Bible Commentary

Joel 2

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

<< Joel 1 | Joel 2 | Joel 3 >>
(Read all of Joel 2)

Verse 1

[1] Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

Blow ye — The prophet continues his exhortation to the priests, who were appointed to summon the solemn assemblies.

Verse 2

[2] A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

A day of darkness — A time of exceeding great troubles and calamities. And this passage may well allude to the day of judgment, and the calamities which precede that day.

As the morning — As the morning spreads itself over all the hemisphere and first upon the high mountains, so shall the approaching calamities overspread this people.

A great people — This seems more directly to intend the Babylonians.

Verse 3

[3] A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

A fire — The Chaldeans, as a fire shall utterly consume all things.

Behind them — What is left behind is as burnt with a flame.

As Eden — Fruitful and pleasant.

Verse 6

[6] Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

Blackness — Such as is the colour of dead men, or the dark paleness of men frightened into swoons.

Verse 7

[7] They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

Their ranks — This skill in ordering and the steadiness in keeping under, exactly like trained soldiers, foretells the terror and strength of both the armies signified by these locusts, and of the locusts themselves.

Verse 8

[8] Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

The sword — The sword shall not be a weapon to destroy them; literally verified in the locusts, and verified in the strange preservations in the most desperate adventures made by the Assyrians or Babylonians.

Verse 9

[9] They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

Runs to and fro — This seems not proper to these insects, but it well suits with soldiers, that conquer a city and search all places for plunder.

Run upon the wall — To clear the wall of all the besieged.

The houses — Either forsaken by the inhabitants, or defended by such as are in them.

Like a thief — Suddenly, unexpectedly, to spoil if not to kill.

Verse 10

[10] The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

The earth — A divine hyperbole. But this also may have a reference to the great day.

Verse 11

[11] And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Utter his voice — Summon them in and encourage them as a general doth his soldiers.

His army — Of locusts and insects, and of Chaldeans signified by these.

Verse 13

[13] And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

And repenteth him — He turneth from executing the fierceness of his wrath.

Verse 14

[14] Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

He will return — God doth not move from one place to another; but when he withholds his blessings, he is said to withdraw himself. And so when he gives out his blessing, he is said to return.

And leave a blessing behind him — Cause the locusts to depart before they have eaten up all that is in the land.

Verse 16

[16] Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

The children — Though they understand little what is done, yet their cities ascend, and God with pity looks on their tears.

These that suck — Their cries and tears may perhaps move the congregation to more earnest supplication to God for mercy. So the Ninevites, Jonah 3:7,8.

The bridegroom — Let the new married man leave the mirth of the nuptials and afflict himself with the rest.

Verse 17

[17] Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?

The porch — That stately porch built by Solomon, 1 Kings 6:3.

The altar — The altar of burnt-offering, which stood at some distance from this porch, and here are the priests commanded to stand, fasting and praying, whence they might be heard and seen by the people in the next court, in which the people were wont to pray.

To reproach — Famine, though by locusts is a reproach to this thine heritage; it will be greater reproach to be slaves to the nations signified by the locusts, therefore in mercy deliver us from both one and the other.

Verse 20

[20] But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.

The northern army — That part of the locusts which are toward the north.

With his face — The van of this army shall be driven into the dead sea, east of Jerusalem.

The hinder part — The rear of this army shall be driven into the west sea.

His stink — The stench of these locusts destroying and lying putrified on the face of the earth, or the corpses of the Assyrians slain and unburied.

Verse 22

[22] Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.

Their strength — Bring forth as much as they are able to stand under.

Verse 23

[23] Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

The former rain — The autumn rain which is needful to mellow the earth and fit it to receive the corn.

The latter rain — Needful to bring forward and ripen the fruits, accounted the latter rain because these husbandmen and vine-dressers reckoned from seed time to spring and harvest.

The first month — That is, our March.

Verse 24

[24] And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.

The fats — The vessels into which the liquor ran out of the press.

Verse 25

[25] And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

Restore — Make up to you.

Verse 26

[26] And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Wondrously — In one year giving as much as the locusts wasted in the years foregoing.

Ashamed — Neither disappointed of your hopes, nor necessitated to seek relief among the heathen.

Verse 28

[28] And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Afterward — After the return out of Babylon, after the various troubles and salvations by which these may know that I am the Lord.

I will pour — In extraordinary gifts on the first preachers of the gospel, and in various graces to all believers.

Upon all flesh — Before these gifts were confined to one particular nation; but now they shall be enlarged to all nations, and all that believe.

Shall prophesy — This was in part fulfilled according to the letter in the first days of the gospel; but the promise means farther, by pouring out of the spirit on your sons and your daughters, they shall have as full a knowledge of the mysteries of God's law, as prophets before time had.

Shalt dream dreams — This also was literally fulfilled in the apostles days. But it may mean farther, the knowledge of God and his will, shall abound among all ranks, sexes and ages in the Messiah's days, and not only equal, but surpass all that formerly was by prophesy, dreams, or visions.

Verse 29

[29] And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

My spirit — Of adoption and sanctification.

Verse 30

[30] And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

Wonders — They who read what historians report of these times, will see this fulfilled in the very letter.

Blood — Possibly eruption of blood, as some fountains have been reported to have run with blood, prefiguring the great effusion of blood by the sword, and wars following.

Fire — Either breaking out of the earth, or lightning in the air.

Verse 31

[31] The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

The sun — Having mentioned the prodigies which were to be wrought on earth, he now specifies what shall be done in heaven.

The terrible day — The unholy day of the destruction of Jerusalem; typifying the day of judgment.

Verse 32

[32] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Whosoever shall call — Who hearing the gospel repents and believes in Christ.

Delivered — Either from those outward afflictions, or which is infinitely better from eternal miseries, which will swallow up the unbelieving world; "and it will aggravate the ruin of those who perish, that they might have been saved on such easy terms." Is it then easy for a non-elect to repent and believe? May he not as easily pull the sun out of the firmament? In mount Zion - In the true church typified by Zion.

Jerusalem — In mystical Jerusalem, the church and the city of the Messiah.

Deliverance — Temporal and eternal.

Shall call — To believe in Christ, and by him to wait for eternal life.

<< Joel 1 | Joel 2 | Joel 3 >>