Joel 2:9-16

Joel 2:9

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.


Here is a verse which could be describing both the penetrating abilities of the locusts and the soldiers.  The locusts will go everywhere in the city and no place will be safe from them just as the soldiers will come into the city and no one will be able to hide from them.  The locusts will climb upon the walls when they land and will crawl over the walls just as a soldier would do when he is scaling the walls of a walled city.  The locust will also go upon all the houses just as soldiers would go from house to house to search out any hiding enemy soldiers.  If they cannot find a door they will climb through the windows.  In ancient times there were no glass on the windows so they were open which means it was an easy entry for the locust to completely invade a home.


Joel 2:10

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:


The locust plague will be so bad that it will seem like the earth shall be quaking and the noise of their approach will be like a great rumbling sound in the heavens, just like when a tornado is approaching it makes a certain ominous sound.  Their numbers will be so great that they will literally block out the sun and even the moonlight will be affected by their huge numbers.  The stars will also not be visible because of the large swarm of locusts which will invade the land.  This verse in Joel looks like a different rendering of Matthew 24:29 which takes place right before the return of the Lord on the last day.  Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  (Matthew 24:29)  It will have the same effect as the land will be stripped of its inhabitants and made bare.  On the last day when the Lord returns the earth will be stripped of its inhabitants, the believers go into the presence of the Lord and the unbelievers to final judgment.


Joel 2:11

And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?


This verse uses the locusts as symbols of the Assyrians and Babylonians.  The Lord will be the one who will command the armies to come into Jerusalem and also to take the northern kingdom into captivity.  When they come into the land, no one will be able to escape any aspect of these armies which are signified by the strength of their leader who is God himself, unknown to both of these pagan nations.  The day of the Lord will be a very fearsome time as the inhabitants of both Judah and Israel will face the judgment of God for their incessant sins.  No one will escape the judging hand of God because there are no innocent ones among the people who chose to walk away from God.  This verse follows the same pattern in Matthew 24:30.  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  (Matthew 24:30)  Once the armies have invaded the land the judgment of God will commence as they begin to serve out their sentence in captivity for their sins.  Once the sun is darkened in Matthew 24:29, then immediately after that the Lord Jesus Christ will be returning to earth in judgment of those who walked in unbelief and opposed him.


Joel 2:12

Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:


The LORD is telling both Israel and Judah to turn back to him but he is telling them that it must be now.  That is because the judgment of God upon the land is going to commence very shortly but there is still an open window of time to prevent this catastrophe.  God is telling them that if they repent, it must be in sincerity and not just a “jailhouse confession” which only goes as deep as the words spoken.  The weeping and the mourning would indicate that a true repentance has taken place and that they would sincerely seek the Lord for their salvation.  God speaks of the urgency of their repentance and states now must be the time, not a year or ten days from now but now.  In 2 Corinthians God also warns us that now is the day of salvation which means that the window of salvation is open but there will come a day when that window will be shut forever.  (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)  (2 Corinthians 6:2) 


Joel 2:13

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.


One of the outward signs of repentance and sorrow was the rending of the clothes.  And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.  (1 Kings 21:27)  Ahab had sincerely repented of his evil ways and his outward sign was the rending or tearing of his clothes which was a sign of contrition.  Here the LORD is not interested in the tearing of the clothes but of the heart.  Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. (Deuteronomy 10:16)  They were to repent of their sins from the heart and not from outward ceremony.  Once their heart was right with the Lord , then they could turn back to him in truth and not just ceremony.  Once they do that, then the LORD would meet them with mercy and grace forgiving them and then he would remove the judgments and reinstate them as his favored nation among the other nations.


Joel 2:14

Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?


Just because they would come to him in repentance and seek him does not automatically mean that God would be obligated to turn from the judgments that he had previously decreed upon them.  The blessing which would be left behind would be the land left which the locust had not yet attacked and eaten.  It would be like a pledge that God had stayed his hand of judgment concerning the locusts.  Would there be enough left from the locust plague to present a meat and drink offering unto the LORD?  God has the right to change his mind when it comes to relieving those under judgment if they have returned to him in sincerity but he also reserves the right to dole out judgment even if someone does turn back to him because there are always consequences to our actions.  A person who drinks alcoholic beverages for the good part of their life may come to the Lord and becomes saved but that does not mean if they get cirrhosis of the liver that God is obligated to heal it.  We must always keep in mind that God is the potter and we are the clay.


Joel 2:15

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:


As this chapter began with the trumpet being blown in Zion which was a warning to Israel and Judah that they must turn back to the Lord and as we read that time is now so God is warning them to return now.  They were to proclaim a fast and call that solemn assembly which would have been a holy convocation of the purpose of coming back to the LORD before the impending judgment strikes them.


Joel 2:16

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.


The solemn assembly would not have been just for the priests but they were to gather the entire nation which would have included all the elders, the children and even the little babies in the congregation.  Even those who were getting ready to be married were to leave the wedding feast and were to join the solemn assembly.  As joyful as a wedding should be they were to afflict themselves with solemnity as the rest of the people of the country.  The call to repentance was to be nationwide and no one was to be exempt.