One of the repeated teachings throughout all of Scripture is that “knowledge” is not enough; “hearing” is not enough; “awareness” is not enough. The only biblical proof of our knowledge, hearing, or awareness of God’s will and working is how we live and behave. If we don’t put it into practice, we’re considered stupid, deaf, and ignorant—and ultimately doomed. Therefore the only hope anyone has in the presence or impending arrival of God’s judgment is obedience and submission to Him. Here as throughout all Scripture concerning the Last Days, Believers are admonished to do one thing and one thing only in the presence of the signs and wonders of judgment: Be wholly devoted to Him.
Read verses 1-2
Q: According to God’s Word, what kind of day is “the day of the Lord”?
A: “A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”
Application: Why do some of us “look forward” to “the day of the Lord” as if it is the most wonderful thing to ever come? How SHOULD we be looking at it? What is the proper context “the day of the Lord” should be given in our walk and faith as well as how we interpret End Times Scripture?
Q: What is the purpose of blowing a trumpet or sounding an alarm in Old Testament times?
A: It’s supposed to alert everyone to take up their prepared and pre-planned defensive positions against an oncoming enemy. If they’ve made suitable fortifications, trained properly, and had enough time to leave their current activities to take up their military positions, they are in the best position to withstand an attack. Without a proper warning it’s almost impossible to survive, but even with a proper warning, survival usually depended on the preparations and training already accomplished.
Q: Against whom is the enemy advancing
A: Zion, which most often represents spiritual Israel, meaning all who are true Believers and followers of the One True God. These verses most certainly have multiple prophecy meanings pertaining both to literal Israel and spiritual Israel, and both to ancient Israel and Israel yet to come in the Last Days.
Read verses 11b-14
Q: What is the second description of “the day of the Lord”? What does it teach us?
A: “Who can endure it?” It reinforces v.1 that this is not a day that ANYONE should look forward to nor regard as something wonderful to come.
Q: Verses 1-11 explain in detail the coming terrors of judgment that have been warned by sounding the trumpet of alarm. What, therefore, is the proper response to the alarm of the coming and terrible “day of the Lord”?
A: Reconciliation to God.
Q: How is reconciliation described? Is it merely acknowledging that God is in charge?
A: It’s a call to completely bring one’s heart, soul and mind under complete subjection to God. The actions listed are those of someone who is plainly and painfully aware of their sin and coming before God in the most contrite, penitent manner possible.
“...with all your heart...”
“...with fasting, weeping and mourning...”
“...rend your heart and not your garments...”
Q: What does the reference to “a grain offering and a drink offering” mean?
A: These were offerings that were made of the “first fruits”, giving to God the first from that which He gave them in terms of food and possessions. It’s a way of stating that even in the shadow of judgment He will take care of those that are 100% dedicated to Him so that they are not only able to have their own needs met but will be able to continue in their service and responsibilities to God.
Application: Did you notice that God did not say that we should react or make physical preparations for any of the signs or works of His judgment? What is the only thing we’re to do? If we truly believe we’re living in the End Times and hearing the trumpet call of warning concerning them, why is it we’re not more focused on repentance and reconciliation than being fascinated by the signs?
Read verses 15-17
Q: What are the 2 keywords in v.15 and 16 that indicate the proper response of God’s people to “the day of the Lord”? How would you apply them?
A: “Consecrate” (v.15) and “sanctify” (v.16). Together with the terms “assemble” and “gather” they mean to call God’s people to live as separated from the world, wholly devoted to Him and His ways, completely rejecting everything connected to the world for which judgment is coming. It’s a call to every office, age, and standing (“the people”, “the elders”, “the children”, “infants”, “bridegroom”, “bride”, and “priests”) to dedicate themselves first and foremost to God.
Q: What does the reference to “Your inheritance” mean in v.17?
A: It’s a dual reference both to physical Israel—that it will be saved and sanctified as an example to the rest of the world—as well as a general reference that our commitment to being consecrated and sanctified in the Lord is a witness to non-believers.
Application: What is the primary activity in which the church should be engaged in the Last Days? [Answer: Sanctification] What does this say about you personally as well as the church or organization to which you belong?
Read verses 18-20
Q: What do all of the “the Lord will”/”I will” statements in this passage mean to us overall?
A: The only answer to living through and dealing with God’s judgment is God Himself. Our only required action is to consecrate and sanctify ourselves to Him; HE takes care of the effects of judgment on our behalf for which we can do absolutely nothing about personally.
Application: What preparations are we supposed to make for “the day of the Lord”? Have you begun those preparations yet? Do you see God as the only hope of salvation both eternally and in the Last Days to come?
Read verses 21-27
Q: How would you summarize the basic message of v.21-24?
A: God will make our present good.
Q: How would you summarize the basic message of v.25?
A: God will heal and amend our past.
Q: How would you summarize the basic message of v.26-27?
A: God will assure our future.
Point: The warning signs of the coming “day of the Lord” affects our thinking, faith and actions in the present life as we see it coming, our past as we have prepared for it up to this point, and our future as to whether we will cling to God or our own ways. The “Last Days” isn’t just a pure doctrinal or theological issue, but a barometer and measure of our spiritual walk.
Read verses 28-32
Q: Obviously this passage has an application for what occurred at Pentecost. How else does it apply to “the day of the LORD”?
A: The spiritual trumpet call sounding warning of the coming of “the day of the Lord” will not just be accompanied by physical signs but by a visible spiritual revival. From the time of recognition of the warning signs until the actual day occurs, there is the opportunity and work of the Gospel to save “whoever calls on the name of the Lord”.
Note: Studies indicate that more Jews during the past couple of decades have come to faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Son of God than have done so in the last couple of millennia. What should that mean to us in the context of Joel?
Point: When we see the actual and final “day of the Lord”, it will be too late—whatever spiritual preparations we’ve made will have set our outcome; it’s the days leading UP to that day that are being touted here as the most important because there is still opportunity to be reconciled to God and do His work.
How have you viewed “the day of the Lord”? Has it seemed like some sort of coming “holiday” of celebration? Or do you see it as something to be feared? What’s the proper place it should take in your faith and behavior?
Do the activities and discussions of the Last Days drive you deeper towards God or just tease your curiosity? Do you see that God’s calling is for sanctification and work for His kingdom in these times and not any kind of physical preparations?
How well do you understand and even believe that the attitude you take concerning “the day of the Lord” provides the basis for God’s work in your past, present, and future?