J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)
According to the principle, long ago noted, Joel gives no date, nor reign, and applies in general to the latter days.
We have these notes in the prophecy - first:
- 6. The Land - 'My Land,' whatever its state or divisions. It is Jehovah's Land, and if the people fail in every way, it falls into His hands. It was but entrusted to Israel - the Gentiles have no right but by their (Israel's) sin, and none as against the Lord.
The general subject is, a Gentile 'nation is come up upon My Land.'
13-15. Secondly, the Land is in connection with the Temple, and its service, and this coming up upon the Land is a destruction from the Almighty - the day of the Lord is at hand. All was wasted.
Next, thirdly, this awakens Zion and 'the Holy Mountain.' Jehovah says, 'Zion and My Holy Mountain.' He takes notice of it as His, and calls all the inhabitants of the Land to tremble, for the day of Jehovah cometh. Jehovah utters His voice before His army. He is strong that executeth His word, 'for the day of Jehovah is great, and very terrible; who can abide it?' 'Therefore,' says Jehovah, 'turn to Me.' And the trumpet of alarm becomes (according to Numbers) a trumpet of summons, in Zion, to repentance and humiliation between the porch and the altar. And the Lord is roused to act in favour of His people, on this word (see Psalms 42, 43), 'Where is their God.' He is jealous for His Land, and pities His people. Blessing comes on the Land (Ezekiel 36:30) and the 'Northern army,' so this nation, as finally explained (compare Daniel 11) at the end, is cast out. The Land is blessed. The children of Zion rejoice. Jehovah is in the midst of Israel, and the people shall never be ashamed.
Afterwards, 'thereupon' (akhare-ken) the Spirit is poured out on all flesh. But before the day Jehovah will have shown signs, and the Remnant will be saved. But, note, these signs are, in general, in heaven, and in earth, and whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered. But the deliverance is in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and in the Remnant whom the Lord shall call. Verses 28, 29 and 30-32, of chapter 2, whether before or after, go beyond Israel to 'all flesh.'
197 The latter is remarkable, yet makes (though the principle be universal - so cited by the Apostle) the centre of the then actual deliverance, the proper object of the Prophet, Zion, Jerusalem and the Remnant. For, and in chapter 3, the Spirit of the Lord (Christ) goes on to explain it, and what shall arise when 'the Lord shall bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem.' The Lord will judge all the heathen; compare verse 16. Its result for Israel finally - the Lord will dwell in Zion.
The immediate object then (taking occasion from present desolations by plagues of insects) is the Northern army, in connection with the day of the Lord's judgment on Israel, but this, associated with the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem, introduces the judgment of all the heathen, and 'the Lord dwells in Zion.' The destruction affects the Land, but the Lord acts from, and in connection with Zion, and Jerusalem, His Holy Mountain.
Note, not only by faith is faith in Messiah anticipated, but the Spirit is given as seal of faith now; compare Ephesians 1. And this remark is of all importance as to the position of the Church and believers. But the whole of the chapter needs study.
The first chapter, then, concerns the Land (and takes in all the desolators) calls for a fast as to this, from "the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land." The second chapter speaks of that which the Lord had chosen for Himself in it, above all the dwellings of Jacob. "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion." In bringing in this, "the day of the Lord" accordingly appears more specifically in the cry resulting from the other, chapter 1:15-20. Then the prophetic warning of "the day," to Zion, now involved with the inhabitants of the Land. It is on the people of the Jews from the Lord. This was the alarm - they were to plunder the city, passing through it all like a thief. Then the trumpet of summons, or the call to repentance. When this takes place, appealing to Him against the heathen, His instrument, His rod (of indignation) but now saying in their folly 'where is their God,' then will Jehovah be jealous for His Land, and pity His people, and turn back the Northern army.
Note here, the city is entered and plundered. There is also, on the cry made of the Remnant, the Northern Army sent back. The cry is made on the warning of "the day," and yet the city is entered. Therefore, this passage, as I see as yet, does not determine whether the army turned back be previous to, or consequent upon the taking of the city. Probably, but this is little worth, the nation not heeding the call, the city is taken. But through the course of succeeding troubles, the Remnant, then a nation, do cry, and the subsequent effort comes to nothing, for the captivity of Zion is restored afterwards, as in Psalm 126 - the nation.
198 - 19-27. This, at any rate, is the answer to the cry, and connects Zion with the blessing. But its substance is the temporal blessing of the Land, etc., as delivered from the desolators; chap. 3:1 [chap. 2:28].
It seems to me that this rests upon the call and the cry, i.e., the trouble coming in, the summons is to "cry to the Lord." Desolation enough previously had called for it. It is made to the nation. It is answered however, when made; nor is it till the very end, nor the hope, and the Remnant in the midst of trouble and rejection, by grace make it en eschatais hemerais (in the last days); for this is Peter's, or rather the Holy Ghost's interpretation of akhare-ken (thereupon A.V., 'afterward'). It is 'thereupon' (upon the Jewish cry) upon what has gone before, in very deed it will not be but in the last days. The term "in those days" makes this full open. The akhare-ken (thereupon) marks the "whereupon," besides verses 3-5 (30-32 A.V.). There will be signs before "the great and terrible day come" (though the city may have been entered into and taken, as it appears to me, in the latter day - previous, not an absolutely final act) and whoever (a broad fact) calls, according to the previous summons, on the Lord, will be delivered (for there are a people who call, though in the midst of a people who do not) "for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance," and, here the point is let out in result, "the remnant whom the Lord shall call" - is then calling. For, indeed, this deliverance of Zion by a Remnant, and a Remnant really by the Lord for, and so in Zion, turns the "day of the Lord," lowering over the heads of the Jews, awakening by the summons the Remnant, and so averted from the nation, which the Remnant now were, though the residue were cut off, on the heads of the Gentiles, which chapter 4 (3) then describes. All this then is plain, i.e., thus far in order.
199 Joel 2
- 20, 21. We may remark the strong setting of the actings of God to the support of faith, in answer to the actings of men of selfwill. 'His ill-savour shall come up, because he hath done great things' (literally, 'because he magnified to do') ki-hig dil la-asoth, and then in verse 21, 'Fear not, because Jehovah will do great things' (literally 'because Jehovah magnified to do') ki-hig-dil Jehovah la-asoth. 'Hath done,' 'will do' - both. So verse 9, and verse 11 of chapter 3, 'mighty men,' 'mighty ones' (ha-gib-borim). 'The heathen are taken in the net which they laid privily,' is the key to the Book of Joel - the first two chapters, as led of the Lord for His great day against Jerusalem - the third, as the re-action, on intercession by the Remnant, on themselves, so that all are brought in multitudes into the valley of decision.
- 30. This verse begins, I think, a distinct paragraph. The full blessing is unfolded first. It is a new sentence connected with the end of verse 31. Thus the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh, in its literal and last accomplishment, would be after Jehovah had settled His people in their land. The signs will be before. Its accomplishment, consequent upon the reception of the Remnant, would be on their partaking of the salvation as a sign of favour and blessing.
Note, both in Joel and Zechariah, the restoration and comfort of the Land is made to depend on a primary restoration of Judah and Jerusalem. 'The Land' is mentioned in Joel. The summons of the trumpet for alarm and gathering is in Zion, and then 'Fear not, O Land,' and then, 'Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, for,' etc.; then the promise of the Spirit. 'For in Mount Zion and Jerusalem shall be deliverance.' 'For behold in those days,' consequently the Prophet says, 'when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,' a primary thing, 'then I will gather all nations and plead'; compare verses 8, 16, 17. Accordingly in Psalm 126 we have 'When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion'; then 'Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the rivers in the south.' So I find in Zechariah this anticipative and instrumental restoration of Judah and Jerusalem, as in chapter 8; compare verses 13, 15, also chapters 10, 12, etc.
The same truth I find remarkably brought out in Simon Peter's sermon in the Acts, indeed in his two sermons. First in his address on this very prophecy of Joel, he showing indeed how the Spirit takes up in all accuracy, as must be, its former testimony. In the first instance he addresses himself to the 'Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,' and produces this prophecy of Joel as leading their minds to the point, in responsibility to which the Lord now led them. They are then addressed as 'Men of Israel' in respect of the general responsibility of the nation, and its state, by virtue of the death of Jesus. For, though spoken to as men of Judah and Jerusalem, these were Judah and the children of Israel, his companions, so that they were dealt with occasionally, provisionally, as Israel. In Acts 3 they are dealt with entirely as 'Men of Israel.' And it is not 'The Lord added to the Church daily those that were to be saved' (tous sozomenous) - the Remnant; compare the Septuagint - but then 'The priests, and captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees, come upon them,' i.e., the nation, in its representatives, rejected the resurrection, i.e., Jesus as the risen Lord. Hence all the sermon is entirely of this character. It is not a call to be baptised, but a promise, on the repentance of the nation, of the return of Jesus 'whom the heavens must receive till the times of the restitution of all things.' He speaks of the rejection of the Prophet of Moses' likeness, and addresses them as 'Children of the Prophets and of the covenant,' and God, having raised up Jesus, the Prophet spoken of by Moses (verses 22 and 26 are connected) 'sent Him to bless you, in turning every one of you away from their iniquities.' 'Turning away' - afterwards it shall be in power, not witness - 'ungodliness from Jacob.' But it was natural, 'every one of you.' Then came the nation's rejection in the representatives, the priests, captain of temple, etc., Satan having raised up the Sadducees to power, suitably, to reject the resurrection, having ever his angels ready and suited, when God's time comes. This was the nation's rejection of Jesus risen, as before in the flesh - their word to the Apostles, then the Apostles' resolution in faith. Their witness against them (v. 24). In verse 29, the testimony, then again, of the Holy Ghost to them (with them) - its agency amongst them in power - the inability of the chiefs, the Sadducees, to do anything - the Pharisee standing up with counsel - the declaration of the witness of them, and the Holy Ghost. Then Stephen's, whose agency was by the Holy Ghost, not apostolic witness, that they had always resisted the Holy Ghost, as their fathers, and so did now. Then the Church took its other character - death - heavenly - and association with Jesus, as the Church fully called out of the world, the Jews being then left in their order.
201 Joel 3
There is evidently a very wide and solemn judgment which does not come into the accounts of Matthew 24 and 25. We find it, to say nothing of details, in Isaiah 66, and in this chapter - a warrior judgment, general, universal in its character, but dealing with adversaries, nations, not individuals. There are those spared in Isaiah. This mainly relates to the Beast, and Gog, but then to the nations in possession of Immanuel's Land to the Euphrates. The submission of nations or kings, through fear, is not the individual, sessional judgment of Matthew 25 (Psalm 18); compare Psalm 78:65, though there anticipative. Matthew 25 is a sessional judgment, where the conduct of individuals is enquired into. In the very nations who may have submitted, and been spared as such, I suppose individuals may be judged, just as nations are called Christian now, and so far submit to Christ, but individuals are judged. Open enemies may be destroyed by the Lord coming in power.
It seems to me that this chapter is, in the Hebrew, a true division. First, there is a general statement that the ravages of the nations, prefigured by the insect-caused famine, are set aside by mercies, and the deliverance of God, closing in chapter 2:27. It is temporal deliverance. He removes the Northern army, the Land is not to fear, blessing is there on repentance, no more reproach of famine, etc. But this is not all. On the repentance of His people, and accompanying this intervention of Jehovah in favour of His people, when He returns to dwell among them, 'afterward' (akhare-ken, 'thereafter') He will pour out His Spirit. Verses 30-32 are also apart, describing the signs that accompany it, ushering in the day of the Lord, a day of judgment and terror, but in which the Remnant, called of the Lord, will be delivered. For the Lord will 'roar out of Zion,' but be the Hope of His people. Verses 28, 29 of chapter 2 (in the Hebrew, chapter 3:1, 2) are consequent on the Lord's intervention, introduced by their repentance, only the temporal deliverance is pursued to the end previously, to the end of verse 27.
202 I have noticed it already, in a measure, somewhere, but I turn again to this chapter, i.e., Joel 2 (in Hebrew, chapter 3, in part). The temporal answer, on the cry of repentance, closes with verse 27. Verses 30-32 (in Hebrew, chapter 3:3-5) come before the great and terrible day, and there is deliverance for those who call, and whom Jehovah shall call. The promise of the Spirit comes in as a supplement to what precedes, but evidently consequent on Jehovah's visiting His people. It is akhare-ken (thereafter), 'now,' in the application made by Peter. It is after the intervention of God in favour of His people. We know it had been rejected, still the little Remnant had, in only so much greater faithfulness, owned Him, and so, though not in a temporal kingdom and rest, got the blessing - the spiritual part. And indeed, at the end, it will be only a Remnant, only the rest of the prophecy will then be
The Assyrian is to be distinguished from Babylon. The Assyrian attacks the Land, and comes to nought. In Babylon, the people were in captivity. The Assyrian is therefore, properly, against the Jews or Israelites, as connected with God, not Christ and the Remnant. The first two chapters of Joel describe this army of the latter day come up into, and against the Land, and its wrath. There is more, i.e., as to the saints which I notice not here. Joel is all of what befalls the Land, specially in the last day. There is the alarm and the gathering.
Ezekiel 28 and 39 also fully describe this Northern army. He is noticed too in Micah 5:5. Ezekiel 31 also, I think, alludes to the same thing. In Isaiah 10 we have a very full account of the same power. In Isaiah 28:2, we have the same person, and in verse 11. All the following chapters of Isaiah, to the end of chapter 33, describe the same power, and its failure, etc., before Jerusalem, not chapter 34. The account of chapter 36, etc., is, of course, the type of it. I may remark, in passing here, that it would seem that in chapter 30:33, the Antichristian king also is introduced; the destruction, or furnace, being of all, and therefore, when mentioned, he also is introduced. I would read gam hi lammelek hocan, 'also' (i.e., not 'merely' is it there for the Assyrian) 'it for the king is,' or 'has been,' 'made ready,' 'prepared.' I do not think 'the king' is ever used for Assyria, but the Antichristian power, and gam hi (also it), etc., seems to me to bear out the supposition.
203 I believe the tidings out of the North and East in Daniel 11:44, to refer to the same Assyrian power. The North and the East are the Chaldeans and Persians. In Ezekiel it is the Northern army; so Joel. These seem clearly (perhaps Turkey, and then all the image save the Roman power) under the Russian power, therefore Northern, to be the great power against the Land, designated Assyrian.
We have one other prophecy (though there are other allusions) to notice definitely - Nahum, Nineveh and its burden. This is, though under a different aspect, yet in many respects the same power. It is not Egypt, and it is not Babylon, nor is it the saints nor the Jews. It is the corporate estate from which the Assyrian is manifested in the Land, as Antichrist is the firstborn of Babylon, and the chief of her strength. The two are shown in a passage, I have omitted to notice - Isaiah 14. And I note here that Assyria is mentioned last, though quite previous in its typical facts, because such was the order of the prophetic mind. The result, as stated in the chapter is remarkable. We may note as to Nineveh, as also of Assyria (therefore it begins, 'Woe to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim') that the ten tribes were that with which it had to do. The nations will be involved according to the proportion in which the testimony of God has been amongst them, and hence specially as brought into knowledge or responsibility of the covenant, and hence am-mim (the peoples) though not am-mi (My people) and further, as connected with the Jews or Israelites, hence the expression, which 'have not heard My fame, nor heard My glory.' Hence the typical importance of Jonah's mission to the Ninevites, yet they were not the Land (he ge) nor therefore the Apostasy, nor addressed from the Lord. However, the general testimony, putting the whole te-vel (habitable earth) under responsibility, is well known. Hence too it is, I suppose, stated that there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the am-mim, causing them to err. The goyim (nations) are all sifted. However they are involved in the general judgment as in Isaiah 14. But I doubt whether tes oikoumenes holes (of the whole world) (Revelation 16:14), is more than those included in our present enquiry. Isaiah 24 sets the general judgment plainly afloat in its current over the whole earth, as in verse 4, but there it is only 'languisheth.' See also Ezekiel, "Them that dwell," etc., "in the isles."
204 I have omitted here references to the Psalms. There the general reference is to the Gog and Magog invasion, which is properly the Jewish one. However, all the heathen are in the net.