Lessons From the Scriptures: Joel 1:1–3:21
Call on Jehovah’s Name and Get Away Safe!
“IF THE plague gets out of control, it will spread to East Africa and the Near East. It could be a disaster.” So said an official of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization regarding the voracious insect currently invading northwestern Africa by the billions—the locust.
In about the year 820 B.C.E., God’s prophet Joel spoke of a similar plague. In vivid terms unsurpassed for accuracy and realism, he described how the nation of Judah would be ravaged by an insect onslaught. However, that plague was pictorial of something far more significant than an ecological threat. It was a herald of “the day of Jehovah”! Our generation faces that “fear-inspiring day” and all its destructive fury. What hope of salvation exists? And what lessons can we learn from the prophetic book of Joel?
Terrifying Insect Invasion
Repentance is needed for salvation during the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. Through Joel’s eyes, we see a calamity as the land is stripped of vegetation by swarms of caterpillars, locusts, creeping unwinged locusts, and cockroaches. Priests, older men, and other inhabitants of Judah are urged to repent “and cry to Jehovah for aid.” Storehouses are laid desolate, and barns are torn down as they become devoid of produce. Domestic animals confusedly wander about, looking in vain for pasturage. What a day of despoiling from the Almighty One!—1:1-20.
The nearness of Jehovah’s day should move us to engage in holy acts and godly deeds. (2 Peter 3:10-12) Joel enables us to see it as a day of darkness, clouds, and thick gloom. The locusts are a frightening harbinger of that day. In their wake, Judah’s Edenlike landscape becomes a desolate wilderness. Ominous, too, is the very sound of the locusts, for it is like that of a chariot and of a raging fire devouring stubble. As the locusts advance “like a mighty people, drawn up in battle order,” they scale walls, rush into cities, and enter houses. Even the sun, moon, and stars are darkened during the ‘fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.’—2:1-11.
The Way of Salvation
For salvation, we must acknowledge that ‘Jehovah is God and there is no other.’ “Come back to me with all your hearts,” Jehovah counsels. Old and young are urged to gather in solemn assembly to implore divine favor. God will show compassion, make compensation for the insect devastation, and bless his people with abundance. Those acknowledging Jehovah’s position as the only true God and Source of salvation will not be ashamed.—2:12-27.
Our salvation also depends on calling on the name of Jehovah in faith. Before “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” God will ‘pour out his spirit on every sort of flesh.’ Young and old, male and female, will do a work of prophesying. Thus, many will learn that ‘everyone calling on Jehovah’s name will get away safe.’—2:28-32.
Judgment Upon the Nations
Jehovah will save his faithful people when he executes judgment upon the nations. (Compare Ezekiel 38:18-23; Revelation 16:14-16.) Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia must pay for mistreating God’s people and selling them into slavery. Jehovah will bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, and he challenges his foes, saying: “Sanctify war!” But they are no match for God, who executes judgment upon them in the symbolic “low plain of Jehoshaphat.” Though heaven and earth will rock, Jehovah will be a refuge for his people. The faithful will survive the judgment upon the nations and will enjoy life under paradisaic conditions.—3:1-21.
Lessons to remember: Repentance is required beforehand if a person is to be saved during the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. The nearness of that day should move us to engage in holy acts and godly deeds. Of course, our salvation depends on acknowledging that Jehovah alone is God. And if we call on his name in faith, he will save us when he executes judgment upon the nations.
Joel’s prophecy gives us even more food for thought. Why, “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah” is imminent! Mankind must be warned. Like the locusts in Joel’s prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses devastate Christendom by relentlessly exposing her spiritually barren state. This arouses the fury and opposition of her leaders, but any wall-like obstacles they try to set in the path of the symbolic locusts prove ineffective. Jehovah has poured out his spirit upon his people, equipping them to announce his judgments. Therefore, in the short time remaining before God’s fear-inspiring day, let us have a full share in helping others to ‘call on the name of Jehovah so as to get away safe.’
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BIBLE TEXTS EXAMINED
○ 1:2—Joel addressed the “older men” who had misled the nation. Because the “inhabitants of the land” followed that false lead, they were also accountable in Jehovah’s eyes. Today, the religious leaders of Christendom have similarly misled their flocks. Like Joel, Jehovah’s Witnesses have directed messages to that clergy class. Yet, the people in general must have God’s Word declared to them because they too will render an account to Jehovah.—Isaiah 9:15-17; Romans 14:12.
○ 2:1-10, 28—The Israelites were warned that if they disobeyed God, locusts and other creatures would devour their crops. (Deuteronomy 28:38-45) Since the Scriptures do not record an insect assault upon Canaan of the proportions mentioned by Joel, the plague he described was apparently pictorial. Evidently, the prophecy began to be fulfilled at Pentecost 33 C.E., when Jehovah started to ‘pour out his spirit’ upon Jesus’ followers, who tormented false religionists with their God-given message. (Acts 2:1, 14-21; 5:27-29) Jehovah’s Witnesses now carry out a similarly devastating work.
○ 2:12, 13—In ancient times, ripping apart one’s garments was an outward expression of grief. (Genesis 37:29, 30; 44:13) But this could be done insincerely, hypocritically. Joel made it clear that outward expressions of sorrow were not enough. The people needed to ‘rip apart their hearts’ by showing heartfelt repentance.
○ 2:31, 32—Jehovah provided escape from destruction for faithful ones in the time of Joel. Now, in these “last days,” God is making salvation possible through Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 3:1; Romans 5:8, 12; 6:23) However, it is upon the name of Jehovah that sinful humans must call for everlasting salvation. This means knowing the divine name, respecting it fully, and relying completely on the One bearing it. Those thus calling on Jehovah’s name in faith “will get away safe” when God executes his judgment upon the nations during his “great and fear-inspiring day.”—Zephaniah 2:2, 3; 3:12; Romans 10:11-13.
○ 3:2, 14—The symbolic place for executing divine judgment in “the day of Jehovah” is called “the low plain of the decision.” It is also termed “the low plain of Jehoshaphat.” This is appropriate, since the name Jehoshaphat means “Jehovah Is Judge.” During the reign of King Jehoshaphat, God delivered Judah and Jerusalem from the forces of Moab, Ammon, and the mountainous region of Seir, causing them to become confused and to slaughter one another. (2 Chronicles 20:1-30) In our day, “the low plain of Jehoshaphat” serves as a symbolic winepress in which the nations are crushed like grapes for mistreating Jehovah’s people.
○ 3:6—Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia were guilty of selling people of Judah and Jerusalem into slavery to the Greeks. Possibly, some Jews captured by other nations came into the hands of Tyrian, Sidonian, and Philistine slave traders. Worse yet, perhaps these nations made slaves of Jews who sought refuge from their enemies. Whatever the case was, God called those traffickers in human life to account for mistreating his people. This indicates what awaits nations that persecute Jehovah’s servants today.
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Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.