Joel 2:1-8

Joel 2:1

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;


To blow a trumpet meant that there was to be called a solemn assembly and the trumpet also sounded the warning when there was an enemy approaching.  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?  (1 Corinthians 14:8)  When a solemn assembly was called the priests were then to fast and pray.  Here the Zion in view was Jerusalem the city.  The holy mountain in view here was the mount on which the temple stood.  They were to tremble at what was about to happen to them for the day of the Lord was coming and it was close at hand.  They were to tremble because of all the personal sins they committed plus their national sins of idolatry and forsaking the Lord God and serving the false gods.  The day of the Lord was the impending attack by both Assyria and Babylon which took both Judah and the ten northern tribes into captivity.  Their day of national judgment was at hand.


Joel 2:2

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.


The prophet Zephaniah uses the same type of language to describe the situation that they are in and what they can expect as payment for their sins.  Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations.  (Ezekiel 7:3)  God points out specifically the type of day it is going to be as he uses the term “a day of” two times. 

It will be a day of darkness and gloominess.  The sun may be shining when the Chaldeans come but the atmosphere surrounding Judah’s doom will be that of darkness.  The word “darkness” carries with it the meaning of “misery, sorrow and death.”  The word “gloominess” carries with it the meaning of “despondency or depression.”  Just as a depressed person exudes a gloomy personality, this is the milieu that Judah can expect.  Then it is a day of clouds and thick darkness.  The word “clouds” carries with to the meaning of a “thunder cloud.”  The thick darkness would be like the darkness which covered the land of Egypt.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.  (Exodus 10:21)  The darkness over Judah would be as thick as what covered the land of Egypt.  The darkness will permeate the land just as the morning sun permeates the mountains. Then the Chaldeans are described as great and strong when they come into Judah to vex it.  The Assyrians and the Chaldeans will strip the land as did the locusts and something like this will not happen again for many generations of years.  This is speaking specifically of the land of Judah because the locusts and human invaders will continue to take over other lands in the future.


Joel 2:3

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.


The fire here is symbolic of what the locusts did to the land.  There was no moisture or water left in the plants as they all shriveled and died.  For our God is a consuming fire.  (Hebrews 12:29)  We must never forget that God is the one who is sending these plagues upon them and ultimately the Chaldeans and the Assyrians will do to the land the same thing the locusts did.  They will be caught in the middle of the onslaught as they see the fire or the judgment of God in front of them and if they turn around to try and escape, they will see the judgment of God behind them also.  And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.  (Ezekiel 36:35)  The reference to the Garden of Eden is stating that because of Adam and Eve’s sin, it became a waste as they were expelled from the garden.  The land of Judah and Israel will also become a waste land as also prophesied by Ezekiel.  They shall escape no part of the judgment of God, they will feel the full recompense for their sins.


Joel 2:4

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.


Now the invading armies are compared to the strength of the horses. Those who grew up in ancient times knew the furious sound of approaching horses by sound of their hooves.  Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?  (Job 39:19)  Just as the locust swooped down upon the land and devoured it, the Chaldeans and Assyrians will be just like them in their swiftness and their fury. 


Joel 2:5

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.


The noise of the chariots on top of the mountains may be heard for miles as they approach their target.  It has been stated that the locust swarms can be heard as far away as 6 miles (10 km) before they strike and when they do it is with a vengeance.  The Chaldeans and the Assyrians will come in the same way, the sound of the chariots will be heard as rumbles along the land before they strike giving little warning.  The noise a fire makes which devours stubble would sound like a crackling noise and would spread quickly until the entire field was consumed.  Those who are set in battle array are prepared to attack and devour their enemy head on.  Probably the best example of this in modern times would have been in September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and the country was overtaken in three weeks.  The type of warfare was known as “blitzkrieg” which translated into English means “flash war.”  A flash of lightning is very quick and that is how the coming of the enemies of Israel and Judah will be.


Joel 2:6

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.


The faces of the people will show the pain of the onslaught of the coming locusts.  They show the fear and panic which shall overtake the people of the land.  Locust invasions can also be deadly for humans.  In 1958 there was a locust plague in Ethiopia which killed 15,000 people.  The black appearance on their faces may represent the scorching heat or it may be the faces of those who will have died during the locust plague.  Many died during the invasion of both the Chaldeans and the Assyrians.


Joel 2:7

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:


Many times the scripture points to all three in view which would be the locusts, the Chaldeans, and the Assyrians.  Here we have a description of the locusts who are just like an invading army which is described as running which shows the swiftness of their descent upon the land. The locusts do not climb walls but under the command of the LORD they can accomplish whatever his will decrees.  The invading armies of the Chaldeans and the Assyrians have the ability to scale walls to invade a city.  Each of them shall march in his way, that is, they will know their destination and what is required of them when they reach it.  They will not break ranks which means none will turn back or turn aside from following their orders but will progress in their assault.


Joel 2:8

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.


The locusts will come against their appointed target and will not so much as crowd the next one as they will be in perfect array for battle against the land.  They will not be able to be defended against by sword and if the sword is used to try and repel them it will be of no use.  Their outer shells are so tough that not even the sword could penetrate them.  This will also stand when the Assyrians and Chaldeans enter the land, they too will be in battle array and will come swiftly against their targets.