Joel 2:11
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?
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(11) His army.—“In every stage of their existence these locusts give a most impressive view of the power of God to punish a wicked world” (The Land and the Book, p. 417).

Joel 2:11. And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army — God, who can make the meanest parts of the creation the instruments of his vengeance, is here sublimely introduced, like a leader or general, commanding and animating this his army by his voice. For his camp is very great — That is, his army is very great and terrible, making whatsoever havoc he orders them, and wheresoever. For the day of the Lord is great, &c. — The time of God’s particular judgments, as well as that of his general one, is commonly expressed by the day of the Lord, the former being an earnest and imperfect representation of the latter.

2:1-14 The priests were to alarm the people with the near approach of the Divine judgments. It is the work of ministers to warn of the fatal consequences of sin, and to reveal the wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The striking description which follows, shows what would attend the devastations of locusts, but may also describe the effects from the ravaging of the land by the Chaldeans. If the alarm of temporal judgments is given to offending nations, how much more should sinners be warned to seek deliverance from the wrath to come! Our business therefore on earth must especially be, to secure an interest in our Lord Jesus Christ; and we should seek to be weaned from objects which will soon be torn from all who now make idols of them. There must be outward expressions of sorrow and shame, fasting, weeping, and mourning; tears for trouble must be turned into tears for the sin that caused it. But rending the garments would be vain, except their hearts were rent by abasement and self-abhorrence; by sorrow for their sins, and separation from them. There is no question but that if we truly repent of our sins, God will forgive them; but whether he will remove affliction is not promised, yet the probability of it should encourage us to repent.And the Lord shall utter His voice - The prophet had described at length the coming of God's judgments, as a mighty army. But lest amid the judgments, people should, (as they often do) forget the Judge, he represents God, as commanding this His army, gathering, ordering, marshalling, directing them, giving them the word, when and upon whom they should pour themselves. Their presence was a token of His. They should neither anticipate that command, nor linger. But as an army awaits the command to move, and then, the word being given, rolls on instantly, so God's judgments await the precise moment of His Will, and then fall. "The voice of the Lord" is elsewhere used for the thunder; because in it He seems to speak in majesty and terror to the guilty soul. But here the voice refers, not to us, but to the army, which He is imaged as marshalling; as Isaiah, referring perhaps to this place, says "The Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle" Isaiah 13:4.

God had spoken, and His people had not obeyed; now He speaks not to them anymore, but to their enemies. He calls the Medes and Persians, "My sanctified ones, My mighty ones" Isaiah 13:3, when they were to exercise His judgments on Babylon; and our Lord calls the Romans His armies. "He sent forth His armies and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city" Matthew 22:7. Then follow as threefold ground of terror. "For His camp is very great." All the instruments wherewith God punishes sin, are pictured as His one camp, each going, as He commands, "Who bringeth forth the host of heaven by number: He calleth them all by names, by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth" Isaiah 40:26. For he is "strong, that executeth His word," or, "for" it (His camp) is "strong, executing His word." Weak though His instruments be in themselves, they are mighty when they do His commands, for He empowers them, as Paul saith, "I can do all things through Christ instrengthening me" Philippians 4:13. "For the Day of the Lord is great," great, on account of the great things done in it. As those are called evil days, "an evil time," in which evil comes; as it is called "an acceptable time;" in which we may be accepted; so the Day of God's judgment is "great and very terrible," on account of the great and terrible acts of His justice done in it. who can abide it? The answer is implied in the question. "No one, unless God enable him."

This is the close of the threatened woe. The close, so much beyond any passing scourge of any created destroyer, locusts or armies, suggests the more what has been said already, that the prophet is speaking of the whole aggregate of God's judgments unto the Day of Judgment.

: "The Lord saith, that He will send an Angel with the sound of a trumpet, and the Apostle declares that the resurrection of the dead shall take place amid the sound of a trumpet. In the Revelation of John too, we read that the seven Angels received seven trumpets, and as they sounded in order, that was done which Scripture describes. The priests and teachers accordingly are here bidden to lift up their voice like a trumpet in Zion, that is, the Church, that so all the inhabitants of the earth may be troubled or confounded, and this confusion may draw them to Salvation. "By the Day of the Lord," understand the Day of judgment, or the day when each departeth out of the body. For what will be to all in the Day of judgment, this is fulfilled in each in the day of death. It is a "day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness," because everything will be full of punishment and torment.

The great and strong people of the angels will come, to render to each according to his works; and as the rising morn first seizes the mountains, so judgment shall begin with the great and mighty, so that "mighty men shall be mightily tormented" (Wisd. 6:6). "There hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it." For all evils, contained in ancient histories and which have happened to people, by inundation of the sea, or overflow of rivers, or by pestilence, disease, famines wild beasts, ravages of enemies, cannot be compared to the Day of judgment. "A fire devoureth, or consumeth before" this people, to consume in us "hay, wood, stubble." Whence it is said of God, "thy God is a consuming fire" Deuteronomy 4:24. And "after" him "a flame burneth," so as to leave nothing unpunished. whomsoever this people toucheth not, nor findeth in him what is to be burned, shall be likened to the garden of God, and the paradise of pleasure, i. e., of Eden. If it burn any, it will reduce this (as it were) wilderness to dust and ashes, nor can any escape its fury.

For they shall run to and fro to torture those over whom they shall receive power, like horsemen flying hither and thither. Their sound shall be terrible, as "chariots" hurrying along level places, and upon the tops of the mountains they shall leap," longing to torment all who are lofty and set on high in the Church. And since "before them there is a devouring fire," they will destroy everything, "as the fire devoureth the stubble." They shall come to punish, "as a strong people in battle array." Such will be the fear, of all, such the conscience of sinners, that none shall shine or have any brightness of joy, but his face shall be turned into darkness. They shall not turn aside, in fulfilling the office enjoined them, but each shall carry on the punishments on sinners entrusted to him. At the presence of that people, "the earth shall quake and the heavens tremble. For heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word of the Lord shall endure forever." The sun and moon also shall not endure to see the punishments of the miserable, and shall remove and, for bright light, shall be shrouded in terrible darkness. "The stars also shall withdraw their shining," in that the holy also shall not without fear behold the presence of the Lord. Amid all this, "The Lord shall utter His voice" before His army. For as the Babylonians, in punishing Jerusalem, are called the army of God, so the evil angels (of whom it is written, "He cast upon them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them" Psalm 78:49) are called the army of God and His camp, in that they do the Will of God."

The Day of the Lord, is great and terrible - Of which it is written, elsewhere, "to what end do ye desire the Day of the Lord? it is darkness and not light and very terrible" (from Amos 5:18), and few or none can abide it, but will furnish some ground of severity against himself.

11. Lord … his army—So among Mohammedans, "Lord of the locusts" is a title of God.

his voice—His word of command to the locusts, and to the antitypical human foes of Judea, as "His army."

strong that executeth his word—(Re 18:8).

The Lord, Jehovah, the eternal and almighty God, Lord of hosts,

shall utter his voice; summon them in, and encourage them, as a general doth encourage his soldiers engaging in fight; God commands their attendance, and countenanceth their attempts.

Before his army of locusts and insects; and of Assyrians, Chaldeans, or Babylonians, signified by locusts.

His camp is very great; very numerous and strong, and therefore described by the prophet in a manner almost above belief; it is the host which God gathers together, and by which he will do great things.

He is strong; he giveth strength to his army, and is among them the Strong One; he doth by them execute his own purpose and threats, and so shows his strength.

That executeth his word; what he hath declared and threatened to do.

The day of the Lord: see Joel 1:15.

Is great; wherein great sinners are punished, great judgments are executed, by great power in the instruments, and by greater power in the hand that useth them.

Very terrible; full of terror, and such as will make the stoutest heart quail.

Who can abide it? neither king, nobles, nor warriors, but all faces gather blackness, as it is Joel 2:6,10.

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army,.... Either the army of the locusts, whom Pliny (u) calls "pestis deorum", "the plague of the gods"; and the Arabians frequently style them the army of God. It is a tradition of theirs that locusts fell into the hands of Mahomet, with this inscription on their backs and wings,

"we are the army of the most high God;''

and because they were, for that reason Mahomet made a law that none should kill them; See Gill on Revelation 9:3. These creatures are certainly at his beck and command; he can "command the locust to devour the land", 2 Chronicles 7:13; which may be meant by his uttering his voice here; though Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it of the Lord's giving notice of this judgment by his prophets before it fame: or this may design the army of the Assyrians or Chaldeans, of which the locusts were all emblem, and which were of the Lord's mustering together, and was at his command; and who is here represented as a General at the head of his army, making a speech to them to animate and encourage them to the battle, and to give them the word of command when to begin the onset:

for his camp is very great; or numerous, as both the locusts and Chaldeans were:

for he is strong that executeth his word; or "strong is it"; namely, the camp and army of the locusts; which, though feeble in themselves, separately considered; yet being in such large bodies, and the Lord at the head of them, and strengthened by him, were able to fulfil his word; which he can make the least and meanest of his creatures do: or the Assyrian or Chaldean army, which was both numerous and mighty: which the Targum may refer unto, paraphrasing the words,

"for strong are the executors of his word:''

for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can abide it? the day appointed by the Lord to take vengeance on the Jews for sin; and this, being the day of his wrath, is very dreadful and intolerable; so any season may be called, in which God remarkably pours down his wrath on men of their sins; see Revelation 6:17. Such was the time of Jerusalem's destruction, both by the Chaldeans and Romans.

(u) Ibid. (Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.)

And the LORD shall {h} 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?

(h) The Lord will stir up the Assyrians to execute his judgments.

11. And Jehovah uttereth his voice] viz. in thunder, as Psalm 18:13; Psalm 46:6, and regularly: see on Amos 1:2.

before his army] the locusts, as described in Joel 2:2-9. Cf. Joel 2:25.

for, &c.] Three co-ordinate clauses, each introduced by for, state the reason why Jehovah thunders before His host: on account, viz. of its vastness, its strength, and the exceptional character of the Day, the advent of which it is to herald.

great … strong] cf. Joel 1:6, Joel 2:2; Joel 2:5.

that executeth his word] The mission of the locusts is to fulfil a Divine purpose. Comp. the same expression (of other natural agents) in Psalm 148:8.

the day of Jehovah is great and very terrible] Cf. Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5.

abide] Cf. Jeremiah 10:10; and esp. Malachi 3:2 (a different conjugation of the same verb). More lit. contain, or sustain.

Joel 2:11The whole universe trembles at this judgment of God. Joel 2:10. "Before it the earth quakes, the heavens tremble: sun and moon have turned black, and the stars have withdrawn their shining. Joel 2:11. And Jehovah thunders before His army, for His camp is very great, for the executor of His word is strong; for the day of Jehovah is great and very terrible, and who can endure it?" The remark of Jerome on Joel 2:10, viz., that "it is not that the strength of the locusts is so great that they can move the heavens and shake the earth, but that to those who suffer from such calamities, from the amount of their own terror, the heavens appear to shake and the earth to reel," is correct enough so far as the first part is concerned, but it by no means exhausts the force of the words. For, as Hitzig properly observes, the earth could only quake because of the locusts when they had settled, and the heavens could only tremble and be darkened when they were flying, so that the words would in any case be very much exaggerated. But it by no means follows from this, that לפניו is not to be taken as referring to the locusts, like מפּניו in Joel 2:6, but to the coming of Jehovah in a storm, and that it is to be understood in this sense: "the earth quakes, the air roars at the voice of Jehovah, i.e., at the thunder, and storm-clouds darken the day." For although nâthan qōlō (shall utter His voice) in Joel 2:11 is to be understood as referring to the thunder, Joel is not merely describing a storm, which came when the trouble had reached its height and put an end to the plague of locusts (Credner, Hitzig, and others). לפניו cannot be taken in any other sense than that in which it occurs in Joel 2:3; that is to say, it can only refer to "the great people and strong," viz., the army of locusts, like מפּניו. Heaven and earth tremble at the army of locusts, because Jehovah comes with them to judge the world (cf. Isaiah 13:13; Nahum 1:5-6; Jeremiah 10:10). The sun and moon become black, i.e., dark, and the stars withdraw their brightness ('âsaph, withdraw, as in 1 Samuel 14:19), i.e., they let their light shine no more. That these words affirm something infinitely greater than the darkening of the lights of heaven by storm-clouds, is evident partly from the predictions of the judgment of the wrath of the Lord that is coming upon the whole earth and upon the imperial power (Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7), at which the whole fabric of the universe trembles and nature clothes itself in mourning, and partly from the adoption of this particular feature by Christ in His description of the last judgment (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-25). Compare, on the other hand, the poetical description of a storm in Psalm 18:8., where this feature is wanting. (For further remarks, see at Joel 3:4.) At the head of the army which is to execute His will, the Lord causes His voice of thunder to sound (nâthan qōl, to thunder; cf. Psalm 18:14, etc.). The reason for this is given in three sentences that are introduced by kı̄. Jehovah does this because His army is very great; because this powerful army executes His word, i.e., His command; and because the day of judgment is so great and terrible, that no one can endure it, i.e., no one can stand before the fury of the wrath of the Judge (cf. Jeremiah 10:10; Malachi 3:1).
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