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                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                 Joel - The Day Of The Lord (2:28-3:21)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our previous lesson on Joel, we saw that...
   a. Joel's prophecy was occasioned by a plague of locusts - 1:2-4
   b. He proclaimed the plague as a warning from God - 1:15-16
      1) If the people would not repent, "the day of the Lord" would
         come and bring greater destruction - 2:1-5
      2) If they did repent, then material blessings would  follow 
         - 2:12-14
   c. Joel therefore called for a national repentance - 2:15-17a
   d. Evidently his work was effective, for he describes the blessings
      that had come - 2:21-27

2. We also noticed some lessons to be learned from the book...
   a. The value of natural calamities (can serve to turn men to God)
   b. The nature of true repentance - 2:12-13
   c. The character of the Lord - 2:13b
   d. "The day of the Lord", when referring to God's judgment on a city
      or nation, can be averted - cf. also Jer 18:7-8; Jonah 3:1-10

3. In this lesson, we shall complete our survey of Joel by reading 
   2:28-3:21...
   a. With attention to the prophetic element of this passage
   b. Offering comments concerning its interpretation

[Let's begin with a careful reading of this passage...]

I. JOEL'S PROPHECY OF THE FUTURE

   A. WHAT SHALL COME TO PASS "AFTERWARD" (2:26-32)
      1. God's Spirit will be poured out on all flesh - 2:28-29
      2. Wonders in heaven and earth to appear before the coming of 
         "the day of the Lord" - 2:30-31
      3. There shall be deliverance in Mount Zion and Jerusalem - 2:32

   B. WHAT SHALL OCCUR "IN THOSE DAYS" (3:1-17)
      1. God will judge all nations on account of His people - 3:1-3
      2. Specifically mentioned are Tyre, Sidon and Philistia - 3:4-8
         a. Who had mistreated God's people
         b. Who shall be treated as they treated others
      3. The nations are called to do battle - 3:9-12
         a. "Prepare for war!"
         b. Come to the "Valley of  Jehoshaphat", where the Lord will
            judge the nations
            1) Jehoshaphat means "God shall judge"
            2) The valley referred to may be the Kidron near Jerusalem
      4. The outcome - 3:13-17
         a. There will be a great harvest
         b. "The day of the Lord" is described...
            1) As near in this "valley of decision"
            2) In which the heavenly bodies are diminished and shaken
         c. While God's people find shelter and strength in Him
         d. The Lord will be known and dwell in Zion, Jerusalem forever
            remaining holy

   C. WHAT SHALL COME TO PASS "IN THAT DAY" (3:18-21)
      1. Judah shall be blessed by a "fountain...from the house of the
         Lord" - 3:18
      2. Egypt and Edom will be desolate because of their violence 
         - 3:19
      3. Judah and Jerusalem shall abide forever, acquitted of their 
         guilt - 3:20-21

[Such is the prophetic message of Joel.  What he SAYS is clear enough.
What he MEANS is something else!  Here are a few thoughts on...]

II. INTERPRETING JOEL'S PROPHECY

   A. THERE ARE THREE KEY PHRASES...
      1. "it shall come to pass afterward" - 2:28
         a. This period of time is clearly defined by Peter in Ac 2:
            14-21
         b. In which he applies it to the events on the Day of 
            Pentecost
      2. "in those days and at that time" - 3:1
         a. The same period of time as described in 2:28-32
         b. I.e., at some point during the Messianic age
      3. "in that day" - 3:18
         a. The context places this AFTER "the day of the Lord"
         b. I.e., at some point during the Messianic age, but not until
            AFTER the judgment of the nations in the "Valley of 
            Jehoshaphat"

   B. DETERMINING THE TIME AND EVENTS...
      1. Certainly 2:28-29 refers to a period beginning with the 
         events described in Acts 2
         a. Peter said "this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" 
            - Ac 2:16
         b. An inspired statement pinpointing when this prophecy began
            to be fulfilled
      2. However, there are different opinions regarding Joel 2:30-3:21
         a. "The day of the Lord" in 2:30-31 is variously interpreted
            as:
            1) The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
            2) The final coming of the Lord
         b. The judgment  in the "valley of Jehoshaphat" in 3:1-17 is
            variously interpreted as:
            1) Figurative, by some; literal, by others
            2) Referring to no specific judgment, by some
            3) Referring to a specific judgment at some time, by 
               others...
               1) E.g., after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
               2) E.g., The "Battle of Armageddon" prior to the 
                  "millennium" - Re 16:14-16
               3) E.g., the battle after the "millennium" described in
                  Re 20:7-10
         c. Various views are also offered for the blessing of Judah 
            and Jerusalem in 3:18-21
      -- With such differences in interpretation, one should not be 
         dogmatic

   C. HERE IS MY OWN UNDERSTANDING OF 2:30-3:21...
      1. The passage is not to be taken literally
         a. For we know that the Spirit was not literally poured out 
            upon ALL flesh - 2:28
         b. It would be physically impossible for ALL the nations to 
            gather in the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" - 3:2,12
         c. The "Valley of  Acacias" is located on the other side of 
            the Jordan River, making it geographically impossible to be
            watered by a stream from Jerusalem - 3:18
      2. This passage speaks in terms meaningful and comforting to 
         Israelites in Joel's day
         a. The prophecy was initially given to comfort them, give them
            hope for the future
         b. Therefore prophetic elements are described in terms to 
            which they could relate
            1) E.g., deliverance in their capital, Jerusalem - 2:32
            2) E.g., judgment upon those enemies who oppressed them 
               - 3:1-8
            3) E.g., desolation of such enemies as Edom and Egypt 
               - 3:19
            4) E.g., blessings to befall the nation and the land 
               - 3:18,20-21
      3. But it refers to spiritual realities fulfilled with the coming
         of the Messiah!
         a. Salvation and deliverance will indeed come out of Zion and
            Jerusalem - cf. 2:32 with Lk 24:44-47; He 12:22-24
         b. God will judge the enemies of His people - cf. 3:1-17 with
            Re 4-20 (esp. Re 20:7-10)
         c. In the end, God's people will prosper and the wicked will 
            be desolate - cf. 3:18-21 with Re 21-22 (esp. Re 22:1-2)
      4. This is true whether or not any particular event is referred 
         to in this passage
         a. I lean toward the view that "the day of the  Lord" in this
            passage is the FINAL JUDGMENT when the Lord comes again
         b. Others think that it refers to the DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM
            in 70 A.D
         c. Whatever one's interpretation, the application is the 
            same...
            1) The means and source of salvation:  The Lord Himself 
               - 2:32
            2) The day of the Lord is coming!
               a) A terrible day for the wicked - cf. 3:14-16a
               b) But for God's people there is shelter and strength 
                  - cf. 3:16b
               c) And in the end, blessings for the people of God, 
                  while their enemies lie desolate - cf. 3:18-21

CONCLUSION

1. In studying "The Minor Prophets"...
   a. Determining the proper INTERPRETATION is certainly a worthy goal
   b. But determining the proper APPLICATION is our essential task!

2. If this be true, then the crucial question is this:  Have we found
   that salvation, deliverance, shelter and strength which only the Lord
   can provide when the final "day of the Lord" comes?

To know where to look, one should carefully read Peter's sermon on the
Day of Pentecost, after he had quoted Joel - cf. Ac 2:22-39
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