Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. ( Joel 1:5-8)
The Prophet Joel saw a terrible sight. He saw a locust invasion in the land of Judah. The Locusts came in four stages and absolutely reduced the land to bare ground, and the people to poverty and disease. In Agrarian societies, Locust invasions were devastating.
But being a Prophet, Joel saw also that the Locust invasion was a sign pointing to something worse. He saw in the destruction of an infestation of locusts, the “Day of the LORD” that is, the coming day of direct Divine intervention into human affairs.
What the Locusts would do in the land God had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, pointed to a further devastation, which would come to pass in the Babylonian invasions which occurred beginning in 598 BC. .
Remember that Joel used four different terms for the locusts. They ( the locusts) would come as :”Swarmers” , “Gnawers”, “Lickers” and as “Destroyers” in four distinct phases, stripping away everything of life.
Even so the Babylonians came as a judgment of God upon Judah, first removing the King Jehoikin and his family, of the house of David,(including Daniel) then taking away all men of skill, and the artisans. Eventually they would come and remove army officers and Nobility, (including Ezekiel) and finally the Babylonians would raze the Temple of the Lord after plundering and burning it. Just like the Locusts, the Babylonians left virtually nothing behind.
Joel is calling out to the people to awaken out of their slumber, for the Day of the LORD was at hand.
Wine stands for the Joys of Life, which are soon to be cut off according to Joel’s vision. It is legitimate to enjoy the good things which wine represents here, in fact twice in the Prophets, the good life is described thusly, “Every man under his vine and every man under his own fig tree…”. (Micah 4:4 Zechariah 3:10).
“Awake you drunkards, weep and howl…”,What does “drunkenness” represent here?
If Wine represents the Joys of Life, Drunkenness represents enjoying this life, but allowing those Joys to intoxicate you to the exclusion of the Spiritual life and the worship of God. People forget God, and begin to live only for this life and the joys it brings. Their spiritual senses become duped and they no longer fear or worship God, so enamored are they, of the pleasures of this life.
These are the drunkards which are being warned. A good many of them, I have no doubt were indeed drunkards, but the term is not limited to alcoholics. Joel is warning all of us that have deadened souls and who live only for this world and what it offers.
Jesus warned us about this kind of drunkennes as well
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. (Luke 21:34-36)
He calls upon them, (us), to” weep and howl”, and to come to an acute awareness of the mortal danger we are in, and to cry out from the heart to the God whom we have neglected. We are to have an urgency about this, because the danger is real and approaching.
If we could allow ourselves to see what Joel saw in recent events such as the Locust invasion, we would indeed “weep and Howl…” and seek the LORD. Unfortunately there is a psychological mechanism called a “Normalcy Bias” by which men tend to fool themselves into thinking all is normal or will soon go back to normal, even in the face of mortal disasters.
The Prophet mentions the Vine and the Fig Tree, as having been barked and laid waste by the enemy. The Vine and Fig Tree are emblematic of the blessing upon Judah and the promised Land, given to the seed of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob and his seed forever.
Israel was a choice Vine, carefully cultivated by Jahweh, and given everything possible to incline it to bear sweet fruit. She was the fig Tree, hedged and protected, fertilized and tended, to bring forth fruit to the master.
How is it that the Vine is laid waste, and the fig tree, after so much preparation has been spoiled and stripped? Sin has done this! What a shame! How tragic that such a promising beginning has been wasted and is now on the verge of destruction.
The Prophet calls us to weep and Lament, as though an espoused woman, has lost her young husband before the actual wedding day!
In the New Testament, the fig tree represents Israel, but the Vine represents the church.
I weep and lament because I have a God given sense of what the church should be…How we could have been used and made such a difference had we remained faithful and true to Jesus. Joel speaks to us as well!
The Church has changed since I first came in forty years ago. Evangelical religion (in the truest sense), abounded everywhere,. There were no such things as Mega churches, Christian bookstores were full of really sound teachings, and everywhere we turned it seemed people were truly being saved. Of course there were heretics and cults, but the true church was thriving.
How did we so bankrupt ourselves? How is it that when our nation needs a Word from God the most, what we seem to have is “Mega Churches, Pop Psychologists for Pastors, Boy bands instead of true Worship, Hipsters, backsliders, Celebrity Pastors, Religious politicians, and flat out Apostates…” When we really need prophets and preachers of Righteousness to confront the evil that now pervades.
Just as Joel warned of a vicious army, fierce and seemingly numerous, invading the land and bent on the destruction of the LORD”s Vine and Fig Tree, we are seeing the armies of Anti-Christ in array, setting themselves like lions against the Church and Israel, and preparing to take the worldly power against the remnant of God.
Weep and Howl, cry out unto the LORd himself, repent of your own sins and the sins of the church, wake up, for Joel’s message is speaking to our day as well. The locusts are descending even now…