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Joel Chapter 2

Joel chapter 2 is a very intriguing portion of scripture. It speaks of a most extraordinary group of people and has connections to the end of time. Several verses were quoted by Peter in connection with the Feast of Pentecost 50 days after the resurrection. Let's take a detailed verse-by-verse look at Joel chapter 2.

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;" (Joel 2:1)

The first verse has a good example of Hebrew parallelism that is so often used in scripture and that helps to identify the meanings of symbols. Note the parallels:

blow the trumpet sound an alarm
in Zion in my holy mountain

It affirms the use of trumpets to sound alarms and the identity of "my holy mountain" as Zion or Jerusalem. The sounding of the trumpet was often used as a signal of alarm or a call to specific and important actions including the festal gatherings and calls to repentance:

"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Isa. 58:1)

My Holy Mountain

"My holy mountain" seems to have a variety of meanings. It has been used in scripture to refer to heaven even before the fall of Lucifer:

"Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." (Eze 28:14)

And it is used to refer to the city of Jerusalem in its glorious future:

"Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain." (Zech 8:3)

In this verse in Joel chapter 2, it may be a symbol of the church during a time when it is still in danger and before the Second Coming. If so, the trumpet blast, the warning message, is for God's people.

A Great People and a Strong

"A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations." (Joel 2:2)

The word "day" can apply not just to a 24-hour day but also to a period of time or an age (modern-day society) among other meanings. This darkness could be either figurative as in a dark time, or a reference to the darkening spoken of in later verses in the chapter. During this time, it seems, there will be a group of people spoke of in verses 2 - 11 with some rather unique characteristics:

  •       v2. great people
  •       strong
  •       unique
  •       v3. fire before them
  •       flame behind them
  •       land as Eden before them
  •       behind them a desolate wilderness
  •       nothing shall escape them
  •       v4. appear as horses
  •       run like horsemen
  •       v5. leap on the mountains (chariots)
  •       devoureth the stubble
  •       strong people
  •       set in battle array
  •       v6. reaction to them = pained, faces in blackness
  •       v7. run like mighty men
  •       climb the wall like men of war
  •       march every one on his ways
  •       shall not break their ranks
  •       v8. neither shall one thrust another
  •       each will walk in his path:
  •       not wounded by the sword
  •       v9. run to and fro in the city
  •       run upon the wall
  •       climb up upon the houses
  •       enter in at the windows like a thief
  •       v10. earth quakes before them
  •       heavens shall tremble
  •       sun and the moon shall be dark
  •       stars shall withdraw shining
  •       v11. his army
  •       his camp is very great
  •       at day of the Lord

Don't they sound like an interesting group? Joel chapter 2 gives quite a detailed description of them but we have to investigate further to discover just who they are. This group of people is described as unique as soon as they are introduced - "there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it." Let's take a closer look at the army of Joel chapter 2. Some of the interpretations below are, admittedly, somewhat speculative but, taken as a whole, a picture emerges.

"A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them." (Joel 2:3)

Both fire and a garden can be connected to the concept of harvest and the overall setting is the end of time. "Nothing shall escape them" may be picturing a thorough work. Other scriptures point to the experience of God's people at the end:

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (Isa 60:1-3)

As they go about their work in the last days they see a harvest (as in a garden) before them. And they do a complete work. Those who are not saved will be left as stubble.

"The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run." (Joel 2:4)

There are a number of verses, in the context of God's people, that allude to horses and horsemen:

"I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots." (S.Sol 1:9)

"In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar." (Zech 14:20)

"And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD." (Exo 28:36-38)

"And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel." (1 Kings 18:46)

"If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" (Jer 12:5)
"Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array." (Joel 2:5)

Verse 5 connects back to the fire and flame of verse 3. Their role as part of an army is also suggested by "battle array and is suggested elsewhere:"

"I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers." (Jer 51:23)
"Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness." (Joel 2:6)

The faces of God's saints will radiate light and be painful for the lost to look upon as did the face of Moses (and others) after contact with God.

"And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him." (Exo 34:30)

Most Bible versions translate the last phrase ("gather blackness" in the KJV) referring to the faces of the lost, as "paleness." For example:

"Before them the people are in anguish; All faces turn pale." (Joel 2:6, NASB) "Fear grips all the people; every face grows pale with terror." (Joel 2:6, NLT)

What causes a person's face to go pale? - fear. That sounds much like what Luke wrote of:

"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." (Luke 21:26)
"They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:" (Joel 2:7)
"In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them." (Zech 12:8)

The phrase "mighty men" is used many times in describing David's followers:

"And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left." (2 Sam 16:6) "Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH." (Zech 3:8)
"Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief." (Joel 2:8-9)

This sounds like intense activity with a united, compelling purpose and even divine protection.

"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isa 54:17)

"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19)

"They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:18)
That is quite a group of people being described and there is more - part 2.  

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