Joel 2:1 (NIV)
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand–
On verses 1-11: After describing the impact of a recent locust plague on his land in chapter 1, Joel in chapter 2 turns his attention to the future. He focuses on what he and other Old Testament prophets call the “day of the Lord”. Earlier in Joel 1:15, Joel already made mention of “the day of the Lord”, but only in passing. Now in these verses, Joel goes into more detail about what the day of the Lord will be like. The day of the Lord is essentially a day in the future, or a time period in the future, when God will assert His power over all of the earth and bring final judgment against His enemies. Joel calls it “a day of darkness and gloom” (v2), great and dreadful (v11).
In particular, Joel describes the appearing of a large and mighty army (v2) that leaves destruction in its path (v3) and causes all the nations to panic (v6). It is an army led by the Lord himself (v11). Like the locusts that had already ravaged Israel, this army would be unstoppable (v7), focused and united (v8), beyond counting (v11), strong (v11), coming against the city (v9).
What can we learn from this? Here are three lessons I learn from this passage:
1. God is not only a gracious and compassionate shepherd, but also a mighty warrior who commands an unstoppable army. God’s wrath against sin is no laughing matter; it is as unyielding as the army Joel describes in these verses. So may we give this holy, powerful, wrathful God the respect He deserves and not worship Him as less than who He really is.
2. Praise God that through His Son Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, God has made a way for us to escape the day of His wrath.
As 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” Praise God that when we have Christ in our lives, we don’t need to fear the day of His wrath.
3. When verse 11 says about God’s army, “mighty are those who obey His command”, it reminds me that those who chose to obey God’s commands experience God’s strength. Just as God called weak and fearful Gideon a mighty warrior because He saw in advance how Gideon would obey Him and what Gideon would later become, God looks at us – seemingly weak, frail and broken people – and calls us mighty warriors too. Mighty in Him is what we become when we obey God’s commands and step into His destiny for our lives.