Joel 2:28-32: Retribution on the Multitudes
“28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. 30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls”.
The Return of Jesus
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28-29).
In verse 28 of Joel’s second chapter, the prophet looks forward to the Millennial Kingdom, with the use of one word “afterward,” so all that follows the word relates to the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. However, in Acts 2:15-17 Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost and says: “For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh’”. In this sermon, Peter connects Joel’s prophecy with the Holy Spirit’s coming and the commencement of the Church. Not every detail of Joel’s prophecy is yet fulfilled, but the “pouring out of the Spirit” began on the Day of Pentecost – the birth of the Church. From that time, the Holy Spirit indwells all those who come to faith in Jesus Christ. The Church is in a state of already, but not yet. The Kingdom is present on earth today in the Church, and looks forward to the fullness of the promises at the commencement of the Millennial Kingdom which is prophesied in Zechariah 12:10:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).
So, Zechariah 12:10 also links to the prophecy of Joel, given a further revelation, that after the defeat of the Antichrist’s army at Armageddon, the King of kings will pour out His Spirit on all the Jews in Jerusalem that cry out “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. The time of Jacob’s trouble will have run its course, and had its effect of restoring the relationship between the chosen people and their Messiah. What a glorious day that will be, as a 2000-year-old festering wound is healed. Peter’s speech at Pentecost must therefore not be seen as a fulfilment of Joel 2:28, but rather as an early indication of the greater reality that is still to come.
Three reasons why Pentecost was not the fulfilment of Joel 2:28-29:
- Peter clearly says “this is that,” in his explanation to those that are mocking the disciples as being drunk. In other words, Peter is saying that what they are seeing is similar to what Joel prophesied. Peter avoids using the word fulfilment, as Joel’s prophecy will be completely fulfilled at the return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom.
- Joel goes on to give a list of “wonders in heaven” that will occur prior to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Signs that will occur during the Great Tribulation, and that were distinctly absent at Pentecost.
- At Pentecost, only the disciples received the Holy Spirit, while Joel clearly prophesied that God would “pour out (His) Spirit on all flesh”. During the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be bound and there will be no spiritual demonic activity. Children will still be born with a sinful nature (Isaiah 65:20), but the presence of the Holy Spirit, will restrain sin.
- The above three points are adapted from David Levy, Joel, The Day of the Lord, The Friends of Israel Ministry, Inc. Bellmawr, New Jersey, 1993. P53-54.
Satan counterfeits that which is of God, he has no originality, his desire is to take God’s place, therefore he imitates God’s plans. So, it is necessary to understand God’s plans to then be able expose the deceptions of Satan. The hypostatic union of Jesus means that He is both all God and all man. Therefore, Jesus, as the Son of David, will have a thousand-year reign over the nation of Israel and the world, and His chosen followers will reign with Him (Rev. 20:6). The Prince of Peace will rule from the city of peace – Jerusalem. Then Jesus as the Son of God will have an eternal reign during the period of the New Heaven and New Earth, ruling from the New Jerusalem.
Satan will counterfeit the Millennial Kingdom, by introducing a time of false peace under his counterfeit messiah, the Antichrist. This period of deception is called the Tribulation and is referred to in Jeremiah as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). The Tribulation is a time where God is dealing with the Jews, and relates to the last seven years of the prophesied 490 years in Daniel 9 (this will be covered in detail in the next in the series, which is the book of Daniel). The rapture of the Church occurs prior to the Tribulation, with the marriage supper of the Lamb taking place in heaven during the seven-year period. The Tribulation starts with a time of false peace which will last for 3½ years, and occurs before the commencement of God’s Trumpet and Bowl Judgements on mankind – the last 3½ years is referred to as the Great Tribulation, as it is during this time that God’s judgements are poured out onto the earth.
The many one world government groups in the world today are continuing to push for Globalisation and world peace. They desire to attain a universality of peace for mankind, but this is man’s peace and it is not of God – a false peace. This desire for a one world utopia, where all mankind will live in blissful harmony, is a deception that Satan has placed in the hearts of man in preparation for the false peace of the Antichrist.
The Trumpet and Bowl Judgements
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Joel 2:30-31).
Joel gives a clear warning that the return of the Lord will be preceded by the judgements of the Great Tribulation. The Trumpet and Bowl judgements are the Judgements of God upon a rebellious mankind, and take place in the last 3½ years of the seven-year Tribulation. The list of judgements is depicted below, and will be dealt with in detail in the forthcoming study on the book of Revelation.
Joel list three “wonders in the heavens “which are identified as part of the judgements of the Great Tribulation, as described by John in the book of Revelation:
- During the second trumpet judgement a third of the sea will become blood.
- During the sixth trumpet judgement a third of mankind is killed.
- When the second bowl judgement is poured out onto the sea, it turns to blood.
- At the battle of Armageddon, the armies of the Antichrist are crushed in the “winepress” of the wrath of God, and blood runs to the height of a horse’s bridle, for a distance of 320 Km (Rev. 14:20).
- During the first trumpet judgement, a third of the earth is burnt by fire, including a third of the trees and a third of the grass.
- The fourth bowl judgement records that the intensity of the sun increases, scorching mankind.
Columns of smoke:
- The fires of the first trumpet judgement burning a third of the vegetation, will produce massive amounts of smoke.
- At the opening of the bottomless pit, to release the demonic locusts during the fourth trumpet judgement, smoke billows out which will be so dense that it will blot out the light of the sun.
Joel continues on to write that the sun and moon will be affected by the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements, a fact that Jesus confirms in Matthew 24:29. All believers looking to the return of Jesus at the rapture, must not be swayed by the “experts” that point to astronomical events, such as the aligning of the planets, “blood moons,” and eclipses of the sun and the moon as evidence that the rapture will soon take place. There are no such signs given in prophecy that precede the Rapture of the Church! In Matthew 24:29, Jesus is referring to the signs at His return to establish His Kingdom, not the rapture.
What is the purpose of the two returns?
1. The return at the Rapture:
At the rapture of the Church Jesus returns to collect his Bride. The Tribulation period then takes place and has three purposes:
- God hands mankind over to a reprobate mind, giving them what they desire, i.e. a world governed under the authority of man’s wisdom – the rule of the Antichrist. God holds the world accountable for this decision, hence it is a time of judgement (2 Thessalonian 2:11-12 will be covered in detail in the forthcoming teaching on 2 Thessalonians 2).
- It is the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), where God deals with the Jewish people restoring them in a covenant relationship with Him – by the end of the Tribulation they will recognize Yeshua as their Messiah.
- The last seven years is a second chance for all those who were not part of the rapture to repent, effectively God is asking the question: Whom do you serve – Jesus or the Antichrist? As the Church has already made this decision it is logical that they do not go through the Tribulation.
2. The return at the end of the Tribulation
- Jesus returns to defeat Israel’s enemies at Armageddon (Zech. 14:12-13; Rev. 19:19-21)
- To free mankind from the rule of Satan (2 Thess. 2:8-9)
- Restores the Jews in relationship with Him (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11:26)
- The sheep and goat’s judgement in the valley of Jehoshaphat – the judgement of the nations – with the redeemed sheep continuing on to populate the Kingdom (Mt. 25: 31-46)
- The Prince of Peace establishing His throne in the City of Peace – Jerusalem, ruling over Israel (Psalm 102:20-22; Mic. 4:3-5)
- All creation is restored, being delivered from the curse of the fall brought on by Adam (Rom. 8:19-22)
The rapture of believers in contrast to the return of Jesus at the end of the age:
A study of the scriptures reveals that the prophets recorded that there would be two distinct “returns” of Jesus. The first is at the rapture, where Jesus descends from heaven to the clouds above the earth, and His Church is called up to meet Him in the air. The second is when Jesus returns to earth with His saints at the end of the Great Tribulation. The numerous differences between these two important events are listed below:
1. At the rapture Jesus comes for His bride, the Church (1 Thes. 4:13-18); believers are then raised to heaven.
1. Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation with His Bride, the Church, to earth (Jude 14; Rev. 19:14); no translation of believers to heaven takes place.
2. Jesus descends with a shout, that calls His bride to Him (1 Thes. 4:16).
2. No shout is recorded in scripture when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom (Rev. 19:11-21).
3. Jesus is seen only by those who believe in Him (1 Cor. 15:50-53).
3. All nations of the earth will see the return of Jesus (Matt. 24:30).
4. The rapture is instantaneous, occurring in a twinkling of the eye(1 Cor. 15:52).
4. Jesus’ return to the Mount of Olives is deliberate and extended involving the battle against the Antichrist, the judgements and the establishment of His kingdom (Zech. 14:3; Dan. 2:44-45; 2 Thes. 2:8 & Rev. 19:11-21).
5. Believers bodies will be transformed into glorious heavenly bodies (1 Cor. 15: 51-56).
5. No transformation takes place, as the Church have heavenly bodies when they return with the Lord (Rev. 19:11-21).
6. The Church meets the Lord in the air above the earth and travels with Him to heaven (1 Thes. 4:17).
6. Jesus returns to earth with His “holy ones” (1 Thes. 3:13); Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives to rule and reign with His Church (Acts 1:9-11; Matt. 25:31-32; Rev. 19:14; Zech. 14:4).
7. Believers are taken to the Father’s House in heaven (John 14:3).
7. Believers return with Jesus to Earth from heaven. Jesus is described as coming with clouds (Rev. 1:7); coming on the clouds (Matt. 24:30, 26:64; Mark 14:62); and coming in a cloud (Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27). The cloud is the multitude of believers (Jude 14), returning as the army of the Lord, riding on white horses and dressed in “fine linen white and clean (Rev. 19:14).”
8. The rapture keeps the Church from the hour of trial (Rev. 3:10) and rescues the Church from wrath (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9). The deliverance from trial and wrath is the blessed hope of the Church (Titus 2:13).
8. The Church has no need to be rescued, as they are returning with Jesus as part of a mighty army(Jude 14; Rev. 19:11-21).
9. The rapture is selective; Jesus gathers His own (1 Thes. 4:13-18; Matt. 25:1-13).
9. The second coming affects all mankind, with the wicked being collected first (Matt. 13:28-30), followed by the righteous (Matt. 24: 31).
10. Jesus comes to reward the Church (2 Cor. 5:10) and there is no judgement of the unrighteous at the rapture. However, the Tribulation that follows the rapture is a judgement on the world for their rebellion against God.
10. The unrighteous are judged and righteousness is established on the earth (Matt. 13:41-43; 2 Thes. 1:6-10; Rev. 20:11-15).
11. At the rapture, resurrection is prominent (1Thess. 4:15-16).
11. In the scriptural record of the second coming resurrection is not mentioned.
12. Jesus comes to present the Church to Himself (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:6-9).
12. Jesus comes with His Church to battle against the Antichrist, to Judge the unrighteous and to set up His Kingdom (Zech. 14:3-4; Jude 14-15; Rev. 19:11-21).
13. Satan is cast out of heaven to earth (Rev. 12:9).
13. Satan is bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).
14. The rapture is a mystery, revealed by Paul to the Church in the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:51).
14. The day of the Lord’s return to judge the earth is foretold in the Old Testament (Zech. 12:10-12; Joel 3:12).
15. The rapture signals the start of the seven years of Tribulation (Rev. 3:10; 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Titus 2:13).
15. The Return of Jesus to Jerusalem signals the start of the millennial kingdom (Zech. 12:10-13; Rev. 19:11-21).
16. Scripture makes no mention of Jesus establishing His kingdom on earth at the rapture.
16. Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation and establishes His Kingdom on earth (Matt. 25:31, 34).
The prophetic events regarding Jesus’s return to establish His Kingdom are as follows:
- Jesus destroys the army of the Antichrist on His return, the Antichrist and false prophet are then thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:11-21).
- Jesus arrives on earth on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11), and when his feet touch down, the mount splits in two (Zech. 14:4).
- This will be a time of mixed emotions for the Jews, there will be a great rejoicing at magnificent arrival of their Messiah and the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But, there will also be sadness, as they see the pierced wounds in Yeshua’s wrists, and realise their ancestors had rejected their anointed one, their Messiah. Zechariah writes “they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (12:10).
For centuries Jews have retired to Jerusalem to die in the Holy City and be buried on the Mount of Olives, believing that they will be the first to be resurrected at the return of the Messiah. They believe that they will then be able to join with Him, in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Unfortunately, if their bones are still in the grave at the return of Jesus to Jerusalem, that means they missed the rapture. They had not accepted Jesus as Lord, therefore their resurrection will only be at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when the dead are raised for the White Throne Judgement!
Salvation for Israel
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:32).
When Joel writes, “calling upon the name of the Lord,” it is describing a confession of faith in God, trusting in His revealed Truth. The same expression is used by Paul in the same context in his letter to the Romans (10:13). There are two important points raised by Joel in this statement, which are reiterated by Paul:
- Salvation comes through faith alone, and not through works. Joel and the other prophets required the nation of Israel to keep the law, and to be assured that God would provide righteousness and salvation in the Messiah, who was still to come. The New Covenant stresses that salvation comes through faith in Jesus alone, and that it is freely given to those who call upon His name. Salvation, both in the Old and the New covenant eras, is given to those who recognised that nothing they could do would see them attain salvation – only by turning to God and trusting in His Grace, is salvation attained.
- Joel explicitly states “that everyone” who calls on God will attain salvation. There is no distinction made, or classification of people groups. Anyone who has faith in God, and believes in His provision for sin attains salvation.
The last sentence of Joel 2:32 underlines the sovereignty of God over salvation – those that “escape,” and are among the ‘survivors,” are those that are called by the Lord. There will be those that escape the destructive judgements of the Great Tribulation, and survive to the end. These are they that are chosen by God to live on in the Millennial Kingdom and to repopulate the earth.