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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TOMS: Joel

For an introduction to this series, click here.

Nov. 5, 2006

This is a very short book and one that has some memorable phrases, mostly from the second half of the book when Joel prophesies about the good that is coming to Israel in the future.
1:1 through 2:11 of this book is about the future judgment of Judah. God foretells of all the disaster that will come upon them including locusts and fearsome enemies who will take their land. 2:12 through 2:17 is a call for the Jews to repent, and to turn their hearts to the Lord. 2:18 through the end of the chapter is the future blessing of God specifically on Israel. God promises to "restore to you the years the swarming locust has eaten." This is partially fulfilled when Israel returned to the land after the captivity, but it also points to a more complete fulfillment later.

This section also contains the famous prophecy,"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions." (2:28)

The apostle Peter said that this scripture was partially fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the believers in Christ began to proclaim the new way and they spoke in the languages of all the people present at the feast. But it was not fulfilled completely, because Peter also goes on to quote Joel:
"And I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day." (Acts 2:19-20, ESV)

Obviously the sun and moon are still with us, so that prophecy is not completely fulfilled yet, but it will be. This prophecy leads us into chapter 3, which is a prediction of judgment of the nations, presumably at the battle of Armageddon. Christ is going to rock this world that day. All of the world's might will be directed against Israel, and then with one mighty stroke the Lord will destroy all those armies and nations and set up his millennial kingdom.

Joel is another one of those prophetic books that are partially fulfilled now, but are not completely fulfilled yet. That is what gets so many people messed up, in my opinion. Both Christian and Jewish commentators look at the parts that have already been fulfilled and they say that the parts that are not fulfilled literally yet have been fulfilled spiritually. They ignore the fact that God's prophecies are always fulfilled literally, even the ones that speak of spiritual renewal. We limit God and say that He could never do something as marvelous as is predicted in the scriptures, so we just write it off as a spiritual fulfillment and ignore it.

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