Wherefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.(Joel 2:13-18)
The prophet Joel saw the future of Judah in a locust invasion. Judah’s future would be marked by invasions of foreigners; coming into the Holy land, and stripping away everything sacred, holy, beneficial, in short, all that God had blessed Judah with. These invasions would leave nothing behind, but the barest remnant.
The vision would not merely be of the Babylonians, whose ravishing of Judah took place in four stages, just as Joel predicted. The Babylonian invasion was just one peak of the prophetic mountain. Afterwards would come Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, Turks, British, and finally all nations would come to strip her bare. Joel saw Judah’s future all the way to the end of time.
But along another, more hopeful line, Joel saw Judah’s heartbroken repentance, and the subsequent reversal of the stripping. The locusts wouldn’t have to be the fate of Judah. Joel gave the nation the prescription of deep repentance.
Joel saw another element of Judah’s future; he saw people of all walks of life wakening out of indifference and apathy, attending prayer meetings marked by heartfelt sorrow for sin, and earnest pleading for forgiveness. Joel saw Priests placing themselves between the people (The porch) and the Altar (God’s throne)interceding for God’s glory and for the redemption of His people.
Joel saw that in Judah’s future, days of prayer and fasting would be called, which were so serious that even couples on their honeymoon were summoned to join in.
“…let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet…”.
This two would be a repetitive aspect of the future of Judah, all the way to the end.
Of course this vision would be fulfilled in many cases, in Judah’s future as it had in her past. Joel saw repentances, and consequent times of restoration to Judah and Jerusalem.
At one low point in the history of Judah, the King commissioned a remodeling of the temple. Someone found a long-lost book in the temple, which proved upon examination to be the book of Deuteronomy!
And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.(2 Kings 22:10-13)
The locusts of compromise, apostasy, and idolatry had stripped Judah so bare that few even recognized the Book of Deuteronomy when they found it! The King called the nation to repentance, weeping, fasting and mournful repentance. As a result the idols in the land were destroyed, the Sodomites driven out, the High places torn down and for the first time in decades Judah kept Passover.
In Judah’s future there would other repentances also, in the same character as in the days of King Jehoshaphat.
It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.(2 Chronicles 20:1-4)
Joel saw that Jerusalem and Judea would be surrounded by a vast international army, and that the siege would bring about the repentance of the Jewish people.The day of prayer and fasting revived the congregation of Judah. A prophetic utterance came forth also;
Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.(2 Chronicles 20:14-17)
This resulted in one of the greatest miracles in history, when the tiny remnant army, led by Priests loudly praising the name and mercy of God, approached the vast army. As they drew near, the enemy turned on itself and began slaughtering each other! By the time Jehoshaphat arrived, there was nothing left but to plunder the international coalition.
Finally Joel saw another distant mountain peak portraying Jewish repentance.
Far into the future he saw a small body of Jews meeting in the temple and in the upper room of a rented house, praying, repenting, and beseeching God for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. They had been following Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had come to believe was the Messiah of Israel, but whom the High Priest had handed over to the Gentiles to be executed as a lowly criminal. After he had appeared alive, raised from the dead, to the little remnant company, he commanded them to spend the time in prayer, awaiting the promise.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.(Acts 2:1-4)
It was Peter who stood up and was given the scriptural interpretation of the events,
… this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Acts 2:16-21)
Joel had two distinct lines of vision for the future of Judah and Jerusalem, successive waves of Locust invasions, stripping away everything of value, and leaving nothing, over and over and over again, till the end.
But locusts don’t have to be the last word. God can deal with Babylonians,Romans,Muslims or any other form of Gentile power.
Joel also saw deep heartfelt repentance, and miracles of restoration and deliverance, as the future of Judah as well, over and over, all the way to the very end of time.
Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.( Joel 2:18-21)
But all of these point to the ultimate “Day of the Lord’. Suddenly the mists of time clear and Joel is given a high-definition vision of our own day, which is the last set of events concerning Judah, Jerusalem and the rest of the world, the events of Joel 3.