“Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is near—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dense overcast, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people [appears], such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come.” (Joel 2:1-2 HCSB)
Our world is sick with sin. The immune system of a godly heritage that once offered protection to America against this plague has weakened to the point our nation is being overwhelmed by evil. Unless we turn to God, our condition is terminal, our demise perhaps imminent. A cascade of catastrophe can overwhelm a country. Our vital signs indicate distress!
I have been in the hospital numerous times—in fact, my first job was at St. Joseph’s Hospital—and heard the call, “Code Blue! Code Blue!” A patient was in a crisis situation—resuscitation was required immediately, or the patient’s next room would be in the funeral home. Sometimes, it is too late, the person too far gone—they cannot be revived.
The Jews of Joel’s era had come to such a critical condition. God tells His prophet to sound the alarm—a spiritual “Code Blue” call goes out. The parallels to America today should be obvious. We have an emergency. Our nation needs intervention—stat!
Joel’s “Code Blue” alarm is phrased as “The Day of the Lord.”
The first chapter contains a PREVIEW OF THE DAY OF THE LORD.
“Woe because of that day! For the Day of the Lord is near and will come as devastation from the Almighty.” (1:15)
There are four great “days” in God’s prophetic program:
1) The Day of Man (1 Corinthians 4:3, literal translation). That is the period we are in now, with man running the show, and making an absolute mess of things. That day ends with:
2) The Day of Christ (Philippians 1:6) “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.” (NLT) This is the rapture of the church when the dead in Christ will rise and the living saints are translated into heaven. The day the saints are caught up is the day wrath begins to be poured out, commencing:
3) The Day of the Lord (Joel 1:15) It encompasses the seven year tribulation period when judgments fall on a Christ-rejecting world. At the end of that period, Jesus returns to earth and establishes His millennial reign. Following that thousand years and the final, full overthrow of Satan and sin, brings:
4) The Day of God (2 Peter 3:12) “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” (NIV) This brings new heavens and a new earth—the eternal state.
Joel’s focus is on the Day of the Lord—a time of retribution for the Gentiles and of redemption for the Jews. The first chapter presents a preview of the Day of the Lord.
It will be A DAY OF RETRIBUTION (1:1-12).
“What the devouring locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust has left, the young locust has eaten; and what the young locust has left, the destroying locust has eaten.
Wake up, you drunkards, and weep; wail, all you wine drinkers, because of the sweet wine, for it has been taken from your mouth. For a nation has invaded My land,
powerful and without number; its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the fangs of a lioness.” (v.4-6)
These were literal events in history which preview future events in prophecy—a portrait of Divine judgment is painted. The devastation we read about was caused by a locust plague. It reminds us that when the Day of the Lord comes it will be a day of retribution.
History is moving to God’s predetermined end. The judgment that came in Joel’s day was unprecedented. Jesus warned that when the tribulation period comes during the Day of the Lord, it will exceed any sorroq known before. That's saying a lot, considering how much suffering this old world has seen!
The locust plague was to be a warning sign (v.3). If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. America is headed down the same path of destruction which has ended other great world powers in the past.
The locusts would come in clouds, darkening the sun, a swarm extending hundreds of miles, stripping away every leaf. The bounty of America can be taken—flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane. His instrument is of His sovereign choosing; whether we experience such is our choice.
This preview of the Day of the Lord shows it to be A DAY OF REMORSE (1:13-20).
“Dress [in sackcloth] and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come and spend the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, because grain and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God.
Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly! Gather the elders and all the residents of the land at the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” (v.13-14)
The intent of the suffering was to bring them to repentance. Their distress was meant to drive them to their knees.
It was time to cry, “Code Blue!” After the ravages of the locusts, the people hoped to replant, but drought scorched the land and turned it into a tinderbox.
I am not a prophet like Joel. I am concerned, however, when I see the drought and fires in “the breadbasket” of America. Is this God’s alarm sounding? We must cry out passionately, penitently, persistently. Time is running out!
The preview of the Day of the Lord, given in chapter one, brings us to PROPHECY OF THE DAY OF THE LORD in the second chapter of Joel.
“Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is near—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dense overcast, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people [appears], such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come.” (2:1-2)
Joel’s, “Code Blue” extends beyond his day, to that future Day—a judgment previewed by historical experiences, that issues in a judgment prophesied in eschatological events.
There is coming A DEADLY INVASION (v.1-17).
“The Lord raises His voice in the presence of His army. His camp is very large; those who carry out His command are powerful. Indeed, the Day of the Lord is terrible and dreadful—who can endure it?” (v.11)
Joel had described a plague of locusts that would devour the land in the first chapter of his prophecy. In chapter two, he describes an invasion of a massive army like a locust plague which decimates the land. If the Jews are not led to repent of their sins by the insect invasion, something much worse is coming—infantry, not insects, from the north (v.20). As the locust plague was devastating in its scope, so the horror Israel faces in her future will exceed any previous terror. Jesus described it as a time of tribulation—not just for Israel, but the world—that if it were any longer all life would perish (see Matthew 24:21-22).
Wars and rumors of wars mark the course of the last days and lead ultimately to Armageddon. Beyond the cataclysm of World War III and its bloody campaigns, there is a demonic locust invasion from the abyss during the Day of the Lord.
“The fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth. The key to the shaft of the abyss was given to him. He opened the shaft of the abyss, and smoke came up out of the shaft like smoke from a great furnace so that the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the shaft. Then locusts came out of the smoke on to the earth, and power was given to them like the power that scorpions have on the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green plant, or any tree, but only people who do not have God's seal on their foreheads. They were not permitted to kill them but were to torment [them] for five months; their torment is like the torment caused by a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.
The appearance of the locusts was like horses equipped for battle. Something like gold crowns was on their heads; their faces were like men's faces; they had hair like women's hair; their teeth were like lions' teeth; they had chests like iron breastplates; the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses rushing into battle; and they had tails with stingers like scorpions, so that with their tails they had the power to harm people for five months. They had as their king the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
The first woe has passed. There are still two more woes to come after this.” (Revelation 9:1-12 HCSB)
When God’s people cry out to Him for salvation, there comes A DIVINE INTERVENTION (v.18-32).
“I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate, the young locust, the destroying locust, and the devouring locust—My great army that I sent against you. You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied. You will praise the name of Yahweh your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. My people will never again be put to shame.
You will know that I am present in Israel and that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame.” (v.25-27)
God hears the urgent cry of repentance. Israel, today encircled by enemies bent on her destruction, yet has hope—in its military, its alliance with the West, its diplomacy—but, all that will prove vain. Their Hope ultimately is in a Person—Messiah. Divine intervention is their only true hope. Scripture tells us that as the Great Tribulation comes to a crescendo of conflict, the Jews in Jerusalem are facing certain genocide, but Christ will come again with the armies of heaven and obliterate Israel’s foes (read Matthew 24:15-31and Revelation 19:11-21).
The Lord will reverse the curse when He comes to reign in Zion. The desert will become a paradise again. God will be given the worship He merits and He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Peter quoted this passage at Pentecost—Joel’s prophecy a preview of the early rain which brought the first fruits, a token of a worldwide harvest to come when the latter rain falls!
Would God give America such a revival for a space of time, if we would seek Him? Could we see a shower of blessing in our day as we labor in the field in heat of summer? It could happen—but will only happen if we seek the glory of the Lord. We can turn or burn—those are the options. Weigh this,
“Even now--[this is] the Lord's declaration—turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God.
For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.
Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him, [so you can] offer grain and wine to the Lord your God.
Blow the horn in Zion! Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly. Gather the people; sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even those nursing at the breast. Let the groom leave his bedroom, and the bride her honeymoon chamber.
Let the priests, the Lord's ministers, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say: ‘Have pity on Your people, Lord, and do not make Your inheritance a disgrace, an object of scorn among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, “Where is their God?”’” (v.12-17)
Who knows if it will happen? I know this prophecy is for Israel—but, it nevertheless touches on Gentiles as well, “Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved…” (v.32).
The preview and the prophecy extend to THE PROMISE OF THE DAY OF THE LORD in the third chapter of Joel.
“Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, My holy mountain.
Jerusalem will be holy, and foreigners will never overrun it again. In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. All the streams of Judah will flow with water, and a spring will issue from the Lord's house, watering the Valley of Acacias. Egypt will become desolate, and Edom a desert wasteland, because of the violence [done] to the people of Judah in whose land they shed innocent blood. But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. I will pardon their bloodguilt, [which] I have not pardoned,
for the Lord dwells in Zion.” (3:17-21)
No race of people has ever had both the privilege and pain as the Jews. Egyptian slavery, Babylonian captivity, Roman tyranny, Spanish inquisition, Nazi holocaust—and the worst is yet to come, when Antichrist extends his bloody hand to fulfill Hitler’s “Final Solution” and exterminate the Jews. As the world turns against Israel in our day, we sense how close we are to these last of the last days.
But this darkest hour will bring the dawn of hope!
The Egyptians told of a mythical bird called the Phoenix. When it was at the point of death, it consumed itself in fire, and from the ashes would arise a new, young Phoenix. Likewise, Israel will rise from the fiery trial of the Great Tribulation and be birthed as a new nation—attaining all the covenant promises God made to them, when Jesus reigns over the earth.
Joel describes THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JUDGMENT (v.1-15)
“Let the nations be roused and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit down to judge all the surrounding nations.
Swing the sickle because the harvest is ripe. Come and trample [the grapes] because the winepress is full; the wine vats overflow because the wickedness of the nations is great.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (v.12-14)
Israel will be gathered and reclaim the Promised Land. The Gentile nations will then be judged concerning their treatment of God’s Chosen People (see Matthew 25:31-46).
Beyond the promise of judgment, there is the promise of THE RESTORATION OF JUDAH (v.16-21).
“The Lord will roar from Zion and raise His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites.” (v.16)
Nothing but horror awaits those who have rejected Christ, but only happiness will be the portion of those who bow the knee to Jesus. There will be the roar of doom or the refuge of deliverance—and that is all dependent on our relationship with the Lord.
I don’t know when Jesus is returning, I just know He is—although I believe it to be soon. I am not sure America will have one last spiritual awakening that will bring a reprieve from judgment—I just think it could happen. I know this world is bound for judgment, and each day brings us closer to the Day of the Lord. But, it is nothing to dread, if we have responded to the grace of God promised to us in Christ.
One day that offer of grace will be a final offer. Maybe not today—or perhaps it is. I can’t tell. What I am certain about is that this very day you are in the “valley of decision” and that decision will determine your final destination. What will you do with Jesus? Is this your, “Code Blue” call?