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;
I. The coming of the locusts was a day of the Lord; a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, a day of bustle and heartrending calamity, of which fathers would tell their children, and children to the generations yet unborn. And as all things are double, one against another—as the types of the physical have their antitypes in the spiritual world—so is there not something of which the locusts are an emblem and which is yet more terrible than they—a mysterious something, at which in our healthy state we shudder, as though an evil spirit passed us by in the darkness? The fall of the first accursed locust, on the smiling plain, is not one-tenth part so awful as the first little cloud of evil that flung its shadow over the innocence of a still youthful life.
II. Thickly as the locust-swarms may be over our past years, utterly as they may have wasted a vain and misguided boyhood, or a passionate foolish youth, yet the very worst of us need not despair. For what cause is it that God gives us the gift of time, if it be not that we may repent therein? Once more sow the seed, and plant the vineyard in the furrows of the contaminated soil. Poor may be the aftermath, scant the gleaning of grapes upon life's topmost branches, that may be left for thee; yet do thou thy best to redeem these from the locust-swarm. The Holy One who inhabiteth eternity reaches to us out of His eternity the fingers of a man's hand, and touches into green life again the years that the locust hath eaten. Even the memory of guilt He will alleviate. Sometimes as we float down the river of life, memory flashes up from the hidden depths, and the dark wave is peopled with the innumerable faces of once-forgotten sins which menace us from the waters and prophesy of death. But God can enable us to gaze unshudderingly on these faces, and say with thankful emotion, "These sins are not mine; they were mine, but they are forgiven."
F. W. Farrar, The Fall of Man, p. 292.
References: Joel 2:25.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 305; J. Vaughan, Old Testament Outlines, p. 273.
Joel 2:26There are three respects in which the promise of our text may be regarded as applying to those who answer to the description of the people of God. The believer has no cause to be ashamed: (1) When he searches into himself; (2) when he stands before the world; (3) when he stands before God.
I. It is proved by daily experience that, when his own heart is laid open to a man, he shrinks from the scene of foulness and deformity, and could not endure, for any consideration, that others should see him in the light in which he now sees himself. He cannot look into a single recess of his heart without finding fresh cause for confusion of face; inasmuch as the more he knows himself, the more he sees of his moral uncleanness, the more he ascertains that he is everything at which he should blush, and has nothing in which he should trust. The conscience of the believer may charge him with many offences, and bring him in guilty of much that is at variance with the law of God, but if he have respect unto all God's commandments, conscience may produce the catalogue, and yet not put him to shame. Conscience can have nothing with which to rebuke him, and therefore he can have nothing to be ashamed of at the tribunal of conscience, if he have not sinned in contempt of its remonstrances, and if he have shown a heartfelt repentance for sins committed.
II. Nothing but a clear conscience will enable us to look the world calmly and fearlessly in the face. The people of God must carry religion with them into every business of life, and see that all scenes are pervaded by its influence. They must have respect unto all the commandments; to make exceptions is to make a breach by which shame comes in. And if it be their endeavour to keep all the commandments, we know not why Christians should not bear themselves with that lofty dignity which no calumny can disturb.
III. The people of God need not be ashamed when brought into the presence of God. They have respect unto all God's commandments, and amongst these from the first have been reckoned the commandments which relate to faith. Here we have the groundwork of confidence before God, notwithstanding our own insufficiency. If there be respect to that commandment which enjoins that we take Christ as our surety, and depend on His merits, what cause remains for shame—even though it be the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity in whose presence we stand? "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1541.
No person can doubt that a great part of the unhappiness and of the sin which there is in the world consists in a sense of shame. And by shame I mean a consciousness of mortified distress. So powerful a feeling is it, and so saddening, that God has thought it not unworthy to be recorded even among the joys of paradise, that its inhabitants were "not ashamed." Look at the different kinds of shame to which we are all subject.
I. Among the shames which we have all felt, we must place our retrospects. And here I mean in a twofold sense: the shame of beginnings which have had no endings, and the shame of beginnings which have ended in nothing but disappointment and wretchedness. Paul summed it all up long ago, about a man of the world: "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?" And he drew the contrast with the Christian: "But this hope maketh not ashamed." The child of God is not like the man who began to build a tower, and had never calculated how he could finish it; but long since he has laid his foundation in God's own faithfulness, and he has been careful before he began to connect his work with God's glory. So he goes on in a holy confidence, while the very confidence he holds commands the issue.
II. There is another sense of shame—I mean the feeling of present loneliness. To be alone in what is good, does, of itself, tend to make a man ashamed. The remedy for the feeling of shame in standing alone for Christ and truth is in the conviction of the sacred presences that are with us and about us. Let such an one, who is ashamed of the "shame" of standing alone, read the latter part of the twelfth of Hebrews, and see to what he is come, and in the midst of which he is placed every moment; and the sense of that spiritual companionship will take away all his "shame," and he will feel how God gave His promise to all His own sorrowful ones: "My people shall never be ashamed."
III. Is not sin in its very nature a shame, and does not a Christian feel, more than any other, the "shame," the deep shame, of sin? You must remember that faith cuts off all painful retrospects; but if that man be living, as he ought to be living, in the assurance of God's love, the shame is so swallowed up and lost in the feeling of forgiveness, and Christ's glory is so his glory in it, that his eye may weep indeed, but it will still look up; the man may be in the dust, but his heart is in the heavens; he is humble, but he is not dejected; he is cast very low, but not ashamed.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 220.
Reference: Joel 2:26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1098. Joel 2:28-32.—Pulpit Analyst, vol. i., p. 571. Joel 2:32.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1931. Joel 3:1-8.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 449. Joel 3:9-17.—Ibid., p. 450. Joel 3:14.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xi., p. 207. Joel 3:16.—W. H. Jackson, Christian Word Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 107. Joel 3:18-21.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 452. Joel 3:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii., No. 379. Joel.—S. Cox, Preacher's Lantern, vol. ii., pp. 9, 74, 137, 209, 265, 329; R, Smith, Ibid., vol. iv., pp. 215, 349, 400.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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?
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.
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?
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:
But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
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.
And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
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 the 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.