Joel 1:1-3:21; Revelation 1:1-20;
Psalm 128:1-6; Proverbs 29:18
It may be that your whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. ~Anonymous
Today we are reading the complete book of Joel. This book may be short in length, but it is certainly not short on importance in the realm of prophecy. Joel was one of the earliest prophets and he prophesied in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He lived during the reign of Joash and was probably a contemporary of Elijah and Elisha who were in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." Notice that there is evening before morning and that constitutes the first day. Therefore, the Day of the Lord begins in the evening darkness of troubles and trials of the Great Tribulation period and ends in the morning light of Jesus' reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on earth.
The expression "the Day of the Lord" is peculiar to the Old Testament prophets. It does not include the time period when the Church is on earth. None of the Old Testament prophets spoke or wrote about the Church. Jesus reveals a mystery when he tells the Apostle Peter that upon this rock my church will be founded. Jesus is the first to speak of the universal Church to Peter. Before that, the Old Testament prophets spoke of prophesies that foretold the future for the nation of Israel and God's plan for that chosen group of people.
You may be wondering how the Church fits into all of this. We will see as we study Joel and the book of Revelation that the Church is raptured out of the earth before the Great Tribulation. After the Rapture, the Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ in heaven with her Bridegroom. Christ and His Bride return to earth for their marriage celebration and then to rule and reign during the millennial kingdom on earth.
Chapter 1- The Plague of Locusts
Joel introduces the concept of the Day of the Lord by using a local plague of locusts as a starting point. Apparently, there had been an atrocious and historic plague of locusts that consumed the crops and decimated the harvest for that year. Joel tells the old men and people of the land to use this illustration to tell their children the awful story of what is to come.
Remember, the Day of the Lord will begin in the evening. This evening will include devastation that causes all joy for the Israelites to dry up. The Almighty will orchestrate this disaster upon Israel. Food will be in short supply and even the animals will moan in hunger.
Notice in this chapter that the locust are pictured as a terrible army too numerous to count. They have teeth as sharp as lions teeth. Further description will be given to Joel that foreshadow images given of the end times in the book of Revelation by the Apostle John.
Chapter 2 - Looking in the future to the Day of the Lord
In Israel the trumpets were blown whenever the Israelite camp was to break camp and move whenever the glory of God seen in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night moved (Numbers 10:1-2). Again, we have a picture that God is going to move in judgment against Israel's enemies. They are to be prepared for God's movement. Trumpets are blown in national times of crisis and also to announce the arrival of a king. We can see that the Day of the Lord includes all of these reasons for the nation of Israel to blow the trumpet. It is a time of national crisis. The Day begins in the evening with trials and tribulations. It includes a great battle that is fought between Israel and her enemies that is won by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. King Jesus of Israel comes to reign in the Promised Land and to set up his Kingdom in Jerusalem. Therefore, it is only appropriate that the prophet Joel begin this chapter with the words, "Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem!"
It is a day to tremble in fear if you are a person in the nation of Israel. This is a day of darkness and gloom. Why? Because a mighty army appears on the horizon, the likes of which have never been seen before and will never be seen again. Here, Joel refers to this army as locusts, who look like tiny horses. Please refer to Revelation 9:7-8 for a similar illustration. They rumble like chariots and like a roaring fire that sweeps across the land. They swarm the city and scale the walls. They come like thieves and enter every house.
Joel describes a cosmic event that includes the sun growing dark and the stars not shining. This is seen in other parts of Scripture such as Matthew 24:29 and Acts 2:20.
Joel describes the Great Tribulation period as a time when God reaches out to the inhabitants of the earth to accept His gracious mercy. Verse 13 describes God as filled with kindness and eager to not punish. The people are encouraged to tear their hearts with repentance. The Lord will pity His people and be indignant for the honor of the land of Israel. The army that comes from the north to attack Israel during the Great Tribulation will be defeated (Vs. 20).
There is a promise by God that part of this Day will include God restoring what the locusts have eaten. The years of suffering, scattering, indignation, and trial will culminate in this final Day with the Lord restoring all things and making all things right.
Once again, there is a mention of the sun being darkened and the moon not giving its light. That would be a terrifying thing to witness. Those who are called to belief in the Lord will include people who are literally saved on Mt. Zion from the devastation of this time.
Chapter 3 - Looking Back to the Day of the Lord
Now the time has come for the Lord to restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem. The Jews in Jesus' day were looking for an earthly king. Jesus had to first be a suffering Savior. But the great Day of the Lord includes Jesus becoming the earthly king for which they had always hoped.
Jesus starts this earthly reign by judging the armies and people groups of the earth to see who is worthy to come into His earthly kingdom. How they treated Israel will factor into His decision (Vs. 2). Did they harm the Jews? Did they scatter the Jews? Did they divide up the land of Israel? Did they enslave the Jews? This will be His criteria for judging the nations.
Think about Psalm 2 as you read this section of Joel. It speaks directly to Jesus dealing with the nations who have hated him. God is actually calling the wicked nations to come forth to battle. He is ready to judge the wicked on the earth. This is when his sickle of judgment will harvest the wicked on earth and trample them down like grapes of wrath. Isaiah 63:1-5 explains this event also. It is a valley of decision. Thousands upon thousands of people stand silent before him. His roar will be met with fear for some and gladness for the people of Israel, who have now come to love their Savior and find refuge in him. Just as Jesus was the Commander for Israel in the Old Testament, who fought and won against Israel's enemies, God promises that at his Second Coming, Jesus Christ will defend Israel once more as a warrior king and finally defeat her enemies for good.
God promises to live in Zion. Jerusalem will be a true city of peace for the first time in earth's history. It will be the land of milk and honey. Paradise will be restored and all will be right with the world. Notice that in verse 19, Egypt and Edom are mentioned, "But Egypt will be desolate, Edom as desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood." Israel's ancient enemies, who represent the world and the flesh, will be finally defeated. Their land will be a wasteland as a symbolic picture of their demise.
During Christ's earthly reign, the world finally sees a world leader who rules justly and loves well. This is a promise for all of mankind.
Joel ends with this beautiful promise, "The Lord dwells in Zion!" This means that God will actually live in the Promised Land, dwelling with humans as He did in the Garden of Eden. He will restore the earth to its former glory and will restore peace on earth, making all things beautiful in the end.
What do you think of this?
Congratulations! You, my friends, are starting the very last book of the Bible. As we stated in the beginning, Jesus Christ is the central character of this book. Jesus is the central character of history. The Apostle John tells us that Jesus is the Word (essence of God). Jesus was in the beginning and Jesus is the end of all things, until he creates a new heaven and a new earth. So now we are at the end of this book.
Let's look at the beginning and ending of this story:
- Genesis began with the heavens and earth being created. Revelation ends with the heavens and earth being destroyed.
- Genesis is where sin enters the world. Revelation is where sin ends.
- Genesis shows us the beginning of death. Revelation shows us the end of all death.
- Genesis shows us the beginnings of sorrow and why the earth is so screwed up. Revelation shows us God wiping away every tear and ending all sorrow.
- Genesis shows us the first man, Adam, being married to his wife, Eve. Revelation shows us the last man, Jesus, married to His bride, the Church.
- Genesis begins with the prediction of a child who would defeat the Serpent and crush His head. Revelation ends with Satan (the Serpent) being cast into the lake of fire, and Jesus (the Redeemer Child) restoring paradise.
The Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation while on the island of Patmos. He was exiled there as an old man for speaking about Christ. John was the leader of the church in Ephesus and acted as an overseer of the churches along the coast of modern day Turkey. At that time, it was called the province of Asia.
John's prophecy is given with a blessing for those who read this prophecy to the church (pastor/teacher) and to the listeners who obey what it says. This is, in essence, a beatitude for the Church. When John says that the time is near for all of this to happen, he is not saying that it would happen immediately. He is referring to the fact that in prophetical terms, the Church, which received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, is privy to Jesus' ministry from heaven and this prophecy is the next big event to happen in the scope of God's grand story about Christ.
It is important to note that in the Gospels Jesus is seen as the suffering servant. The book of Revelation reveals Jesus as he is now. John sees Jesus glorified and ruling in heaven, prepared for his Second Coming to earth. This is an awesome vision.
John opens the letter to the seven churches who are in Asia. He would be referring to the churches founded in what is now modern day Turkey. These are actual congregations, but are listed here because the personalities of these churches represent the personalities of God's universal Church on earth throughout the Church Age. These seven churches are chosen because they are representative of what Jesus wants to speak to the Church about in this portion of His ministry from heaven. Please note the outline of Revelation with regard to the role of the Church:
- Chapter 1- Glorified Christ
- Chapters 2-3 The Church is addressed
- Chapters 4-5 The Church is in Heaven (Raptured)
- Chapters 6-18 The Great Tribulation on the Earth
- Chapter 19 - Christ returns to the earth and establishes His earthly kingdom
- Chapter 20- Christ's 1000 year reign on earth and Great White Throne Judgment after His reign. Evil is destroyed.
- Chapter 21-22 A new heaven and a new earth are created free from evil and suffering, and eternity begins.
The first vision John sees is Christ coming in the clouds, which creates sorrow for all on earth who rejected him as Messiah. It will be a day of crying for these people.
We hear Jesus' voice as he declares that he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. You cannot form words without the alphabet and you cannot know God without words to describe Him. Jesus is saying that he is the Word of God. Jesus declares that he has always existed and he will always exist. He is the Almighty One. We can see that his role in the story has changed. He is no longer on the cross. He has defeated death!
John is our brother in Christ. There should be no mistaking that he is merely a servant in this process. When John gets this vision on the island, the voice that he hears is like a trumpet blast. We've already discussed what trumpets represent in Scripture. The Church is receiving a warning from God. The Church should be prepared for restoration and look for the coming of their King.
When John sees Jesus, John's reaction is similar to Daniel's. He falls down as if dead. This is a man who had personally spent time with the earthly Jesus. In his role as King of the Universe, no one is going to pal around with the Almighty. Even in his power, Jesus is kind and tells John not to be afraid. He reiterates that he is the First and the Last. He is the living one who died. And now, he is alive forever and ever. What a great thing to tell his old friend. Not only that, Jesus has authority over death.
John is not to seal up this revelation like Daniel was told to do. He is to share this revelation with the Church. Jesus explains the stars in his hand and the lampstands that John saw. He says the stars are the angels of the seven churches and the lampstands are the churches. Some people have interpreted the "angels" to be the pastors/leaders of the churches.
Wow. Isn't this exciting? We are going to hear the end of the story from Jesus, himself. Hang onto your hats, folks.
Happy are those who fear the Lord. They will have fruitful families.
Divine guidance is important to accept. Have you accepted it?
What are you learning? Please share.