For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

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;”

Obviously it would be futile to blow a trumpet or sound an alarm in connection with a locust invasion, and it is equally clear that here the prophet is not discussing that catastrophe, but rather something far worse, namely the terrible judgments of the day of the Lord which will begin following the rapture of the Church, and will include the terrible Tribulation judgments, and conclude with the final dissolution of the heavens and the earth  after the Millennium.

Relative to the imminence of the day of the Lord, as noted in 1:15, Joel was speaking as the amanuensis of God of Whom it is written, “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” 2 Pe 3:8.

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.”

Darkness is invariably associated with the anger and judgment of God, while clouds are connected with His glory; and gloominess is literally misfortune or wretchedness.

“... as the morning spread upon the mountains, etc.,” is translated by the NEB as, “like a blackness spread over the mountains a mighty, countless host appears,” the corresponding NT section being Re 9:14-16, “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.  And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.  And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand:”

This is the account of a vast eastern army marching westward across the Euphrates in the Tribulation era, which will destroy a third of the world’s population.  It will be the greatest military force the world has ever seen, and it will be one of the armies that will assemble in the valley of Jehoshaphat, meaning Jehovah is judge, (known also as Armageddon), near the end of the Tribulation as described in Re 16:12-16, “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.... And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon, meaning hill of slaughter.”  (There is no place known specifically as Armageddon, but most commentators agree that the reference is to a place in the vicinity of Megiddo, or to the wider area known as the plain of Esdraelon).  For a detailed description of this gathering, please see Re 19:11-21.

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.”

This goes beyond the destruction wrought by the locusts.  It is the description of the utter devastation that will lie in the wake of the above mentioned vast army, the destruction being similar to that resulting from a fire devouring everything in its path.  There can be little question that the description is of the dissolution of the present world order during the last half of the Tribulation.

2:4.  “The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.”

The description given in Re 9:17-18 is, “And I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.  By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.”  Clearly the description is not of literal horses and horsemen, but rather the metaphorical description of modern weaponry, including very possibly that which is atomic.

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.”

This seems to be the figurative description of modern aircraft: note, for example, the reference to the sky implied in connection with the tops of the mountains which jut into the sky; the idea of speed conveyed in their leaping; the roar of aircraft portrayed by “the noise (roar) of a flame of fire,” roaring through a field of dry stubble; and the might suggested by the words “as a strong people set in battle array.”

2:6.  “Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.”

Other translations convey more vividly the misery that will attend the advance of this mighty army, for example, “the peoples are in anguish; all faces are waxed pale”; “peoples are in torment, every face blanches”; “peoples will be appalled and every face covered with blackness.”

This is the brief but eloquent description of the universal misery that will envelope the world like a shroud in the great Tribulation: the final three and-a-half years of that imminent seven year era that will precede the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory to inaugurate His millennial kingdom.

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:”

The picture here is of invincible power, the running referring to the speed with which they will overcome all opposition; their climbing the wall declaring the futility of opposition.  Their marching every one on his ways, and not breaking rank is another way of saying that nothing will turn them aside from their destructive purpose, nor will any opposition diminish their power.

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.”

Nothing will cause confusion among them similar to that which occurred amongst the Midianites in the days of Gideon, as recorded in Jg 7.  Their campaign will be meticulously planned and executed, any casualties among them leaving their strength undiminished.

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.”

Their running to and fro in the city describes their unhindered destructive activity.  They will range at will, there being no power able to stop them.  Their running upon the wall and their climbing upon the houses, combine to present the picture of an invincible force energized by destructive lust, while their entering in at the windows like a thief probably announces the impossibility of their victims finding any hiding place from their fury.

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 language of this verse is so similar to that of Re 6:12-14 that it is difficult not to believe that both descriptions apply to the same event: the terrible judgments that will convulse the earth in the great Tribulation, i.e., the last three and-a-half years of the seven year Tribulation era.  The verses in Re 6:12-14 read as follows, “... there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”

There are many other Scriptural references declaring that there will be such cosmic disturbances during the Tribulation era, e.g., Joel 2:30-31; 3:15; Mt 24:6-8, and the question arises as to whether this language is literal or symbolic.  A fundamental rule of sound exegesis is to accept the language first as being literal, (unless the context clearly indicates otherwise), and then to look also for a spiritual significance above and beyond the literal.  That rule therefore requires us first to accept this statement literally since there is nothing contextually against it.  There is, however, good reason to believe that the language may be also symbolic, so that the shaking will be not only of the earth literally, but also of the whole social structure. 

Since the sun is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ the Light of the world, the darkening of the sun, then, may have reference not only to the literal darkening of the source of the world’s physical light, but of its spiritual light also.  The reign of the beast will be a time of ruthless repression of testimony for Christ, which will produce corresponding spiritual darkness.

Since the moon is the Scriptural symbol of corporate testimony, its becoming like blood would appear to be the symbolic reminder that the Tribulation age will be one in which any corporate testimony for Christ will bring deadly reprisal from the beast.  And while the moon is the symbol of corporate witness, the stars are symbolic of individual testimony, so that in the falling of the stars to the earth we are being shown the death of those who will seal their testimony with their blood during the reign of the beast.

As has been noted in other studies, Israel is symbolically portrayed by three plants: the vine represents her past; the fig, her Tribulation-age experience; and the olive, her blessedness in the Millennium.  The likeness therefore of the falling of the stars to the falling of unripe figs would indicate that many of the martyrs will be Jewish.  These green figs, falling before having had time to ripen, are an apt symbol of those Jewish believers of the Tribulation age, who will die before the Millennium begins.  As these untimely (appearing out of season) figs were the forerunners of the ripening fig harvest, so will these Tribulation-age martyrs be the forerunners of the coming great harvest of the redeemed, some others also dying, but others physically surviving the Tribulation judgments, and remaining on the earth to enjoy millennial blessing.  And while Israel will be the vortex of those judgments, it is clear that they will encompass the whole earth.  Many Gentiles will also seal their testimony with their blood.

“... shaken of a mighty wind.”  Having regard to the fact that the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the further lesson to be gleaned here is that God the Holy Spirit will be the power working on earth in the Tribulation, not to restrain sin as He does now, but using the unrestrained rebellion of men and demons to accomplish the Divine purposes for the ultimate blessing of the earth and the men upon it.

“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places,” Re 6:14.  In addition to the clear literal meaning, this may also indicate the dissolution of all stable government, for in Da 4:26 God’s message to Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel was, “... thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.”  The departure of the heavens, therefore, and the removal of every mountain out of its place, emphasizes the same truth, for as we have noted in other studies, a mountain represents a king or kingdom, see Da 2:34-45.

It has been suggested by some that the islands represent either lesser governmental powers, or centers of commerce.  Inasmuch, however, as an island is an area of land standing up out of a body of water (usually the sea), it is much more likely that above and beyond the literal application, these islands may represent the Tribulation-age equivalents of local churches or corporate testimonies, for certainly this is the picture presented by the dry land separated from the sea in Ge 1:9.  Isa 57:20 declares that the sea is the symbol of earth’s unbelieving masses, so that what is separated from the sea must of necessity represent the opposite of unbelief, that is, faith.  It seems  therefore that we may perhaps also view the moving of these islands out of their places, as the symbolic warning that the corporate testimonies for God in the Tribulation will either be removed completely by persecution, or denied any permanence by being forced to flee from place to place to escape the murderous tyranny of the beast.

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?”

Combining what is written here in Joel with the corresponding portion in Revelation, it seems that the Lord will use as His instruments of judgment the great eastern army plus His disarray of the forces of nature.  The gentle voice which men ignored when He pleaded with them to repent and save themselves by trusting in Him as Savior, will then be changed to the thunder of His anger which none will be able to ignore so terrible will be His judgments.

“... his camp is very great” declares the stupendous power of the forces God will use in His execution of judgment against a world that will have finally exhausted His patience.  The reference to the strength of those who carry out His word is the assurance that their power will be that with which He invests them to accomplish His purposes.  Since their power will be His they will be invincible.

As noted already the day of the Lord is that long period that will begin after the rapture of the Church and that will continue till the final destruction of the heavens and the earth prior to the coming of the new heavens and earth.  Unlike past ages when man has been permitted to use his will to disobey and defy God, the day of the Lord will be of a very different character.  In the great Tribulation rebellion will be visited with judgment, and in the Millennium overt sin will bring instant death to the rebel, and the rebellion permitted in the brief interlude after the Millennium will result in the destruction of Satan and those men who will have allied themselves with him in his final attempt to overthrow God.

“... and who can abide it?” is also translated “... who has strength against it? ... who can withstand it? ... who shall be able to endure it?”  The answer is, None!

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:”

Having declared the terrible nature of His coming judgments, the Lord now reverts to pleading with His people to save themselves from His wrath; nor was His plea addressed only to the men of Joel’s day: it is the same voice with which He has called in pity and mercy to rebel men in every age.  Genuine repentance will avert his wrath, and bring instead His blessing; but more is needed than a mere superficial expression of repentance: it must be that of a convicted, broken, contrite heart, expressed not only in words, but in deeds, the deeds themselves not bringing the blessing, but being the evidence of the genuineness of the professed repentance.  Good works are the evidence of a genuine conversion, but it is faith, not the works, that brings salvation, as it is written, “By grace are ye saved through faith ... not of works lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9.

Fasting was for Israel, not for the Church, the denial of food to the body being the symbolic expression of abstention from gratifying the lusts of the flesh.  In other words, an evidence of a true conversion is not in literal fasting, but in refusal to indulge fleshly lust.

“... and with weeping.”  Tears are often the evidence of  genuine sorrow, but not always: they can sometimes be the result of stirred emotions rather than of a convicted conscience.  God deals in reality.

“... and with mourning.”  Mourning goes beyond weeping.  It is related to sorrow of such magnitude as results in wailing, tearing the hair, beating the breast, etc.  Only the conscience awakened by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit can know anything of the true nature of sin, and of what a terrible thing it is in God’s sight.

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.”

This continues to emphasize the need of the genuine sorrow that springs from a smitten conscience and turns the penitent to the Lord for pardon and cleansing.

Grace bestows undeserved blessing, whereas mercy withholds deserved punishment, so that God’s character is beautifully described in its being said that He is both gracious and merciful.  His being slow to anger and of great kindness assures us of His very great patience and equally great desire to bless abundantly those who accept His pardon through faith in the Son He has given to die as man’s Substitute on Calvary’s cross, Paul reminding us of that great kindness in Ro 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Warning, however, is needed relative to God’s patience.  It is very great, but it is not infinite, and once it is exhausted nothing can deliver the guilty from His terrible anger.  It is to be remembered that His patience operates within time constraints He Himself has set, and which are unknown to man.  Man cannot be saved at a time of his own choosing, and once he crosses that invisible line separating God’s mercy from His wrath, he passes irrevocably beyond the pale of mercy.  The necessity of availing ourselves of God’s mercy while it is available is emphasized in the warning He has given in Ge 6:3, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” Pr 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” and 2 Cor 6:2, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  Tomorrow may be too late.

To repent is literally to have a change of mind, but when used, as here, in relation to God, that is not the meaning, for the very need to change one’s mind implies a previous error in judgment.  God is never under such necessity, for His judgment is always perfect.  The thought here relative to His repentance involves, not a change of mind on His part, but rather on the part of those who by repentance make themselves the objects of His blessing rather than His wrath.  Nothing will ever induce God to bless the unrepentant, or to punish the penitent.  The principle governing His conduct towards man is that obedience commands His blessing; disobedience, His wrath.

2:14.  “Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat (meal) offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?”

The prophet here is offering the hope that Israel may not have passed irrevocably beyond the pale of mercy, and because of that hope is encouraging them to yield the repentance enjoined in the preceding verses so that God may respond by blessing them again with abundant harvests out of which they may present their grateful worship in the form of the appointed offerings, virtually all of which were accompanied by a meal and drink offering.

2:15.  “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:”

In verse 1 of this chapter the command was to blow the trumpet, and sound an alarm, but here it is to blow the trumpet and set apart a special time for fasting, and for calling the people together in solemn assembly to wait upon God.  In verse 1 the command related to the still future day of the Lord; here it related to Joel’s own day, and had in view deliverance from the effects of the terrible locust plague that had devastated the land, for it is to be remembered that there would have been no plague had it not been for Israel’s disobedience.

We are missing the lesson, however, if we fail to realize that the principles enjoined here are applicable to every occasion when God’s people discover that their disobedience has cut off His blessing, and brought instead His chastisement.  There is to be the awakening to consciousness of wrongdoing as portrayed by the trumpet blast; renunciation of sin as represented by the fasting; and the gathering together before Him in contrite united confession of sin, and the invocation of His cleansing and blessing, as demonstrated in the calling of a solemn assembly.

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 gathering of the people together declares the need of united penitence.  The people must be of one mind and one heart.  “sanctify the congregation” means to notify the people of the need to assemble in united confession and supplication before God, the need of unanimity being further stressed by the fact that no one was to be exempted from this assemblage.  The inclusion of all, from the elders to the infants, and the newlyweds, declares that no circumstance would afford a valid reason for absence from the enjoined gathering of the people.

2:17.  “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”

The priests, the Lord’s servants, were the representatives of God before the people, and of the people before God.  They were now commanded to approach God on behalf of the people, their weeping being the expression of genuine repentance on the part of the people, for it is futile to expect God to grant deliverance from the judgment incurred by sin, if the judgment has not produced repentance.

“... between the porch and the altar” continues to emphasize the intercession of the priests on behalf of the people, for the porch was where the people assembled, while only the priests were permitted to approach the altar.  How much more privileged are believers of this present Church age, for in 1 Jn 2:1 it is recorded, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

It is to be noted further that with the exception of the convicted sinner seeking salvation, only those who belong to God can expect any response to their supplications: the people were described as “thy people ... thine heritage (possession).

We should note also that God’s honor is inseparably linked with the obedience of His people.  Their disobedience brings reproach upon Him, and causes His sovereignty to be impugned. 

The spiritual equivalent of Israel’s being under the dominion of the heathen is for believers to be submitting to the lusts of the flesh, and thus placing themselves under the power of Satan.  The degree to which Christendom has been guilty of this offense may be measured by the world’s brazen defiance of the Creator.  The almost universal disobedience of professing Christians has simply set the pattern for the rest of the world.  But as Israel’s sin brought judgment in the days of Joel, so also just as surely will the multiplied sins of Christendom bring judgment upon today’s world.

2:18.  “Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.”

The mockery of the unbelieving world angers God, but it will not induce Him to bless His people apart from genuine repentance on their part, but when that repentance is forthcoming then will He stretch out His almighty arm in deliverance and blessing.  That knowledge ought to teach us the imperative of keeping short accounts with Him.  Sin should be confessed, repented of, and forsaken as soon as we become aware of it.

2:19.  “Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen.”

While this undoubtedly has immediate reference to God’s promise to grant blessing in response to the repentance resulting from the devastation wrought by the locusts, its ultimate application is to the abundant millennial blessing reserved for the repentant remnant of Jews and Gentiles who will emerge alive from the terrible Tribulation judgments.

Since corn is used typologically in Scripture to represent the written Word as spiritual bread; and wine as a type of the Word to cheer the heart; and oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, we must recognize that in the Millennium this spiritual truth will also be fulfilled, for relative to that golden age it is written, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more,” Jer 31:33-34.

2:20.  “But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savor shall come up, because he hath done great things.”

This may refer to God’s later dealings with Assyria, but the language in general indicates that the application is to what will be during the Millennium, many competent exegetes understanding the northern army to be Russia; and the barren and desolate land, Siberia, in which case the east sea would be the Atlantic ocean; and the utmost sea, the North Pacific ocean.

“... because he hath done great things” is understood by some to refer to the mighty evil deeds of the northern enemy; but by others, to refer to Jehovah and His mighty power in destroying the northern enemy.

2:21.  “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.”

2:22.  “Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.”

Land, as used here, is generally understood to refer to millennial Palestine; and the “great things,” to God’s miraculous transformation, not only of that land, but of the whole earth in that glorious age, for it is to be remembered that Adam’s sin has affected not only man, but the whole creation, including the earth itself and the creatures upon it, as it is written, “cursed is the ground for thy sake,” Ge 3:17, and again, “For the earnest expectation of the creature (creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,” Ro 8:19-22.

In the Millennium there will be the same abundant provision for every creature as for man.  See also Isa 11:6-9 for further details relative to the changed state of the animal creation in the Millennium, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

2:23.  “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”

God will give the autumn and spring rains in just the right measure for the fecundity of the earth.

2:24.  “And the (threshing) floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.”

2:25.  “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.”

Relative to the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar, palmerworm, etc., see comments on 1:4.

2:26.  “And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.”

This continues to emphasize the abundance of the Lord’s provision in the Millennium, a provision which will evoke the grateful worship of His people, and their glad acknowledgment of Him as the Source of all their blessings.  They whose sin has so often caused them shame and disappointment in the past will never again be guilty of such folly.

2:27.  “And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.”

Jehovah has dwelt in the midst of Israel in the past, but they in their folly had attributed their blessings to Baal and other imaginary gods, thus transmuting God’s blessings into chastisement and its accompanying shame and misery.  With the establishment of the millennial kingdom their knowledge of God would be such as will preserve them from ever again being guilty of such sin.

2:28.  “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

2:29.  “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”

This prophecy has been more misunderstood and misapplied than probably any other part of Scripture in connection with the activity of believers on the day of Pentecost when there was just such an outpouring of the Spirit as is described here, Peter quoting this part of Joel’s prophecy to explain the ability of believers to speak in the languages of the multitudes who had come from virtually every part of the known world of that day to keep the feast of Pentecost, those multitudes being led to praise God because each in his own language was able to hear the gospel.

What is not generally understood is that the thirty-eight years from AD 32 (the year of the crucifixion) till AD 70 (the year of the destruction of Jerusalem) were a time of transition in which Israel was still being offered the millennial kingdom.  Had she as a nation believed the gospel preached by the apostles following the Lord’s resurrection and ascension, Israel could have had the millennial kingdom after the seven years of the Tribulation which must precede its inauguration.  The ability of the believers to speak in all the known languages of the day was one of the proofs of how near the millennial kingdom was.  Sadly, however, Israel as a nation lacked the faith to grasp the offered blessing, with the result that in the following thirty-eight years the offer was gradually withdrawn.

It is to be noted that the verse reads, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh...” and it is clear that this outpouring of God’s spirit is to be in the Millennium.  What occurred on the day of Pentecost was simply an example of what will be in that coming glorious age.

Many, incidentally, understand this outpouring of the Spirit “upon all flesh” to be limited to all Israel, not to all the nations.

2:30.  “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.”

2:31.  “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”

The gift of tongues was only part of what is to precede the inauguration of the millennial kingdom.  As these verses make clear there were to be other signs in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.  The sun was to be darkened, and the moon turned into blood.  The truth is that all the terrible Tribulation judgments described in the book of Revelation are also to precede the inauguration of the millennial kingdom.  But none of these things occurred two thousand years ago!  Why?  Israel as a nation would not repent and trust in the Jesus she had crucified, refusing to accept Him as her long promised Savior Messiah, even though God in matchless grace was willing to impute her crucifixion of Christ to ignorance, and to pardon her error, see Ac 3:17-26.

The gift of tongues was given on the day of Pentecost to encourage Israel to believe, but she would not, with the result that the gift and the offer of the millennial kingdom were gradually withdrawn, and ceased altogether in AD 70.  Notice the absence of any reference to tongues in the later Epistles.  Nor will the gift be renewed until the millennial kingdom is inaugurated, though it is possible that it may be operative also in the Tribulation to facilitate the spread of the Gospel world-wide during those seven years.

It is a great mistake to believe that the gift of tongues is for the Church age.  It isn’t!  It is for Israel!  One mark of the Holy Spirit’s activity during this present Church age is that He never bypasses the individual’s will, yet a characteristic of the use of the so called gift of tongues today is that it is involuntary, and therefore not impelled by the Holy Spirit but by demons.

Relative to the signs and wonders mentioned here in verses 30 and 31, see comments on verse 10.

2:32.  “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

While certainly this is the assurance given the penitent in every age, the context makes it clear that the reference here is specifically to those who will be enduring the hardships of the terrible Tribulation judgments, many competent scholars believing that it relates specifically to Israel. 

“... the remnant whom the Lord shall call” may not be taken to teach the error that God predestinates some to salvation and others to damnation.  Scripture makes it very clear that salvation is the result of a free-will choice to believe in Christ as Savior; and damnation, the result of an equally free-will choice not to trust Him as Savior.

God in His sovereignty calls men through the gospel, those who obey that call making themselves His elect; those who disobey that call, remaining amongst the dammed in spite of His desire to save them.

As to why some live and die without ever hearing the gospel, the explanation is that God foreknows who will and who will not respond believingly, and in His sovereignty withholds it from some of those foreknown rejecters while bringing it to other foreknown rejecters.  Why He makes that choice is not revealed, but Scripture makes it clear that whether a man will be in heaven or hell is the result of his own free-will choice, that choice being foreknown by God, but not predestinated.

The remnant here is primarily those Jews who will become believers in the Tribulation, but it includes also believing Gentiles, though the two are distinct national entities.

[Joel 3]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough