The Book of Joel - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand.
Joel was a prophet to Judah. His message, as found in this book, seems to be one; rather than the notes of a long period of ministry as in the case of Hosea to Israel. The occasion of its delivery was that of the desolation of the land by a locust plague. In the beginning of this chapter, we have his description of that desolation, and from it we learn how terrible it was. It was an hour in which men would be likely to brood upon the calamity, moved very largely by pity for themselves. Then the prophet spoke, and his word interpreted the, situation, and called men to recognize the real meaning of the calamities in the midst of which they were living. This was the Day of Jehovah, which meant that it was the Day of Divine government and activity. The corning of the locusts was no accident. They name in ranks, in order; and they wrought the will of God. Therefore the prophet called the priests and the people to humiliation. Here then is the first note of this prophecy. The burden of Joel from first to last was that of the Day of Jehovah, that is, the fact of the Divine government of human affairs; and his first application of that burden was that of calling the people to a recognition of the fact that the Day of Jehovah was then present, it was at hand: that is, it was near, not in the sense of approaching, but rather in the sense of actual and immediate activity. There is more to say - as we shall see - but let this first fact be carefully noted. The Day of Jehovah is here and now. He is reigning today. The calamities through which men pass, are all under His control. Instead of mourning over sorrow, men should mourn over sin, and cry unto Jehovah.
The Day of the Lord cometh; for it is nigh at hand.
In these words we have the same fundamental idea, but stated with a variation in method. Having interpreted the locust plague, by declaring that the Day of Jehovah was at hand, the prophet now said: "The Day of Jehovah cometh, for it is nigh at hand." In that sentence the word "for" has the force of "because." The truth emphasized now was not so much that of the actuality of the Divine government, as that of its continuity. Joel declared that the Day of Jehovah was not over. There were still other experiences before them of the Divine judgment. Under the figure of the locust plague, he described the imminent invasion of a foe which would bring far more terrible desolations to the people. Therefore again he called the nation to repentance, and declared the way by which they might change the very character of the Divine government into that of mercy, and healing, and restoration. Here again is a matter for our careful attention. The Day of Jehovah is not only present; it is always coming. When some great activity of God has ended, His government has not ceased. He proceeds upon His way without intermission. If by one manifestation of His power and majesty, men do not learn the lessons He would teach, then they have not escaped from Him. By yet other means, more terrible than those already experienced, He will make Himself known. This is the story of humanity; and so it will continue until "the great and terrible Day of Jehovah come," the day of the final putting forth of His judgment of evil in order to the establishment of His Kingdom upon earth according to the grace of His heart.
The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
Once again we have the same burden, but in its final application. The prophet having interpreted the locust plague and foretold a further activity of God in government, was lifted up, and borne along far beyond his 'own immediate times. That movement began in the previous chapter, at verse 28, with the words, "And it shall come to pass afterward." That afterward carried his vision forward to the age of the Spirit which commenced on the day of Pentecost. Two verses only deal with that age (28 and 29). He then told of the signs which would indicate the ending of that age, and the ushering in of another which he described as "the great and terrible day of Jehovah." The final movement in his message has to do with that ultimate Day of Jehovah, the day of decision. In that day, Jehovah will restore Judah and Jerusalem, find His lost people Israel, deal with the nations through the processes of war, make Zion the centre of His earthly Kingdom, and Israel as a complete nation the instrument of His government. Thus to Joel was given the plan of the ages. He saw the near, the imminent, and the ultimate; and he saw that the Day of Jehovah was present, persistent, powerful, to the complete realization of Divine purpose. It was a great vision, and our secret of confidence is found in walking in its light. We live in the unmeasured age of the Spirit. It has lasted over nineteen hundred years. We know not when it will end; but we do know that beyond it is "the great and terrible day of Jehovah"; and therefore we are sure of the ultimate realization of all His purposes for men.