“Blow 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 is coming, for it is at hand. A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.
Joel spoke of the judgment of a plague of locusts and drought that was already troubling Judah. In Joel 2, he begins by describing judgment that will come - a mighty army set against Judah. Since this is all part of God’s day not man’s day, it is described as the day of the Lord.
Verse 1a: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm…”
The “trumpet,” shofar, is a ram’s horn that is blown like a trumpet. It reminds many people of a crying voice. The shofar was used to announce holidays, Psalm 81:3,4, “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.” They were to signify the start of a war.
The shofar was the ancient equivalent of an air raid siren. The trumpet of alarm! Can you just imagine the excitement and concern of the people of Israel hearing trumpet of warning? They were in the midst of a devastating locust invasion, every bit of vegetation was dead, the earth was scorched as if a fire had swept through all the land. They must have thought, “Oh, no! What’s coming next?” Were they ready to hear from God? Were they ready look inward and repent of the sins of their nation?
I don’t know how many blasts they heard, but we know that thirty blasts were heard on certain occasions, and sixty on other occasions.
On October 4, 1997, more than one-million men gathered on the Washington, D.C. Mall for a “Sacred Assembly,” known as, “Stand in the gap.” The event began with the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn). When the shofar sounded with several short and longer blasts, everyone was immediately alerted that something was happening. It was a very emotional moment.
The church needs to, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm…” We desperately need a national “Sacred Assembly” to call America back to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Verse 1b: “My holy mountain.” Jerusalem was built on the mountain, known as “Zion,” so the city itself adopted the name. Zion is the location of the temple, so the people of Israel think of Zion as the place where Yahweh dwells. Now the prophet is calling them to blow the shofar––presumably from watchtowers atop those walls––as a warning of danger to come.
There are other passages that mention the “Mountain.” “The mountain of the Lord” (Isaiah 25:6); “My holy mountain” (Joel 2:1); “The mountain of the Lord’s temple” (Isaiah 2:2); or “The Holy Mountain” (Psalm 87:1).
Mount Zion is used to describe the church in Hebrews 12:22-24, “You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
God always gives a warning to His people before judgment. While God may use a plague of locusts (or enemy soldiers) to carry out his judgment, the danger here is not locusts or soldiers, but the judgment of Yahweh. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Verse 1c: “Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble.” People should tremble when we hear the words of God, it is rebuking, threatening, and challenging! Jeremiah said, “My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord, and because of His holy words” (Jeremiah 23:9). When we think of our sins, are we shaken with fear and trembling as they were?
Remember the young king Josiah’s response when he was given the Word of God, “Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes…’Go, inquire of the Lord for me,’ for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:11,13).
Verse 1d: “For the day of the Lord is coming.”
There are nineteen references to this day in the Old Testament, it is called a day of doom; a day of vengeance; a day of wrath; a day of visitation; and a day of the Great God Almighty.
Isaiah 2:12, “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—And it shall be brought low…”
Isaiah 13:6, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.”
1 Thessalonians 5:1,2, “You yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
“The day of the Lord, remember please, is a technical term for the culmination, the judgment of God that comes to end this age, to end this world as we know it. The Old Testament prophets saw it as a day of unequalled darkness and damnation, a day when the Lord would act in a climactic way to vindicate His name, to destroy His enemies, to reveal His glory, and to establish His kingdom” –John MacArthur.
We are living in man’s day, a day when man does as he pleases. These are the days when the heavens are silent. God does not strike down murderers and rapists on the spot. He doesn’t stop wars. We live in Man’s day, called in Scripture, “The times of the Gentiles,” and man continues to demonstrate what a mess he can make of the world. But God will wind up the affairs of this world as we know it. It is approaching a catastrophic culmination. God will make good on His word.
Luke 21:20-24, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
In Man’s day, humanism abounds. We are in the midst of a presidential race right now. When you listen to the promises of the politicians, they actually believe they can solve the world’s problems. But man has so polluted the environment, corrupted governments, destroyed commerce, and diminished the impact of the church that only God will be able to correct the situation. Man will never have the answers to solve the problems of the world.
Verse 2: ”A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.”
The prophets used darkness, gloom, and clouds to describe the day of the Lord.
Amos 5:18,20, “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light…Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?”
Isaiah 13:5-13, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt, and they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts.”
Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
2 Peter 3:10-12, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”
Revelation 6:15-17, “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”
Joel 3:12-14, “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—For their wickedness is great.” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”
Verses 3-6: Joel gives us just small sampling of the day of the Lord. Now he turns from a locust invasion to an invading army.
“A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array. Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color”
And this relates to the Tribulation, which begins as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride through this world, there will be famine and death. The head of the locust resembles a horse’s head, in fact the Italian word for locust is, “little horse.”
Revelation 9:7,8, “The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth.”
The day of the Lord will be a time of, destruction, famine, fire, thirst, darkness, gloominess, desolation, pain, earthquakes, disturbances in the heavens, and the sun, moon and stars will be extinguished.
The whole scene turns military. The locust invasion is a precursor to a military invasion. Here Joel is beginning to move from the locust invasion to the future day of the Lord.
“They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; very one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down. They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?”
It will be a time of darkness, earthquakes, famine, and disease.
Luke 21:11, “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; (deadly and overwhelming disease that affects an entire community) and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
Revelation 6:12, “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.”
Verses 12-17: God’s appeal for repentance.
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him—A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion. Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Verse 12a: “Turn to Me.” That’s repentance. The two requisites of repentance are “to turn from evil, and to turn to God.” It is a change of mind, a change of direction. It its simplest form it means, “to turn around and go the other direction.”
“Repentance…is an inward response. Genuine repentance pleads with the Lord to forgive and deliver from the burden of sin and the fear of judgment and hell. It is the attitude of the publican who, fearful of even looking toward heaven, smote his breast and cried, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13). Repentance is not merely behavior reform. But because true repentance involves a change of heart and purpose, it inevitably results in a change of behavior.” –John MacArthur
Verse 12b: “With fasting,”
“Fasting” is the abstinence of food for a period of time when the believer is seeking to a deeper experience with God. It is to be done as an act before God, coupled with prayer. It is depriving my baser instincts to seek an answer from God about a spiritual matter.
Verse 12c: “With weeping, and with mourning.”
Tears are a part of life.
Ecclesiastes 3:4, “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” God sees our tears:
Psalm 34:15, ““The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.”
“Mourning” is to express grief or sorrow; to grieve; to be sorrowful. It may be expressed by weeping or audible sounds, or by sobs, sighs or inward silent grief.
Psalm 42:3, “My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’"
Matthew 8:12, “But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Luke 13:28, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”
So God is calling upon the nation to fast and pray, to mourn and weep about the condition of their land. That’s a good idea for America,
2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
“So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him—A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
I conclude this with twelve points about why we individually, or as a church may need to return to the Lord:
1. When my delight in the Lord is no longer as great as my delight in someone else, I need to return to the Lord. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Mark 12:30).
2. When my soul does not long for fellowship with the Lord in Bible study and prayer, I need to return to the Lord. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul” (Mark 12:30).
3. When my thoughts rarely reflect upon God or His Word, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). “God is not in all his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4).
4. When I claim to be only human and easily give in to those things which grieve the Lord, I need to return to the Lord. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
5. When I do not willingly and cheerfully give to God’s work or to meet the needs of others, I need to return to the Lord. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John3:17).
6. When I do not treat every Christian brother of sister as I would the Lord, I need to return to the Lord. John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Matthew 25:40, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
7. When I view the commands of Christ as restrictions to my happiness rather than expressions of His love, I need to return to the Lord. John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
8. When I inwardly strive for the acclaim of the world rather than the approval of God, I need to return to the Lord. 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
9.When I fail to share Christ with those within my sphere of reference because of fear, I need to return to the Lord. John 15:20, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
10. When I refuse to give up any activity which I know offends my weaker brother, I need to return to the Lord. Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
11. When I am complacent to sinful conditions around me, I need to return to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1,2, “There is sexual immorality among you…and you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
12. When I am unable to forgive others who have offended me, I need to return to the Lord. Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
**Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Livin
g Bible (TLB).**