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* The Prophecy Letter 2011

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The e-Prophecy Letter

January 2011: A Brief Study of the Short Prophet Joel

H. E. Lafferty

The ‘short’ prophet Joel wrote the prophecies of the LORD at approximately BC700 – 698, immediately after the Assyrian assault and conquest of Israel (the 10 tribes). His writings certainly address the future of Israel (Judah) as oppressed by the coming kingdoms of men beginning with Babylon. It is addressed to ‘all ye inhabitants of the Land.’ It was near the time of the first assault of the nations which God had purposed to bring against Israel as punishment for their waywardness before Him, and force their expulsion from His land by “His army,” the powerful Babylonians of this same century who destroyed Jerusalem as well as the fierce, irresistible Romans (see 2:11). 

Joel, Chapter 1:

 Joe 1:1  The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.

Joe 1:2  Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?

Joe 1:3  Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.

Joe 1:4  That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.

The four stages of the locust (the palmerworm, locust, cankerworm and caterpillar) are  the four stages in the life cycle of the locust – the gnawer, the swarmer, the devourer,  and the consumer. The clear symbol of the locust’s development is that of the nations  which would be the devouring powers sent upon them by God for their wickedness.

These were the forces of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, the destiny of the last power being the destruction of the Temple and dispersal of the Jews in the horrendous defeat of Judaean war.

 

Joe 1:5  Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

Joe 1:6  For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.

Joe 1:7  He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.

The vine as well as the fig tree are symbols of Israel, God’s people. This sentence reflects the desolate condition in which His destitute people were left solely because of their sins. Hosea 9:10  I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.

 

Joe 1:8  Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

Joe 1:9  The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.

This narrative points forward to both destructions of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple service is cut off and the abomination of desolation then stands “in the Lord’s house.”  Jesus has nailed to the Tree of Golgotha the Law of Moses, thus fulfilling it. Whether the Jews recognized it or not, the Law was no longer valid for worship.

 

Joe 1:10  The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.

Joe 1:11  Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.

Joe 1:12  The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.

Joe 1:13  Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

The result was to be that “the meat offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord,” and that Israel’s worship in the temple is ended by its destruction. This is termed “the day of the Lord … a day of destruction from the Almighty” (1:15), which indicates that it was the Lord’s will, and by His personal agency, that these great interruptions came upon her. The scene of utter desolation is depicted in the last six verses of chapter one.

 

Joe 1:14  Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,

Joe 1:15  Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

Joe 1:16  Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?

Joe 1:17  The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.

Joe 1:18  How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.

Joe 1:19  O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.

Joe 1:20  The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. 

Joel, Chapter 2: 

Joe 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;

If this chapter (as we think it does) has reference to 70AD, the "day of the Lord" is that well-known assault on Judea. There are several "days of the Lord" in scripture - not merely at the Endtime. The shofar alarm here is to war. The time was certainly a day of clouds and thick darkness, of thick darkness and doom.

 

Joe 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.

Rome of iron was the aggressor; it fits the description given in this verse.

Jerusalem’s outlook was bleak indeed. The city was utterly destroyed. The

Temple was burned and the vessels stolen. The Arch of Titus in Rome depicts the Great Menorah among the spoils carried to Rome. The Temple Platform was deserted and became a trash heap until the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock over the Holy of Holies in the 7th century A.D.

 

Joe 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 is an apt description of Rome's assault - savage, relentless, persistent and terribly efficient. There was never one like it since.

 

In verses 4 – 11, the language is easily applicable to "his army" in the punishment of His people in this terrible time.

 

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

Joe 2:5  Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire thatdevoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

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

Joe 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:

Joe 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.

Joe 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.

Joe 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:

Joe 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?

No force on earth could stop this mighty army of the Lord – this Roman titan operating on God’s terms and at His behest in order to destroy His city, and drive His people from their land because of their wickedness and apostasy.

 

Joe 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:

This is the remedy that should have been adopted by the Jews of Judea. It would be the direct opposite to their previous attitude and level of service and devotion to God.

 

Joe 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, andrepenteth him of the evil.

Heartfelt return rather than outward mourning is required. If they had done so they should have witnessed the great mercy of God.

 

Joe 2:14  Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Joe 2:15  Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Joe 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.

Joe 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?

This is the required remedy for the Jews; but they did not heed His warnings. They summarily rejected His Messiah at His first appearance. They crucified their Lord, and postponed his advent for two millennia.

But in the verses following, the Almighty leaps to the time in which His mercy and compassion shall be poured out upon them. Having tired of their enemies’ tirades and aggression He returns them to their land and blesses them abundantly.

 

Joe 2:18  Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

Joe 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:

This promise of a good outcome was available had His people obeyed Him. This promise and that of verse 19 promises prosperity and progress for His people when they obey. Their final vindication is foretold.

 

Joe 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 illsavour shall come up, because he hath done great things.

These words refer to a time in the distant future when they DO dwell in security and plenty as in verses 18  and 19: when Gog (the northern army) comes down upon Israel, Gog shall be so dealt with! It is a long-term prophecy of their ultimate deliverance from the forces of evil which shall attempt to enter into their Land. 

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

We cannot escape the extreme irony of God's promise that it is THE LORD, not their foes, Who shall "do great things" - truly great!

 

Joe 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.

Joe 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.

This language again takes the reader into the distant future, and well illustrates an abrupt change in climate in which physical rainfall shall be abundant; italso bears more spiritual overtones of great blessing of faith and spirit to thepeople whom He shall have recovered, as revealed in verses 28 and 29. 

Joe 2:24  And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.

Joe 2:25  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.

Joe 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.  

Even today a visitor to Israel can see the beginnings of this great promise!Israel’s farmers produce far more crops than those needed to sustain theirpeople; they are thus net exporters of agricultural products even today – in themidst of a severe water crisis. But this reality is only the beginning of the Land’s productivity which awaits that Dayspring from on High!  

Joe 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.

It is certainly AT THIS TIME that Israel recognizes the Sonship and Messiahship of the Returned Jesus. Their surprised recognition of Him isdepicted in Zechariah 12 and 13, along with their earnest repentance andmourning for their earlier condemnation of Him. 

Joe 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:

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

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

Verses 22 - 30  illustrate a future time of safety and abundance for Israel, and a time of plenty for His people - restoration of their fortunes in far greater measure is indicated through verse 30. As a direct result of their repentance, and wholehearted acceptance of Him, He shall drench them with His Spirit without measure; Israel shall finally begin to fulfill its role as “a light to the Gentiles.”

 

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

The word here speaks of yet another "day of the Lord" - not the same as in earlier verses. In light of the verse following, this seems to occur in the Endtime - at the actual return of Christ. That day is not a day of darkness for Israel, however, for their repentance shall have brought them the abundant favor of the Lord Jesus. The dread of the Lord shall fall without mercy on His enemies, and their fate shall loom suddenly before their faces.

 

Joe 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.

This verse is a summary; it tells of the future time when those who DO call on The name of the Lord as admonished earlier, shall be delivered IN MOUNT ZION AND IN JERUSALEM, His Sanctuary. The promise is to "the remnantwhom the Lord  shall call." In this passage the Lord is certainly present with Hispeople, and shall have delivered them. 

Joel, Chapter 3: 

Joe 3:1  For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

This chapter starts with “…behold, in those days, and in that time,” meaning IN THE ENDTIME – specifically in OUR time, “when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem” – that is, when He is regathering His people for the second time (Isaiah 11:11) for their final redemption (Zechariah 12 -14). That can be ONLY today. He now narrates the concise details of the Endtime wars of Christ and Israel against “all nations.”

 

Joe 3:2  I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, 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.

Here the prophet is dropping back to a time generally earlier than the closing

verses of Chapter two. The Valley of Jehoshaphat here is equated with the Valley of Decision (cf. verses 12, 14). Both names indicate pits of Judgment, which shall there be rendered to God’s enemies. In light of several other prophecies, these nations – termed “all nations” – are not all the nations of the world, but are all the nations “round about” Israel newly reconstituted in our day. These are those named specifically in Psalm 83, city-states and nations which comprise Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and those who identify themselves as “Palestinians” within and around Israel. Their destruction is depicted thoroughly in prophecies such as Isaiah 63, Obadiah, Micah 5, Ezekiel 35, Isaiah 11, Psalm 63, and others. These are drawn down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat – also called the Valley of Decision – for final judgment and destruction.

 The nature of this series of conflicts, when understood as the prophets have related them to us, shall be diffuse, widespread, and shall occur over some length of time which is indeterminate. It is to be fulfilled therefore, in my opinion, in many diffuse locations where the enemies of the Lord are defeated one by one, mostly in their own homelands. Their lands and wealth are then taken into Greater Israel by the Lord Jesus Christ, completely in harmony with the account in Zechariah 14: 14 and others.

 By reference to “the Valley of Jehoshaphat” I suggest that the Almighty is referring to that typical location depicted in the great victory of the Lord during Jehoshaphat’s reign when Edom, Moab and Ammon attacked Israel; II Chronicles 20. These were defeated outrightly, and all their wealth confiscated by Israel. Otherwise there is no location in Israel which at any time in the past is named as “the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” Some have supposed the Kidron Valley is meant here, but its environs are not sufficient to contain the forces which shall be involved in this intended struggle – pitched battles which shall be not only fought in many locations, but also shall be of long term.

 Others have equated this showdown with the Proximal States with the Battle of Armageddon, and placed it in the Valley of Megiddo – the Plain of Jezreel – but not only is that venue also completely insufficient for the conflicts but is in the wrong continent! Armageddon is mentioned only in Revelation 16: 16, and in this student’s opinion is an European affair of the showdown between the forces of Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Apostasy of the Beast, the False Prophet and the Harlot, a conflict we designate as Phase Three.

 To “plead with them” is to defeat them utterly. All these proximal enemies of God and Israel (Psalm 83: 1-2) did help scatter Israel among the nations, and to part My land. See Obadiah’s detailed description of the activities of Edom for adequate proof. Even today, these nations INTEND to do the same to Israel, but shall be completely powerless to do so because of the assistance of their Father in destroying them.

Joe 3:3  And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

Joe 3:4  Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, andZidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me arecompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;

Verse 4 begins the narrative’s detailed summary of the action to be expected. It names three specific locations which are to bring “recompence” upon His people – the Arab term is REVENGE, which they seek daily. Tyre and Sidon are in LEBANON. The coast of Palestine is the GAZA STRIP, home of the unhappy campers of Hamas, the vile and intractable enemies of Israel. God’s recompense shall fall upon them in return – but only in God’s good time. We wait. Tyre, Sidon and Gaza are hotbeds of Islamic hatred and militancy against God’s people. They are typical of all the centers of contempt against Israel in the nations round about. Psalm 83 groups all these nations together; for that reason we must conclude that their punishment comes in or near the same time period.

 

Joe 3:5  Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

Joe 3:6  The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.  [

Where are these infractions recorded? In secular history, doubtless, but in the

plain words of Obadiah. Joel 3:5 and 6 list some of the most heinous acts of any people against another. Again, the prophet Obadiah (verses 14 – 18) details these despicable acts, as well as certain secular historians. These peoples aided and abetted the Babylonians as well as the Romans in their adversity against Israel. In all these cases their goal was “that ye might remove them from their border.” The object of these enemies, of course, was to take the lands and villages of the Pleasant Land for their own possession.

 

Joe 3:7  Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:

Verse 7 continues the train of thought. God vows to return His people to their land in His own time, and to return these enemies’ recompense (revenge) upon their own heads. It will not be a pleasant issue!

 

Joe 3:8  And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to theSabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Verse 8: Their aggression shall have its retribution – intensely and consummately. These estranged brethren of Israel shall have done to them all those things they have done to Israel. What was their motive? They coveted the good land of Israel for their own possession – the blessed land which God had promised to His people.

 

Joe 3:9  Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:

Joe 3:10  Beat your plowshares into swords, and yourpruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

The watchword, Prepare war! is an indication of venerating war – of making

 War ‘holy’ as in Jihad! It is the hallmark of militant Islam of this day: “holy

war” is their  answer to any perceived insult or compromise of Islam. For the

last seven decades the Muslims have beaten their plowshares into swords,  arming for holy war against their enemy, the people of God. Their aggression has not been effective, as the Lord has gone forth and fought against those nations as He fought in the day of battle (days of old). The boastful words “let the weak say I am strong,” are the watchwords of Hamas and Hezbollah in Gaza and Lebanon today. They regularly boast that they will wipe Israel off the map the next time they clash in warfare. But it cannot happen!     

 The “mighty men” are those who look upon themselves as “mighty.” But their fierce mien, their faces wrapped in scarves, heads bound with green bands, weapons boldly brandished, threatening slogans written on headbands, shouts of Allahu Akbar! (god is great) designed to frighten and terrify their enemies (perhaps more to hide their cowardly identities) really mean nothing. Their mouths have few teeth. Their ferocity is frightful to mere humans; but their boastfulness is nothing as they come to resist the power of the Spirit of God coming from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ! He has proclaimed that He shall “speak peace to the heathen,” which means to conquer them with nothing but the words of His mouth! In the presence of His power, the weak may say they are strong; but their boast is not factual in any way.

 

Joe 3:11  Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen (the unbelieving nations round about), and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

Joe 3:12  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

Verse 12 invites the heathen (nations) down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat– that Valley of Decision, or Valley of Judgment – in which these same peoples shall be finally and eternally judged by the Son of God;“ForTHERE will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.”

 

The following verses (13 – 15) summon the vision of reaping an harvest of grapes – grapes of wrath – gathering them into the vats of the Lord for trampling. The recipients of His wrath are “multitudes in the valley of decision.” The guiding lights – the sun, moon and stars of Islam – shall be extinguished forever!

 

Joe 3:13  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.

Joe 3:14  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Joe 3:15  The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

The impending warfare is horrible to contemplate. Islam today is so fractured itcan agree on almost no plan of action – except aggression upon Israel.Whenever its internecine factions which are so full of hatred even for theirbrethren, make up their differences to some reconcilable level, then their attention appears to turn upon Israel with some force of unity and these nations strike at Israel with a vengeance. Whether their attacks shall be coordinated to be simultaneous is not clear from the prophecies. One element that does seem clear is that Edom (as in Obadiah) is to be the initial strike, and it is stated at that time, in verse 21: 

And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S. So I believe it simply logical to assume that Christ and the Saints are present throughout these final conflicts against the nations round about (Proximal Islam).

 

Joe 3:16  The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and 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.

Verse 16 is definitive. It absolutely summarizes the action that is to take place here. “The LORD shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem … The Lord shall be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel!

 

Joe 3:17  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 no strangers pass through her any more.

Here is the blessed moment of enlightenment for Israelis in the Land. Their eyesshall behold His salvation as He roars out of Zion. The resultant earthquakeshall forever change the topography of the Land from Jerusalem outward. AndHis people shall recognize that “the Lord” is the hope of God’s people, and thatHe is the force and power of the Lord God dwelling in Zion, His holy mountain.Only then shall Jerusalem be “holy” in its fullest sense, as NO STRANGERS shall pass through her anymore.

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