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Joel 2:18-32 – The Lord has Pity and Pours out His Spirit

This passage describes God’s gracious response considering the people’s repentance. God promises to restore to the people grain, wine, and oil – he will cause his people to be satisfied. The locust army will be drowned like that of Egypt in the Red Sea.

Instead of bringing locust-induced death God will give his people life – an abundance of rain at just the right times to cause an abundance of grain, wine and oil. In other words, God promises to “restore what the locusts had eaten”. If God puts you through a time of chastening, after you have learned your lesson, he will undo the chastening – he will restore the years that you have lost.

Joel 2:26-27 are a wonderful picture of sin forgiven: “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

Finally, the LORD promises to pour out his Spirit on all people – sons, daughters, old, young, slave and free. All of God’s people will be as prophets receiving God’s word. The language of the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood and fire and smoke is eschatological language. During all of this everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

How are we to understand all this? The sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood were signs in the heavens when Jesus died on the cross. At Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out on all the believers regardless of age, gender, or social status. All Christians have become prophets – receiving God’s word and speaking it to the nations.

Blood, fire and smoke on earth are classic descriptions of warfare. Ordinarily when cities are conquered the blood of the people is shed, the city burned with fire and smoke ascends from the conquered city. This is a classic description of a city under the judgment of God.

For us, Jesus experienced the warfare judgment of God as his blood was shed on the cross and was buried (the equivalent of a city being burned). Because of the cross (sun, moon, blood, fire and smoke) we receive the outpouring of the Spirit (Pentecost).

If we reject Christ, then there remains for us a Day of Judgment – a day of God’s sacking the world and creation’s disintegration which we will have to face. Only those for whom the Day of the LORD has already come at the Cross and are indwelled by the Spirit can stand on that day. Either the Day of the LORD has passed for us in Christ or is still in the future at his return.