BULLETIN SIXTY TWO
THE DEPTHS TO BE FOUND IN JOEL
In Joel 2:23, Keil gives grounds for adopting the textual possibility of having the translation of "the teacher of righteousness" instead of "former rain faithfully", They appear sure. This translation then makes deep meaning in the famous NT quoted passage in the book of Acts, from 2:28ff..
First the Messiah comes like a blessing of early rain, to refresh and bless the earth, spreading His wonders to as many as receive Him. Then as in Acts 2, comes the sending of the Holy Spirit, and of course, this event and not only its prediction.
But what of the intervening passage in Joel 2, from 2:24-27 ? There is a continuing sense of blessing, deliverance and this moves on to the drastic and heaving rebuking end of the course, not for Israel, not by any means, but for this world as it reaches impending judgment days for all its antagonism to God, to Israel in its disciplinary distress, to justice, to mercy.
What is the meaning of this concerning the coming in fluvial blessing of the Messiah as in 2:23 ? It appears that the Messiah being a source of profundity and ultimacy, for salvation and redemption, and the ONLY such source for man in the name of God, will come into His salvation, this feature. In 2:23 this Being appears, and flows into the picture as does the orderly rain, the very height of normalcy, through the depths of the plan of salvation: God incarnate. This moves as a feature presented in its continuance, and many are the biblical passages amplifying the nature of this blessing, its rejection by the nation of Israel and its final acceptance by many..
First, then, there is the time after the coming of Christ, from His nativity, and then that after it,till A.D. 70, some 74 years in all. Relative stability of social and national structure was present in this time, and many Jews found new citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, in an abundance of peace within and some lustre without, despite persecutions of some leaders. That is the real prosperity, and it could have and should have been for ALL Israel, but that as in Zechariah 12:10ff., has to wait until they all receive it!
In this way, prodigies of abundant prosperity are to be given to many until the finale, when the Lord operates drastically on the world and its flowers of evil, its anguished follies, dealing with many named nations in specified ways to rebuke them, as He also delivers what is then a largely converted Israel, 3:17, 3:21.
The fault of the nation Israel having been to kill their King, instead of finding Him and "dying daily" in faithfulness to His commands and kingdom, this as to remedy by receiving Him at last, is the key to the transformed blessing for Israel. How ? By its at last finding the Messiah as a nation! From them, He was murderously sent and paid (Micah 5:1-3), and to Him they repentantly go, and are paid for (Matthew 28:20). Whether for the remnant sooner, or the naton later, there is an abundance of blessing to signify, and this is done in 2:24ff..
For many however, the blessing lingered as they lingered, to the point that the Gentiles began to imagine that they could exploit the discipline that God gave to Israel, and use it to steal their land, raid their houses, make a practice of pogroms, kill some 6 and one half million Jews in riotous anti-Semitism and then make unholy demands of Israel in violation of the gift of Palestine to them in 1917, some nations coming jointly to annihilate it. Yet the aggressors had been offered and refused marvellous terms of settlement again and again, and had rejected these, while Israel was willing to receive them. God is well aware of this contempt and exploitation of the still seething anti-Semitism, enough of which is seen even in Australia, as you see prophetically noted in Isaiah 51:21-23, Zechariah 12:2, Jeremiah 30:16-24, 33:23-24.
Whether it be Egypt at the time of the Exodus, or for all time, as in Jeremiah, where this is in view, the menacing malice of many towards Israel (after all its mere presence BACK in its land, despite the fraud of the UN in rescinding the gift of Palestine to Israel as a homeland, and reducing the gift of the League of Nations as if it had never been made, is a challenge to infidelity, that is almost unbearable, like dipping someone's nose in vomit that escaped them), the result is the same. Israel HAS suffered, and now the pathway to blessings is opening before them, first in restoration to their land and then in the next movement, to their Lord. Discipline is HIS; but exploitation and hatred is from man, and receives its due come-uppance, the more surely when God is in pre-stated and absolute confrontation with these corrupt, unfair, odious practices against Israel.
The full force of the divine action when the time comes is seen in Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 66, Joel 3, Habakkuk 3, Micah 7, and the divine resumption with Israel is highlighted in Romans 11, when at a specific time that natiaon comes back to the two things given, its land and its Lord. These, assured from the start (Genesis 12, 17, 28), are kept to the finish, though what a delay has occurred, what a hiatus, for the last nearly 2000 years! God is just, merciful, especially magnificently faithful, utterly reliable, does not have a mind to be read by His enemies, but one the beauties and power of which He uses to help His people.
So the blessings for the faithful part of Israel, the remnant, and eventually for those also who belatedly return, are indeed rich, and the prelude to the national restoration is precisely the measure of the earlier time, when the apostles were themselves Jewish, even those of the Christian Church which was filled with thousands of Jews at the very first! At last, the whole work is done.
In a summary, at times paraphrase, then, let us seek to show the underlying message and sequence in Joel 2:20ff..
Let not then your land fear, for the locusts swarms are to be quite simply a thing of the past, those massive, zealously destructive varieties of horror. The land will be relieved of them, and in that they represent another army to distress you, this will be turned away with great loss, for your deliverance WILL come. This horrific rebuke will not last for ever.
Indeed, blessings are yet to come after the molestations due to your sins which are scarcely dew to your heart or land. You have indeed needed correction.
Yes, normalcy will return, and scenes of fruitfulness, indeed the former and latter rains will come in their due order, but notice the way this is put here (Joel 2:23), for WITH all these orderly and restorative blessings yet in their time to come (so do not even consider a feeling of hopelessness), there is also given like refreshing rain, the teacher of righteousness. Do you notice the construction, the way it is written, which bears and moves to this meaning!
In this way, there is a vast, multiple blessing to come, even including the Messiah. Yes and there is to be a period of great plenty yet to come.
After all this (Joel 2:28ff., cf. Acts 2:27ff.), there is to be a time in which the Lord will bring an incandescence of judgments on the earth, but you will not be obliterated with it. In fact, to each and all the cry will go out, CALL now on the name of the Lord (Joel 2:32), for that is the method of escape, the certainty of keeping (cf. Isaiah 2:12-22) and the very way of eternal salvation.
Indeed, you may be reminded that there will even come a time when a saved nation of Israel will be itself not like a desert but like dew in its testimony to this same Messiah (Micah 5:7ff., after reference to the Messiah being born in Bethlehem in Micah 5:1ff.).
Meanwhile (Joel 3), consider the end as this world ages (and it is to age), for the Lord will have many nations in a tumult of striving in the region of Israel, and vast will be the battle; the heavens themselves will shake (as in Haggai), and the Lord will reap, for all these things are rich in judgment on the one hand, and salvation on the other, for "the Lord will be a shelter for His people" (Joel 3:16), as for those who call upon the name of the Lord. Israel will not be abandoned nor will it sit in the hands of others, for "the Lord (will be) the strength of the children of Israel" Joel 3:17).
Whole nations will be spoiled in the outcome, but the Lord's (converted) people will be sustained in Jerusalem, near His birthplace in incarnation, and His (temporary) death place in Calvary and the site of His resurrection. "Israel will abide indefinitely, and Jerusalem from generation to generation" (cf. Genesis 17:7-8, 28, Psalm 72). Broader than Israel the nation is now the conglomerate of Messiah-ans, but not less. The two promises as in Micah 7, will be fulfilled, the Saviour and the site, and God will in all things have His way.
Neither to Egypt will this be granted, for it will be spoiled, nor to Edom, and the Lord will in fact "roar from Zion," as in Isaiah 66:14, 42:13-19! For long He has held His peace, but NOW He will act ("I will lay waste the mountains and hills, and dry up all the vegetation, "the Lord declares in an eminently practical and physical passage of judgment, but He will lead back Israel, blind as it becomes, and restore it.
There has been enough restraint, He indicates, and the time for action comes, the conditions now being met fully, both in Israel's conversion (Zechariah 12:10-31:1), and the world's saturation in the ways of Satan and his cohorts and false prophets which move to soil and spoil everything; but far from successful will these be, their power bases like a man thrust through, and their desolation determinate (cf. Daniel 9:27).