Do yourself a favor and read all of chapter two before reading this lesson. None of the beautiful promises presented below are available to people who have not met the conditions that a holy and righteous God outlined in the previous verses. Chapter two of Joel begins by sounding a trumpet of alarm. The image is of a nation being invaded by an innumerable and terrifyingly powerful enemy army marching rapidly to destroy them. The passage instructs that the citizens of that nation need to stop whatever they are doing, no matter how important they think it is, and repent and plead with God to forgive and defend them against annihilation. Then and only then is the presence and peace of God available to them. God used the pagan armies of Assyria and Babylon to bring judgment upon the nations of Israel and Judah. In His wisdom and kindness, He offered hope to those who, in the midst of the chaos, would turn to Him because of their suffering, but no hope for those who remained unrepentant and rebellious.
21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.
In response to broken hearts, earnest prayers, fasting, and weeping, God promised to relieve their terror. He promised to extend mercy to His people and to work to bring about miraculous blessings. It is always God’s will to do good for His people, but sin separates and metastasizes. God is just, and consequences inevitably follow choices. Sin is never stagnant, it grows like a deadly cancer consuming all the good things we enjoy in our lives. It has to be dealt with, and when it is, God is faithful to offer a relationship to us.
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.
Having to abandon their homeland would result in natural consequences. The empty fields would be retaken by wild beasts, and their farmland devoured by thorns and thistles. Spiritually, the dumb beasts of the field trampling their country were the invading enemies that would destroy their heritage. The fruit tree and the strong vine spiritually represent the nation of Israel. God’s promise is to preserve the faithful through this time of trouble.
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.
Their inheritance was a physical and a spiritual one. The recorded word of God testified of the blessings poured out on the nation. They could be encouraged by Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. They could draw strength from the Red Sea parting, from Gideon’s great battle, and from a shepherd king, who, through the power of God, felled a towering giant. God had indeed provided the former rain, when He was followed, blessings flowed. When he was obeyed, gold was so abundant that silver was left lying in the streets during the reign of King Solomon. The message of Joel chapter two is that God is still the rain giver. In their present circumstances, He can send the rain. The promise of a latter rain is the promise of the eternal, unchanging nature of God and His desire to bless them without end into the future. There’s a human tendency to believe that God is limited in His ability to bless or solve our problems, but God is not like us, He is without limit. He limits himself only in response to our rejection of His word.
24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
Each of the pests listed appears in its own season. The locust takes his fill first, what he leaves the cankerworm devours, and the caterpillar will take the rest. In other words, three levels of invasion and devastation, which is a prophecy of exactly the way Babylon would take the nation. There were three invasions, first for the treasure, next for the mighty and useful, and finally for decimation and gathering slaves. However, when they turned to God, He heard their prayers, and He reversed the destruction and brought restoration. When Nehemiah and Ezra led returning groups back to Israel after 70 years of captivity, the poorest were left in the land, then returned the mighty and the useful, and finally, God blessed them in the land. They didn’t finish the work God sent them to do; however, they started the temple well but left it unfinished to build their own homes. Many of the sins that sent them into captivity were committed again when they returned home. And predictably, history tells us that they were conquered again and again. And yet, God never abandoned His people, He didn’t stop extending mercy, and He responded to sincere repentance. That can be seen in the ministry of John the Baptist hundreds of years later.
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.
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.
The Lord is coming. Jesus Christ, our suffering Savior, and our resurrected Lord, will return, as He promised, and will set all things right in this world that He created. Not only is He the Creator, but He is also the Redeemer. There’s a parcel of land that Abraham purchased, that David purchased, that the temple was built on, and that one day the Lord himself will stand on. He’s laid claim and earned the right to rule over the universe He spoke into existence. Those of us wise enough to flee destruction by putting our faith and trust in Him will never have a reason to feel ashamed or disappointed. If it costs us everything in this life, it will be worth it all throughout all eternity in the presence of the one who loves us, has mercy on us, extends His grace to us, and will welcome us with the blessings only He can give.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!