The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn. The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. ( Joel 1:9-12)
In the Spirit of the LORD Joel calls for mourning, and not just because of the Locust Plague and the coming series of foreign Invasions that Judah would suffer.
Underneath those calamities, the Prophet calls for us to mourn and lament the condition of Worship. Judah had the Temple, the House built for the Name of God, and to her was vouchsafed the worship, the ministry of mercy, and the apparatus of sacrifice.. Meat and Drink offerings typified this.
The meat offering was a bloodless sacrifice, it was actually a grain offering, (consisting of flour, oil and frankincense) which accompanied the morning and evening sacrifice, along with the drink offering. Bread and Wine were the meat and drink offering to God.
This visitation coming would literally interrupt the daily fellowship and worship of God. The locusts would devour the grain fields and the Vineyards which would allow the nation to offer the daily worship! Joel is predicting the unthinkable, the Temple would be destroyed and the worship of the Holy Nation would grind to a halt!
All of the beautiful fruits that God had blessed Israel and Judah with in the “Land flowing with Milk and Honey” would be languished, withered and destroyed.
No wonder the Priests were called to mourn and the farmers and Vinedressers were called especially to “…weep and howl…”. Judgment was coming and it would be felt on every level of society.
The Shepherds in particular, the Priests and ministers should call a Solemn Assembly, for the purpose of weeping, fasting and seeking God.
Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord, Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. (Joel 1 :13-15)
For Judah to be cut off from the service of worship, sacrifice and the ministry of mercy would be a disaster. The commentators Kiel and Delitsch say;
Now Israel could not suffer any greater calamity than the suspension of the daily sacrifice; for this was a practical suspension of the covenant relation – a sign that God had rejected His people.
The Day of the LORD is at hand, the day of direct intervention of the Almighty into the affairs of Judah and the surrounding world.
Verse 12 can be interpreted,
Turn pale, ye husbandmen; howl, ye vinedressers, over wheat and barley: for the harvest of the field is perished.
Typologically also, the grains and foods which were to be wiped out by Locusts, leaving starvation and disease in their wake, point to the destruction of the standard of teaching in the churches. Part of our current judgment in the church is the attack and destruction of sound Biblical teaching by which to build up the true flock, and the failure of (Priests), Pastors and teachers to be faithful to the Word. This is a Judgment in itself and is bringing Judgment on us as well.
Of course a good many of professing Christians wouldn’t have it any other way, for they eschew true God centered preaching, and hate prophecy and the call to repentance.
The Wheat and Barley were the most important of the field crops. The farmers (Pastors) ought to weep in shame for playing at teaching instead of feeding the flock. People come to church desperately needing a Word from God ,in our current application, and time and again all they receive is pop psychology, false prophecy and levity. We are in the Famine Amos warned of.
Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.( Joel 1:16-20)
Where is the grain? Rotting under untilled clods of dirt, while the people starve ,in the day of calamity. Where are the barns and storehouses? (True churches- the so called “Pillar and ground of the Truth). They have been broken down, and neglected, everyone wanted to go “Bigger and Better” or as One Pastor told me ,”We are going Young!”.
The Beasts (Oxen- true laborers) groan, the flock has scattered and is desolate, but they do look up and cry out to God. At least the lowly and obscure remnant does.