Joel 4:12-21 (3:12-21 KJV) > Let all the nations rouse themselves and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I shall sit to judge all the nations round about. Bring out the sickles, for the harvest is ripe. Come in and tread the grapes, for the winepress is full, the wine vats overflow; for their wickedness is multiplied. The news resounded in the valley of judgment, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley judgment. The sun and moon shall become dark, and the stars shall withdraw their light. And the Lord shall cry out from Zion, and He shall utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and earth will quake, but the Lord shall keep His people safe and shall strengthen the sons of Israel. So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, the one dwelling in Zion on My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be a holy city, and no more will strangers pass through her. And it will come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drip sweetness, and milk shall flow from the hills, and all the brooks of Judah shall flow with water. And a fountain shall flow out from the house of the Lord, and it will supply water to the valley of Acacias. Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a wilderness because of the wrongdoings against the people of Judah, because of the innocent blood shed in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited forever and Jerusalem unto generations of generations. And I shall avenge their blood and shall not let it go unpunished. The Lord shall dwell in Zion.
Joel 2:12-26 > Now says the Lord your God, “Turn to me with all your heart, with fasting and wailing and with mourning; rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate. He is longsuffering and plenteous in mercy and repents of evils. Who knows if he will return and change His mind—if He will leave a blessing behind Him, even an offering and drink-offering to the Lord our God?” Sound the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, call out the elders, and gather the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom go out from His bedchamber and the bride out of her bridal chamber. Between the porch and the altar, the priest of the altar, ministering to the Lord, will each be weeping and will say, “O Lord, spare Your people; do not give your inheritance to reproach, that the gentiles should rule over them, lest they should say among the gentiles, ‘where is their God?’” But the Lord was zealous for His land and spared His people. And the Lord answered His people and said, “Behold, I send you wheat, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied with them. I will no longer a reproach among the nations, and I will drive the army from the north away from you, and I shall force him into a dry land. I will drown his face in the eastern sea and his back in the western sea; its stench and foul smell will rise up, because he has done powerful works.” O land, be of good courage; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. Take courage, you beast of the field, for the planes of the wilderness have budded, and the trees bear their fruit. And again the vine and the fig tree yield their full potency. And you children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God, for He gives food that is right for you, and He will shower you as before with the early and the late rain. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat and the presses of wine and olive oil will overflow. And I will restore to you the years the grasshopper and the locust have eaten, and for the blight, and the caterpillar, even for My great army, which I sent against you. You will eat abundantly and be satisfied and will praise the name of the Lord your God for what He has so wondrously done unto you. And My people will not be put to shame forever.
Today’s readings, Joel 4:12-21* and Joel 2:12-26, speak to us of the Day of the Lord, that is, the “Last Judgment” which occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and how we may prepare ourselves, through repentance and fasting to stand before Christ at this judgment. Juxtaposed against this “Day of Judgment” and our repentance is the revelation of God’s mercy and grace, and how it is our enemies (Luke 10:17-20) that will be judged and destroyed, and not us who have repented and received God’s mercy. We who have repented and received God’s mercy will be cleansed, and will not be put to shame forever, (Joel 2:26).
Four Truths to Live By
Truth #1 We must prepare for the coming day of judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) by taking heed to the words of the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting and wailing and mourning…” (Joel 2:12). St Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), the Dialogist, writes that ‘when it is said by the Prophet, ‘Sanctify a fast [Joel 1:14],’ sanctifying a fast means showing bodily fasting to God as an alms, by adding every other good deed. Cease to be angry, put aside quarrels. You weaken your body in vain if you do not restrain your heart from all its pleasures.” St Athanasios the Great (c. 296-373) says, “Listen, as in a figure, to the Prophet blowing the trumpet; and further, having turned to the truth, be ready for the announcement of the trumpet, for he saith, ‘Blow ye the trumpet in Sion: sanctify a fast [Joel 2:15].’ This is a warning trumpet, and commands with great earnestness, that when we fast, we should hallow the fast.” The trumpet is blowing, the Church is calling us to the “Great Fast”. And when we enter the “Great Fast” (Lent), may we understand the sacredness of what we are embarking on. We are setting out on a highway to holiness (Isaiah 35:8). We are striving to purify ourselves, even as He is pure (1 John 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:19-22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). St James says, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:6-10)
Truth #2 We must know that God is “merciful and compassionate. He is longsuffering and plenteous in mercy…” (Joel 2:13). The Lord is zealous (jealous in the KJV) for His people (Joel 2:18). He desires that we repent so that we may experience His grace and mercy, and have all things restored unto us that the enemy of our souls has stolen or destroyed. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). As we fast, let us pray, pray for hearts to be softened, for hearts to be turned to the Lord in a new way. Let us pray as David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 50 [51 KJV])
Truth #3 We must “be of good courage” and “be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things” (Joel 2:21). In the midst of our tears of repentance we will find our mourning turned to joy. But soon we will sense the need to search our hearts and repent even deeper (1 John 1:9). So we live a life of “joyful sorrow”. A life that knows the “joy of salvation”, but feels the sinfulness of this present age weighing upon our souls (Psalm 50 [51 KJV]). So we are sorrowful for our sins, yet we rejoice in Christ. As Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Truth #4 We must look forward to the final restoration of all Creation. When Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead (1 Timothy 4:2), the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44), and the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements will melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10, 12), our enemies will be judged and destroyed, that is, the demon hordes that assailed us in this life, and the years that these demons (grasshoppers and locusts) have eaten will be restored to us. These enemies (Ephesians 6:12), which were sent against us in our times of rebellion, wreaking destruction and stealing precious time from us, will be judged and destroyed by our God (Matthew 25:41/Hell). And the shame we incurred through our rebellious times will be cleansed away by God’s mercy according to our repentance, our tears, our fasting, and our deeds of justice (Isaiah 58:6-8; Micah 6:8).
Questions to Ponder
1) What are some ways we can “hallow” the fast?
2) What scripture verses that speak of God’s love and mercy could I memorize for Lent?
3) In what ways can we demonstrate true fasting? Consider Joel 2:12, 13; James 4:6-10; Matthew 25:31-46; and Isaiah 58:6-8?
4) What is the significance of “Forgiveness Sunday” (next Sunday) as it relates to the “Great Fast”?
I have been blessed to prepare this weekly Bible Study for the past six weeks. I hope that you were fed spiritually, and were challenged in your faith to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Starting next week Fr. Stephen De Young will be preparing the weekly Wednesday Bible Study based on the daily Scripture readings. May the Lord who loves mankind illumine your hearts with the pure light of His divine knowledge.Always in Christ,
P.S. This blog, Ancient Faith Bible Study, is one of my teaching blogs, and I will continue from time to time to add new Bible studies to it. You may visit my other Bible study blog at: www.mikesbiblenotes.blogspot.com
* Why does today's reading say Joel 4:12-21 rather than Joel 3:12-21? In the Masoretic Text (Hebrew Old Testament), and the "original" Septuagint (LXX - Greek Old Testament) there are 4 chapters in the book of Joel. The numberings are what we are seeing in today's Bible Study. The King James Bible has 3 chapters instead of 4. The difference is that the last 5 verses of Joel 3 in the Septuagint are added to the ending of chapter 2 in the King James Bible. And then chapter 4 becomes chapter 3. Any Questions?
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