Joel – The Land

If asked, before this study, I would have said the key feature in the Book of Joel is the locust; now I would say it is “the land” or “His land.”  The reason for the locust came was to distress the people and clean the land. Sometimes our English translations don’t do the Hebrew text justice.  Joel used specific words when he talked about valleys and mountains that change the mental pictures of his prophecy.  He does the same thing when he is writing about land or ground; most of the time the word is erets, but twice the word adamah is used.

David states in Psalm 24:1 “the earth is the Lord’s and everything that is in it.”  Joel is writing to the “elders” and “the all” that live in THE LAND.  In 1:6 and 3:2 Yahweh refers to this piece of real estate as “My land” and Joel in 2:18 calls it “His land.”  The word is erets and refers to earth or by extension all of the earth is His because He made it.  But that little sliver of land we call Israel is very special to Him.  It is no mistake that he led Abram there and promised it to his yet unborn children.  New Jerusalem will be placed there and some Bible teachers will make the argument that is where the Garden of Eden (2:3) was.  Those locusts were sent to strip the fields and pastures and so cover the mountains and valleys in order “to clean” it off.  This, in turn, produced the anguish/repentance that was needed.  The army of locust/army of people will be judged for what they do in Israel.

Adamah the word for ground/earth is used in 1:10 and 2:21, and it refers to red or productive ground and is the ground that Adam came from.  This term is important because it is a promise for us; when we are obedient the ground is productive, but rebellion will hinder that productiveness.  1:10 is dealing with the rebellion/loss of production and 2:21 is when Judah is promised blessings again.

The razing of the land talked about in Joel sounds like the destruction that the Roman army brought when they destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

God is the Master Gardener; He is letting us use His earth we need to take care of it as best we can.

Joel – Mountains

To do a post on valleys and not one on mountains does not seem right.  The Hebrew word har (mountain) is used six times in Joel.  A word for hill is used once in 3:18, but depending on the translation you may read “hill” even though it is the word Har. (Got to love translators and their work.)

Three times in Joel Har is used with the word Zion or holy (2: 1, 32; 3: 17).  The other three times the NIV adds an “s” making them plural, so to me, that makes them all the other mountains in Israel.  Mountains in Israel and other places are often sacred places.  Strong’s Concordance states they are often associated with deities and serve as symbols of strength.  Israel did have problems with using mountains as worships sites for other gods throughout its history.  If you read this thought (what we think as strong or wrong gods) into the verse when you read 2: 2, 5, and 3: 18 it transforms the verses into statements of God’s greatness and blessings over and above the gods that would war against Him and his people.

In 3:18 it is the mountains and hills that are giving the wine and milk.  These are the “areas” above the valleys where I would normally think of when it comes to food production.  I will let you draw your own conclusions here but it should give you another look into the greatness of our God.

Reference – Strong’s/Vine’s Concordance

Joel – Valleys (What they say about the End Times)

Part of the judgment/restoration prophesies in Joel deal with valleys.  The word “valley” occurs five times, but they come from two different Hebrew words: emeq and nachalahNachalah means a narrow valley and is associated with the “winter rains” and the wadi the water flows in. It is used once in Joel.  Emeq is a broad valley or vale, this word is used four times.  The different valleys are part of the metaphors that God uses to speak the truths He wants us to see about Him, so being able to visualize these landforms is important.  (See the post Valleys.)

Given the intensity of Joel’s prophesies my mental image of the valleys has been a rough place with steep sides.  So it did surprise me to find that the valley of Jehoshaphat and the valley of decision were emeq.  Now my mental picture is a place that can hold many people, and you can get into it easily (or out of it easily).

The first two uses (3:2, 12) of emeq are the Valley of Jehoshaphat which means the valley of the Eternal Judge.  In both of these, He is commanding the nations into the valley to be judged.  Several sources will note that the locust in the first part of the book could represent nations or that the nations will be like locust.  There is a valley near Jerusalem that is known by this name.  But given other prophecies and the history of the land, you would think of the valley of Megiddo.220px-jpf-jezreel_valley_and_mount_tabor

Emeq is also used in 3:17 where it is the valley of decision.  Decision in Hebrew is the word charuts.  Again my paradigm did not cover the many uses of this word.  This word is translated gold, diligent, sharp cutting objects, and refers to a wall.  Most of the uses of charuts as “gold” are in the book of Proverbs: 3:14, 8:10 & 19, and 16:16.  In these verses, they are associated with wisdom and knowledge.  When translated “diligent” it is also in Proverbs: 10:4, 12: 24 & 27, 13: 4, 21: 5.  In these verses, it is associated with wealth and valued possessions.  When it is translated as “sharp objects” it refers to threshing or harvesting implements and how the work is being done.  Daniel 9: 25 has it as a wall that will be finished in a time of distress.

All of these different uses challenged what I thought people would be deciding about; I assumed it would be to choose God or not.  Even though I still think this; I now see the reasons they are in the valley choosing.  People will be in the valley choosing between God and money, God and their knowledge, God and destruction (getting cut down), and/or God and their man-made walls/excuses. This is where the type of valley (emeq) becomes important; it will be easy to get into that situation, but it will be just as easy to get out of it.  Joel 3: 14 says “the Lord” will be heard sounding the coming judgment, but that He will be a refugee and stronghold for His people (Israel = those who have struggled with God).

The promises of the last five verses in Joel also center on a valley – Nachalah.  It is called the valley of acacias which is a thorny plant that grows in places where it seldom rains but when it does it is a flash flood.  The promise is that this rough place will become a blessing by a continual flow of water (Holy Spirit) from the throne of God.

Joel 2: 30/Acts 2: 17

Today is Pentecost Sunday, 2015 and I have been studying the term – Wonder. Ok, Pentecostthese connect because the Holy Spirit is causing the Church to speak in tongues, prophesy, see visions, and has promised to show wonders and signs. The Old Testament word is mopheth and the New Testament word is teras. In my Strong’s Concordance, teras is something “strange that causes wonder and causes you to marvel, it is always in the plural. Wonders appeal to the imagination.”

These things have been given to the Church so that mopheth pronounced “mo faith” can rise in us!