Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Study of the Prophets #33: Joel (Cont.)
After all of the bad news about the invasion on Jerusalem due to her sins, we now turn to a description of G-d’s mercy and unmerited kindness (chesed) towards His people. We begin with Chapter 2:18; “Then HaShem will take up the cause of His land and take pity on His people. HaShem will reply and say to His people:’ Behold, I am sending you the grain and the wine and the oil, and you will be sated from it, and I will no longer make you a disgrace among the nations. I will distance the northern one from you and I will banish it to an arid and desolate land, its face to the Eastern Sea and its rear to the Western Sea; its foul odor will ascend, and the stench will go out, for it has done great [evil].”
If the people will only repent, G-d will take action immediately to serve the needs of His land and His people (Mahari Kara). He will champion His land zealously because the land itself has done no wrong to warrant the devastation of the invading swarms. To save His nation however, He will have to employ His attribute of mercy and chesed as previously mentioned, because the devastation is the result of the peoples’ rebellion/sins. HaShem continues to describe all of the blessings He will provide IF the people will humble themselves and repent. Not only will he provide for their immediate needs, but the people will be satisfied, indicating HaShem’s provisions will be more than enough to satisfy their immediate needs. Furthermore, the great invasive forces, locusts during the time of Joel and invading forces in the future, will be driven away from Jerusalem where they will die with the resulting stench invading the nostrils of all who are nearby (Radak). The invader has spread great destruction throughout the land and will now be destroyed. There were certainly those who repented after this disaster, just as there will be those who repent in the future with the invasion of the invading forces. Not necessarily everyone, but there will be some precious souls who will repent and turn to G-d. We can know this because of the verses in this prophecy that we will address in a moment. Although masses will not turn to G-d evidenced by the numerous scriptures that specifically states there will only be a remnant that will be saved (Rom. 9:27; Isaiah 10:22), every soul who turns to G-d is as precious as any other. This truth is validated by Yahshua’s willingness to die on the execution stake that every man might be saved (2 Cor. 5:15; Rom. 11:14; 1 Cor. 9:22).
Verse 23-25: “Children of Zion, exult and be glad with HaShem your G-d, for He has given you a teacher for righteousness, and He has brought down the rain for you-the early rain and the late rain-in the first [month]. The granaries will be filled with grain, and the vats will overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the abundant-locust, the chewing locust and the demolishing -locust and the cutting-locust-My great army that I sent among you-consumed. “
The Sages interpret these verses as referring to the times of the Messiah. Once the people have repented, they will no longer have anything to fear. This is an important lesson for those who have already repented and are walking with G-d through His Torah. HaShem will replace the devastation with plenty, giving the repentant cause for joy and celebration instead of mourning. The animals that previously cried out in hunger will now have nothing to fear, for the dwelling places in the wilderness will abound with vegetation and the trees will produce their fruits once again. See how our G-d provides for all of His creation!
An interesting phenomenon in Joel’s time is related to the timing of the rain. Normally, if no rain has fallen in Israel by the month of Nissan, all supplication for rain stops, because it is too late for the water to be of any benefit. However, in the time of Joel, the first rain did not arrive until the first of Nissan, after which, the prophet instructed the people to go out and plant their crops. They planted on the send, third, and fourth of the month. And a second shower fell on the fifth. Miraculously, the land borne fruit in this short time, and the Omer offering-which is usually the product of six months of growth- was brought in the Temple in its proper time, the 16th of Nissan (Radak, citing Tannis 5a). Such an untimely change in the rainy season will show the people that it is only possible through HaShem’s kindness and mercy.
HaShem promises that the granaries will not only be filled, but will overflow. Once the people repent, not only does HaShem promise that there will be no more devastation from the locusts/invading armies, but He will repay the people for the damage that was the result of their sins ion the first place! The Sages cite this verse as an example of the practice of the prophets-learned from Moshe as dictated by Adonai- to follow harsh words of rebuke with reassurances of G-d’s mercy. G-d will receive glory and honor through the praises of His people for his kindness and mercy, including the fact that He will replace in one year the produce missing from four years of famine and provide the entire crop in the month of Nissan (Radak).
We close this chapter with words of continued reassurance out of a love that humans cannot comprehend in this life: “And you will eat, eating and being satisfied, and you will praise the Name of HaShem your G-d Who has acted wondrously with you; and My people will not be ashamed evermore. Then you will know that in the midst of Israel am I, and that I am HaShem your G-d, there is none other; and My people will not be ashamed evermore.”
Not only will there be an abundance of provisions, but the crops will also be blessed within their bodies, and they will be satisfied with small quantities of food (Alshich; Malbim). HaShem will be praised for the wondrous nature of His beneficence. The replacement of four years of famine in only one month is reiterated with replacement in the month of Nissan, the month of Pesach. According to Alshich, HaShem will also be exulted for bringing the plague of the locusts/armies that brought the people to repentance in the first place. This is similar to our own tests/punishments/trials; after which we are often able to see why we had to go through them. Furthermore, we thank G-d for the deliverance once we are through them and the blessings that result, even at times when we may not have responded appropriately.
HaShem promises that His people will never again suffer humiliation among the nations and no longer need they be ashamed of the sins that caused the punishment, because G-d will remove them as far as the east is from the west (Isaiah 43:25; Psalms 103:12). Finally, the people will clearly recognize that HaShem alone is their/our G-d. Accordingly, the people will never again be ashamed since they will now be certain of His Presence among them/us. According to Alshich, you will know that My Presence is actually in your midst, i.e., that the body of a true believer (Jew according to Romans 2-3) is not a barrier to the Divine Presence as long as he achieves his potential for sanctity. Thus, your bodies will be satiated miraculously from minute amounts of food, due to My Presence within them. [You will also comprehend in retrospect that the punishment you endured was in reality a source of great benefit], and you will thereby recognize that I am both HaShem-the dispenser of Mercy- and Elohim- the dispenser of Justice, and there is no other source for either of these Divine attributes. Finally, the quality of life you will enjoy at this time will allow you to glimpse the lofty level of existence that will be attained with the ultimate redemption, and thereby you will perceive with great clarity that one the Messianic era arrives you will never again be ashamed.
The statement that we will be able to get a glimpse of the lofty level of existence in Heaven is one in which I disagree because of Yahshua’s statement in 1 Cor. 2:9. However, perhaps we may experience a “preview of coming attractions” of sorts as we serve with the Messiah during the Millennial Kingdom. Although the bodies of those who G-d determines will be saved pass into the next world before this time will rest until the first resurrection, their souls will be actively experiencing fellowship with HaShem until the resurrected body and the soul are reunited into a glorified body. Furthermore, those previously raptured will accompany Yahshua to earth for the Millennial reign and will experience His rule as is ministers (Rev. 19:14). Debate on this chain of events is beyond the scope of this study. Suffice it to say that there are many theories on this phase of G-d’s plan and that we must wait to see exactly how it will play out. The exact sequence of events is not an issue for the true believer who knows G-d has everything under control and will provide for those who love Him according to the Seven-Fold witness in Revelation and John chapter 14; both definitions of a true believer as states by Yahshua Himself.
“And it will happen after this, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy; your elders will dream [prophetic] dreams, and your young men will see visions. Even also upon the slaves and upon the maidservants in those days I will pour out My spirit.”
This chapter begins a new phase of Joel’s prophecy in which he foretells of the Messianic era in the End of Days (Rashi). In the final verse of the previous chapter, he described how the Jewish people will recognize the Presence of HaShem in their midst. He now depicts in the End of Days that recognition will increase to a level that will preclude further sin (Radak). In the first three verses he speaks in the Name of HaShem, referring to G-d in the first person.
“And it will happen after this.” The following shall occur in the End of Days in the time of the Messiah (Rashi; Radak). This is proof that those who contend that people have visions from G-d and legitimately prophecy under G-d’s direction, are in error. The time is not yet come! People who claim to prophecy and have visions are not prophesying or having visions according to the Spirit of G-d. We must take great care to guard our hearts and minds from the spirit of HaSatan.
“That I will pour our My Spirit upon all flesh.” I will bestow upon all flesh a spirit of wisdom and understanding as well as fear of G-d (Radak), along with all the spiritual qualities that accompany these attributes (Malbim). This is to say that all flesh that denotes those who have within them hearts of flesh that are receptive to the Presence of HaShem.
“And your sons and daughters will prophecy….” When My spirit will pervade the consciousness of mankind, the gift of prophecy will descend upon all who are qualified to receive it, each according to his level (Radak). This is in direct contradiction to those who claim to be prophets and prophetesses of G-d in this era. We must learn to discern and remain vigilant against those who are under the influence of the Adversary!
Your sons and daughters who will be born in that era will be so infused with the glory of My Presence that they will attain the highest level of prophecy. Your elders, on the other hand, who will have reached maturity prior to the redemption, will be limited to the experience of prophetic dreams. Above the level of such dreams but still below full prophecy is the intermediate degree of prophetic visions. These will be achieved by your youth, who will be born before the redemption but will reach adulthood during the Messianic era (Malbim). By this we learn that G-d will have many witness for Him during this time including those who have come with Him to establish His Millennial reign. This also verifies that there will be people who live through the Tribulation, given another chance to repent before it is too late. Again, we see the extended Attributes of Mercy, Unmerited kindness, and love before His final Judgement and exercise of Justice.
“Even also upon the slaves…” Even those non-Jews who are servants and maidservants will be elevated by the spirit of holiness that HaShem will bestow upon the Land.
Next week we will examine the wonders HaShem will set before the coming of the Day of the L-rd and beyond.
Rabbi Tamah Davis