Gen. James Green
O NCE CAN’T read the book of Joel without running across similes and metaphors:
The locusts are called a “nation”: “For a [heathen and hostile] nation [of locusts, illustrative of a human foe] has invaded My land, mighty and without number; whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the jaw teeth of a lioness” (see Rev. 9:7, 8 also);
They [heaven and hostile nation] are called “a people”: “A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and of thick mists and darkness..; so there comes a [heathen, hostile] people numerous and mighty, like of which has never been before…” (2:2); “…like the noise of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a mighty people set in battle array” (2:5; see also Rev. 9:7, 9);
They are called an “army”: “And the Lord utters His voice before His army, for His host is very great, for [the enemy is] strong and powerful who executes God’s Word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible (like “terrorists”!), and who can endure it?” (2:11; see also Rev. 6:16, 17; Isa. 26:20, 21; 34:1-4, 8); “And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten…My great army which I sent among you” (v. 25).
Their teeth are those of a lion (see 1:6).
Their destructiveness is like that of fire (2:3).
They look like horses (2:4).
They sound like chariots/fire or an army drawn up for battle (2:5).
They march and attack the city like warriors (2:7).
The “rent heart” (2:13) is a striking metaphor for inward repentance.
The last judgment is a harvest or vintage (3:13).
MANY WHO read Joel are just that—confused! Keep in mind that Joel’s literary writing is the drawing of parallels between corresponding or similar things. The correspondence between the “locusts” (chs. 1 and 2) and the “pagan nations” (ch. 3) must be distinguished. Both these groups COME UP (1:6; 3:9, 12) against the Lord’s land (1:6; 3:2); both ravage both people and land at the Lord’s command! (1:4-2:11; 3:2-8, 19).
Note: The locust plague is a judgment, and therefore both a warning and an aspect of the “day of the Lord” (1:15; 2:1, 2, 10); the corresponding judgment of the pagan nations is the final day of the Lord (2:13-16, 19).
So, what is the way out of all this? REPENTANCE dear friends, REPENTANCE (1:13, 4; 2:12-17). The way out is to call upon the name of the Lord (2:32).
JOEL USES contrasts to sharpen the effect of what he’s trying to convey. Notice how he uses the destruction by the locusts and drought, and the resulting sorrow of men and beasts (1:4-20) in contrast with the restoration of fruitfulness/gladness (2:19-25).
Joel also uses parallels as those found in other Old Testament books. One could spend days comparing all these parallels. Although they may not be exactly word-for-word, his ideas and imagery are found in many major and minor prophet’s writings (examples: Joel 1:15=Isa. 13:6; Joel 2:2=Zeph. 1:15; 2:10=Isa. 13:16; 1:15=Ez. 30:2, 3; Zeph. 1:7; Isa. 13:6; Joel 2:10=Isa. 13:13; Joel 2:11=Isa. 30:30; Mal. 3:2; 4:5; Joel 3:16=Amos 1:2; Isa. 13:13; Ps. 61:3; Joel 3:17=Ez. 36:11; Isa. 52:1 etc.).
AS I HAVE taught out of Joel, especially in the context of “Joel’s Army,” one has to consider that there are several interpretations:
2. allegorical-historical, and
Some combine one or two, or even all together. Of course the most simple is the literal—literal locusts that are compared to an “invading army,” ascribed with poetic hyperbole. This “literal” is held by many commentators/scholars.
It should be noted that on the margin of the Greek Codex Marchalianus (Q) of the sixth Cent., that the words for “locusts” (2:25) are identified with the: Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Greeks. Professor John A. Thompson points out (Vol. 6 of “The Inter. Bible,” p. 733) that similar but varied interpretations of the locust plague as an allegory of historical human invasion are given by the (Jewish) Targum, patristic commentators, and even some modern expositors. He tells us that against this view is the fact that both the destruction (ch. 1) and the restoration (2:22-25), are limited to plant life. Furthermore, the expresses comparison of the locusts to a human army (2:4, 5, 7) makes it impossible that they are symbols of human soldiers; a thing is not compared with itself. He says that the same arguments hold against combining the literal of ch. 1 with an allegorical of ch. 2. John Calvin uses this in his writings.
Joel’s apocalyptic locusts, according to some scholars, are supernatural apocalyptic creatures in chapter one, and symbols of the invading armies of the end times in chapter two. Similarly, others hold that these locusts were not real/literal, but types of the future catastrophe. Well, really, such futuristic interpretations do not do justice to the present outlook of the description; for example we read, “Before our eyes” in 1:16.
The combining of the literal and apocalyptic/eschatological is not always wrong, for we can picture such things with vivid comparison and poetic exaggerations.
One thing we all can agree on, these locusts were sent by God, at His command, by His Word. We find this usage of nature throughout the Bible—God commands His creation and creatures to be His weapon(s) of “Mass Destruction.” We find God using both the natural and supernatural; animate and inanimate nature are at His command; we too often blame Satan for what God is doing, has done, or will do.
The Big Picture: Repentance
BOTH THE (REBELLIOUS) religious person and the lost sinner can find escape from God’s judgment by way of repentance—His loving (but at times rather harsh) redemptive mercy. But we must have inner heart repentance, not mere “lip repentance” as too many are guilty of these days.
Joel tells the people: “Rend your hearts and not (just) your garments, and return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness, and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His CONDITIONS (note this word in the Amplified Bible) are met]” (Joel 2:13).
One ought to check out how many times the word “repent” is used in dealing with the Ekklesias in Rev. 2 and 3—they have been written for us to show that repentance is vital to one’s spiritual well-being.
The Call Is For ALL!
JOEL 2:32 reads: “And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved.” He goes on to say: “…for in Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape…” We ESCAPE by repenting. This same truth is carried on into the New Testament era. We find in Acts 2:38 this same principle: “…Repent—change your views, and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it—and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins…” Then in Romans 10:13 we read: “For every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will (or shall) be saved,” quoting Joel 2:32.
Peter follows up on Acts 2:38 (personal repentance) with national (nations) repentance (see also Isa. 57:19).
Abiding Message of Joel
WHEN ONE transcends Joel’s national particularism (he was an Israelite), we find many truths which no doubt influenced our New Testament. These truths have continuing validity. I can’t tell you how many have said to us something similar to: “The Old Testament is out-dated and no longer in use. We must read only the New Testament.” TRUTH IS TRUTH, NO MATTER IF IT IS OLD OR NEW. Even Jesus says that He did “not come to do away with (or undo) the Law and the prophets…but to complete and fulfill them” (Mt. 5:17).
Sure, some ceremonial laws etc. were done away with, but the MORAL parts are still binding. The spiritual requirements and obligations must continue on in the lives of His true people (Rom. 3:31; 8:4). We are commanded, as born-again believers (new Israel) to keep the ethical/moral principles of the Old Testament (see Mt. 7:12; Mt. 22:36-40; Rom. 3:31; Rom. 7:12; Gal. 5:14 etc., plus to keep Jesus’ and the New Testament writers teachings (see Mt. 28:20; 1 Cor. 7:19; 9:21; Gal. 6:2 etc.). Jewish sacrificial, ceremonial, or social civil laws are no longer binding, despite what the Messianics and some Christian Zionists tell us.
Hebrews 10 tells us that the Old Testament was “a shadow of good things to come.” The good things are not the continuing of the old sacrificial/ceremonial etc. We “spirit Jews” are not under the law system of legal commandments by which to obtain merit for forgiveness and salvation (Gal. 2:16, 19). NO, but this does not, as most modern “Christians” believe, mean that there are no laws/commandments to keep and obey. There are good things one must do, like:
* continuing on in His Word to remain saved;
* fleeing from sin
* taking Jesus to all the world
* etc., etc.
Departure From the Old Testament
FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST the Lord is the point of departure for the fulfilling of the law. Thru faith in the risen Glorified Savior, God becomes our Heavenly Father (Jn. 1:12). This act places us in a living/loving relationship, not as just mere “law” keepers, as it was with racial Israel.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:5; Rom. 8:13; Acts 2 etc.) which gives us “power” and “the will” to do God’s Will— “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ…” (Rom. 16:25); “This is the covenant that I will make with them after these days, saith The Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts (good thing!) and in their minds (good thing!) will I write them” (Heb. 10:16).
So, dear Christian, these are some of the “good things” that were/are promised to all those who believe. This is what the prophet Joel said in 2:28:
“And afterward I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh (meaning all nations, not just Jews)…” This is the same as what we read in Acts 2:16-18. In Acts 1:8 we read that “…you shall receive power…when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” I received this Holy Spirit back in 1971!
So, Joel was prophesying centuries ahead about “other nations/peoples” who would be invited to receive salvation and the Holy Spirit (I have magazines on all these subjects—free).
Message For Our Mess-Age
IF I WERE to choose one particular verse that would be relevant for today, it would be 1:5:
“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” (see also v. 13, 14).
Drunkards are called upon to AWAKE from the sleep of intoxication. Joel probably had in mind, as I do, both the physical and the spiritual drunkard. No doubt, it would be these drunkards that complained the most. It is worthy of mention that natural wine doubled in price in Palestine during the locust plague of 1915 (see Jerusalem’s Locust Plague, “National Geographic Magazine,” XXVIII, by John D. Whiting).
Joel’s mention of new or sweet wine was newly pressed and only partially fermented (see 3:18). Take this into the spirit, like those of today who are on government welfare, when they may be asked to work or if their (free) welfare might be reduced, they complain to no end—they are drunk on the tit of America (I do believe that some that receive government welfare are in real need, but we ALL KNOW that most are WELFARE DRUNKARDS who live off others! Sorry I’m not sorry for pointing this FACT out). Joel’s drunkards—who are taken as the irresponsible element in the community—feel the effects of the plague, for their wine is cut off. They are exhorted to rouse themselves, and to AWAKE to REALITY!!!
The same holds true for all these drunkards that are totally drunk on worldliness—they do not want to face the fact that America is in BIG trouble. Drunkards live in their “own world,” impervious to impending disaster…and America will face whatever the Spirit will dish out.
Psalm 51 mentions 4 kinds of “sin,” and America is GUILTY of ALL 4! Proverbs 16:4, 5 tells us that: “The Lord has made everything [to accommodate itself and contribute] to its own end and His own purpose—even the wicked [are fitted for their role] for the day of calamity and evil. Everyone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; be assured [I pledge it] they will not go unpunished” Proud? Arrogant? This sums up “America the great”: full of pride and arrogance, no room for the Lord anymore.
I Finish With Prov. 8:13
“THE REVERENT FEAR and worshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil. Pride, arrogance, the evil way, and perverted and twisted speech I hate.”
You say: “General Jim, we worship the Lord in our church!” Really? Today’s church “worship” (for the most part, with few exceptions) is vulgar and vain, disgusting and demonic loud rock music (some use vulgar rap) wildly humping the air as if in the throws of fornication (yes! “spiritual sexing”). Trust me, THIS IS NOT REVERENT FEAR AND WORSHIPFUL AWE OF THE LORD JESUS—the one who died to set men free from such demonic antics and demonstrations. Give us a break. You say you “love the Lord,” but act like demonized fools on the dance floor.
Time to WAKE UP America!
Time to SOBER UP America!
Time to SEEK forgiveness America!
Time for REPENTANCE REVOLUTION…REBEL against Hell!
Hey, ministers, Joel 2:1 tells the priests to BLOW the TRUMPET, sound the ALARM! Danger approaches while you and your (harem) play nasty. Your occupation and preoccupation with the things of this world are strictly forbidden, or have you missed first John 2:15 and 16?...on purpose? Yet, there you are, full of worldliness with no room for Christ anymore. Your deeds and words (twisted speech) abundantly express who you love and serve in a variety of ways and styles, ranging from verbosity (excess words) to vomitus.
“General, aren’t you being a bit harsh and unloving here?”
You SHOULD ask whether I’m Biblically Correct. I point you to Isa. 28:8: “For all tables are FULL of FILTHY VOMIT, so that there is no place that is clean” (28:8). Isaiah was dealing with the “pride of the drunkards of Ephraim (10 Northern Tribes of Israel).” I’m dealing with a nation who PRIDES itself on being oh, so “Christian” that is DRUNK as a SKUNK. Isaiah was dealing with a people (“God’s chosen people”) who had made a covenant with death and Hell (sheol), who had made LIES their refuge, and who had taken shelter in falsehoods (v. 15).
Isaiah goes from Samaria to Jerusalem (Ariel, 29:1), pronouncing judgment upon them. Of course, plenty of WARNINGS had gone before their punishment. I feel that the “warning” stage is quickly passing for America; this WHOLE nation is rebellious and full of drunken pride. Do you really believe that we’ll go on and on without punishment? God hates perversity (29:16), yet America persists in it. THE SOLUTION TO THE UNGODLY POLLUTION IS REPENTANCE REVOLUTION.