickly, perhaps, as we in our impatience often wish, but it will come more quickly than the secure imagine. Its delay is not designed to beget wantonness in men, but only shows—as we should gratefully own—the long suffering of the Lord, who desires not that any should perish; God warns men often, and for a long time, but at last the decision will come. We should not be hasty in predicting when the day of the Lord will come, but we should be reminded of it in all the visitations of his providence, and we should try to put ourselves in the light of that day. As the special divine judgments will find their completest accomplishment in that last great day of wrath, they are so described as to fill men’s minds with a wholesome terror, and to convince them how utterly unable they shall be to endure it.
[PUSEY: Joel 2:1. The trumpet was wont to sound in Zion only for religious uses: to call together the congregations for holy meetings, to usher in the beginnings of their months, and their solemn days with festival gladness. Now, in Zion itself, the stronghold of the kingdom, the holy city, the place which God chose to put his Name there, which He had promised to establish, the trumpet was to be used only for sounds of alarm and fear. Alarm could not penetrate there, without having pervaded the whole land. Good is the trouble which shaketh carnal peace, vain security, and the rest of bodily delight, when men, weighing their sins, are shaken with fear and trembling, and repent.—F.]
Joel 2:2. A day of darkness. A day of judgment is a manifestation of God’s wrath against sin, after the measure of his grace which seeks to save and bless them has been exhausted. Hence darkness is its proper symbol.
[HENRY: Extraordinary judgments are rare things and seldom happen, which is an instance of God’s patience. Let none be proud of the beauty of their grounds any more than of their bodies, for God can soon change the face of both.—F.]
Joel 2:6. The people tremble. An ever-growing dread will accompany and enhance the terrors of approaching judgment. Men in their wanton security are all the while preparing the material of such fear.
[HENRY: When God frowns upon men, the lights of heaven will be small joy to them. For, man by rebelling against his Creator, has forfeited the benefit of all his creatures. None can escape the arrests of God’s wrath, can make head against the force of it, or bear up under the weight of it.
PUSEY: The judgments of God hold on their course, each going straight to that person for whom God, in the awful wisdom of his justice, ordains it. No one judgment or chastisement comes by chance. Each is directed and adapted, weighed and measured, by infinite wisdom, and reaches just that soul for which God appointed it, and no other, and strikes upon it with just that force which God ordains it.—F.]
Joel 2:11. Very great is his army. God can use any creature as his instrument to do his work. How many and mighty the hosts which He can send against men! The smallest things can become his agents to produce the greatest results. The mightiness of God, and the weakness of men, are here most distinctly displayed. Who can endure? No one who does not turn in penitence to God. This is a most momentous question, which we should often and seriously ponder. O what a creature is man! How proud when trouble is at a distance! How powerless and despairing when it overtakes him!
Joel 2:12. Yet also even now, etc. These words introduce the exhortation to repentance, to guard the people against the notion, that, when the prophet called on them to repent, and assured them that they would escape punishment if they did so, he was speaking in a sort of formal way, and in his own name. Both the exhortation and the promise come from God. When repentance enters, then comes help and hope. Repentance alone can ward off divine judgments. It is not enough that repentance be strong in its outward manifestations, as fasting and weeping, it must also be deep-seated, hearty, and not superficial. Turn unto the Lord. A call that is both needful and salutary, though, alas, too often unheeded. Grief for sin is only the half of repentance, it must be accompanied by a real turning to God. Only thus, O man, shalt thou obtain pardon; only thus will there be an actual turning away from sin. Sinner! despair not on account of thy misdeeds. Is God’s wrath against sin very great? His grace in pardoning it is greater still. So rich is the grace of God that the prophet is at a loss for words adequately to describe it. How ready God is to repent Him of the evil! Make a trial of his readiness and see. He who does not seek God’s grace as a penitent will never know how great it is. How much more willing is God to leave behind Him a blessing rather than a curse. No one would ever truly repent unless grace planted in the heart the seeds of faith and hope. Though a gracious hope grows slowly, yet the wavering heart will often be, in a secret way, sustained by it, and such a soul will better apprehend it than one filled with overmuch confidence.
[JEREMY TAYLOR: Although all sorrow for sins hath not the same expression, nor the same degree of pungency and sensitive trouble, yet it is not a godly sorrow, unless it really produces these effects; i. e. (1), that it makes us really to hate, and (2) actually to decline sin; and (3) produces in us a fear of God’s anger, a sense of the guilt of his displeasure; (4) and then such consequent trouble as can consist with such apprehension of the Divine displeasure; which, if it express not in tears and hearty complaints, must be expressed in watchings and strivings against sin; in patiently bearing the rod of God; in confession of our sins; in perpetual begging of pardon; and in all the natural productions of these according to our temper and constitution; it must be a sorrow of the reasonable faculty, the greatest of its kind.
PUSEY: Although the mercy of God is in itself one and simple, yet is called abundant, on account of its divers effects. For God knows how in a thousand ways to succor his own.—F.]
Joel 2:14. A meat-offering, etc. God’s glory and our salvation are so intimately conjoined, that the pardon of the guilty is facilitated thereby, since the salvation of the sinner redounds to the glory of God.
[HENRY: Now observe: (1) The manner of the expectation is very humble and modest. Who knows? Some think it is expressed thus doubtfully to check the presumption of the people, and to quicken them to a holy carefulness. Or, rather, it is expressed doubtfully, because it is the removal of a temporal judgment that they here promise themselves, of which we cannot be so confident, as that God is gracious. (2) The matter of the expectation is very pious, they hope God will return and leave a blessing behind Him, not as if He were about to go from them, and they could be content with any blessing in lieu of his presence, but behind Him, i. e., after He has ceased his controversy.
PUSEY: God has promised forgiveness of sins to those who turn to Him. But He has not promised, either to individuals or churches, that He will remit the temporal punishment which He had threatened. He forgave David his sin (against Uriah). But the temporal punishment of his sin pursued him even on the bed of death. God often visits the penitent soul, and by some sweetness with which the soul is bathed leaves a token of his renewed presence.—F.]
Joel 2:15, 16. Sanctify a fast—Gather the people. Fasting is a refined external discipline, promotive of prayer and piety. Only we must take care not to make a merit of it.—The people. By penitence and prayer, an entire community may be saved from a great calamity.—Children. Parents should be aroused to a deeper sorrow for their sins by the thought of their young children, who are also members of God’s Church, and included in his covenant. As little children share in the calamities caused by the sins of their parents, their common distress should be presented before the Lord, and deliverance from it asked.—The Bride. In seasons of general distress and danger, we should abstain from the most innocent enjoyment.
[HENRY: It is good to bring little children, as soon as they are capable of understanding anything, to religious assemblies, that they may be trained up betimes in the way they should go.—Private joys must always give way to public sorrows, both those for affliction, and those for sin.
ROBINSON: It is very consolatory to observe, even in the midst of this terrific visitation—the last harbinger of the Saviour’s coming—an invitation of mercy. If men will then but seek the Lord with their whole heart, in deep humiliation, and turn away from their sins, He will be inquired of. At the eleventh hour, when the time for work is all but gone, they may find admission into his vineyard. Happy is it when outward afflictions of any kind lead us to true repentance.—F.]
Joel 2:17. Let the Priests. The special duty of the priesthood was to exhort the people to repentance, to stand between them and the Lord and pray for them, and hence it is the duty of every Christian, as a spiritual priest, to stir up his fellow Christians to repentance, and to pray for them.—Spare Thy People,—a petition full of humility and confidence, i. e., “look upon our needs, but remember also thy glory, O Lord!” What we need is God’s mercy. We can appeal to what his grace has made of us. There is the strongest antithesis between God’s people and the heathen, just as there is between God and idols.—Where is their God. God will never abandon his people,—a truth full of comfort to them, though it affords no ground for carnal security. On the contrary, it is fitted to stimulate us to be faithful to Him, as He is faithful to us.
[HENRY: Ministers must themselves be affected with those things wherewith they desire to affect others.—The maintaining of the credit of the nation among its neighbors, is a blessing to be desired and prayed for, by all that wish well to it. But that reproach of the Church is especially to be dreaded and deprecated which reflects upon God.—F.]
Joel 2:1.—The שׁוֹפָר of the Hebrews, according to Jerome, was a metal instrument in the shape of a horn, and had a tone of extraordinary power. Its root, שָׁפַר, to be bright, refers either to the metallic glitter of the instrument, or its clear ringing sound.
Joel 2:1.—“And sound.” And is omitted in the Vulg., Sept., Arab., Chald., and five MSS. omit ו. There is more energy in the passage without it.
Joel 2:1.—“Holy mountain.” קָדְשִׁי is a noun, lit., “mountain of my holiness,” The adject. קָדוֹשׁ is only applied to persons and never to things.
Joel 2:1.—“The day—cometh.” The perf. בָא is used as the present to express the certainty of the event.
Joel 2:2.—“Darkness and gloom.” אֲפֵלָה is often connected with חשֶׁךְ, to express a kind of climax. Its root is not used in Heb., but we find it in the Arab. ܩܪܪܷܬܱܐ.
Joel 2:2.—“Clouds and thick mists.” עֲרָפֶל, formed apparently from עָרִיף, a cloud, and אָפַל, to be dark, corresponding to the Greek ὀρφνη. Here, too, a gradation is marked.
Joel 2:2.—“Like the morning dawn,” etc. The Vulg. renders it, “as the morning spread upon the mountains, a people much and mighty,” but the accents will not admit of this. Newcome has it, “like the dusk,” but this suggests evening rather than morning. It properly means the gray of the morning, while the sun is still far below the horizon. It is one of the names of the Nile, from the turbid color of its water.
Joel 2:3.—“Eden.” עֵדֶן, an old Semit. word, found also in various dialects in the sense of pleasure, like the Gr. ἠδονή. In the sing, with zere on the penult., it always means Paradise. With seghol on the penult., it is the name of a part of Mesopotamia. In the plur. form it denotes pleasures. Ps. 36:9; 2 Sam. 1:24.
Joel 2:4.—“Is like.” כ is here used παραβολικῶς compar., and not, as Theodoret supposes, ἐπιτατικῶς intens.
Joel 2:5.—“On the tops of mountains,” etc. עַל־דָאשֵי must be connected with יְרַקֵּדוּן, they shall leap, and not with כְּקוֹל; the latter union is forbidden by the accents, and by the use of the word “chariots,” whose “noise” is only heard on level ground.
Joel 2:6.—“Peoples.” The plural form עַמִּים is used, not as Credner supposes, with reference to the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but simply to denote people generally.
Joel 2:6.—“Paleness.” פָאדוּר is variously understood. The Sept. render the clause ὡς πρός καυμαχύτρας, as the burning of a pot. The Chald., Syr., Vulg., Arab., “become like a pot or have the blackness of a pot.” But there is nothing in the nature of the thing, or in the etymology of the word, to warrant the “blackness” of our E. V. Cramer explains rather than translates the words: “all faces contract their muscles.” The root of the word is פָּאַר, to be beautiful, to glow: and it literally means “ruddiness.” This gathers, or withdraws itself, and the countenance becomes pale.
Joel 2:7.—“They shall not turn aside”. יעַבְּטוּן is variously explained. Many expositors take it in the sense of pervertere, as if it were יְעַזתּוּן, to bend. Others get its meaning from the Arab. صَلَظَ, to split, or divide. One MS., De Ross, has the reading, יְבְעַטוּן, they strike not out behind, like horses. The sense is, they move in a compact mass, bending neither to the right nor the left, forwards nor backwards.
Joel 2:8.—“Each one in his path” lit., the mighty one, גֶּבֶר, used here Poetically for אִש.
Joel 2:8.—“Though they rush,” etc. The meaning of this line is plain enough, i. e., nothing can arrest their march; but the renderings of it are various, growing out of the senses given to בְעַד. De Wette renders it: “Und zwischen Waffen stürzen sie hindurch, brechen den Zug nicht ab.”—Wünsche: “Und hinter dem Wurfpiess fallen sie, nicht brechen sie ab.” On the whole, I prefer the rendering of Tregelles: “Though they rush,” etc.
Joel 2:12.—“Yet even now.” Credner, without reason, supplies a שׁוּבוּ after וגַּם עַתָּה.
Joel 2:12.—“Saith Jehovah.” כְאֻם is most frequently used as the part. pass. constr. =“the voice of Jehovah is.”
Joel 2:14.—“Who knoweth.” The interrogative particle אִם is omitted here as in Jon. 3:9. The question is expressed only by the tone. Holzh. takes the phrase מי יוֹדֵעַ to=every one knows, i. e., it is quite certain; but this sense is too absolute.
Joel 2:17.—“Rule over.” The primary meaning of מָשַל is to make like, and in its nominal form it has the sense of similitude, parable, proverb, song. Scholars have been a good deal puzzled how to reconcile the signification of making like and ruling, which last sense the word undoubtedly has in many places. When used in this last sense it is usually followed by ב, rarely (Wünsche says never) by עַל or אֵל. Tregelles renders it in this place, “to sing a song of derision,” and De Wette, “spotter,” which, I think, the context favors. Pusey and Wünsche insist on the sense of our E. V. “rule over.”—F.]
Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.PART SECOND
Annihilation of the Locust Army. Reparation of the Damage done by it, by a Rich Blessing
18 Then Jehovah will be jealous20 for his land.
And will pity his people.
19 And Jehovah will answer and say unto his people,
Behold I will send21 you the corn,22
The new wine, and the oil;
And ye shall be satisfied23 therewith,
And I will no longer make you
A reproach among the heathen.
20 And I will remove far from you the northern24 host,
And will drive him into a dry and desolate land;
His face (or his van) toward the east sea,
His rear towards the west sea.
And his stench shall arise,
And his ill savor shall ascend,
For He has done great things.25
21 Fear not, O Land,
Be glad and rejoice,
For Jehovah hath done great things.
22 Fear not, ye beasts of the field!26
For the pastures of the wilderness have sprung up,
The tree beareth her fruit,
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.27
23 O ye children of Zion rejoice and be glad
In Jehovah your God;
For He gives you the former rain28 in just measure,
And sends you, in showers, the early and the latter rain, as aforetime.29
24 And the threshing floors shall be full of corn,
And the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 And I will restore30 (or replace) the years31
Which the locust, the cankerworm, the caterpillar and the palmerworm have devoured,
My great army which I sent against you.
26 Then ye shall eat in plenty32 and be satisfied,
And shall praise the name of Jehovah your God,
Who hath dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never be ashamed.
27 And33 ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And I Jehovah am your God, and none else.
And my people shall never be ashamed.
The second part of this chapter is wholly occupied with promises to Judah. The first part, which is so full of menaces, had also revealed God’s mercy in case of repentance, but only in a general way, affording only a glimmering of hope. Now, however, the promises given by Jehovah Himself flow forth like a full, broad stream. This transition occurs suddenly in Joel 2:18. The promise, which takes the form of an answer of God, is grounded upon a seeming change in the Divine purpose. A declaration so positive as this, introduced by the imper. consec,. as an actual fact, of course implies that the condition on which the change in the Divine purpose was based, had been fulfilled, i. e., that the day of fasting and prayer had been duly observed, and that the promise is God’s answer to his people’s penitential prayer. Our book, therefore, is in point of time divided into two parts, an earlier and a later one.
Joel 2:18. Then will the Lord, etc. קָנַא with ל = to be jealous for some one, i. e., to be zealous for his welfare out of love for him.
Joel 2:19, 20. Renewed fertility is promised by the removal of the cause of the desolation. Behold I send you. This carries us back to Joel 1:10, 11. שָלַח; because the growth of grain depends upon the fertilizing rain.
Joel 2:20. הַצְּפוֹנִי, not the northern of the E. V. and other versions, for the locusts never invade Palestine from the North, but the destroyer. The word comes from צָפוֹן, the name of the well-known Egyptian god Typhon, from whence also comes the ὁ τυφωνικός (Acts 27:14). [This is a fanciful and groundless rendering. The word occurs in one hundred and fifty other places in O. T., and in all of them its sense is clearly that given to it here by our E. V. The term הַצִּפוֹנִי, says Wünsche, according to the Masor. punctuation, can have no other sense than that of “northern,” or “northerner.” The allegorists use the word as a proof of their theory, that the Chaldœans, or Syrians are meant. But there is not either in what precedes or in what follows, the slightest trace of a hostile invasion of Judah by either of these nations. The word, therefore, must refer to the locusts. Nor is the designation of them as “northern” an arbitrary one, since their movements were wholly dependent on the wind.—F.] Into a land dry and desolate, one in which this army will find nothing to destroy, but will itself perish. The land referred to is the desert of Arabia, on the southern border of Judœa. The two ways in which the locusts would be destroyed are mentioned: they would be driven into the desert, and into the sea. Two seas are named, in which this army should perish, namely, the vanguard in the east or Dead Sea, the rear in the west or Mediterranean. We need not, however, suppose that the destruction of these two divisions of the locust army occurred at the same time.
[His stench. Jerome says of the locusts of Palestine, when the shores of both seas were filled with heaps of dead locusts which the waters had cast up, their stench and putrefaction were so noxious as to corrupt the air, so that a pestilence was produced among men and beasts. The same fact is attested by many modern travellers.—F.]
Joel 2:21–23. Fear not, O Land. As in Joel 1 the land and its inhabitants were called upon to mourn in view of coming judgments, so now they are called upon to rejoice over the destruction of the hosts that had laid waste the country. Here, the address is that of the prophet while in Joel 2:25 the Lord himself speaks. The subject and object of the joy are stated (Joel 2:21) in a general way. The latter is described in the words: Jehovah hath done great things. The perfect tense is here used like the German present, to denote an action, which being absolutely certain is thought of and presented as one already accomplished. What is here said of God’s doings is not to be limited to that special time or occasion, but expresses a universal truth.
Joel 2:22. Even the beasts of the field should no longer be afraid of wanting their supplies of food. The picture of blessing which begins with verdant pastures, ends with trees laden with fruit.
Joel 2:23. Men are called upon to rejoice. Children of Zion may be taken in a general sense for the inhabitants of Judah, since Zion represented Judah. The former or early rain. It fell after autumn, and seems to be so called from יָרָה, jecit, because its season was post jactam sementem. It was the chief need after the devastation and drought, and hence is named with special emphasis. The latter rain fell about harvest, towards the end of April. Hence its name from לָקַשׁ, collegit, בָרִאשׁוֹן corresponds to the אַחֲרֵי־כֵנ (3:1); the material blessings first, then the spiritual. Pusey: It may be, at the first, i. e., as soon as ever it is needed, or in contrast to the more extensive gifts afterwards; or, as at the first, i. e., all shall, upon their penitence, be restored as at the first. These lesser variations leave the sense of the whole the same, and all are supported by good authorities. It is still a reversal of the former sentence, that, whereas before the rivers of water were dried up, now the rains should come, each in his season.—F.] “The rain shall come down,” here specially opposed to the drought, but, perhaps also a symbol of blessing in general. [So far as this special act may be generalized, it may rather be said that it begets and keeps alive the consciousness that the Giver of all good is again in the midst of his people.—F.]
Joel 2:24–27. And the threshing floors,—my people shall never be ashamed.
The effects of the rain are first briefly, and then more fully described. The years,i. e., the product of the years which the locusts had devoured. The plural form of the word does not imply that the visitations of the locusts described in Joel 1 were in successive years; it only means that the results of a single visitation would be felt for several years, and that as long a time would be required to repair the mischief done by the locusts. The names of the four kinds of locusts given in Joel 1 are repeated here, only that the generic name אַרְבֶּה holds a prominent place.
Joel 2:26, 27. A beautiful conclusion; it treats of the redemption of Israel from the heathen, and thereby of the vindication of God himself. This is the fundamental idea that repeatedly recurs. This conclusion forms the point of transition to the new and higher promises in Joel 3 which fully display the truth that “Jehovah is in the midst of Israel, that He is their God and none else,” and therefore that his people can never be put to shame. While this promise is in a negative form, it really includes much more than the literal sense of the words; it means that God’s people shall not only not be ashamed, but that they shall be glorified forever, and that all the powers of this world that have opposed them shall be utterly confounded.
The greatness of the promise shows the power and importance of repentance, and the magnitude of God s grace. It is a confirmation of what is said (2:12). The punishment God inflicts is converted into a blessing; his zeal against us is changed into zeal for us. God’s dispensing blessing is the proof that He is in the midst of Israel; that Jehovah and none else is their God. Jehovah is in the midst of Israel, the centre and source of spiritual life. It is solely through Him, that Israel is what he is. The proof that God dwells with Israel is his blessing him; for the very object of his communion With Israel, and the choice of him to be his people, is to bless him. In dispensing blessings, God manifests his name, his power, his bounty, and distinguishes Himself from all false gods, who being dead cannot do that; while Israel being thus blessed is distinguished from the heathen, standing far above them who have no such God. Hence, too, the punishments inflicted upon Israel are in strong contrast with those which overtake the heathen. If Israel is unfaithful so that his God disowns him, it is quite natural that if he repents, he should regain the blessing; the honor of God and of his people require this. Upon this fact, repentant Israel grounds his prayer for pardon, and the promise given corresponds to the prayer. When God sends blessings to his people, whom his judgments have brought to repentance, the right way is, to rejoice in and enjoy them, with humble gratitude indeed, but at the same time with the confession that they come wholly from Him. Then, the humiliation endured will have produced its proper fruits.
Joel 2:18. And Jehovah was jealous for his people. Penitential and believing prayer secures a gracious answer; sometimes in the way of warding off the temporal evils with which God visits men. Before we call, God will answer, and while we are speaking, He will hear.
[HENRY: God will have an eye (1.) To his own honor, and the reputation of his covenant with Israel, by which He had conveyed to them that good land; now He will not suffer it to be despised or disparaged, but will be jealous for the land and its inhabitants, who had been praised as a happy people, and therefore must not lie open to reproach as a miserable people. (2.) To their distress. He will pity his people, and will restore them their former comforts.
PUSEY: Before, God seemed set upon their destruction. It was his great army which was ready to destroy them; He was at their head giving the word. Now, He is full of tender love for them, which resents injuries done to them, as done to Himself.—F.]
Joel 2:19. I will send—corn. It is God who averts the failure of crops, and scarcity of food. These evils neither come nor cease by accident. God gives us our daily bread. He opens his hand, and we are satisfied with food.
Joel 2:20. I will remove the northern. When God has alarmed his people and brought them to repentance, He often pours out his wrath upon those who were his instruments in the infliction of chastisement.
Joel 2:21. Fear not. How kindly God can speak to the heart! How powerfully can He console! It is easy for Him to do great things.
[PUSEY: Before, they were bidden to tremble; now they are bidden fear not. The enemy had done great things; now, the cause of joy is, that God had done great things; the almightiness of God overwhelming and sweeping over the might put forth to destroy.—F.]
Joel 2:23. Rejoice in the Lord. Joy in God is the right kind of joy. From Him comes every blessing. Yet how often do we receive joyfully enough the gift, without rejoicing in the Giver? Certainly he who does not know God, cannot rejoice in Him.
[SCOTT: The sons of Zion can never have so great a cause to fear, but they must still have a greater to “rejoice in the Lord.” He gives us all our comforts, and enables us to use them with thankful hearts. The wisdom, truth, and love of his dispensations toward us deserve our highest admiration; and He will never leave his people to be ashamed of their confidence in Him.—F.]
Joel 2:25. I will restore. How great is the bounty of God! It seems as if He were anxious to repair some injury which his preceding judgments had caused.
Joel 2:26. Ye shall be satisfied. What a blessed result of humiliation when our being satisfied and praising the Lord become and remain so united in us, that we can never again misuse God’s gifts to feed vain conceit, luxury, tyranny, but shall maintain unmoved fear, love, and trust in God.
[PUSEY: It is of the punishment of God when men eat and are not satisfied; it is man’s sin that they are satisfied and do not praise God, but the more forget Him. And so God’s blessings become a curse to him. God promises to restore his gifts, and to give grace withal, that they should own and thank Him.—F.]
Joel 2:27. I am in the midst of Israel. Blessed is the people in the midst of whom the Lord dwells. Every fresh blessing should be a proof to us that God is in the midst of us. But we must be God’s people, if we would hope to have Him dwelling in the midst of us. He is only in the midst of Israel. God’s people can never be put to shame; therefore let us see that we belong to them.
[HENRY: We should labor to grow in our acquaintance with God by all providences, both merciful and afflictive. When God gives to his people plenty and peace, He thereby gives them to understand that He is pleased with their repentance, that He has pardoned their sins.—F.]
Joel 2:18.—קָנַא with ל or ב = to be jealous for some one out of love.
Joel 2:19.—שָׁלַח, more lit., “am sending.”
Joel 2:19.—הַדָּגָן: the article is used to give prominence to the products which the Lord promises to send.
Joel 2:19.—שְׂבַעְתֶּם אֹתיֹ. The sing. אֹתיֹ is here used collectively.
Joel 2:20.—“Northern.” Schmoller insists that הַצְפוֹנִי should be rendered “destroyer.” See Exeget. note on this ver.
Joel 2:20.—הִגִדִּיל לַעַשׂוֹת, lit. “he has magnified to do.” Schmoller renders it: “er hat grossgethan.” The same phrase occurs in Joel 2:21, which shows that it cannot be taken in the sense of boasting. It is synonymous with the מַפְלִא לעָשׂות (Judg. 13:19), and עָשַׂה לְהַפְלִיא, 2:26.
Joel 2:22.—“Field.” שָׂדַי is not the plur. for שָׂדַים but the sing. = שָׂדֶה, according to the analogy of שָׂדַי, Ps. 96:12.
Joel 2:22.—נָתַן הִיל, “give strength,” like the Lat. edere fiuctum. The metaphor is one in which the cause is put for the effect. Only used here and in Ps. 1:4.
Joel 2:23.—הַמּוֹרֶה, “the early rain,” from יָרָה, jecit, perhaps because its season was post jactam sementem. Keil renders it “a teacher for righteousness.” But the word when so used is followed by ב, more rarely by אֶל, or מִן. Ewald and Umbreit take מוֹרֶה in the sense of “early rain,” but render the phrase “rain for righteousness,” i. e., as a sign of their being again received into the divine righteousness. But this is a strained sense; better, “according to right,” i. e., in just measure, as the ground requires.
Joel 2:23.—“Aforetime.”: בָּרִאשׁוֹן. There seems to be an omission of כ. The Sept. render it καθώς ἐμπροσθεν; the Syr., ut antea; the Vulg., sicut in principio. The Chald. and Arab. have the reading “as in the month Nisan.”
Joel 2:25.—The primary meaning of שָׁלַם is “to be whole,” but it is here used in the sense of “replace, or make good.”
Joel 2:25.—“Years”, שָּׁנִים the plur. form used, perhaps, only in a poetic sense, as in Gen. 21:7; Ps. 45:9, 10; 1 Sam. 17:43.
Joel 2:26.—“Eat in plenty,” lit., “eat an eating, or eat to eat,” etc. Wünsche renders it: “Und ihr werdet essen, essen und saTt werden.” The Heb. often has the infin. absol. as the object complement of the finite verb, which sometimes follows and sometimes precedes it.
Joel 2:27.—The ו here indicates the logical consequence from what precedes.
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:SECTION II
Hereafter, on “the Lay of the Lord” the Enemies of Israel shall be destroyed, while the Lord reigns in Zion guarding and blessing it.
[In the Hebrew text and in Schmoller, these verses form Chap. III., while Chap. III. of E. V. is numbered Chap. IV We prefer to keep the order of the E. V.—F.]
The promise, which up to this point has reference to the present and the near future, now takes a higher and wider range. It brings into view the day of the Lord, the result of the coming of which shall be, on the one hand, the overthrow of the world-power, and on the other, the full blessedness of God’s people, through his dwelling in the midst of them. Joel 2:28–32 may be regarded as the introduction to the closing chapter, which describes the fulfillment of the promise. The grand events, which are the harbingers of the coming of the day of the Lord, are described. Zion is pointed out as the only place of safety; but even amid the terrors of that day, God’s people will have no reason to fear. The third chapter describes the judgments to be inflicted upon the enemies of God’s people, while the latter shall receive the richest blessings from the Lord, who sits enthroned on Zion.
28 And it shall come to pass afterward,34
That I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
And your sons and daughters shall prophesy;
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions;
29 Even35 upon the men servants and the maid servants,
In those days, will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will give signs36 in heaven and on earth,
Blood, and fire, and columns of smoke;
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.
32 And it shall come to pass that whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance,
As Jehovah hath said;
Even among the remnant37 whom Jehovah shall call.
Joel 2:28. And it shall come to pass, etc. What is here said of a general outpouring of the Spirit, while connected with the foregoing promise, holds out to Israel the prospect of a grander dispensation of divine grace and of richer blessings than those promised in the preceding chapter. God will manifest Himself in such a manner as He has never done before. But this outpouring of the Spirit is viewed by the prophet as connected with the great day of the Lord, and as a sign of its coming. But he thus views it only because he sees in that day, a day of judgment on Israel’s enemies, and a day of salvation to Israel, through God’s dwelling in Zion. If Joel 2:28, 29 be considered as containing a new promise, Joel 2:30 would begin a new subject, which would be contrary to the tenor of the prophet’s discourse, as it is evident that these verses are closely connected.
Joel 2:28. Afterward,i. e., after what had been before announced in Joel 2:23; it is more indefinite than the last days, although, in general, the meaning is the same. Joel apparently imagines that the events which he here describes, will happen in no very distant future. שָפַך, to pour, primarily refers to rain, or a heavy shower of rain; it here denotes the communicating of something from above, and in great abundance. This last idea is illustrated in the extent of the gift,—to “all flesh,” and the nature of the gift,—the spirit of prophecy in various forms. הבָּשָׁר־רוּחַ. In contrast with God, to whom the רוּח belongs, κατ. ἐξ., man appears as בָשָר “flesh” This term designates man not simply as a being in want of this “Spirit,” but also as one naturally fitted to receive it, just as the dry ground is fitted to receive the rain.—All flesh. How is this general expression to be understood? It is clear from what follows that there is no limitation of sex, age, or condition, and that not merely particular individuals, but that all are to share in this divine gift,—a fulfillment of the wish of Moses (Num. 11:29). The connection and the train of thought require us to extend the “all” to mankind generally.—Shall prophesy. This is explained by “prophesying,” “dreaming dreams,” “seeing visions.” In this enumeration the most important thing comes first, i. e., the proper prophetic function or power. נָבָא means, not simply to predict future events, but generally to announce the revelations of God. The whole people will be the vehicle through which these highest spiritual utterances will be made, and as all barriers will be then broken down, woman is named by the side of man. To this prophesying are conjoined, in a sort of secondary way, other modes of divine manifestation, “dreams,” “visions.” As there is to be no difference of sex, so there is to be none of age, in regard to the sharing of this spirit. Even those who would seem to be unfitted for it shall receive it—“old men and children.” Why, it may be asked, shall “old men dream dreams?” Because they are better fitted for “dreams,” just as young men, or children are for “visions,” though the reverse of this would seem to be more natural. But the condition of things predicted by the prophet would be every way extraordinary.—And the servants. This is added as something very singular, וּגַם “and even.” Nay, something unheard of shall then happen, namely, that slaves as well as freemen shall partake of this Spirit. In other words, this social distinction shall then be abolished. The Jewish interpreters could scarcely comprehend how this could be, and hence the Sept. make the servants and hand-maidens, “God’s,” ἐπί τοὺ̀ς δούλους καὶ τὰς δούλας μου; so too Acts 2:16.
Joel 2:30. I will show wonders. What shall be the form of these phenomena of nature? It is idle to try to answer the question. They are evidently such as had never before been seen, though they may somewhat resemble the plagues of Egypt. There will be “blood” and “fire,” and “pillars of smoke.” The color of blood appears in the moon; both sun and moon are obscured; and there are signs of a hiding of the face of God who rules in heaven, and consequently of his anger. These signs will be of a nature to awaken terror, and all the more, as the day approaches, for it would seem from Joel 2:28, 29, 30, that there will be hardly an interval between the sign and the day. Its menacing aspect becomes so much the more prominent inasmuch as God will then manifest Himself, not merely in a general way, but as bringing on a special crisis. The obscuration of the stars is often mentioned in connection with the day of judgment (Ezek. 32:7; Am. 8:9; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25). Before the day of the Lord come. Hence these appearances are signs of the coming of this day. Its actual coming and its importance are set forth in Joel 3; here it is described only in a general way. Joel 2:32 goes on to state that for Zion it will bring neither judgment nor destruction. Here its tempest will cease. But there is, at the same time, an implied exhortation to comply with the condition of safety.
Joel 2:32. And it shall come to pass,—whom the Lord shall call. To call on the name of Jehovah is to confess Him, to worship Him who has revealed, and is revealing Himself to Israel. Whosoever,כֹּל with a special emphasis, to teach that the day of the Lord will not bring destruction to all, though it may have that look. There will be complete deliverance to those who call on the name of the Lord, and to none else. The reason is given, because in Mt. Zion is “deliverance.” As Jehovah had said. This seems to point to some positive prophetic promise. This divine promise of safety to all who call on the name of the Lord, based on the promise concerning Zion and Jerusalem, shows how closely related were these two places. They are set forth as the place where the Lord dwelt in his sanctuary with his people, and where his name is known. The calling on the Lord is wholly confined to Zion and Jerusalem, though it would be of no avail to any one to be in Zion unless he called on the Lord. Deliverance. Many take this term in a concrete and collective sense, i. e., “the delivered,” but the other is the more natural interpretation. The remnant, or “the escaped;” there shall be among them those whom the Lord calls. שָׂרִיד is one who has escaped from the field of battle, or one who has been saved from the fate of most others, and so implying that the number is small. This “remnant” is evidently to be added as a new class to those before mentioned as delivered by calling on the name of the Lord, the idea being that they had been overtaken by the calamity, and though delivered, their escape had been a very narrow one, and hence noticed as the result of the Lord’s special and merciful call. Who are they? Not those already in Zion and Jerusalem; but those who were called to come there, i. e., not to these localities merely, but to communion with the God who, calls and who is enthroned in Zion. This manifestly means that some of those who would be properly liable to the judgment, would escape it and share in the salvation promised to Zion. Who are they? Not the inhabitants of Judah living outside the walls of Jerusalem;—a sense of the words entirely too limited and local. Besides, Zion and Jerusalem must be taken as including all the inhabitants of Judah wherever resident. It may, perhaps, be inferred from Joel 3 that they are the Israelites scattered among the nations, whom the Lord promises (3:16) to bring again. Yet they can scarcely be described as the “remnant,” or the “escaped,” since their deliverance is the very object of the judgment which falls upon the heathen world. Why not understand by the “remnant,” the heathen? They are both far off, and liable to the judgment. It would still be true that while the heathen world in general will be the object of the judgment in the day of the Lord, some of them will escape through the mercy of Jehovah. This is certainly only a faint indication of the calling of the Gentiles. This last fact is not distinctly announced, the heathen as such not having been as yet named. There is a close resemblance between Joel 2:32 and Ob. 17, so that if the latter was the earlier prophet, we might suppose that his words had been modified by Joel. Obadiah says. “there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau,” in the day of the Lord. Joel also says, that this day shall be one of judgment to all outside of Zion, for all the heathen. But he does not mean that none of them shall escape, for he admits it to be possible that Jehovah might call some of them. Joel thus takes a step in advance of Obadiah, and indicates, though it may be obscurely, the work that should be done by later prophets.
[Pusey: Joel 2:28. All flesh is the name for all mankind. The words all flesh are in the Pentateuch, and in one place in Daniel, used in a yet wider sense, of everything which has life; but, in no one case, in any narrower sense. It does not include every individual in the race, but it includes the whole race, and individuals throughout it, in every nation, sex, or condition, Jew or Gentile, Greek or Barbarian, i. e., educated or uneducated, rich or poor, bond or free, male or female. On all was to be poured the Holy Spirit.
Joel 2:29. St. Peter, in declaring that these words began to be fulfilled in the day of Pentecost, quotes them with two lesser differences: “I will pour out of my Spirit and upon My servants and My handmaidens.” The words declare something in addition, but do not alter the meaning, and so St. Peter quotes them as they lay in the Greek, which, probably, was the language known by most of the mixed multitude to whom he spake. The words “My Spirit,” express the largeness and fullness of the gift. The words “of my Spirit,” express, in part, that He who is infinite cannot be contained by us who are finite. The words “the servants,” mark the outward condition. The words “my servants,” declare that there should be no difference between bond and free.
Joel 2:32. Call upon the name of the Lord. To call on the name of the Lord is to worship Him as He is, depending upon Him. The name of the Lord expresses his true Being, that which He is. For the name rendered, The Lord, expresses that He is and that He alone is, the self-same the unchangeable; the name rendered God is not the special name of God.—F.]
[Wünsche: Joel 2:28. My Spirit. The Spirit of God is the divine analogue of the spirit of man. It is the true life principle of men; the source of physical life in the world of nature, of spiritual life in the sphere of religion, of all goodness, truth, rectitude, and beauty. Whatever the human mind thinks, feels, wills, fashions, in regard to any one of these objects is, in one sense, an outflow of the Divine Spirit. The prayer that ascends to heaven from a devout heart, the self consecration, the holy enthusiasm which distinguished the prophets, and fitted them to proclaim to the people God’s judgment and his mercy,—all these are expressions and gifts of the Divine Spirit, All flesh. The word is used in Heb. to denote the totality of living being on earth, beasts and men (Gen. 6:13; 7:15, etc.); and then in a more limited sense, for the human race. The connection shows that, here, it is taken in the latter sense. Credner, however, gives it the wider meaning so as to include the irrational animals, and refers in confirmation of his view to the prediction of Isaiah 9:6–9, concerning the “wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid,” etc. But this friendly union of wild and tame animals is not represented by the prophet as the result of men’s enlarged knowledge of God. Man alone is the image of God; he alone is a fit organ of the Divine Spirit; he alone has the capacity to receive the gift here described, which, therefore, cannot be extended to the lower forms of animal life.
Joel 2:32. As Jehovah hath said. There is no reference here to a lost prophecy (Meier); nor to an older writing of Joel (Ewald); nor to Obadiah (Keil). The meaning simply is that Joel, the person speaking, had a divine revelation of the fact, that where God’s throne is, there his true worshippers shall also be. Shall call. The word has a pregnant sense, conveying the idea that the “deliverance” depends not on the worshippers of God alone, but also upon God himself. Only those whom the Lord calls or chooses, and who call upon or choose Him shall be saved. Most of the older and later expositors take “call” in a predestinative sense. The Chald. has quos dominus destinat.—F.]
1. From the very first the prophets point to a great decisive Hereafter. In their being able to do this lay their strength. Living in the present, their eyes were ever turned to the future, or rather the end, the consummation of all things. Hence the power of their exhortations and promises to their contemporaries. Their influence would have been very frail and feeble, if they had not had a firm faith in a future, when the salvation of God should be fully realized.
2. Outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all flesh. It is evident from the context that the prophet himself did not suppose that this “outpouring” would extend beyond the people of Israel. This was its field (Joel 2:27). Here God will reveal Himself; here in the day of the Lord the judgment will take place, here all nations shall be gathered. The whole of Joel 3 shows that the prophet considered the heathen world as the enemy of God’s people. He does not put the heathen on the same footing with Israel, but on the contrary he directs attention exclusively to the high position of Israel as God’s people. It presupposes the conversion of the heathen, and their reception among God’s people. As he nowhere predicts such a conversion, his promise of an outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh cannot here include the heathen; even if we refer the phrase “whom the Lord shall call,” to a selection of the heathen, it is all the more evident that the “all flesh” cannot include them. For the calling of individual heathen could not have the same prominence that would belong to the out-pouring of the Spirit on the whole heathen world. Joel might have assumed that some called out of the heathen world would partake of the blessing given to Israel. To Israel the promise was of something not only great but new, namely, the impartation of the Spirit to persons of all ages and conditions. Pouring out as a symbol of this impartation was never before used to denote the gift of the Spirit. Thus far only individuals in particular localities had received it. The gift was, indeed, a necessary result of the covenant relation in which Jehovah stood to Israel, but hitherto his Spirit had come only on individuals, fitting them to become divine messengers. Such a limitation, however, did not accord with the true idea of God’s people, which implies that they should all be partakers of his Spirit. This should he fully realized in the future. Every barrier shall be broken down, and the reception of this Spirit shall be limited neither by age, sex, nor condition. It would come in the form of prophetic dreams and visions, giving those who received it a deeper insight into divine things, and make them organs of divine revelation.
This promise, as given by the prophet, is twofold. On the one hand, it will thus be seen that Jehovah is in the midst of Israel. On the other hand, this general outpouring of the Spirit will be a preparatory warning of the coming of the day of the Lord. That day will be one of immediate and decisive manifestation of God, and its approach will be heralded by new and startling events fitted to excite in the minds of men eager expectation, and to rouse them to seek salvation before it was too late. These warnings may consist of extraordinary phenomena in the world of nature, or of similar phenomena in the sphere of mind. From the spirituality of the religion of Jehovah we might expect that occurrences of the latter class would predominate. Perhaps we may go farther and say that the object of these remarkable events, of this prophesying, of these dreams and visions, is the day of the Lord itself. It is clear that by this general outpouring of the Spirit the way would be prepared for such a result of the day of the Lord as must redound to the glory of Israel. Since Jehovah thus recognizes Israel as his people, by making them all individually organs of his revelation, He must, while blessing them, resist and punish their enemies. This double aspect of the day of the Lord, as one of judgment, and of redemption, is here very distinctly declared. The deliverance of individuals will not come to them as a matter of course. If they escape the terrors of that day, and share in the salvation of God’s people, it can only be by their complying with the conditions on which it is secured.
When shall this promise of a general outpouring of the Spirit be fulfilled? From the phrase “after this,” the prophet seems to have regarded it as connected with the promise given in the earlier part of the chapter. But it does not follow that he looked upon it as near at hand. The prophets often connect promises relating to the present, very closely with those pertaining to the far distant future. In this respect Joel and the later prophets agree. The latter represent the gift of the Spirit in its fullness to the covenant people, as a prominent feature of the Messianic age, or of the New Covenant. Jer. 32:15; 56:13; Ez. 36:26; Zech. 12:10. Hence we should, perhaps, designate this prophecy as in a general way Messianic, though Joel does not speak directly of the Messiah, and we should look for its fulfillment after the advent of Messiah. Thus St. Peter (Acts 2:17) saw its accomplishment in the miracle of Pentecost. He expressly refers the אַחְַרֵי־כֵן—ἐν ταις ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις, to the Messianic age. He distinctly recognizes the Messiah as the mediator through whom this rich and general bestowment of the Spirit should come. Like the prophet, he understood the “all flesh,” to mean, in the first instance, the covenant people, though he declares that the promise extended also to those who were “afar off.” Joel only intimates that the latter will escape, but does not say, in so many words, that the Spirit will be given to them. Peter evidently regarded—as Joel did—this outpouring of the Spirit as a sign of the Day of the Lord, i. e., in the New Testament sense of the term, as a day of Parousia, and so quotes Joel 2:28–32. As he saw one part of the prediction accomplished, he naturally looked for the fulfillment of the other. There can be no doubt that the Apostles, at least for a time, thought that the Παρουσία, or the Coming of the Lord, was nigh at hand, and such prophecies as the one before us, would tend to confirm them in that expectation. On the day of Pentecost, Peter saw the Spirit poured out, not indeed on “all flesh,” even in the limited sense of all Israel, but he was sure that the promise of it embraced the whole covenant people, and so he opens to all the prospect of the gift, on condition of repentance.
But though the wonders of Pentecost were the first and literal fulfillment of this prophecy, they by no means exhausted its moaning. The only effect of the outpouring of the Spirit recognized by Joel, is the prophetic, and on this memorable day, it certainly appeared in an ecstatic form. But we need only to look into the Epistles of St. Paul to discover that the influence of the πνεῦμα ἁγιον which Christ gives is not exhausted by such results; on the contrary, the grandest effect of it is the regeneration of the whole man. This deeper, ethico-religious conception of the gift of the Spirit, founded on the declarations of the later prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, is certainly the New Testament one. Joel’s idea of the close connection between the outpouring of the Spirit and “the day,” is in one sense a mistaken one, since the “outpouring” came, but not the “day,” yet in another view it is perfectly correct. The two are most nearly related. With Messiah have come the ἒσχαται ἡμέραι; and the gift of the Spirit is, and will continue to be, a sign of the Day of the Lord, a proof that God is in the midst of his people, and will give them the victory over all their enemies.—Finally, we must not overlook the limits of the field of the Spirit’s operations as described by Hosea. He, indeed, considered Israel alone as God’s people, and that on Israel alone would the Spirit be poured out. But as we know from the New Testament that Christ’s disciples are not limited to Israel, neither are God’s people, so we are sure that this outpouring of the Spirit is confined to them, i. e., to the spiritual Israel, to all who, by faith, are made one with Christ. All such partake of the Holy Ghost.
[In this somewhat prolix and verbose dissertation, the author confounds two quite distinct questions, namely, What is the real meaning of the prophecy—whom does it embrace,—and when and how will it be completely fulfilled? and How far did Joel comprehend the real purport of the prophetic promises, which he was inspired to utter? This last question it is impossible to answer, because Joel has left no explanation of his prediction. We have nothing but the prophecy itself. Therefore we have no means of determining whether he took the “all flesh,” as meaning simply Israel, or in its wider sense. After all, the question is one of no practical importance. The grand inquiry is. What is the meaning of the prophecy?—F.
WÜNSCHE: Credner is clearly wrong when he says that Peter made a false application of this prophecy. No man can deny that on the day of Pentecost, the prediction of Joel began to be accomplished. We say designedly, “began to be accomplished,” for although the Christian Church has been growing in divine knowledge, and has been working for the common good of all sexes, ages, and classes, more than eighteen hundred years since that day, the prophecy is not yet fulfilled. There are predictions, which have found their fulfillment in particular historical events; and there are others which embrace the entire field of humanity, and Joel’s belongs to this latter class. Its complete accomplishment will be the history of the kingdom of God on earth, down to the end of time.—F.]
3. Let us now consider what the prophet teaches in regard to the condition of deliverance, in this “terrible day of the Lord.” It is not sharing in those extraordinary influences of the Spirit, whose results are involuntary, but “calling on the name of the Lord,” a free act, which every one who pleases can perform. There is something to be done by each individual for himself, and all are exhorted to do it. Spiritual gifts do not necessarily involve spiritual regeneration. So we find to have been the case in New Testament history, with the miraculous χαρίσματα, which at first predominated, but gradually disappeared, giving place to a more natural and tranquil, a purer and deeper spiritual life. The condition of deliverance is stated in Joel 2:32, and all are exhorted to fulfill it. External membership with the people of Israel will not, of itself, secure salvation; but the condition is one so simple and easy, so really within the power of every one, that the verse has more the aspect of a promise than an exhortation. There is no real need that any one should be afraid of the coming of the “terrible day.” Its terrors may be escaped by simply calling on the Lord in Zion and Jerusalem, the place of worship. Therefore no one need ask, Where shall I find the Lord on whom I must call? for the Lord Himself has named the place of his abode.
This alone is necessary, “to call on the Lord.” To do this, it is not absolutely requisite that one should belong to Israel. This is plainly taught by the words just quoted. Hence Paul bases upon them the equal rights of Jews and Gentiles? But does this exposition suit the context, in which the prophet so expressly connects the deliverance with Zion and Jerusalem? If we look carefully into the matter, we shall find that it does. Zion is the place where God has revealed Himself. Without such a revelation as that made in Zion, neither calling on the Lord, nor salvation, would have been possible. Zion then (not in the local sense) is the seat and centre of salvation; because here God has manifested Himself. Paul knew that a Greek, simply as such, could not call upon the Lord, since he did not even know the Lord who had revealed Himself in Israel. Those who would call upon Him, as Paul teaches, must believe in Him, and this implies that He had been preached to them, and this was done by those who made known to the heathen the God who has manifested Himself in Zion. Paul denies that conformity to the Jewish law is a condition of salvation. All this shows the Apostle’s deep insight into the real meaning of Scripture. His heart beat for those afar off; he feels, and discovers instinctively, that the barriers which had separated Jew and Gentile were broken down by the very prophetic word which made salvation dependent on one thing alone, a thing within the reach equally of the Gentile and the Jew. He evidently took the words “whosoever shall call,” etc., in a sense large enough to embrace the whole Gentile world. On exegetical grounds, as we have seen, we are authorized though not compelled to give them this breadth of meaning. In the last clause of Joel 2:32 the phrase occurs, “whom the Lord shall call,” and it conveys the idea that salvation is not a matter of right, but of grace alone. With regard to all who are afar off this divine call is the cause of deliverance. If they had not been thus called they must certainly have perished, so that they owe their escape solely to the gracious call of God. But it is at the same time clearly implied that this call becomes effective and saving only when the man himself turns to the Lord.
Joel 2:28. Afterward. A prophetic word of profound meaning. When? The prophets themselves did not know. Yet these promises were, for the present, a light shining in a dark place. But what kings and prophets of old desired to see and saw not, we see, who live in the times of fulfillment. To us the Afterward has become Now. To many, it is only a Once, a Formerly. They forget that the fulfillment of these prophetic words never grows old, but has a perpetual Now, which it becomes us to comprehend and improve until the Lord comes. For as that Afterward has become a Now, in Him in whom all the promises are yea and amen, so He still points us to a more distant Afterward, when there will be nothing new in distinction from the old, except as sight is distinguished from faith, and the end from the beginning.
I will pour out my Spirit. True fellowship with God implies the participation of the Spirit of God. So long as this privilege is confined to individual communion with God, on the part of men, it must be simply an object of desire and hope, notwithstanding the means used to extend it. Blessed privilege of the New Covenant, that in Christ every one may receive the Spirit of God. All special privileges are done away; all separating walls are broken down. The lowest as well as the loftiest can now aspire to be taught by the Spirit of God, and so to become a co-worker with God. How wonderful the condescension and the grace of God! (See Gal. 3:28.) How plain is it that the religion of the Old Testament, though itself far from attaining this end, foreshadowed it, and revealed the way to it.
[HENRY: God hath reserved some better things for us, the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory, and the happiness of true believers in both. We often read in the Old Testament of the Spirit of the Lord coming like drops, as it were, upon the judges and prophets whom God raised up for extraordinary services, but now, the Spirit shall be poured out plentifully, in a full stream.
PUSEY: God alone can be poured out into the soul, so as to possess it, enlighten it, teach, kindle, bend, move it as He wills, sanctify, satiate, fill it. The prophetic word circles round to that wherewith it began, the all-containing promise of the large outpouring of the Spirit of God; and that, upon those whom the carnal Jews at all times would least expect to receive it. It began with including the heathen; it instances individual gifts, and then it ends by resting on the slaves. The order of the words is significant. He begins I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and then in order to leave the mind resting on these same great words, He inverts the order and ends, and upon the servants, etc. It leaves the thoughts resting on the great words “I will pour out my Spirit.”
ROBINSON: A Christian even now, animated and influenced by the Holy Ghost is a wonderful being, as superior to the rest of mankind, as man is superior to the beasts of the field. But what will he be then? There have been mighty men amongst us, a Milton, a Boyle, a Newton in a former age, and some in the present, who, with the highest gifts of genius, have been endowed with eminent gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit; but who shall say in that future dispensation, to what heights of wisdom and knowledge and power man may be advanced? Every discovery in science, every progressive improvement, such as the present age has developed, are prophecies and earnests of that glorious time here promised.—F.]
Joel 2:30. Show wonders. The New Covenant has brought salvation, but it also brings sifting judgments corresponding to the greatness of this salvation. The question now is, how men will deal with it; and most certain is it that God will remove everything opposed to Him and his kingdom. Hence, with the salvation in Christ, there was need of this last separating judgment. Great displays of God’s grace and great judgments often go together, the latter preparing the way for the former. So was it in Jerusalem. Those who despised the kindly tongues of flame on the day of Pentecost, had blood, fire, and vapor of smoke as the symbols of destruction. So is it now. Those who quench the Spirit, despise prophesyings, and give themselves up to the flesh and the world will find “that day” all the more terrible, and that their damnation slumbereth not. The best thing is to be always ready for that day of God. If we delay until it actually comes, it may be too late.
[HENRY: The judgments of God upon a sinful world, and the frequent destruction of wicked kingdoms by fire and sword, are prefaces to and presages of the judgment of the world in the last day.
PUSEY: Each revelation of God prepares the way for another, until that last revelation of his love and of his wrath in the great day.—F.]
Joel 2:32. Whosoever calleth. Happy they who are found watching and praying when the Lord comes. We may escape the judgment, therefore we should not despair. All that is necessary is believing prayer to God. For every one who confesses God, He will confess. But such escape we must earnestly seek for ourselves. The coming of Christ has two aspects; to the godless, it will be a day of condemnation and wrath: to believers, a day of redemption and refreshing. In Zion and Jerusalem., i. e., in the God who is there revealed, is redemption. He who believes in Christ is in Zion, for he confesses Him as the God of Zion. To Him belongs the glory of our salvation. Examine thyself to see thy real condition. The ability to stand in the judgment will come, not from any outward excellence, nor even from gracious privileges or preëminence. The remnant. God desires not to destroy, but to save. Hence his constant and gracious call to all who are afar off, to come and be saved. Even the heathen, who belong not to his chosen people, can obtain salvation. Not indeed unless He calls them; but if He does call and they yield to it through his grace, they share in the gifts of his people. Art thou among the called ones of God? Hast thou heard his call? Thou mayest be called and yet perish at last. Many are called, few chosen. God calls all, but He, in turn, will be called upon in faith.
[HENRY: This is ground of comfort and hope to sinners, that whatever danger there is in their case, there is also deliverance for them, if it be not their own fault. And if we would share in this deliverance we must apply ourselves to the Gospel Zion, to God’s Jerusalem. It is the praying remnant that shall be the saved remnant. And it will aggravate the ruin of those who perish, that they might have been saved on such easy terms. Those only shall be delivered in the great day that are now effectually called from sin to God, from self to Christ, from things below to things above.
SCOTT: The Gospel calls men in general to partake of its blessings, and of that salvation which is revealed and placed in the Church; and “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord” Jesus, as the Son of God and the Saviour of sinners, shall be delivered from the wrath to come. This is the happy case of that remnant of every age and people whom the Lord calls by his regenerating Spirit; all things shall work together for their good; they may look forward with comfort for the day, when nature shall expire in convulsions, assured that then their eternal redemption shall be perfected.—F.]
Joel 2:28.—“Afterward.” אַחֲרֵיִ־כֵן is clearly identical with the formula used by the later prophets. בְּאַחֲרִית ,הִיָּמִים “the last days.”
Joel 2:29.—“Even.” The “also” of E. V. hardly expresses the emphasis of גַם.
Joel 2:30—“Signs.” מוֹפְתֵים denotes not “signs,” but rather prodigies, miraculous signs of coming events.
Joel 2:32. “Remnant.” פְלֵיטָה properly means “deliverance, escape.” Here the abst. is used for the cone. Schmoller and Wünsche render “the escaped.”