When the LORD’s arrival is bad news
God comes, earth trembles1
Jerusalem, blow that ram’s horn now.
Sound the alarm from Jerusalem’s Temple hill.
People of the world,
It’s time to start trembling.
The Day of the LORD has finally come.
As the storm clouds approach.
They swallow the hills in darkness.
Like night on the move, invaders approach,
And the hills disappear into ink.
The world has never seen an army like this.
And it’ll never see it again.
3They cut a trail with fire,
And leave it burning when they go.
They come to this beautiful land,
A garden of Eden,
And they burn this land to death.
They let nothing survive. They kill it all.
Soldiers big as horses4
Their soldiers look as big as horses.
They attack in a massive stampede.
As hills crackle like burning grass.
This enormous army has come to fight.
6People in their path tremble.
Color drains out of their faces.
7The army attacks like professional soldiers,
Scaling walls like they’ve mastered their trade.
Each soldier sticks to his line of attack.
No one wavers to the left or the right.
8These warriors don’t bump one another.
They follow their routes of attack.
They charge through defenses no matter what.
No weapon will turn them around.
9They charge into the cities,
Pour over the walls,
And break into the houses,
Like thieves through a window.
10When they come, the ground shakes.
The sky trembles
As the sun and mood fade to black
And stars go into hiding.
11The LORD commands an army
With too many soldiers to count.
It’s a fitting army for the Day of the LORD,
On this great, unstoppable, terrible day.
Come back before it’s too late12
It’s not too late, the LORD says.
Come back to me
With all your heart,
With fasting, crying, and sorrow.
Open your hearts instead.
Go back to the LORD. He’s your God.
He’s kind and full of mercy.
He’s slow to get angry.
His love won’t quit.
And the last thing he wants to do is punish.
The LORD might stop the attack,
And turn the army about-face.
He might even send you a blessing.
Maybe then you’d again have grain and wine
For an offering to give to your God.
15Jerusalem, blow that ram’s horn now.
Order the people to fast.
Call a solemn meeting for serious business.
16Get the people together.
Have them go through the purification rituals.
Bring all the people.
Old, young, and the newborn babies.
Bring honeymooners back from their love nests.
17From the Temple courtyard to the altar,
Let priests cry out to God:
“Please LORD, spare your people.
Don’t let your people become a joke to the world,
Mocked by nations everywhere.
Don’t leave your people asking,
‘Where is our God when we need him?’”
When God shows compassion for the Jews18
The LORD heard their prayer.
He pitied the people for what they had suffered.
So, he showed them compassion.
“I’m giving you grain, fresh from the field,
Wine, still sweet from the vineyard,
And olive oil just harvested from the orchard.
Once again, you’ll have all you need.
Never again will I let the world mock you.
They’ll never get an insult to stick.
20When an army attacks from the north
I’ll shove them into desert
Far from you and your homes.
Their bodies will rot in the badlands,
And stink from desert to sea.
For the LORD is powerful enough
To do something this wonderful for you.
21There’s no need for the land to grow anxious.
Soil can relax and celebrate.
For the LORD will do something great.
22No need for animals to grow frightened.
Grazing fields will grow green,
Trees will produce fruit.
Fig orchards and vineyards will flourish,
Loaded with figs and grapes.
23Jerusalem’s children, it’s time to cheer.
Celebrate the LORD as your God.
He’s showing his kindness in the springtime rain,
And in the autumn, as he has done before.
24Grain will pile high on your threshing floors.
Wine and olive oil will fill your jars.
God returns what the Jews lost25
I’ll pay you back for what you lost
In those years of the locust:
Cutters, hoppers, and swarming destroyers.
This is the army I sent.
You’ll call out the name of the LORD your God
And thank him for treating you so well.
You’re my people again,
And you won’t be ashamed anymore.
27When I’ve done this for you, you’ll see that I’m with you.
And you’ll know that the LORD alone is your God.
I’ll never again let nations insult and shame you.
God shares his Spirit with everyone28
When I’ve finished with this,
I’ll pour my Spirit into everyone.
Sons and daughters will speak as prophets.
Older men will dream as prophets.
And young men will see visions as prophets.
Men and women alike.
30Before the terrifying Day of the LORD’s coming,
I’ll send miraculous signals in the sky and the earth:
Blood and fire and columns of smoke.
31The sun goes dark,
The moon reflects red.
Then the terrifying Day of the LORD.
Some Jews survive the slaughter32I’ll spare everyone devoted to the LORD. Jerusalem will have some survivors. The LORD promised it. Survivors on this sacred hill will include some of his chosen people, the Israelites.
Joel gives no solid clue who the invaders were. See note for 1:1. Many scholars, perhaps most, seem to favor the Babylonian invasion of Judah in 586 BC. Those invaders from what is now Iraq levelled Jerusalem—one of only two times in history this has happened. Romans did it again in AD 70, crushing a Jewish revolt for independence.
Fasting is sometimes called “self-denial.” Instead of eating, people are encouraged to pray and to confess the sins they’ve committed.
Initially, purification involved at least washing clothes and not having sexual intercourse (Exodus 19:15). Later, purification rituals included a waiting period, a ritual bath, and a sacrificial offering (Leviticus 15).
Again, there’s not hint of where to put this on the timeline. Is it God suggesting he’ll change his mind when Assyrians or Babylonians attack, and turn them away? This section of God showing compassion might fit best after Babylon’s invasion in 586 BC. Jewish survivors of the war were deported. But Persians based in what is now Iraq freed them to go home 50 years later, to rebuild Jerusalem and the nation.
Egypt attacked from the south. Most other nations in the north and the east attacked from the north. It was harder to attack from any other direction because Israel was surrounded by barriers: Egypt to the south, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and the Arabian Desert to the east. So, invaders from what is now Iraq and Iran—Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians—usually followed the Euphrates River northwest. Then they dropped south into Israel, following either the coastal region water sources or oases and wells on the ridge of the deep deserts of Iraq and Syria.
Literally from the western sea to the eastern sea, likely the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea.
Peter quotes 2:28-32 in his fiery Jerusalem speech a few weeks after the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:16-21). This speech generated over 3,000 converts, launching the Christian movement. This became initially a new branch of the Jewish faith—Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah the prophets predicted would come. The first followers of Jesus were Jews.
Deuteronomy 4:27; Obadiah 1:17.
The “sacred hill” is Mount Zion. That’s an endearing nickname for Jerusalem and for the ridgetop on which the city is built, above the Kidron Valley, beside the Mount of Olives ridge.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.