In the first chapter of the Book of Joel, Joel asserts that his prophecies will be fulfilled in this day and generation. Though Joel makes a despairing appeal to the ecclesiastical leaders of our day to repent and intercede with God for Israel, he still records their failure to listen. The prophet then calls upon God for help. Likewise, the failure of the ministers and the priests to warn the people of the coming of the Great Day of the Lord finds the nation wholly unprepared for the events that now follow.

The opening scene of the second chapter begins with the blowing of the trumpet in Zion: “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble” (Joel 2:1). The Hebrew word “shofar” ­translated “trumpet” is used in the Old Testament when this instrument was to be blown to warn the people of war, or to gather them to the solemn assembly. Joel does not use it here to indicate a peaceful gathering, but he speaks of it as a shout of warning to arouse His Kingdom (His Holy Mountain) Israel. The inhabitants of the land are told to tremble, or, as the Hebrew word ragaz means “­be angry and troubled”. This alarm is sounded in Zion. Do not confuse Zion with Jerusalem. The former means fortress; the latter “possession of peace”. Zion is the place of defence, the seat of the government and legal activities of His Nation Israel. “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6).

Jerusalem represents the ecclesiastical activities. In vain has Joel appealed to the ecclesiastical leaders, while they still had the power, to intercede with God for His people in order to avert the dis­aster. Peace having passed away, the conditions are now beyond the control of the ministers and priests. It is too late for them to act and have God turn aside the troubles. The call to arms is heard in Israel. Zion, the fortress, the stronghold of Israel, is aroused. Throughout the whole nation, His Holy Mountain, the people are angry and troubled.

Joel states the Day of the Lord is about to begin, its turmoil is near, and the people are unprepared. Briefly, he describes this day as a time of darkness and gloom, like a day of clouds and thick darkness. Jeremiah, prophesying of this same period, refers to it as a time of fear, not of peace, when a voice of trembling is heard. Zephaniah calls it a day of wrath, trouble, and distress – a day of destruction and desolation; a day of war and slaughter – a time when gold and silver will be worthless to deliver a man from his troubles.

Ezekiel also refers to this day as a time of great distress and perplexity. James says the rich will howl for the misery that will come upon them.

Jesus said, “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” The people behold a period confronting them which hath not been ever since the beginning of the world to this same time, or ever shall be again, and the nation is suddenly aroused from her spiritual apathy. (Courtesy “Joel’s Prophetic Message and Warning”)

Written by Howard B. Rand