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September 13 Today’s Reading: Joel 1-3
“The Day of the Lord”
The theme of Joel’s prophecy is “the Day of the Lord.” Joel speaks of “the Day of the Lord” five times in these three short chapters. He tells us that history is moving constantly to an appointed end called, “the Day of the Lord” (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14). But Joel does not use this phrase, “the Day of the Lord”, to refer to a specific, single day or time. In chapter 1 (v. 15) “the Day of the Lord” is immediate. It referred to the day in which the judgment of God was seen in the land. In chapter 2 (vv. 1, 11, 31) “the Day of the Lord” is imminent, referring to judgment that may come at any time. In chapter 3 (v. 14) “the Day of the Lord” is future, referring to the final, consummate end of all things. As it is used by Joel, “the Day of the Lord” refers to any day in which the Lord God displays His sovereignty as God. In other words, yesterday was “the Day of the Lord.” Today is “the Day of the Lord.” And tomorrow shall be “the Day of the Lord.” And there is a day coming when all creation shall acknowledge, this is “the Day of the Lord.” Joel declares that the Lord who is God shall accomplish His purpose.
Day of Warning
First, Joel tells us that “the Day of the Lord” is a day of warning, a day when the Lord God sends judgment to warn us of judgment. ― “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (1:15). When the Lord God visits a nation, a people, a generation, or an individual in providential judgment, it is a warning of judgment to come and a merciful call to repentance (1:13-16, 19). He is saying, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” ― “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” (2:1).
At the close of verse 11 in chapter 2, the question is raised—“Who can abide the day of God’s wrath?” (See Nahum 1:2-6.) Yes, the Lord God will punish sin; He must. Judgment is sure. Hell is real. Eternity is forever. But “He delighteth in mercy!” Even now, in the face of such horrible judgment, there is hope. In wrath, He does remember mercy. We know this because the Lord God calls us to repentance, declaring Himself to be “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (2:12-14). In verses 15-17, God’s prophet pleads with his people to heed the Lord’s call and plead for His mercy, as Moses’ did, for the glory of His own great name.
Then, in the last part of chapter 2 (vv. 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27), the Lord God promises us that as surely as we seek His mercy He will grant it (Hebrews 4:16). This promise of grace clearly involved the promise of Christ’s great, accomplished redemption as our Mediator (2:28-32; Acts 2:16-36; Galatians 3:13-14). — “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered,” saved by the grace of God. That means that anyone who trusts Christ has been chosen, redeemed, and called by the God of all grace. Joel 2:32 goes on to say, “for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” That means that only a remnant of Adam’s fallen race shall call upon Christ and worship Him as their Savior; and they call upon Him only because they have been called by Him; and all the called remnant shall call upon the name of the Lord. The remnant shall come to Christ, because Christ comes to the remnant in effectual, saving mercy.
In chapter 3 the Lord God declares that He will save, that He will deliver all the hosts of His elect from the nations into which He has scattered them. The battle that takes place “in the valley of decision” (vv. 2, 14) is never in doubt. That battle is not yours, but the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:17, 20). Though they have forsaken Him, He will never forsake them. But, before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come, He will bring again the captivity of His Jerusalem. The Lord will roar out of Zion and gather His people, His heritage, His Israel out of the nations of the world. Then, His Spirit will cease to strive with man, and all Israel shall be saved. ― “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion!”