Study of the Prophets #31: Joel (Cont.)

                    Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue

                       Study of the Prophets #31: Joel (Cont.)

Tonight we continue with Chapter 2 at verse 5-10:

With a noise like chariots they leap on the mountaintops, like the sound of a flaming fire consuming straw; like a mighty people arrayed for battle.

The locusts/armies will raise such noise as to rival that of chariots. But they will leap even to the tops of the mountains where the chariots are unable to go (Ibn Ezra; Radak). The noise of their eating will sound like a crackling flame consuming straw (Malbim). And their overall din will resemble that of an army poised for battle (Radak). Abarbanel expounds on this on a tac I submit is more in line with the prophetical scenario during the Day of the L-rd. He interprets this as depicting the fearsomeness of the Babylonian armies. Although he was speaking of the more immediate future, he speaks of an experienced army well prepared for battle. These descriptions of their movement may be easily applied to a combined military operation using all aspects of conventional and unconventional warfare.

 Peoples tremble before it; all faces become blackened. They run like mighty men; they scale the wall like men of war; everyone goes in his set way, and they do not corrupt their paths. A man does not press his fellow, each one walks his course; they fall upon the sword, but are not wounded. They stride in the city; they run on the wall; they ascend into the houses; they come through the windows like a thief. Before it the land trembles, the heavens quake; the sun and moon become blackened and the stars withdraw their shine.

The people tremble. Faces becoming blackened implies universal mourning taking place because they know that there is no way to overcome such an invasion. Another interpretation is that the invasion of locusts/armies will instill such fear in the people that their faces will become blackened (Rashi).  The locusts/armies do not break ranks or formation. Although both Russia and China do not have an efficient organizational structure, both countries are experimenting with various reform strategies to remedy the situation. China no longer has a force of mainly peasant recruits. Soldiers being recruited now are more educated, especially in the field of logistics. Russia is experimenting with a 3-month accelerated program to teach soldiers, regardless of their abilities, the basic skills of combat. Currently, soldiers are only required to remain in the service for one year with many supervisory officers and trainers complaining that their time is up before they learn anything. Still, it is the opinion of those who make the decisions on training that the soldiers will develop the remaining skills needed for their job over the following eight months of their tour.

Getting back to Joel’s description of the sounds of the invasion, the Russian Military Doctrine states that nuclear weapons may be used with conventional weapons in the event of a regional or large-scale war. Article 22 states that the Russian Federation can use nuclear weapons against any aggressor that threatens the country or its allies with nuclear weapons. It also states that nuclear weapons may be used against a conventional attack on Russia. As I previously mentioned, the modern battlefield no longer consists of conventional weaponry. Therefore, the sounds of jets, bombs, tanks, artillery, and even nuclear devices will certainly cause a lot of noise, including fires and the sounds of people in panic.

The next statement is ominous; “They shall not be wounded” In other words, it is useless to try any or all means to prevent the invasion and destruction.

The locusts/armies will rush upon the towns, breaking through any resistance at its fortifications and will scale the walls. Generally, when taking a town, an army divides into separate units, each one assigned a specific task and route of invasion, as well as a secondary path around the defenders if necessary. The invasion of locusts and the subsequent invasion of armies will do the same. We can easily understand this description with our experiences of watching urban warfare on our televisions and computers. We must remember that this locust invasion was decreed by G-d and the locusts were destined to wreak complete devastation.

They stride in the city; they run on the wall; they ascend into the houses; they come through the windows like a thief.

The locusts stride incessantly with their long legs, with barely a rest. Even houses that were built high to resist the enemy will not be safe from attack. Neither are the locusts deterred by doors or gates, for they enter like thieves through windows. Interestingly, Targum Yosanan (תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל), otherwise referred to as Targum Yonasan/Yonatan, is the official eastern Babylonian targum to the Prophets (around 50BCE) It is written in Aramaic.  A targum is (Bible) an Aramaic translation, usually in the form of an expanded paraphrase, of various books or sections of the Old Testament The Targum Yosanan explains one of the terms used in this passage to have come from a root word meaning “they are armed.” In the context of the coming Day of the L-rd, this is incredibly interesting, and accurate.

“Before it the land trembles, the heavens quake; the sun and moon become blackened and the stars withdraw their shine.”

– Poetical expressions, to point out universal consternation and distress. The earth quaked to see itself deprived of its verdure; the heavens trembled to find themselves deprived of their light. The coming plague/invasion will make it seem as if all creation ceased to function (Radak). The massive swarms (or smoke/fallout) will block the light of the sun, moon, and even the stars. This informs us that the darkness will persist day into night, the length of time not provided.  Others explain this verse to refer to the astrological influence of the heavenly bodies on events in this world. These forces will be harnessed to bring punishment upon Israel (Abarbanel). Alternatively, their natural effect will be totally negated, as the destruction will be the work of G-d (Malbim).

Verses 11: “HaShem has emitted his voice before [the advent of] His army, for His camp is very numerous, for those who carry out His word are mighty. For the day of HaShem [Day of the L-rd] is great and very awesome; who will be able to bear it?”

HaShem has announced through His prophets of the coming of the army of locusts. Armies in order to arouse the people to repent. He has proclaimed that the hosts He has employed to carry our His will is mighty and numerous and that no one will be able to withstand the onslaught. According to Alshich, this verse offers three reasons HaShem sent the prophets to forewarn the nation of the coming calamity. The first is out of compassion for the large number s of His nation who will be affected. Secondly, in honor of the truly righteous of His people, whose merit provides a measure of protection for the entire generation. Thirdly, the harshness of the punishment would be impossible for anyone to endure without previous warning. During the future Day of the L-rd, this will occur during the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. There will be 144,000 of G-d’s people sealed to serve Him throughout this time and He will protect them. There is a plethora of theories about what is going to happen at this time including those who believe that the Rapture will occur at this point. Time will tell. If we are considered true believers (Spiritual Israel) in G-d’s eyes, it matters not when the Rapture occurs. We must concentrate on our spiritual condition while it is still day.

Verses 12-14: “Even now-the word of HaShem-return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with lamentation. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to HaShem your G-d, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and He relents of evil. Whoever knows, let him repent and regret, and it will leave a blessing behind it, for a meal- offering and libation to HaShem your G-d.”

In His undying love for His people and anyone who will sincerely repent, HaShem is calling. Even in the midst of the invasion of locusts/armies for the sins of the nation, their wickedness, rebellion, arrogance, and idolatry, He is willing to forgive and save them. We can almost feel the grieving and longing heart of G-d as He watches a punishment that He is using to try and get people to repent and turn back to Him take place. He is beseeching the people to fast, pray, repent, and ask His forgiveness. The last 3 ½ years are a last chance for people to choose their destinies through free-will.  He calls on the people to rend their hearts and not offer superficial acts of righteousness. He calls them to rend their hearts totally to eradicate the evil that has encircled them and made them numb to G-d’s commands and rulings; to strengthen themselves to bear the anguish they may endure when they abandon their ways to which they have become accustomed.

He will surely retract the plague/invasion if they will only return to Him. Because He is slow to anger, He is yet giving people time to repent and embrace Him and His Torah. He is gracious and relents of evil if people repent with a humble heart in total submission. The statement “whoever knows…” refers to those who knows they have sinned. If they would /will only repent, HaShem will bless them after the punishment takes place. In the case of the locusts, G-d would/will bestow crops due to their repentance. Even if only individuals repent, it will still evoke a measure of G-d’s mercy and allow some crops to be left untouched. Perhaps in the context of the future, food and shelter will remain for those who are obedient and flee to Petra. Then there will be enough produce to bring meal-offerings and libations to HaShem. When Antiochus IV invades the glorious land (Israel), (Daniel 8:9, 11:41) … the land of Edom, Moab, and Ammon will escape out of his hand (Daniel 11:41). This is modern day Jordan. This is a picture of the same thing which will happen when the Anti-Messiah invades and captures Jerusalem during the Tribulation (Revelation 13:5). The believers in Yahshua will flee into the land of Edom to a place called Petra where they will be protected by G-d during the last 3 1/2 years when the Anti-Messiah will control Israel (Matthew 24:15, Revelation 12:6,14, Isaiah 16:1-5, 42:10-11).

The believers in Yahshua (Revelation 12:17) who are the outcasts spoken of in (Isaiah 16:3-4), are dwelling in Moab (Jordan) during this time being protected from the extortioner (the Anti-Messiah) (Isaiah 16:4). The triumph and reign of Yahshua coming back to the earth to reign for 1,000 years and defeat the Anti-Messiah is seen in (Isaiah 16:5.

Sela (Isaiah 16:1) is modern day Petra in Jordan. Sela means rock. Kedar (Isaiah 42:11) are the Bedouins who are “the inhabitants of the rock” in (Isaiah 42:11). Petra is in the wilderness (Isaiah 42:11) which Yahshua referred to in (Matthew 24:15).

The believers at Sela (Isaiah 16:1), which means “Rock” (Strong’s Hebrew Concordance #5554), are hidden (Isaiah 16:3) from the spoiler, extortioner (Isaiah 16:4), which is the Anti-Messiah, during the tribulation (Revelation 12:6,14).

  1. Another name for the tribulation is — “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:5-7).
  2. During the time of trouble (the tribulation), Psalm 27:5 says “In the time of trouble … you shall hide me … upon a rock”
  3. The Anti-Messiah coming to destroy the people at Petra and their defeat is seen in (Revelation 12:15-16 = Psalm 27:2.

Yahshua will pass through Edom at his 2nd coming to show those who have fled that He has returned!

Next week we will continue with Chapter 2 verse 15 where we will see a change in focus in Joel’s prophecy.

Shalom v’brachas; shalu shalom Yerushalayim,

Rabbi Tamah Davis