Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain
When the Savior comes again, the city of New Jerusalem with its glorious temple will already be established. At that day, Jerusalem will also have a functioning temple. The warning sound will go forth among the Lord's people in Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem so that they can fast and pray while destruction is poured out upon the wicked without measure. While the righteous should know that they will be preserved (D&C 64:23), still there will be hypocrites among the saints that will be destroyed. The Lord has warned:
And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord (D&C 112:25-26).
Joel 2:2-11 a great people and a strong... A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth
Verses 2-11 describe a great and terrible army. Their military strategy is a scorched earth policy; everything they touch is burned. The sword can't kill them. Their captain is the Lord, for the Lord "shall utter his voice before his army." (v. 11) This is no mortal fighting force. This is the army of the Lord, angels dressed and ready for battle, chariots prepared to destroy the wicked, the Lord going forth with a sword in his hand.
Remember the scripture, "the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned" (D&C 38:12)? Remember the servant of Elisha who saw the heavenly host, "behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (2 Kgs. 6:17)? Remember what John saw? He saw the Savior "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (Rev. 19:12-13). Well, these armies are going to battle. They aren't going to save the covenant people per se. They are going forth to destroy the wicked.
Joel describes the Lord's fighting force:
- The men run like horses
- Their noise is terrible
- A flame of fire devours the stubble
- They never break ranks but hold their positions
- They can't be killed by the sword
- They can climb any wall or enter any window
- The Lord's camp is very great
No wonder the scripture says, "there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it" (v. 2). This is the heavenly host in battle array. No wonder the soldiers are immortal, "when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded" (v. 8). You can't kill an angel. No wonder Joel describes this force as the Lord's army (v. 11). No wonder the section ends with the question, "the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" (v. 11)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Now, do you understand it? Well, here we have a great, terrible army, marching with unbroken ranks and crushing everything before it, finding the garden like Eden before them, leaving the wilderness behind, causing mourning, causing suffering; and so the prophet raises the warning voice, and that voice is to us, if you please, that we might turn unto the Lord and rend our hearts.
...And then the last words that I have read from this part of this chapter, the Lord says that He will take that great army in hand [v. 20], that He also has an army [v. 2-11]. His army is terrible, just as terrible as the other army, and He will take things in hand. When I say the other army, the Lord's army, do not get an idea He is thinking about England or the United States. He is not. He is not thinking about any earthly army. The Lord's army is not an earthly army, but He has a terrible army; and when that army marches, it will put an end to other armies, no matter how terrible they may be; and so He says in these closing words I have read to you that He would do this thing. He would drive this terrible northern army into the wilderness, barren and desolate, with his face towards the east sea and his hinder part towards the utmost sea. [v. 20] (Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1952], 137)
Joel 2:13 rend your heart, and not your garments
For centuries, the response to tragedy was to rend one's garments (Josh 7:6; Judges 11:35; 1 Kgs. 21:27; 2 Kgs 5:7; 6:30; 19:1, et al). "A broken heart and a contrite spirit" are more important to the Lord than an outward show of penitence. The Lord looketh on the heart. Rending one's garment is done for show.
Joseph Fielding Smith
You know, they used to rend their garments and sit in sack cloth when they were repentant. So the Lord says, "Rend your heart and not your garments." Humble yourselves. Prepare yourselves, oh Israel, that you may receive My blessings, that you might be protected from this condition that is going to come. (Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1952], 137)
Joel 2:15-16 call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation
It doesn't do any good to gather the people and try and sanctify the congregation without the temple. What good is it to assemble the elders and gather the children? In order for us to be ready to meet the Lord, we must be prepared by temple ordinances.
We must have all things prepared, and call our solemn assembly as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish His great work, and it must be done in God's own way. The house of the Lord must be prepared, and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God; and in it we must attend to the ordinance of washing of feet. It was never intended for any but official members. It is calculated to unite our hearts, that we may be one in feeling and sentiment, and that our faith may be strong, so that Satan cannot overthrow us, nor have any power over us here.
The endowment you are so anxious about, you cannot comprehend now, nor could Gabriel explain it to the understanding of your dark minds; but strive to be prepared in your hearts, be faithful in all things, that when we meet in the solemn assembly, that is, when such as God shall name out of all the official members shall meet, we must be clean every whit. (Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q.Cannon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], "Solemn Assemblies")
Bruce R. McConkie
Let the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keep the commandments, stand fast in the day of doom, and prepare for the day of their redemption. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 458)
Joel 2:16 let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet
"The wedding is equivalent to the second coming of the Lord, when the Bridegroom shall appear in glory and accept the bride. There will be no time for belated preparations. The Bridegroom will come and the marriage take place at an unexpected hour. Those who are wise, as were five of the virgins in the parable, will be ready; those who have not prepared themselves for the event will find the door shut.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matt. 25:13).
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins (D&C 45:56; D&C 63:54).
...Today, centuries later, the prophecies of a repentant bride and a loving, forgiving husband are coming to fruition. Reconciliation has taken place, and the wedding is at hand. As the bride awaits the coming of the Bridegroom, she continues to make herself ready. Under the direction of the Lord, 'the people will be so perfected and purified, ennobled, exalted, and dignified in their feelings and so truly humble and most worthy, virtuous and intelligent that they will be fit, when caught up, to associate with that Zion that shall come down from God out of heaven.'" (Richard K. Hart, "The Marriage Metaphor," Ensign, Jan. 1995, 24, 27)
Joel 2:28 I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh
"Joseph Smith serves as the legal administrator associated with that period of time prophesied by Joel when the Lord would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh (see Joel 2:28-29). When Moroni first appeared to Joseph in September 1823, he quoted these verses in Joel and said 'that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be' (JS-H 1:41). In the years since Moroni's visit, many have indeed dreamed dreams and seen visions. Above all else, the Spirit of God has been the driving influence behind the dissemination of eternal truth and the spiritual transformation of those who have submitted to the terms and conditions of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
"In addition, this Spirit has affected those outside the faith. President Joseph Fielding Smith, after quoting the prophecy of Joel, provided the following insight: 'There have been a great many discoveries. In fact, since the establishment of the gospel, these discoveries and inventions have been increasing more rapidly and we have seen more, perhaps, ... than was seen during all the years from the days of the revival of learning and the reformation down to the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith' (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56, 1:179).
"In short, the Spirit of God-meaning the Light of Christ-has been behind the rapid intellectual, scientific, and technological developments from the time of the Industrial Revolution to our own Information Age. Joseph Smith presides over our age of enlightenment and expansion." (Robert L. Millet, "Joseph Smith among the Prophets," Ensign, June 1994, 21)
"President Howard W. Hunter testified, 'The role of technology in [the sacred work of providing ordinances for the deceased] has been accelerated by the Lord himself, who has had a guiding hand in its development and will continue to do so.' It is a marvelous time in the history of the world to be alive.
"Cars, planes, telephones, computers, and so forth enable us to do so much more than ever before. But they can also distract us from doing what, eternally, really matters most. Susa Young Gates once asked her father, President Brigham Young, how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that needed to be done. 'He told her there would be many inventions of labor-saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord.'" (W. Jeffrey Marsh, "Training from the Old Testament: Moroni's Lessons for a Prophet," Ensign, Aug. 1998, 15)
Joel 2:29 upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit
Gordon B. Hinckley
My dear sisters, you, as women, have tremendous executive responsibilities in this Church. And no one appreciates more than I the wonderful contributions you make and the great wisdom you bring.
Yours may be the spirit of prophecy. That may sound strange to some of you. Miriam in the Old Testament is spoken of as a prophetess. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, repeated the words of the prophet Joel, saying:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18.)
Can anyone doubt that many women have a special intuitive sense, even a prescient understanding of things to come?
John the Revelator makes a very interesting statement: "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10.) As much so as any man in the world, each of you has the opportunity and the responsibility to develop a testimony of Jesus as the Savior of mankind. That testimony is the "spirit of prophecy." It is a gift that may be yours. ("Ten Gifts from the Lord," Ensign, Nov. 1985, 88)
Spencer W. Kimball
Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that they are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world...
Thus it will be that the female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days. (My Beloved Sisters [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 45.)
Spencer W. Kimball
We thank the sisters of the Church, young and older, for being such great defenders of the Church, in word and in deed. We love you and respect you! (Ensign, Nov. 1978, 106)
Joel 2:30 blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke
It is hard to think of the destruction of the World Trade Centers which occurred on September 11, 2001 without thinking of this passage. What words could better describe the carnage of that day, but "blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke"? What could possibly be a better description of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? "Blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke." We have already seen much of this in our day. Less than one month after September 11, President Hinckley commented on this Joel passage.
Gordon B. Hinckley
The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. The hearts of men have turned to their fathers in fulfillment of the words of Malachi. The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
And I will shew 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 great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call (Joel 2:28-32).
There has been more of scientific discovery during these years than during all of the previous history of mankind. Transportation, communication, medicine, public hygiene, the unlocking of the atom, the miracle of the computer, with all of its ramifications, have blossomed forth, particularly in our own era. During my own lifetime, I have witnessed miracle after wondrous miracle come to pass. We take it for granted. ("Living in the Fulness of Times," Ensign, Nov. 2001, 4-5)
Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood...
Of all the signs of the Second Coming of Christ, none takes preeminence over this one. The light of the sun will be withheld, the color of the moon will be blood red and the stars shall fall more impressively than any meteor shower any astronomer has ever seen.
Not uncommonly, someone will declare that this prophecy has already been fulfilled. They usually reference solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, and meteor showers. While this prophecy probably will have multiple fulfillments, we can't help but think that a very dramatic and unequivocal sign still awaits us. Think of what happened in the New World at the Savior's birth-36 hours of daylight. What happened at his death-three days of utter darkness. Should we think that the sign of his Second Coming would be any less dramatic?
The scriptures speak of many signs in the heaven and on the earth, but this particular sign is different. That the sun should be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the heavens is a sign that is repeated over and over in the scriptures (see Ezek. 32:7, Joel 2:31; 3:15, Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24-25, Lu. 21:25, Acts 2:20, Rev. 6:12; 8:12, DC 29:14; 34:9; 45:42; 88:87; 133:49). How many other signs or doctrines are repeated in 14 different places? Certainly, the fulfillment of this scripture will be as dramatic as anything we have ever seen, for when it occurs, 'the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man' (DC 88:87).
"In taking to task the scurrilous writings of one newspaper of his day, the Prophet Joseph Smith commented on the newspaper's report of a claim that a Mr. Hyrum Redding of Ogle County, Illinois, had already 'seen the sign of the Son of Man.' The Prophet noted that the Lord would reveal such an event to His earthly prophet and that no man had yet seen such a sign, 'nor will any man, until after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood.' (HC, 5:290-91.)" (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Behold, I Come Quickly: The Last Days and Beyond [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 183 - 184)
Bruce R. McConkie
There may be more than one occasion when the light of the sun and the moon shall be withheld from men, and when it will seem as though the very stars in the firmament are being hurled from their places. What is here recited could mean that the light of the sun is blotted out by smoke and weather conditions, which would also make the moon appear "as blood." This falling of the stars "unto the earth" could be meteoric showers, as distinguished from the stars, on another occasion, appearing to fall because the earth itself reels to and fro. Perhaps the passage has reference to both types of falling stars. The latter-day revelation that seems to parallel John's words has come to us in this language: "Not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree." ("D&C 88:87D&C 88:87.) (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 380)
Joel 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears
Isaiah and Micah both prophesy that during the Millennium, the faithful will beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Joel has it the other way around. Isaiah and Micah prophesy of peace. Joel prophesies of war. One great difference is the audience. Prior to the destruction of the wicked attending the Second Coming, the Gentiles will be gathered together, as the tares are gathered to be burned. For the upcoming battle, they are instructed to beat their "plowshares into swords." For Israel, after the end of the wicked and during the Millennium, there will no longer be a need for instruments of war, "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD." (Isa. 2:4-5, see also Micah 4:3-4)
Joel 3:12 come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat
Bruce R. McConkie
By way of summary and recapitulation Joel, speaking in the first person for the Lord, says: "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem"-when Judah returns to Palestine, and when old Jerusalem is rebuilt by the true saints, and when her promised temple sits again on the ancient sacred site-then "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land." This is the promised day of Armageddon when all nations are involved in the final war. Jehoshaphat, meaning Jehovah judges, is a valley near Jerusalem.
Then, in that day, the cry shall go forth: "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up; Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord." The might of the world and the mighty among men shall be assembled. The day of the war of wars has arrived.
It shall be a day of judgment. "Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." In that day there will be a complete separation between the righteous and the wicked. In that day the great Judge shall issue his decrees. The wicked shall be destroyed and faithful Israel shall be saved. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 459-460)
Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley
Joseph Fielding Smith
So we are given to understand that when the armies gather in Palestine will be the time when the Lord shall come in judgment, and to make the eventful decision which will confound the enemies of his people and establish them in their ancient land forever.
Zechariah is another prophet who has plainly spoken of these great events. According to his predictions the nations will gather and lay siege to Jerusalem. Part of the city will fall with dire consequences to its inhabitants, when a great earthquake will come, the Mount of Olives will cleave in twain and the persecuted people will flee into this valley for safety. At that particular time will the Savior come as their deliverer and show them his hands and his feet. They will look upon him and ask him where he received his wounds, and he will tell them they were received in the house of his friends, he is Jesus Christ, their Redeemer. Then will they fall to the ground and mourn, every family apart, because their ancestors persecuted their King and the children have followed in the footsteps of the fathers.
At that time shall come the redemption of the Jews. Jerusalem shall then be rebuilt and the promises that it shall become a holy city will be fulfilled. The punishment which shall come upon those who lay siege to this land, will be their destruction. The prophets have portrayed this in much detail with all its horrors. These events are confirmed in the revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith, as found in the Doctrine and Covenants, particularly Sections 29, 45 and 133. (Take Heed to Yourselves [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], 181-182)
Joel 3:15 the sun and the moon shall be darkened
If you want to know about the time when the sun and moon are to be darkened, and when the stars will no longer give any light, and when there will be total darkness over all the face of the earth, here is an event predicted so that you can not mistake. When you see the nations of the earth, especially the heathen nations, and also those north of Jerusalem-the great nation of Russia and other nations on the continent of Asia, together with many in Europe, gather up against Jerusalem after the Jews have returned and rebuilt their city and Temple, and when their armies become exceeding great multitudes in the valley of decision, then you may look for the Lord to come down with his mighty ones, and for the constellations of heaven to be darkened. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 15: 337)