A Commentary on Joel Chapter 2


The book of Joel contains prophecies and warnings from God to the people of Judah regarding a terrible locust plague that was devastating the land. Joel chapter 2 records God’s call for the people to repent and return to Him, as well as promises of future restoration.

This chapter can be divided into two main sections. Verses 1-17 describe the “day of the Lord” – a day of judgment coming upon Judah. The people are urged to repent in light of this coming judgment. Verses 18-32 then transition to promises of future blessings, restoration, and the outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Key Takeaways from Joel Chapter 2

  • The “day of the Lord” is a day of judgment, darkness, and devastation that is coming upon Judah.
  • God urgently calls the people to repentance and fasting to avert the judgment.
  • God promises to restore the land and pour out His Spirit on His people.
  • There are hints and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah and salvation in Jesus.
  • God protects and blesses those who call upon His name.

In this commentary, we will explore this prophetic chapter verse-by-verse, understanding it in its original context while also seeing how it points forward to Christ and the church age.

A Commentary on Joel Chapter 2


1. The Coming “Day of the Lord” (2:1-11)

Blow 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 is coming, For it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations. (Joel 2:1-2 NKJV)

Joel opens this chapter with a warning about the coming “day of the Lord.” This term in the Old Testament usually refers to times when God directly intervenes in judgment against sin. The day of the Lord would be characterized by darkness, gloom, and thick clouds.

Joel warned that this day was near and that Judah needed to repent. The warning was akin to an alarm sounding, meant to shake the people out of their complacency.

The prophecy likely referred initially to the coming invasion of the Assyrian army that would wreak havoc in Judah. Yet the day of the Lord has a double fulfillment, as it also points ahead to the ultimate Day of Judgment.

The description of the clouds and darkness evoke images of the apocalyptic judgments of Revelation, the final day of reckoning when Christ will return to judge sin.

A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them. (Joel 2:3 NKJV)

The army invading Judah is compared to a raging, unstoppable fire. The garden-like prosperity of Judah would be turned into a smoldering wasteland. Nothing would escape the fury and thoroughness of the judgment.

Again, while this points to the invasion of Judah, it also foreshadows the completeness of God’s wrath on the final day. No one will escape standing before His judgment seat. Only those who know Christ will be delivered.

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots Over mountaintops they leap, Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, Like a strong people set in battle array. (Joel 2:4-5 NKJV)

More description is given of this mighty army. Like galloping horses, the soldiers advance quickly and powerfully. The noise and rumbling of their chariots resounds in the mountains like a wildfire raging through dry brush.

The similes of fire, horses, and chariots emphasize the speed, noise, and strength of this army. When God’s judgment comes, it comes swiftly and shockingly. There is a great sense of urgency in this warning passage.

Before them the people writhe in pain; All faces are drained of color. They run like mighty men, They climb the wall like men of war; Every one marches in formation, And they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; Every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, They are not cut down. (Joel 2:6-8 NKJV)

The terror this army produces is palpable. Faces grow pale, people writhe in pain. The soldiers are compared to mighty warriors, expertly marching in formation. Their discipline and skill as warriors make them seemingly unstoppable. Even when facing volleys of spears, they continue advancing in perfect order.

This again emphasizes that when God’s judgment comes, there is no standing against it. It will induce terror and anguish, even in the mighty. Only God’s mercy can deliver from such judgment.

They run to and fro in the city, They run on the wall; They climb into the houses, They enter at the windows like a thief. (Joel 2:9 NKJV)

Now the scene shifts from the countryside to a city. The invading soldiers have breached the city walls and run rampant through the streets. Like thieves, they infiltrate houses and ransack them.

The comparison to thieves emphasizes the unexpectedness and vulnerability people will feel on this day of reckoning. Judgment will come suddenly like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2). Only vigilant preparation and repentance can help one withstand that day.

The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness. (Joel 2:10 NKJV)

Now even the heavens and earth respond to this invading army. It’s as if all creation recognizes and trembles at the judgment of God. The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars is often associated in Scripture with divine judgment (see Isa. 13:10, Ezek. 32:7, Matt. 24:29).

While this points to natural cosmic disturbances, it also hints at spiritual turmoil. The rule of the heavens is shaken because of mankind’s sin against his Creator. Only through Christ’s redemption can the cosmic order be restored.

The Lord gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11 NKJV)

Finally, it is made explicit that this army is the Lord’s. He is the One marshaling this force and executing judgment. This day of reckoning is directly from Him, and His camp is utterly vast and formidable.

The rhetorical question underlines the point: who could possibly stand against or endure such a terrible day of God’s wrath? This warning reinforces the urgency of repenting before that final day comes.

2. Call to Repentance in Light of Judgment (2:12-17)

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. (Joel 2:12-13 NKJV)

After describing the coming judgment, God makes a plea for Judah to repent. Destruction is imminent, but God in His mercy provides an escape. If they rend their hearts in contrition rather than just outward displays, God promises to relent from the judgment.

True repentance requires heartfelt sorrow over sin, not just empty rituals. But God is gracious, merciful, and ready to forgive such genuine repentance. Even under threat of judgment, God extends His loving call to return to Him.

This passage illustrates the heart of God, who “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4 NKJV). He calls all people to repentance, delaying judgment so that more may come to faith (2 Pet. 3:9).

Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him— A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God? (Joel 2:14 NKJV)

There was still a chance for Judah to avert this judgment if they repented quickly. God might relent and instead bless them abundantly again. He was willing to forgive and restore, if only they turned back to Him in sincere devotion.

God’s heart for restoration after repentance is seen clearly. Even after severe warnings, He offers a way out through running back to Him.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. (Joel 2:15-16 NKJV)

The call goes out for immediate assembly, fasting, and prayer. All the people from youngest to oldest are urged to come for this sacred gathering. Even brides and grooms should pause their wedding celebrations for this corporate petitioning of God’s mercy.

Revival often begins with such solemn assemblies (see 2 Chron. 7:14). God’s people must come together to intercede and repent if they want to avert judgment. The urgency and gravity of the situation is felt in this call for mass repentance.

Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17 NKJV)

The priests are called to intercede by weeping and pleading for God to spare His people from destruction and exile. They appeal to God’s faithfulness to His heritage, urgency not wanting the nations to mock Israel and question where God is.

Even in times of pronounced judgment, God calls for intercessors to appeal to His heart of mercy. He is moved when His people cry out to Him in their time of need.

3. Promises of Restoration and Blessing (2:18-32)

Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, And pity His people. (Joel 2:18 NKJV)

After the warnings and call to repentance, the passage transitions with a pivoting “then.” If Judah heeded God’s call and turned back to Him, He would show them favor and restoration again.

God would then pour out His zeal and compassion on them, no longer needing to discipline. He would act on behalf of His people, showing them mercy.

This demonstrates the amazing power of repentance to unlock blessings from God, changing curses into blessings (see Deut. 30:1-3). sincere repentance is a key that unlocks God’s mighty hand of restoration.

The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations. (Joel 2:19 NKJV)

God personally promises to bless and provide for Israel again after their repentance. The judgment would be restrained, and He would restore their prosperity miraculously. They would have abundant grain, wine, and oil – symbols of blessing.

God’s heart to redeem and restore His people is evident here. Even after such dire warnings, He offers great hope through repentance.

“But I will remove far from you the northern army, And will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, With his face toward the eastern sea And his back toward the western sea; His stench will come up, And his foul odor will rise, Because he has done monstrous things.” (Joel 2:20 NKJV)

An amazing promise follows. God will completely reverse the threat by driving away and destroying the invading northern army (likely Assyria). The dreaded army will itself end up in a wasteland, likely a reference to the desolate Arabian desert.

Only God can promise such a radical reversal and deliverance. He transforms desolation back into abundance in response to repentance. No threat is too great for Him to overcome.

Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the Lord has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength. (Joel 2:21-22 NKJV)

In light of this promised deliverance, the people are encouraged to rejoice and not fear. God has done marvelous things on their behalf, and He will restore fruitfulness to their land.

After God’s discipline has achieved its purpose in producing repentance, He delights to comfort His people and reassure them of His faithfulness. He will turn wailing into rejoicing.

Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you— The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. (Joel 2:23-24 NKJV)

The restoration goes beyond just ending the threat. God also promises to bless His people in abundance again, with rain and successful harvests. This refers to the early and late rains crucial for crops in Israel. Threshing floors would overflow with wheat and vats brim with new wine and oil.

When God blesses, He does so abundantly. Through Him, scarcity becomes more than enough. The people’s regret over sin leads to rejoicing in God’s goodness when He redeems the situation.

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. (Joel 2:25-26 NKJV)

To top it off, God promises to restore all the years lost to the devastating locust plague described in chapter 1. The curse will be completely reversed and overcome by blessing. After tasting judgment, the people will be overwhelmed by God’s salvation and provision.

This demonstrates the truth that God causes “all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28 NKJV). Even tragedies can be redeemed and restored when people turn back to God.

Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. (Joel 2:27 NKJV)

The greatest blessing is knowing the presence of God. He promises to live amongst His restored people, the one true God. They will never again be put to shame when they walk with Him. No enemy can oppose or threaten God’s people when He is dwelling in their midst.

The highest privelege in redemption is enjoying close fellowship with God. Life’s greatest fulfillment comes from hosting His presence. All other blessings flow out from there.

“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, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29 NKJV)

The pinnacle of this restoration promise is the outpouring of God’s Spirit. This prophecy reached its first fulfillment at Pentecost when the church was launched (Acts 2). But it was also partially fulfilled at various times in the Old Testament.

The Holy Spirit enables God’s people to have intimate communion with Him. The Spirit allows all believers, regardless of age, gender, or status, to fellowship with God, know His will, and walk in holiness.

“And I will show 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 coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” (Joel 2:30-32 NKJV)

The outpouring of God’s Spirit will be accompanied by wonders in the heavens. These miraculous signs in sun and moon again point to the cataclysmic events of the final Day of Judgment.

But Joel ends on a note of hope. All those who call upon the Lord’s name will be delivered on that day, both Jews and Gentiles. Salvation will abound for all those who turn to God. He will call people to Himself from every corner, redeeming a remnant for His glory.

So amidst ominous warnings, God gives glimpses of His redemption through His Spirit and the Savior. Wrath gives way to mercy when people rend their hearts before God.


Joel chapter 2 contains sobering warnings about the Day of Judgment but also great promises of restoration through repentance. God urgently calls His people to return to Him, promising to relent from judgment if they do. While judgment is inevitable for unrepentant sin, God provides a way of escape by grace through faith.

This passage illustrates God’s holiness, zeal for justice, and tender mercies and readiness to forgive. He disciplines those He loves, but when their hearts turn back to Him, He delights to redeem and restore. Ultimately, this prophecy points to the Day of Christ’s return. Those who call upon Jesus’ name will be saved from final judgment. Until then, the church must heed God’s call, walk in holiness, and intercede for the lost.

As believers today, we should:

  • Have a healthy fear of God’s judgment of sin
  • Frequently examine our hearts and repent of any sin
  • Answer God’s call to solemn assembly and fervent prayer
  • Claim His great promises of restoration and the Spirit
  • Find our hope in Christ’s final deliverance

Though times may get dark, God remains sovereign and able to reverse any curse. Let us rend our hearts before Him, that we may see great outpouring of His blessings and presence in our day.

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