Joel 2:23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
The locusts had eaten everything green, and a drought was threatening any hope for a harvest (Joel 1:17). Without a word of hope, God’s people might have despaired, so the prophet assured them of a glorious future. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil (Joel 2:24), he said. It is not enough to hear the bad news; we must also hear the good news.
Those who experience terrible loss often think their lives will never improve. One dear lady was asked if she was doing okay. She burst into tears and said, I will never be okay for the rest of my life. That is how it often seems, but God can turn things around. After losing health, wealth and family, Job said, my eyes will never see happiness again (Job 4:7). But over time, his situation changed, and the Lord gave him twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
I went through a season of pain that lasted several years. It was not apparent to everyone, but I suffered deeply within. The agony was awful at first, but it gradually subsided, until it was finally gone. [Y]our days of sorrow will end (Isaiah 60:20), wrote Isaiah.
And even if our sorrows never end in this life, they will surely end in the next. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32), wrote Paul. Nothing needed for our happiness will ever be lacking in the age to come.
Joel 2:28 And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
For many years the power of the Spirit was only given to a few (Numbers 11:16-17). But Joel looked forward to a day when all God’s people would receive the Holy Spirit. This was fulfilled, many years later, on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit came so mightily that Peter said, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16). Ever since that day, whoever believes in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).
We trust the experts on many things, like whether to have surgery, or how to invest our money. But salvation is so important that we need to know for ourselves. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24), wrote John. The work of the Holy Spirit is for all who believe in Christ, and was foretold by the prophet Joel.
Joel 3:2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance.
Lawful trials are solemn events for those who stand accused. Even the self-assured are gripped by the fact that their future is in the hands of another. The Judge’s determination can even be a matter of life or death. And if the judge is Jesus Christ, it can be a matter of heaven or hell.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:31-34). But to those on his left he will say, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
This is the most decisive event in history, and will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, in the land of Israel. Evil abounds in the present age, but will be dealt with once and for all on Judgment Day. The wicked will be thrown into hell, and the righteous will inherit the kingdom of God. It is a solemn thing to stand before the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25).
Joel 3:18 In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias.
The prophet foresaw a time when the Garden of Eden will be restored, the curse will be reversed, and the people of God will dwell with him forever (Joel 3:20). What a comfort these words must have been to those who suffered so much.
When my daughter was a little girl, she liked to read before going to sleep. Once she had a lengthy book, and I caught her reading the end of the story first. If she knew the story ended well, she explained, then she could enjoy the whole book—no matter what happened along the way. Since we know our story ends well, we too can enjoy the journey.
Reflection and Review
Do difficult times always end?
How do we know that we have eternal life?
Why is it helpful to know that our story ends well?