Our subject for this afternoon is found partly in Daniel 2, Matthew 4, Jeremiah 51, Micah 5, and Malachi 4, but mainly in Joel, chapters 2 and 3. We shall first turn to Malachi:
Mal. 4:5, 6 – “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
Here we have the promise that God is to send someone before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and when he comes, whether he accomplishes anything else, he is to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
Now, it appears somewhat puzzling that the hearts either of the fathers or of the children need to be turned toward the other. But if we consider that the work of Elijah is not of a domestic nature, but spiritual, then we shall see that Elijah’s message is to intensify in the heart of the parents, as well as in the hearts of the children, a burden for the salvation of the other. Parents are very anxious to labor with other people’s children but seldom with their own. Likewise children are anxious to preach to others, but not so anxious to preach to their own parents. Elijah’s message of revival and reformation, however, will place the burden of saving souls primarily where it belongs. His message will be seen to be of real importance rather than a theory. And when its followers fully realize that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is at the door, they will be seen pleading first for those who are nearest their hearts.
Let us now turn to Daniel’s prophecy:
Dan. 2:44 – “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
It is understood by most Bible students that this great image of Daniel 2 represents the kingdoms from Daniel’s time down to the end. Here, you see, the stone which is cut out without hands smites the image in the feet, and the stone fills the whole earth. “In the days of these kings,” our time, declares Inspiration, God will set up the kingdom that is represented by the stone, and it will smite the nations and thereby bring their end. What could that day be but great for God’s people, and dreadful for the nations? Indeed, it is to be the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Verse 45 – “Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.”
Daniel’s account of the day is very brief, but Jeremiah describes the day in detail:
Jer. 51:21-23 – “And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider; with thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid; and I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers.”
Here Inspiration explains that God with His Kingdom is to break the nations, that His people are to be His battle ax. Both Daniel and Jeremiah are definite that the Kingdom is to bring the kingdoms of the world to an end.
Micah 5:7 – “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.”
The remnant of Jacob (those who are left after the tares are taken out), when once set up as a kingdom, is to be as showers of blessing to those who seek salvation, and as a lion that tears in pieces those who continue in their sin. The day shall be great to the one people, and dreadful to the other.
Now we turn to the chapters of Joel’s prophecy that meet their fulfillment in the latter days.
Joel 2:1-3 – “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.”
Here you see that a message is to be proclaimed to the church, to Zion, declaring that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is at hand; that it is to be devastating behind His people, and glorious ahead of them, – that the Lord is thoroughly to comb the field, that He is to gather every grain of “wheat,” and then burn the tares.
Verses 4-6 – “The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.”
We see that the power which attended ancient Israel while they were taking the Promised Land, shall also attend the servants of God at this gathering time.
Verses 7, 8 – “They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.”
Nothing shall be able to hold down the people of God. Everyone shall perfectly attend to his business. They shall gather the fruits of the earth and nothing shall hurt them. The Spirit of Prophecy testifies: “As the saints left the cities and villages, they were pursued by the wicked, who sought to slay them. But the swords that were raised to kill God’s people broke and fell as powerless as a straw” – Early Writings, pp. 284-285.
Verse 9 – “They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.”
“The servants of God” shall certainly gather all their brethren out of all nations (Isa. 66:20). Indeed so, for the legs of the Gospel are the legs of the people who proclaim it. Of course, only with perfect co-ordination and a bullet-proof army can the gospel work be finished when the two-horned beast declares “that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Rev. 13:15.
Verses 10, 11 – “The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: and the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
Having announced how great and dreadful the day is to be, the Lord is making this plea:
Verses 12-14 – “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?”
God’s plea is that we prepare to meet the day; that now as sincere Christians who realize that for such an hour as this has this message of mercy come to us, we penitently return unto Him.
Verses 15, 16 – “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.”
In these verses, as in Joel 2:1, the command is given to blow the trumpet in Zion. This second trumpet, however, is not to announce the day of God, but to sanctify both a fast and the people, to call a solemn assembly, from which not one is to be excluded from the assembly.
Verse 17 – “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”
Here we are plainly told that God’s people are to face persecution and distress, and that unless they keep close to the Lord their very existence may be at stake, God’s name dishonored, and the heathen allowed to rule over them and to challenge their faith in God.
Verses 18, 19 – “Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen.”
God finds refuge and freedom for them in their own land where nothing shall be lacking.
Verses 21-23 – “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”
It is plain enough to see that God is speaking to His people who are to receive both the former and the latter rain in the first month.
Verse 24 – “And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.”
Inspiration, of course, is not speaking of spiritual things only, but of material things as well. The rain (newly-revealed Truth) shall therefore produce a great harvest of souls as well as abundance of provisions.
Verses 25-32 – “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and My people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”
Here we see that those who call on the name of the Lord after the latter rain falls, shall find deliverance on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, also in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
The very first word (“for”) of the next chapter shows that the prophecy of chapter two continues through chapter three.
Joel 3:1, 2 – “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land.”
These verses explain why, how, and when God’s people are delivered in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem. These things, you see, are to take place when He brings again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. Then shall He bring all the nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat and there plead for all His captive people whom the nations have scattered throughout the world.
Verse 3 – “And they have cast lots for My people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.”
Verse 3 reveals the vile practices of the world.
Verses 4-7 – “Yea, and what have ye to do with Me,
O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render Me a recompence? and if ye recompense Me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; because ye have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My goodly pleasant things: the children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head.”
Tyre and Zidon, and the coast of Palestine, then, those nations which have scattered God’s people, shall have their reward. What shall their recompense be? Here is the answer–
Verses 8-10 – “And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the Lord hath spoken it. Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.”
Inasmuch as the nations will be preparing for war when these prophecies are being fulfilled, it is plain to see that atomic weapons will not bring peace.
Verse 11 – “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord.”
Here we are told that God’s mighty ones are to meet the armies of the heathen. And where will God judge the people? – The following verses give the answer:
Verses 12-14 – “Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”
Yes, here is described the day of decision. The multitudes will then have to decide either to serve God and live or to continue serving the Devil and perish with him.
Verses 15, 16 – “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”
What a day the world is now approaching, and how blind to the fact is even the church herself!
Verses 17-21 – “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion.”
Our final cleansing is to be in our own land. The Scriptures, you see, are correlated; one truth explains another. Verses and chapters, therefore, cannot be isolated from their context if they are to be rightly understood. A correct idea cannot be built upon any one verse when isolated from its continuity. And only when we take God at His word can we in truth study the Scriptures. Then we need but the key word to unlock the mysteries of God. And here we have it.
Revival and reformation, a change of ideas and practices, therefore, is our greatest need. Without this we are sure to be found among those who shall say “to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Rev. 6:16, 17.
Volume 2, Nos. 7, 8
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