Joel Chapter 2
God spoke through the prophet Joel to deliver a message of impending judgment to His Chosen People. Chapter 2 opens with a shofar blast, which warned Israel of an army coming. In part 2 of our 3-part series on Joel, Chris describes this warning as a prophecy of both the Babylonian invasion and the future battle of the Tribulation.
Despite the devastation Israel would face, there was hope. Yes, God had to judge His people. But He never abandoned them. In fact, He was jealous for His people, calling them to return to Him. Even in judgment, God made a way for His people to return to Him. He commanded true repentance and full devotion to Himself—a model for us to follow today too.
If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can catch up here.
Steve Conover: I'd like to welcome you to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka, and we're so glad you're with us. Everything related to today's program, every previous episode, they can all be found at foiradio.org. It's there you can find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East, and you can support our ministry there by clicking on the donate button and help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Again, visit us at foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, a few weeks ago we started a series on the prophet Joel. We took a little bit of a hiatus, but we're coming back in now. It's a three-part series. We already did part one where we looked at Joel Chapter 1, but today we're going to look at Joel Chapter 2. We're going to continue our discussion on the Day of the Lord. What does that phrase mean that Joel likes to use? And also what's wrapped up in that phrase, the Day of the Lord? It's amazing, it's not just something associated with judgment, but also something associated with repentance as well. So I hope that you stick around as we look at Joel Chapter 2.
Steve Conover: We're looking forward to getting back in the Word, but first in the news, Holocaust denial is on the rise on social media platforms where young adults get the majority of their information. A recent study found that 19% of Holocaust-related content on Twitter promotes Holocaust denial and distortion, 17% on TikTok, 8% on Facebook, and 3% on Instagram.
Chris Katulka: Steve, I actually found this from our news that we like to do on Facebook and promote on YouTube, our video news. And it actually all came from the fact that the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, recently denied the Holocaust to Leslie Stahl from 60 Minutes. And it sent me down a path to look into why he would deny the Holocaust, which doesn't surprise me. But I started digging more into Holocaust denial, and there was a study that was recently done on how much Holocaust denial is popping up on social media. And listen, we need to ensure that the truth about the Holocaust is being taught, that it's being taught in our school curriculum, yes, our school curriculum, that it's being taught in our universities, and yes, even our local churches. If we don't speak about the Holocaust today, then tomorrow, fiction will become fact and the Holocaust will become a distant memory. Let's make sure that that doesn't happen.
Chris Katulka: We're continuing our series on the Book of Joel, a prophetic book full of both Israel's history and Israel's prophetic hope. Now, we started Joel a few weeks ago where we looked at Chapter 1, and what we saw in Chapter 1 was that God was using Joel to spiritually wake up the Jewish people. He did this by using Israel's history as a preview of what's to come because of their spiritual slumber. God reminded his people of a great swarm of locusts that at one point devastated their crops. And he compared it to a future swarm of locusts that will do even more harm, but this time, these future locusts weren't the insects, they were actually a great army of people who would devastate the land of Israel. Now, I personally tend to think that the great army that Joel is talking about is the Babylonian army who would destroy the temple and Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Scholars differ on the date of Joel. It's very difficult to date the prophet. And trust me, there are plenty of opinions among biblical scholars. There's a lot of uncertainty around the date of Joel because it's one of the only prophets who doesn't tell us exactly when he was writing. Most prophets give us a clue, a definite clue, actually, of the surrounding events that they were speaking into. Well, Joel gives us no clear and definitive markers to accurately date his book, so scholars are left to look internally to try to pick up clues. Some date Joel as early as the eighth century BC, that's pre exilic, while others say it could have been written as the exile was happening in the early years between 601 and 597 BC, while others might even date Joel into the post-exilic period, the fourth to third century BC.
Now, here are some interesting clues. Joel seems very focused on Jerusalem, which we'll see that again here in Joel Chapter 2. And the temple is still standing and functioning. Now, I tend to think that again, it was written between 601 and 597 BC. The enemy army is coming to punish Judah and Jerusalem for their sin. And Joel is not only receiving a vision for what's happening in the present time for Judah and Jerusalem, but also a future time, a time that hasn't happened yet. And that's why I tend to think that this army coming in Joel 1, again, is the Babylonians. Now, we also mentioned in our previous program on Joel that the theme of the prophet is the Day of the Lord. And the Day of the Lord is a phrase that's associated with judgment. It's associated with Israel's judgment and their restoration, their spiritual restoration.
And it's also associated with the judgment of the nations. And so Joel is saying to Judah and Jerusalem that God has acted in the past. He's about to act in their presence right there, a present action, but he will also act in the future as well. Now, Joel Chapter 2 begins with a shofar blast. You know what a shofar is? It's a trumpet, it's actually a ram's horn. And if you listen closely to the beginning of our program, our theme music opens with a shofar blast. Jewish people, they actually just celebrated Rosh Hashanah last week, the Jewish New Year. The year for them right now I think is 5783. And you know what? They blew a shofar on Rosh Hashanah because in Leviticus, Rosh Hashanah is called the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Shofars. Shofars were used as a tool to announce important information to the people of Israel.
Shofars would signal new moons, new Sabbath weeks, the Jewish holidays. Shofars would also be used to call Israel's army into battle, but they were also used as alarms. Just the other day, my family, we were driving together to go camping and the Christian radio station that we like to listen to was abruptly cut off and a weird noise started blaring in the car. And my kids, they were alarmed. "What's that noise, Dad? What's that noise? Is everything okay?" And then a voice came on the radio and said, you've probably heard this voice before, "This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. If this had been an actual emergency, you would've been instructed to tune to one of our broadcast stations in your area." Well, the alarm got everyone's attention that there could be danger, but it was just a test. Well, the shofar can also be used as an emergency broadcast system for Israel from thousands of years ago.
Listen to Joel Chapter 2 starting in verse one. It says, "Blow a shofar," blow a trumpet in Zion. Sound an alarm on my holy mountain." That's Mount Zion, that's Jerusalem, "And let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming. It is near." Why is God telling the Jewish people to announce the emergency broadcast system? Because the Day of the Lord is coming. It's near, as he says, judgment is coming and it's coming to Jerusalem. And notice how he says, "Sound an alarm on my holy mountain." Again, that's Mount Zion, it's just adjacent to the Temple Mount. So first came the locust plagues in Joel Chapter 1. Starting in Joel Chapter 2 we see now all of a sudden there's darkness. Joel Chapter 2, verse 2 says, "A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness like blackness, they are spreading upon the mountains a great and powerful people. Their like have never been before, nor will there ever again after them through all the years of all generations."
This is following the same pattern as the plagues in Egypt. The locusts came in Exodus Chapter 10, and then the darkness came, as we're seeing again here in Joel Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, it's following the same sequence. Now, the army is coming. Just like the locusts who devoured everything in Joel 1, the prophet continues. "The army is like a fire that devours everything." And Joel is even looking throughout all the land, devours everything. Joel says, even though the land today looks like the garden of Eden to you now, Judah and Jerusalem, once that army comes, it will look like a desolate wilderness. Now listen, I believe that because this is the Babylonian army, it's marching toward Jerusalem, but I also believe that it's a prophetic battle that will take place during the tribulation period, because Joel's prophecy moves us from a physical battle in Jerusalem and Judah to a cosmic one, a global battle with Jerusalem at its center.
Joel writes this in Joel Chapter 2 verses 10 and 11, that "The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The Lord utters his voice before His army. His camp is exceedingly great. He who executes His word will be powerful, for the Day of the Lord is great and very awesome. Who can endure it?" This is why Jeremiah calls the future tribulation period, the seven years of God's judgment in the future. Jeremiah calls this the time of Jacob's trouble in Jeremiah Chapter 30, verse 7. The Jewish people were called to actually blow a second shofar. The first one was an alarm for the people for the coming Day of the Lord.
But in verse 15, God told the Jewish people to blow a shofar for repentance. Joel Chapter 2, verse 15 says, "Blow the shofar in Zion. Consecrate a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the congregations, assemble the elders. Gather the children, even the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar, let the priest, the ministers of the Lord weep and say, 'Spare your people, oh Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations.' Why should we say among the peoples, where is their God?"
Listen, what Joel is saying is that the priests are to lead Israel and the Jewish people into a time of national repentance. And this is where a major transition begins to happen between Joel reporting on the events that were happening during his time and future prophetic events. So when we return, we're going to see more about the future events that take place for Israel and for the Jewish people in the Book of Joel. But listen, here at The Friends of Israel Today, we want to encourage you to continue to dive deeper into these prophetic books. And I can think of no better book that you should get your hands on than David Levy's book, Joel: The Day of the Lord. There's a lot of uncertainty about the end times and it really comes from a failure to understand the major messages found in the minor prophets.
Chris Katulka: Well, listen, Joel's prophecy will provide you with a greater understanding of Israel's prophetic history and give you a renewed appreciation for its struggle to survive over the centuries. You're going to gain a love and understanding of Israel's present plight and future Day of the Lord that it must face. These practical lessons I promise you will draw you closer to the Lord and give you a fuller understanding of the millennial kingdom to come, the blessings that are yet to be experienced at the Messiah's return.
Chris Katulka: Again, the book by David Levy is Joel: The Day of the Lord. And I have to tell you right now, as I was preparing for this message, of course, I went right to David Levy's book, Joel, and I dived into it myself to get some of the great insights that David provides for us. So what I'm saying to you here is also what you'll find in the book. Again, that's Joel: The Day of the Lord. Steve, do you want to tell our listeners how they can get their copy of David's book?
Steve Conover: Yeah, to get your copy, you can visit us at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org to purchase your copy of David Levy's book on Joel or to learn more. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Well, welcome back everyone. The prophet Joel is giving us details to an army that's coming to judge Jerusalem and Judah. Again, probably the Babylonian army when it destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 586 BC. But Joel also gives us a vision of a future judgment that's coming during the tribulation period, a time that Jeremiah, as I said earlier, that Jeremiah the prophet calls the time of Jacob's trouble. And Jesus even calls this in Matthew Chapter 24, the Great Tribulation. The Prophet Zechariah focuses on the Day of the Lord as well, it's not just Joel. The Day of the Lord is found throughout the scriptures. But Zechariah Chapter 14, the prophet tells us that during the tribulation period, it says this, "Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst."
And verse 2 says this, "For I," this is the Lord speaking, "For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and women raped. Half the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. And then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when He fights on the day of battle. And on that day, His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the East."
Now notice, in the future, a great battle is coming where? To Jerusalem. And it's all the nations that will be gathered against Israel. But if you read on, God is zealous for His land and for His people. Joel says this in Joel Chapter 2, verse 18, "Then the Lord became jealous for His land and had pity on His people." See, God is bringing judgment on Israel for their disobedience, but He cannot break His relationship with His people because of the promise that He made to Abraham in Genesis Chapter 12 and Genesis Chapter 15, an eternal promise that must be fulfilled.
God promised Abraham a land, that's the land of Israel, descendants, the Jewish people, and a blessing of protection, and that ultimately they would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. And that's why, in the midst of judgment that we see in Joel, God becomes jealous for His land and has pity for His people because of the great covenantal love that He has for them through the Abrahamic promise. But even in the midst of their judgment, God is calling Israel, think about this, to return to Him. Now, next week we're going to look more closely at Israel's future spiritual revival. Yet right now I want you to hear how God calls Israel back to Him in the midst of their judgment.
In Joel Chapter 2, starting in verse 12, it says this, "Yet even now, the Lord says, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and boundless in loyal love, only relenting from calamitous punishment.’" Listen, when I was preparing for this message today and reading through Joel 2, I couldn't help but notice verse 13, when it says, "Tear your hearts not your garments." During the days of Joel, to show remorse and contrition for sin, you would rip or slash your garments, but the act of ripping or slashing your garments was just to be an outward sign of your internal repentance.
And sadly, these acts can become religious and we can almost do them without actually repenting. We think it's just a religious act that God finds favor in. But God is telling the Jewish people in Joel, I don't want you to rip your clothes, just doing the religious thing. I want you to tear your hearts. God wants a relationship with His people. Don't just give me your platitudes of repentance, give me your heart. God promised in Exodus 34 that He is faithful to forgive sins. And that's why even in the midst of great judgment like the Day of the Lord, God says He's compassionate and merciful, faithful to forgive sins, but what does He ultimately want?
Our hearts. Here's another thing that it shows about God from the prophet Joel. It's that our God is a personal God who's more concerned with your heart than anything that you could ever give Him. God is saying in Joel, you can't buy your forgiveness or act out repentance. God could have said to His people, "Pay more money to the temple fund and you'll be forgiven," or "Rip your clothes more and you'll be forgiven more." Now, that's not what God said. He said to his people to tear your hearts. Listen, your sin cannot be covered by how much money you donate or how often you go to church throughout the year. Right here in Joel, God is saying the issue is a heart issue.
Chris Katulka: It's a heart matter, and that's what God cares about the most, your heart. Joel's words ring true for our lives today and that's why his words, "tear your heart" stood out to me. And I've been a believer for decades. And it's not enough to just go through the motions. That's not the kind of relationship that God wants to have with His people. Tear your hearts, because it's a broken and contrite heart that God is looking for, to turn to the Lord with all your heart.
Steve Conover: Chris, I'm reminded of something I read recently from Judges where the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and they're judged. And then in verse 10, they cry out to the Lord, "We've sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals." But they only said it with their lips, which is interesting. But God says to them, "You've forsaken me and serve other gods so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen." And then this is what's really interesting. "The Israelites said to the Lord, we have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now. Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And He, God, "could bear Israel's misery no longer." I think it's such a wonderful reminder that He is compassionate and for our listeners not to think I'm too far from God. Wherever you are, if you turn your heart to Him, He's willing to have that relationship with you.
Chris Katulka: Tear your heart. That's what it says. I love that, Steve.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state. A teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Deuteronomy 20:1 says, "Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you." Here in Israel, we live in the light of this promise day by day. As we face scud missile attacks from Iraq, we are sure of God's protection. Therefore, we can sing confidently the words of our national anthem, Hatikvah, even with missiles being dropped on us nightly. People continue the daily routines with high morale because they know God has said, "I've set watchmen on your walls of Jerusalem. They shall never hold their peace day or night." Although most of our people do not believe in the Messiah, they do trust in the promises of God to His chosen people. There are, however, many new immigrants in Israel, especially from the Soviet Union, who do not know the promises of God since they have lived all their lives under communism. As soon as they arrive, the Ultra Orthodox try to convert them into their fold of Judaism.
They tell the emigres not to have any contact with Christians, but truth ultimately conquers. I consider it an obligation to comfort such people with the Word of God, and I am thankful the Lord has enabled me to speak their language. When I first talk with a new immigrant it's not with warnings, but in the spirit of friendship. And then we can be open with each other and I can share my faith. Initially, the immigrants are surprised to find a Jewish person who believes in Christ, especially in Israel. One emigre told me, "It is impossible for a Jew to praise the name of this one whom Jews have hated through the centuries." I replied, "I have heard many say this. You have been brainwashed against believers from the moment you stepped off the plane. But if you read the Jewish scripture for yourself, you will understand how to have true faith in God.
"I do not have with me any of the old commentary books, no stories, no traditions, but if you want it, I will give you a Bible in the Russian language and then you can make your own decision about God." Even though the immigrants have been instructed to stay away from believers, they are independent and want to make their own decisions in the new land. Of course, some are skeptical. Some have asked me if believers in the Lord are against the Jewish religion. I've responded, "I'm not against any religion if it is in accordance with the Bible, but I am sorry to say most of the people of Israel are far from being the holy people to the Lord your God that he has instructed them to be in Deuteronomy 7:6 I only want to help you find the Lord your Savior. Then you will truly be His chosen people."
These immigrants were very moved by our conversation. They said they had learned more in one hour than they did during several days of instruction from their assigned guides. I pray the Lord alone will be their guide and lead them into His truth, which alone will make them free. Finally, during these difficult days, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us today. We'll be back in the Book of Joel next week. Chris, where are we headed?
Chris Katulka: Well, next week we're going to see how jealous God is for the land and for his inheritance, the people of Israel, but we're also going to see about Israel's future spiritual revival as well. It's going to be a great ending to our study on the Book of Joel.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And I'll give you one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org.
The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Joel: The Day of the Lord
Dive deeper into Joel with David Levy’s expert commentary! Learn about the prophecies God revealed that came to pass and the ones still to come that will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon in this concise, insightful work.
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Apples of Gold: So Long Our Hopes Are Not Yet Lost
Though Israel faced missile attacks from Iraq, many immigrants were entering Israel. Eager to share Scripture with people who had lived under Communist rule all their lives, Zvi began building friendships and sharing his faith. He knew that truth ultimately conquers, and he considered it an obligation to reach out to many of these immigrants. Hear how Zvi comforted them with the Word of God and prayed that the Lord alone would be their guide and lead them to truth.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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