Joel

1 The LORD’s word that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel. 2 Hear this, you elders, and listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? 3 Tell your children about it, and have your children tell their children, and their children, another generation. 4 What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten. What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten. What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten. 5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. 6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness. 7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white. 8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth! 9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from the LORD’s house. The priests, the LORD’s ministers, mourn. 10 The field is laid waste. The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed, the new wine has dried up, and the oil languishes. 11 Be confounded, you farmers! Wail, you vineyard keepers; for the wheat and for the barley; for the harvest of the field has perished. 12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men. 13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests! Wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God’s house. 14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of the LORD, your God, and cry to the LORD. 15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty. 16 Isn’t the food cut off before our eyes; joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seeds rot under their clods. The granaries are laid desolate. The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered. 18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. 19 The LORD, I cry to you, for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burnt all the trees of the field. 20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you, for the water brooks have dried up, and the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

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Verses 1-7

The most aged could not remember such calamities as were about to take place. Armies of insects were coming upon the land to eat the fruits of it. It is expressed so as to apply also to the destruction of the country by a foreign enemy, and seems to refer to the devastations of the Chaldeans. God is Lord of hosts, has every creature at his command, and, when he pleases, can humble and mortify a proud, rebellious people, by the weakest and most contemptible creatures. It is just with God to take away the comforts which are abused to luxury and excess; and the more men place their happiness in the gratifications of sense, the more severe temporal afflictions are upon them. The more earthly delights we make needful to satisfy us, the more we expose ourselves to trouble.

Verses 8-13

All who labour only for the meat that perishes, will, sooner or later, be ashamed of their labour. Those that place their happiness in the delights of sense, when deprived of them, or disturbed in the enjoyment, lose their joy; whereas spiritual joy then flourishes more than ever. See what perishing, uncertain things our creature-comforts are. See how we need to live in continual dependence upon God and his providence. See what ruinous work sin makes. As far as poverty occasions the decay of piety, and starves the cause of religion among a people, it is a very sore judgment. But how blessed are the awakening judgments of God, in rousing his people and calling home the heart to Christ, and his salvation!

Verses 14-20

The sorrow of the people is turned into repentance and humiliation before God. With all the marks of sorrow and shame, sin must be confessed and bewailed. A day is to be appointed for this purpose; a day in which people must be kept from their common employments, that they may more closely attend God’s services; and there is to be abstaining from meat and drink. Every one had added to the national guilt, all shared in the national calamity, therefore every one must join in repentance. When joy and gladness are cut off from God’s house, when serious godliness decays, and love waxes cold, then it is time to cry unto the Lord. The prophet describes how grievous the calamity. See even the inferior creatures suffering for our transgression. And what better are they than beasts, who never cry to God but for corn and wine, and complain of the want of the delights of sense? Yet their crying to God in those cases, shames the stupidity of those who cry not to God in any case. Whatever may become of the nations and churches that persist in ungodliness, believers will find the comfort of acceptance with God, when the wicked shall be burned up with his indignation.

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