Summary: Joel 2:1-17 teaches us that God's impending judgment may yet be averted by a wholehearted repentance.
We are currently in a sermon series that I am calling, “Lessons from a Minor Prophet: Joel.”
The Prophet Joel was perhaps the earliest of the Old Testament’s writing prophets. My own view is that Joel wrote his prophecy in the eighth (or perhaps even in the ninth) century BC. The people in Joel’s day had just experienced a massive attack of locusts. This was followed by an extremely severe drought, and possibly even a fire. The resulting devastation crippled the economy and caused incredible pain and suffering, not only for the people of the land but even for the animals.
God led Joel to use the locust plague as the backdrop for his message to the people. In the first chapter of Joel, he urged the people to pay attention to what God was saying to them through their contemporary circumstances. Joel identified the locust plague as the “day of the Lord.” The “day of the Lord” in Scripture was a day of judgment and blessing. It could refer to either a contemporary day, an impending day, or the future, great day of the Lord.
Even though no specific sin was mentioned by Joel in his book, his point was that God was bringing judgment on his people, and that should cause them to repent and return to the Lord their God in total dependence upon him.
In Joel 2:1-17, Joel continued to refer to the locust plague, and urged the people to be aware of the impending day of the Lord.
Let’s read about the impending day of the Lord in Joel 2:1-17:
1 Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.
3 Fire devours before them,
and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
but behind them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them.
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
and like war horses they run.
5 As with the rumbling of chariots,
they leap on the tops of the mountains,
like the crackling of a flame of fire
devouring the stubble,
like a powerful army
drawn up for battle.
6 Before them peoples are in anguish;
all faces grow pale.
7 Like warriors they charge;
like soldiers they scale the wall.
They march each on his way;
they do not swerve from their paths.
8 They do not jostle one another;
each marches in his path;
they burst through the weapons
and are not halted.
9 They leap upon the city,
they run upon the walls,
they climb up into the houses,
they enter through the windows like a thief.
10 The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
11 The Lord utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?
12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16 gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ” (Joel 2:1-17)
In his commentary on Joel, James Montgomery Boice tells about one of the great earthquakes of modern times that struck Lisbon, Portugal on November 1, 1755. The epicenter was located several miles off the Portuguese coast, in the Atlantic, so tremendous tidal waves struck the city and contributed to the damage. The earthquake came at 9:40 a.m. and lasted for six minutes. In those six minutes all public buildings and 12,000 dwellings were demolished. Sixty thousand people died, including those who were killed as a result of the tidal waves and a fire, which raged for six days. Heavy damage occurred in Fez, Morocco, to the south, and in Algiers, 700 miles to the east. On the coast the tidal waves were sixty feet high. At the island of Martinique, 3,740 miles away, which the waves passed ten hours later, the crest was twelve feet above normal.