Chapter II, Introduction
In studying the message of Joel, the fact to be kept prominently in mind is that Joel is the prophet of the latter rain. The keynote in the second chapter of Joel's prophecy is: The Lord Jesus revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. The first sentence in the chapter, " Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain," indicates that Joel prophesied before Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; as,
1. Only to prophets before that time did the menace of a national calamity mean the fall of the temple and city at the hands of hostile armies. Joel 2:9.
2. After the return from exile, a great future crisis would be as if attached to the coming of Messiah, not to another overthrow of the city. Zech. 12:10.
3. After Christ's coming, the church would be scattered among all nations, the world its foe, and not especially the foe of a national city. Mark 16:15.
I. The Climax at Its Crescendo
1. The message in the second chapter of Joel is appallingly more serious than the message in the first chapter:
a. " Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children." Joel 1: 3. Here, from generation to generation, men were to " tell " of the approaching catastrophe.
b. "Blow ye the trumpet, . . . sound an alarm." Joel 2: 1. It is now present, not future, action.
c. The " palmerworm," " locust, ' " cankerworm," a n d " caterpillar " (Joel 1: 4) were only preliminary judgments, but each was precursor and pledge of the final great dissolution.
2. The ruin brought to view in the second chapter of Joel is greater than in Joel 1:
a. In the first chapter of Joel the ruin wrought by the seven last plagues pertains to things on the ground. Joel 1: 12, 17.
b. In the second chapter the ruin comes to cities, nations, races; even the heavens are affected. Joel 2:9, 6, 11, 13.
3. The greatest agencies of " that day " swing to view in Joel 2:
a. Surely the coming of the Lord could not be signalized alone by a locust invasion, whose swarms were to be swept into the sea (Joel 1:4-6),-
b. Neither simply by the assault of heathen nations, who, in this earth, would bring down their crime on their own head. Joel 2: 20; 3: 4.
II. An Unprecedented Scene (Joel 2: 1-11)
1. Verse 2: "A great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it."
a. Previous world crises were too feeble to serve as an illustration of this scene. Ex. 10: 14; Dan. 12: 1.
b. After the seven last plagues and after Armageddon, Jesus and His angel armies are revealed from heaven. There Joel 1 must go on to Joel 2:11 to complete the climax. Joel 1: 16-20; Rev. 16: 11, 12-16.
c. This revelation of the flaming hosts is recited before the terrible scenes of Armageddon in Joel 3, because, if it came after, one might confound the heathen armies of Armageddon with the armies from heaven. Rev. 19: 11-14.
2. Verse 3: " A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth."
a. "Our God shall come, . . . a fire shall devour before Him." Pa. 50: 3.
b. " When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed . . . with His mighty angels, in flaming fire." 2 Thess. 1: 7, 8.
3. Verse 4: " The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run."
a. " The armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses." Rev. 19: 14.
4. Verses 5 and 6: Verse 5 portrays the crashing noise of overspreadihg ruin. (See also Zech. 1: 10.) Verse 6 indicates that they are irresistible "all faces shall gather blackness."
5. Verses 7.9 describe their order, innumerability, and success:
a. "They shall not break their ranks." Verse 7. This could not be said of human warriors.
b. "When they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded." Verse 8. This also could not be said of human warriors. No fatal stroke reaches their glorious body, as it would a human.
c. "They shall enter in at the windows like a thief." Verse 9. Prison windows, and other inaccessible places they enter in order to deliver God's people. " Behold, I come as a thief." Rev. 16: 15.
6. Verse 10: " The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble." The planet-shaking power of God's angels is here revealed.
III. An Unprecedented Repentance (Joel 2: 11-17)
I. Verse 11: " The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? "
a. Four kinds of darkness are mentioned for the purpose of revealing how awful that day is: It is " a day of " darkness," of " gloominess," of " clouds," of " thick darkness." Verse 2. It is darker than the darkness of Egypt, or the darkness at the cross of Christ when He was crucified, or the darkness of May 19, 1780.
b. The " day of the Lord " is unprecedented. " There hath not been ever the like." Verse 2. God's people were to make stand out before the world the seriousness of " that day."
2. Verse 15: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, . . . call a solemn assembly."
a. " A solemn assembly "— a " day of restraint," as in the margin of Joel 1: 14. God's people, then, would be learning restraint, while the world is practicing indulgence.
b. " Sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play,"— such is the verdict against those who made the golden calf against the last generation. Ex. 32: 5, 6; 1 Cor. 10: 7, 11.
3. Verse 12: " Therefore . . . turn ye even to Me . . . with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."
a. Fasting was practiced on the day of atonement. Lev. 23: 27. We are now in the antitypical day of atonement.
b. Weeping and mourning: In the last great war, parents wept around the altar for the absent boys. Why wait till the next fearful crisis comes?
4. Verses 13 and 14: " Rend your heart, and not your garments." This is true repentance. "Leave a blessing behind Him; " or, restore to communion with Him.
5. Verses 15-17:
a. "Call a solemn assembly." Verse 15. Terrible things are at hand. Ordinary round of worship will not suffice. Call a special convention; examine the state of the church.
b. "Assemble the elders." Verse 16. Hold a church officers' meeting which will accomplish something.
" Sanctify the congregation." Stay by until a thorough reformation is wrought.
c. " Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar." Verse 17. Call a workers' meeting! Poisonous theories, like a tainted atmosphere, are reaching the young. Cry to God, "Give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them," then, just then, and ONLY THEN. Oh, the poisonous, soul-destroying theories that will fade before God's holy presence! He will not permit to go out the little flame of fire He has lighted within us.
IV. An Unprecedented Answer — The Latter Rain (Joel 2: 18-29)
I. Verse 18: " Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people." " When there is full repentance, God will accomplish the following things, as brought to view in
2. Verses 19-27:
1. No more shall the heathen rule over our children (God's heritage, as in verse 17) ; no more shall we be a reproach among the heathen. Verse 19.
2. God will remove all oppressions of the past, especially the stroke of the seven last plagues; He will remove the northerner. Verse 20.
3. God will restore the wasted years. Verse 25.
4. God will cause to come down the second Pentecost. Verse 23.
3. Verses 28, 29: "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; . . . your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. . . your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit."
" I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound, some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. ... All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. . . . I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, ' It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel.' "—" Early Writings," p. 271.
V. The Remnant: A Product of Re. pentance and the Latter Rain (Joel 2: 30.32)
I. Verse 31: A people who recognize the meaning of the dark day of May 19, 1780.
a. Verse 30: " Abraham . . . looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, . . . and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." Gen. 19:27, 28. The " remnant " did not mingle with Sodom and Gomorrah, but stayed where there was not so much worldly profit, but more of a spiritual atmosphere.
b. Verse 32: The " remnant " continued steadfastly in the doctrine of the third angel's message. In that doctrine, and in that alone, will salvation, in the time of this eternal crisis, be found.
A Terrible Neglect by the Remnant
" I looked to see the humility of soul that should ever sit as a fitting garment upon our ministers, but it was not upon them. I looked for the deep love for souls that the Master said they should possess, but they had it not. I listened for the earnest prayers offered with tears and anguish of soul because of the impenitent and unbelieving in their own homes and in the church, but heard them not. I listened for the appeals made in the demonstration of the Spirit, but these were missing. I looked for the burden bearers, who in such a time as this should be weeping between the porch and the altar, crying, Spare Thy people, Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach; ' but I heard no such supplications. A few earnest, humble ones were seeking the Lord. . But a large majority of the ministers had no more sense of the sacredness of their work than children,"—" Testimonies," Vol. V, pp. 165, 166.
" I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful, and were looking to the time of ` refreshing and the ` latter rain' to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord, and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter; They had neglected the needful preparation, therefore they could not receive the refreshing."—"Early Writings," p. 71.
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