Locusts — the book of Joel

The east wind always bring disaster for Israel. It comes right off the Arabian desert and it brings desert winds, drought, and sometimes locusts. Joel’s prophecy is about a disaster of locusts brought on Israel because of their turning away from Him. We thankfully know little about locust plagues except through reading about them, but they eat everything — bark off trees, everything green, right down to the root. The magnitude of the disaster would be determined by the size of the swarm, and this plague was apparently going to go into the record books, if they had had them. Even 1:18 notes that the sheep — who’ll eat anything — will have nothing to eat. It would be a severe enough plague that even elite (priests and royalty in this case), would suffer (1:13); they are usually the last to feel the pinch in almost every age.

Because of this prophecy of agricultural disaster a certain kind of language is being used here — sometimes called “Day of the Lord” language. Let me give you some samples out of Joel:

Joel 1:15 “Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, And it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Joel 2:1, 2 “Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.”

Joel 2:10, 11 “Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. The LORD utters His voice before His army; Surely His camp is very great, For strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it?”

Joel 3:9-17 (I quoted only 13,14) — “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”

But among these Day of the Lord passages is one particularly important one…

Joel 2:28-32 ““It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”

If if sounds familiar, it should. It is the explanation Peter gives on the occasion of the first Gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost to a crowd who were wondering about the meaning of the sounds, tongues of fire over the apostles’ heads, and their speaking in tongues (Acts 2:17-21) — making this prophecy especially important to Christians. Sometimes folks think of the “Day of the Lord” as “end of time” prophecy, but this Pentecost “Day of the Lord” prophecy demonstrates that it is really about a time in which God acts mightily in this world. The typical “moon turning to blood” symbolism is less about disaster and more about “stunning” and “amazing” and perhaps even “impossible”.

A last thing to note here is that — once again — repentance is the key to avoiding disaster.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
This entry was posted in Bible commentary, Christianity, Old Testament and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Locusts — the book of Joel

  1. Pingback: Resources for Joel 2:10 - 11

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