Skip to comments.The Restoration and Conversion of Israel - Part IX
Posted on 03/16/2011 10:16:20 PM PDT by John Leland 1789
No. 256, October, 1915, Vol. XXI, No. 10
VII. THE TESTIMONY OF JOEL.
We come now in chronological order to the Book of the prophet Joel, which we regard as one continuous prophecy, and claim the entire prophecy as a prediction of events to be accomplished after a coming restoration of the Jews.
Joel's prophecy is undated. It seems clear, however, that as Hosea was appointed prophet especially for the ten tribes of Israel, so Joel exercised that sacred office for Judah and Benjamin. The unity of the book as a whole is so evident that there is no need to insist upon it. "No references are made to time, because it looks onward to the time of the end, and to the events that will usher in' the Day of the LORD" (The Companion Bible, p. 1224).
A perusal of the whole of this short prophecy will be found edifying, but for our present purpose we would dwell specially on certain important details given in chapters 2 and 3, passing over chapter 1, which contains a vivid description of the wasting and desolation of the Holy Land by locusts and other noxious insects. This may, perhaps, indicate to us the desolated condition of Palestine during the dispersion of these last days. But in chapter 2.1-11 the prophet predicts an invasion of the land by an army of men, "a great people and a strong," symbolized by the locusts of 1.4. This invasion is horrible and terrifying. "Before their face the people (i.e., "of the land") shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness" (v. 6). As stated of the awful time through which Israel has to pass at some future day that "there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" (Dan. 12.1), so of that fearful invading and devastating army it is said, "there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations" (v. 2). Of what's siege of Jerusalem and its adjacent parts in the past can this be said? Certainly not of any of those to which the commentators would direct our attention. The Assyrians under Sennacherib never invested Jerusalem. "He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast a bank against it" (2 Kgs. 19.32). This was the word of the LORD against the King of Assyria, and was literally fulfilled. Nor can the description apply to the siege by the Babylonian armies, for even outside the testimony of Scripture, Josephus tells us (Antiq. X. vi. 3), "now, a little time afterwards, the King of Babylon made an expedition against Jehoiakim, whom he received [into the city], and this out of fear of the foregoing predictions of this prophet (Jeremiah), as supposing that he should suffer nothing that was terrible, because he neither shut the gates, nor fought against him." See also chap. 7.1 of the same book. So that though the Babylonians took the city there and was nothing that happened at all to correspond to the description given in this chapter of Joel.
Nor can we apply the particulars here to the Romans under Titus. The context forbids this. And it is ever important for readers of the Word to pay attention to what precedes and what follows any passage. That excellent textbook of scriptural study, How to enjoy the Bible, by our late much-revered and deeply-lamented Editor, has a section (pp. 264-303). Under the heading, "The Context always central to the Interpretation of Words." The same is equally important, in case perhaps even more so, with regard to passages, especially those of a prophetical nature. And the immediate context of this description of the invading armies against Judah and Jerusalem absolutely forbids it's being interpreted of the Roman instrument under Titus.
For, following that siege was there any exhortation to "turn unto the Lord your God"? Years before had not the Lord Jesus Himself pronounced the sentence "Your house is left unto you desolate"? Had He not with tears declared that the things which belong to their peace were hidden from their eyes? And from this we gather that even before Messiah's death judicial impenitence had settled upon Judah as a national punishment for their many provocations. Nor were those foes removed afar off as his promise here (v. 20), nor was there and outpouring of the Spirit from on high as also is foretold in vv. 28, 29.
So that seeing the things predicted in this chapter as following the onslaught of enemies described in vv. 2-11, did not occur either in the Assyrian, Babylonian, or Roman invasions, we are forced to the conclusion that they must be fulfilled in the future.
In vv. 12-17 we have a glimpse of the religious condition of the Jews after their return representatively to their own land prior to the advent of Messiah, for we may take it for granted that Joel depicts the people as in their own land, enjoying their religious privileges, having their elders and priests who are exhorted to gather betwixt the porch and the altar, and cry in supplication, "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" (v. 17)?
And what is the response? "While they are yet speaking I will hear." "Then will the LORD he jealous for His land and pity His people; 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'" (vv. 18, 19). Then a further promise follows, that the fearful and great army shall be removed (v. 20). Notice, "I will remove far from you the northern army," not, "you shall remove him by fighting," but "I, the LORD will remove them," by My almighty and sovereign power. This "northern army" comprises those of Dan. 11, Rev. 9. They are the confederate armies under the leadership of the Antichrist. This is clear from the statement, "he hath done great things," i.e., he magnified himself to do great things. Cp. Daniel 8.9-11; 11.36, &c, &c., and see the article in September . This twentieth verse is an epitome of more descriptive scenes of Antichrists overthrow as given in Daniel and Ezekiel and Zechariah.
As is always the case in connection with the future deliverance of God's chosen people, blessings temporal and spiritual follow. "Fear not, O Land, be glad and rejoice, for the LORD will do great things . . . Be glad then ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God . . . 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. 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" (vv. 21-27).
And this is still further followed by a great and universal outpouring of Holy Spirit, not limited as on the day of Pentecost to those who were gathered together in Jerusalem, but "I will pour out My Spirit upon ALL flash."
That this prophecy was not exhausted at Pentecost is clear, for again, we must read it in relation to the context, both preceding and following, and it is after the subjugation and punishment of Israel's enemies, after temporal blessings have begun to be poured out, when "in those days, and at that time I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem" (3.1).
And it is this verse which connects and continues the subject of chapter 2 with chapter 3, thus making one complete prophecy. For as chapter 2.11 showed us the overthrow of the invading army or armies by the power and might of the LORD, so chapter 3 continues the subject: "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehosophat, and will plead with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land" (v. 2).
A reference without doubt to the scene in Matt. 25.31-46, where "all nations" are gathered together before the Son of Man, not "the description of the last judgment," but the judgment of the nations for their treatment of Israel in the past.
The locality of this judgment is the valley of Jehosophat (vv. 2 and 12). But we are to understand the long steep and winding valley running north, east and south between the Mount of Olives and the eastern wall of Jerusalem, and generally called the valley of Jososophat?
Paxton, in his Sacred Geography, page 338, makes the following suggestive remarks: "The term as employed by Joel is considered by the best commentators to be not the name of any particular place, but a figurative allusion to the meaning of the original word, "the LORD judgeth," and importing that God would judge the heathen who had oppressed Israel, and in some decisive manner overthrow the power of Antichrist at the restoration of the Jews to Palestine." That this is an important suggestion and worthy of consideration is clear when we carefully look at v. 16, "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem"; whence we may infer that "the valley of decision" (v. 14), in which Israel's enemies are to be destroyed by the mighty voice of the LORD, is near Jerusalem; and not only near Jerusalem but near Zion, the south-east quarter of Jerusalem; for out of Zion does the LORD'S voice come; in other words, Joel does give us reason to infer that his "valley of decision" will be where we know the place biblically called Vale of Hinnnom, or Tophet, will be, for as we have already seen it is certainly at Tophet that part of the invading army will be destroyed, and that Antichrist will meet his doom.
Without dwelling at length on each particular given here of this great conflict between Israel and their foes, we see the summons to the mighty conflict in vv. 9-14, the command, "put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow: for their wickedness is great" (v. 13), connecting this with the scene of judgment in Rev. 14.18, "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth: for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gather the vine of the earth and cast it into the wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." Great and terrible shall be the events of "the day of the LORD," "the heavens and the earth shall shake, but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel" (all the tribes). "So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall be no strangers pass through her anymore" (vv. 16, 17). See also vv. 20, 21.
To summarize we gather the following particulars:----
1. The prophecy of Joel is one continuous foretelling of events which shall happen to the restored Israelites. 2. That the people shall be enjoying their religious privileges in their own land. 3. That invading forces shall attack and harass and fight against the restored people. 4. That in two places there shall be a mighty overthrow of Israel's enemies, the one between the Dead Sea, "the east sea" and the Mediterranean, "the utmost sea" (2.20); and the other in the south-east of Jerusalem, the Vale of Hinnom, Tophet, called by Joel the valley of Jehosaphat. 5. That it is in this valley of decision that the LORD will plead for His people, and chastise their enemies. 6. That there shall be a great outpouring of the spirit of the LORD, not only on a few chosen and elected ones, but on ALL flesh. 7. And that by this marvelous effusion of the Spirit, we are not only to understand the blessing of Jew and Gentile, but the true and real conversion of the gathered tribes, thus making it possible for the LORD their God to dwell in Zion His holy mountain, and Jerusalem "the holiness" (3.17, marg.).
It was the middle of the night when I posted.
THANKS. THANKS. EXCELLENT STILL.
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BLESS U BRO. I assume your relatives are still doing well where they are?