Joel chapter 2 continues talking about the army that is coming. It paints a picture of this army as almost preternatural and undefeatable. It begins with a command. Verse 1 reads,
Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
Blow a trumpet! Warn people! Tell people, tell Israel, the Believers and everyone else that The Day of the Lord is coming! It is close! This is a command that many Believers don’t obey. Sounding that trumpet is for the mentally ill man on the corner. We’ve heard it for two thousand years now and it still hasn’t come. But here’s the thing, to us it seems God is being slow, I mean two thousand years of “the Day of the Lord is nigh” seems like a long time to us. But consider this life, even if you get your full 120 years in comparison to eternity. How long is eternity? Is it 10,000 years, 100,000 years? No, it is forever, never ending after 100,000 years there will be a billion and a billion more. This life is a moment, a breath in comparison. Even in the early days of Christianity, Believers complained of the slowness of Jesus’ return. But God isn’t being slow, He is being merciful. He is waiting until as many as will, will choose to revel in His goodness, mercy, and love. Peter said it like this in 2 Peter 1-9 in The Message
My dear friends, this is now the second time I’ve written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention. Keep in mind what the holy prophets said, and the command of our Master and Savior that was passed on by your apostles.
3-4 First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock, “So what’s happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.”
5-7 They conveniently forget that long ago all the galaxies and this very planet were brought into existence out of watery chaos by God’s word. Then God’s word brought the chaos back in a flood that destroyed the world. The current galaxies and earth are fuel for the final fire. God is poised, ready to speak his word again, ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics.
8-9 Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
Peter also began his missive with telling us we need to know what will happen in the last days so we could answer to the mockers, not argue with them but point them to the truth. Instead of knowing about the last days, many depend on others information, we believe the secular version, the version taught to us in movies and books, or by other preachers and teachers. We believe them because it all seems too confusing to find out for ourselves.
Time is different to God than it is to us. He knows exactly how it will all play out, it is His plan, He has seen it, and it is finished. He loves us all so much, He’s waiting for everyone who will to choose Him. He is waiting for that daughter or son to give their lives to Him. Are you as eager that your loved ones come to Him rather than spend that same billions times billions of years in Hell? So, blow the trumpet, warn them, teach them. To teach them, you need to know it yourself. Do you know the Gospel you proclaim? Then teach it. If not, then learn it and teach them.
And there is another commandment in Peter’s letter 2 Peter 3:11-13 in The Message says this,
Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
Though the warnings in Joel are dire and some sound absolutely dismal, it is still wonderful good news, to good to be true Truth for the Believer. Let’s continue in Joel with verses 2-10.
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.
3 Fire devours before them,
and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
but behind them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them.
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
and like war horses they run.
5 As with the rumbling of chariots,
they leap on the tops of the mountains,
like the crackling of a flame of fire
devouring the stubble,
like a powerful army
drawn up for battle.
6 Before them peoples are in anguish;
all faces grow pale.
7 Like warriors they charge;
like soldiers they scale the wall.
They march each on his way;
they do not swerve from their paths.
8 They do not jostle one another;
each marches in his path;
they burst through the weapons
and are not halted.
9 They leap upon the city,
they run upon the walls,
they climb up into the houses,
they enter through the windows like a thief.
10 The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
I don’t know if you get the same terrifying picture as I do, but this army sounds petrifying and dreadful. They are described as unnatural and uncanny monstrous and ferocious. As they sweep the land they leave beautiful fertile lands empty and ugly. They are immense in size and in power. Where is the hope? Where is the good news? Verse 11 reads,
11 The Lord utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?
As terrible as the army in the first 10 verses is, God’s army exceeds it. His army is bigger; His army is stronger. His army is not merely preternatural but supernatural, His army consists of angels. Angels are not the soft sweet creatures that humans have made them to be, they are fierce, they are mighty. Whenever they have appeared to people in the Bible they always began by telling the people not to be afraid, to get up off the ground and not to worship them. This is because they inspire a fear so great that people fall to the ground in fear and grovel before them. It is the Lord’s Day and it will be intense. It is the kind of awesome that means filled with awe, that is dread so huge that people will not be able to withstand it, they will faint and even fall over dead with the fear. What is God’s message to us, to the world even as His army fights the army of darkness? Verses 12-14 read,
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?
His message is one of love and mercy, “return to Me, repent, and bask in my abundant unswerving and constant love.” If this is God’s message in The Day of the Lord, then it too should be ours. There is a terrible day coming and God wants to save you from it. He wants you to know Him and love Him because He loves you so very deeply. The Day of the Lord will be terrible, but remember what Peter said, Believers will be experiencing that Day in a very different manner, it will be the kind of awesome that fills you with wonder and joy so profound you are overcome with exultation and enraptured by Him. But, just as God hasn’t forgotten the lost, neither can we. We want to, as Peter said, “live holy lives.” Verses 15-17 read,
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16 gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
As in the previous chapter, God is calling us to gather, to fast, to repent, and now to intercede and pray. Under the New Covenant, we know God will spare the Followers of Jesus who are sealed with His Holy Spirit. We know that we are forgiven, but the call to repent and Peter’s call to live holy lives has a purpose. People will mock us, they already do. Our faith, our lives lived in faith, our transformation to the image of Christ and the Jesus’ Righteousness will be a testimony as much as our worship, prayer, and evangelism. All combined, people will not be able to ignore the power of God. By the time the Day comes, the choice will be imminent and for many they will be so hardened that even the extremities of the events will not change their minds. Do we love them enough to let them choose before that awful Day?
Just as we must make a choice, we must respond to God’s call with “Yes Lord, here I am” or ignoring Him, He responds to us. Verses 18-19 read,
Then the Lord became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
19 The Lord answered and said to his people,
“Behold, I am sending to you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a reproach among the nations.
All those things taken from us by the army of the enemy, God provides for us. And not just enough, but enough to satisfy us. We will have plenty while they struggle and we will no longer be someone to mock. The wonderful thing about God’s response, is it begins now, it begins the moment we repent and enter into a relationship with Him. He doesn’t wait for The Day of the Lord to give us abundant and eternal life; He gives it now. Verse 20 says,
“I will remove the northerner far from you,
and drive him into a parched and desolate land,
his vanguard into the eastern sea,
and his rear guard into the western sea;
the stench and foul smell of him will rise,
for he has done great things.”
The enemy, that army, they will not be able to touch us or affect us. Though too many of us allow the enemy and the world to impact us, to cause us pain, and hold us back, they can’t hurt us without our permission because God has already forbid it (1 John 5:18). This is also a portrayal of what God will do to that army on that Day. They will be entirely destroyed and wiped out. He will pay and the world will see his defeat. Why? Because he has done great (terrible) things. But God is greater! Verses 21-27 read,
“Fear not, O land;
be glad and rejoice,
for the Lord has done great things!
22 Fear not, you beasts of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
23 “Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
We are told to rejoice. We can move past our fast and our solemn assembly of mourning to rejoice and enjoy all the Lord gives, because He has done great things! He provides every need, He fills us to overflowing, He restores all that was lost, and He takes all shame away! We will know, we will know it without hesitation, without doubt, without any reservation that He is our God and we are His people. He is ours and we are His! And there is more! We get to take part in His work. We get to take part in telling people that He is the LORD, that Jesus is King, because He has given us His Holy Spirit. And as the Day gets closer, He is pouring out His Spirit increasingly and progressively more. Verses 28-32 read,
“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is another sign of the End Times and He has a purpose. It says in verse 32 that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. We don’t prophesy or dream for our glory but His. We don’t do signs and wonders so people will call on us for healing or counsel; we let God use us so they will call on His name and be saved!
Brothers and Sisters, learn what you can from the Bible, listen to your teachers and read the Word with the Spirit so that you can know and understand, so you can blow the trumpet, so they will call upon the name of the Lord.