March 1, 2011

Minor Prophets XXVIII: Looking Down A Divine Double-Barrel

We see a specific usage of language and a particular kind of prophetic genre in Joel 3:1-16. It is a prophetic genre that many New Testament readers will recognize at the end of the Bible and at the end of the world.

Judgment Comes...and God's wrath is coming with it.


The prophet Joel describes the immediate threat and then an apocalyptic threat here. In dealing with the future Joel actually distinguishes between the fates of Judah and the Gentiles. For “Zion” the Day of The Lord is a time of salvation but for the other nations, they will be on the receiving end of the Lord’s wrath. At the very end of Joel 2 we see this alluded to by Joel but now it is elaborated on in all its apocalyptic rhetoric and imagery. Apocalyptic/ Ἀποκάλυψις) is actually a Greek word meaning "revelation". The apocalyptic genre also has some very distinct characteristics that make it immediately recognizible such as: jaw-dropping scenes, natural catastrophes, cosmic chaos, the expectation that God will intervene in a dramatic manner and heavenly events.

God unloads through His prophet with both barrels of the gun.
There will be no rescue of God’s people without the reckoning of their enemies. They will be blasted for their contributions to Judah’s suffering. All the surrounding neighbors of Judah will be affected. In light of a prophecy of certain judgment that is certainly coming, a proclamation is issued to go through the “nations”. All those that can fight (warriors, fighting men) are to get on a war footing and prepare for war (v. 9). We see the famous verse/statement “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.” This verse is the image of a nation repartitioning its resources for an optimal use of them in a time of war. They are to take implements of agriculture, growth and food and fashion them into implements of killing and war and destruction. The Lord would also bring down His warriors, and He commands His warriors to destroy His enemies. There is a continued theme of agricultural imagery when Joel says the “harvest is ripe”, “trample the grapes” and “swing the sickle”. Judgment will then be passed by the Lord in the “valley of decision” (Valley of Jehoshaphat). We see riddled throughout this passage apocalyptic wordage.

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