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Read Joel 2

An Army of Locusts

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sound the alarm on my holy hill.

Let all who live in the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
    a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
    a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
    nor ever will be in ages to come.

Before them fire devours,
    behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
    behind them, a desert waste—
    nothing escapes them.
They have the appearance of horses;
    they gallop along like cavalry.
With a noise like that of chariots
    they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
    like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
    every face turns pale.
They charge like warriors;
    they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
    not swerving from their course.
They do not jostle each other;
    each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
    without breaking ranks.
They rush upon the city;
    they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
    like thieves they enter through the windows.

10 Before them the earth shakes,
    the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
    and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
    at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
    and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
    it is dreadful.
    Who can endure it?

Rend Your Heart

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
    declare a holy fast,
    call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
    consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
    gather the children,
    those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
    and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
    weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
    Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

The Lord’s Answer

18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land
    and took pity on his people.

19 The Lord replied to them:

“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
    enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
    an object of scorn to the nations.

20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you,
    pushing it into a parched and barren land;
its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea
    and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea.
And its stench will go up;
    its smell will rise.”

Surely he has done great things!
21     Do not be afraid, land of Judah;
    be glad and rejoice.
Surely the Lord has done great things!
22     Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
    for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
    the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
23 Be glad, people of Zion,
    rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
    because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
    both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
    the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
    and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
    that I am the Lord your God,
    and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.

The Day of the Lord

28 “And afterward,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
    and on the earth,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.

Go Deeper

We read in the previous chapter about the locust invasion as a warning to Judah to repent quickly. Joel symbolically describes locusts as a human army. They destroyed every plant, tree, vine, and fruit, to the point where the land was desolate. The imagery here is sobering. This was just a shadow of what was to come on the day of the Lord. Joel called the people to humble themselves, fast, and seek God’s forgiveness. This chapter addresses the day of the Lord by means of a foreign army, which did happen when Israel was defeated by its enemies and taken into exile. The Lord declares, “Return to me with all your heart. There is still time. Do not eat any food. Weep and mourn. Don’t just tear your clothes to show how sad you are. Let your hearts be broken. Return to the Lord your God” (NIrV v. 12-13). There is a call to wake up and to take sin seriously. To not be casual about it, but to go to war with it. 

During this time, it was a custom to tear your clothes as a response to a serious situation. We see this displayed in the book of Job. When Job lost everything, he tore his robe and fell to the ground. Verse 13 is telling the people to not only tear their clothes but to tear their hearts over their sin. To be broken hearted over their transgressions. Repentance is a change of direction. God is gracious and compassionate and promises that the repentant will be redeemed. This is really great news! Would we be a people who run from our sin and radically pursue holiness. God promises restoration for His people, both physically and spiritually. He says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten….my great army that I sent among you” (v. 25). God is going to restore all things, so that people may know that He is the Lord and there is no other. 

After the physical restoration will come the spiritual restoration. God declares, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (v. 28). This promise brings hope! Joel was the first prophet to teach that the Holy Spirit was not just for certain individuals or Jews, but for all people who have trusted in Christ. This prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit came to Pentecost and people “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). 

People were confused as to what was happening, so Peter got up and quoted from the prophet Joel and explained what the Lord had promised. The same Spirit that came at Pentecost and rose Jesus from the dead dwells within us today. We are empowered when we depend on the Holy Spirit, knowing His power is so much greater than ours! Second Peter 1:3 tells us that, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.” With the Holy Spirit in us, we can have great confidence in knowing that we are equipped to fight sin, stand firm against the schemes of the enemy, and pursue a life of holiness God calls us to.


  1. What is a sin in your life that you have been casual about? What does it look like to be broken-hearted over your sin, and to run away from it to pursue holiness? 
  2. God calls His people to consecrate a fast in this chapter and in the previous one. Fasting is a reminder to us that we need God more than we need anything else. When was the last time you fasted? How can you integrate fasting more often as a spiritual discipline in your life? 
  3. This chapter is known for the promise of the Holy Spirit! How do you know when the Holy Spirit is guiding you? What does it look like for you to walk in step with the Spirit? (Galatians 5:16)

Watch This

To learn more about the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible, check out this video from The Bible Project! 

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2 thoughts on “Joel 2”

  1. There’s a complacent mindset we fall often into, one of thinking we have all the time in the world to do what God has called us to do. It’s one rooted in self-centeredness and desiring our own way above his. It’s often a subtle and culturally accepted way of living. In contrast God asks that we be done with sin to “Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning” (12). It’s an urgent call to repent now, to give up our trinkets and treasures that rob us of paradise. It’s always about what our heart loves and craves. He sees all our moments as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He longs to pour out his abundant blessing as we cooperate in true repentance, so he can heal and save us. Never put off today what must be done, for we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

  2. I posted yesterday = computers fail

    Repentance definition in oxford dictionary states sincere regret or remorse. I agree it is that but I also believe Biblically it is more. To turn completely away from doing that thing, not just regretting it but to do it NO more. True repentance brings about a freedom and peace that is beyond understanding mentally. It is a freedom in your physical body as well. Here in Joel, God said it Joel 2:12-13 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.”
    Rend your heart not your garments=inside job. This brings peace which is beyond understanding (Phil4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus), Do not trust your own understanding (for me that is a mike drop moment) Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Yall may have already got this information into your hearts and minds but my light bulb just came on recently about understanding. Maybe that is why all this time I have done the dictionary repentance, regret and remorse but not truly completely turning and walking away. So with this not leaning on my understanding I get peace, amazing peace as I put Christ first, pray, ask for wisdom (James 1) and knowledge (Col 2:2-3) for Him to direct my steps.

    God thank You for my light bulb moments. Thank You that You continue to show, help, guide, love me along the way. God I worship You!!! I adore You!!!! I know that I know deep in my knower You have this day, these minutes, for me. Direct my path, help my love goggles stay in place, let me be slow to speak and quick to listen in Jesus name amen

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