New International Version
2:1 Blow the trumpet [trumpets used to sound warning] in Zion [may refer to the entire nation or to Jerusalem]; sound the alarm [as God’s prophet, Joel was fulfilling the role of a watchman] on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble [an indication of the urgency of the warning], for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand—
2:2 a day of darkness [a synonym for evil] and gloom [cf. Zeph. 1:15], a day of clouds and blackness [description of locust hordes]. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army [of invading locusts that devour everything in their path] comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.
2:3 Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them [as nothing escapes the locusts, no one will escape God’s judgment].
2:4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry.
2:5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire [similar to the sounds of locusts eating] consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
2:6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.
2:7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course.
2:8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks.
2:9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.
2:10 Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.
2:11 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord [a time of judgment] is great [and would come upon the unrepentant people like the locust plague that had just devoured their land]; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? [the answer is that no one can endure it; Matt. 25:41]
2:12 “Even now [or “Now is the time…”],” declares the LORD, “return [God offers this gracious opportunity to return to Him; a call to return to the zeal they had manifested prior to the indifference that had resulted in judgment] to me with all your heart [sincere repentance; “heart” in Hebrew thinking refers to the center of the will], with [note these outward signs of genuine sorrow for sin…] fasting and weeping and mourning.”
2:13 [note that external expressions of sorrow are not enough…] Rend your heart [cf. Ps. 51:17] and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is [Ps. 103:8…] gracious and compassionate, slow to anger [God is patient with us] and abounding in love [or “great covenant love”], and he relents from sending calamity.
2:14 Who knows [there was no guarantee that Judah had not gone too far or waited too long; it is dangerous to presume upon God]? He may [possibly, but no guarantee that it was certain] turn and relent and leave behind a blessing [not only food for the people but the means by which to once again provide offerings to the Lord]—grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.
2:15 Blow the trumpet [not to warn as in Joel 2:1 but to call for a sacred assembly] in Zion, declare a holy fast [a common practice in times of difficulty and calamity], call a sacred assembly [a corporate national gathering to express concern because of the judgment they were experiencing].
2:16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together [note that no one was exempt from attending the solemn assembly…] the elders [the older members of the family], gather the children, those nursing at the breast [the youngest members of the family]. Let the bridegroom [exempted from wartime service] leave his room and the bride her chamber [bride and groom were not exempt from participating in the solemn assembly].
2:17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say [note the prayer that Joel composed for the priests…], “Spare your people [God’s people], LORD. Do not make your inheritance [God’s inheritance] an object of scorn, [note that God’s honor and reputation is at stake…] a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
2:18 [note the response of the Lord to the repentance and prayers of His people…] Then the LORD [here is evidence of God’s determination to maintain His covenant with Israel in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness] was jealous [zealous] for his land and took pity [or compassion that led God to take action on behalf of…] on his people.
2:19 The LORD replied to them [note evidence of God’s faithfulness to the covenant…]: “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.
2:20 “I will drive the northern horde [the locusts which had invaded from the north] far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Surely he has done great things!
2:21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things [the great things that God will do (future promises) are outlined in the following verses…]!
2:22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals, [A] for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. [B] The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
2:23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for [C] he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
2:24 [D] The threshing floors will be filled with grain; [E] the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
2:25 [F] “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.
2:26 [G] You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and [H] you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; [I] never again will my people be shamed [cf. taunts mentioned in 2:17].
2:27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed [cf. taunts mentioned in 2:17].
2:28 [note: Verses 28-32 form chapter 3 in the Hebrew book of Joel, which has four chapters] “And afterward [before the day of the Lord], I will pour out my Spirit [enables people to accomplish divine tasks (e.g., Holy Spirit given in Acts 1:8 to enable disciples to be His witnesses)] on all people [or “on all flesh”; the weak, powerless, and hopeless]. Your [refers to the covenant people; extended to all nations on the Day of Pentecost] sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
2:29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
2:30 I will show wonders [signs of God’s impending judgment] in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
2:31 [unlike natural disasters, these are supernatural signs of the approach of the day of the Lord (cf. Amos 8:9); these are signs that warn of the approaching judgment; Peter quoted this verse in Acts 2:20 in his sermon on at Pentecost] The sun will be turned to darkness [may refer to an eclipse of the sun] and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD [a day of worldwide judgment].
2:32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved [Rom. 10:13]; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.