Joel 2 emphasis on verses 12-32
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him— A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God?
15 Blow the [f]trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; 16 Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. 17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should [g]rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be [l]saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be [m]deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
Joel 2 speaks of a cycle of 3 things: Call to Repentance, Judgement and Restoration. The shofar blast of Yom Teruah launches us into this paralleled cycle each year.
Call to Repentance
As we read in scripture and look at the events to come, we anticipate that there will be a great judgment on the earth, greater than which we have already seen or experienced. But this isn't something that we need to be fearful of for our God is good and just and full of mercy. David when facing a nationwide judgement as a result of his sin knew that God was merciful in 2 Samuel 24:14 choosing "Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; "
Judgement, often just the threat of judgement, will lead to repentance when delivered by a just God ( 2 Corinthians 7:10) Here in Joel 2, there is a Godly sorrow at the looming judgement to come, leaving opportunity to repent. God calls his people to humble themselves and repent "for who knows if [God] will relent (vs 14)". We read later in verse 32 "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." God's grace abounds and God is willing that NONE should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and remain in judgment, (John 5:24) We will all be judged according to our hearts and choice to receive His salvation or reject it. God is giving us every opportunity to turn to Him and repent of our rebellion and be saved from the wrath of His judgement. This passage in Joel 2 is no different.
We are sinners, deserving death. And yet he loves us in spite of that. The scriptures say, "while we were still in sin Jesus died for us"(Romans 5:8) What great love He shows us, and hope we find in him. This is not a New Covenant concept. God has always offered his covenantal love and promise of forgiveness, a foreshadowing of Yeshua's work to come even in the Old testament. He promises in 2 Chronicles 7:14 "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
We look at another example of prayer and intercession for repentance (on behalf of an entire nation!!) by the righteous prophet Daniel. (Read Daniel 9:1-19) So, let us too in this time as we celebrate the Feast of Trumpets and enter into the 10 days of Awe and reflection before the Day of Atonement, fall on our knees not only for personal sins but also for the sins of our brothers and sisters, for the church, for our nations, and for the world as a whole. The world needs Yeshua. It is our privilege to pray repentance on behalf of the nations and ourselves and thereby bring forth the hope of salvation and restoration so that when Judgement falls, as many as receive Yeshua, to them He gave the right to be His sons, and heirs to salvation. (Romans 10:13)
If we look at the Biblical holy days as a picture of God's plan for history, we see a picture of what has already happened and of what is yet to come. The last High Holy day that we celebrated was Shavuot, which celebrated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1& 2. But, here, in Joel 2, we read that there will be another outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We know that verses 28 & 29 do not refer to the Acts 2 account because verse 30 and following speak of God's wonders being poured out which refer to the imagery John wrote of in Revelations and elsewhere in the New Testament:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, ( The 6th seal of Revelations 6:12 )
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. (Day of the Lord is widely accepted to be the term used for the "end of the World". There is a great video by the Bible Project which explains the phrase "the Day of the Lord" REALLY well. You can watch it Here).
As we can see, half of the story is yet to be told. While there is a whole lot of judgement to come, there is also a great hope and anticipation of great revelation, and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Salvation, and even a promise that "all Israel will be saved" * (Romans 11:26 ). I am no expert on how this will look exactly, but it is a hope I can hold onto in the midst of the darkness closing in. As we prepare our hearts with repentance to face God's holy and just judgment, let us focus on our hope as we celebrate a glimpse of an eternal restoration of Holy Communion with God through the feast of Sukkot.
*If you are interested in further reading on the idea of what "all Israel will be saved" means, this article gives a very thorough and sound explanation.
Abba, Father, we know we have done wrong. We know that our brothers and sisters have misrepresented you to the lost. I know that I have misrepresented you, and that I have sinned and deserve death. But I also KNOW that you sent your son to pay the price for my sins. God I ask that you pour out your Holy Spirit on the nations, on me. Bring revelation of your salvation, to Israel, to the Nations, to me and my home. Raise up your Church in boldness and truth. Give me strength, courage and wisdom to proclaim your truth and Light to a world who celebrates wickedness as good, and darkness as right. Humble me, and let me rejoice in your sweet restoration and fellowship. Reveal yourself to me with greater understanding, and bring me into greater intimacy with you.
In the name of Yeshua, I pray, Amen.