The Invasion of the Locust Armies
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near, 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Joel 2:1-2
The trumpet being sounded here is a shofar or ram’s horn. The sound tekiah is in the Hebrew text, is a short punctuating sound that calls for attention like an air raid siren did in the Second World War. It is followed by a shout of alarm, meaning the danger is imminent. The holy mountain is commanded to tremble, because the day of the LORD is coming.
The day of the Lord always means judgement, and Joel announces that it is near. There is lots of noise here as if God is trying to wake a slow and foolish people. History tells us they did not wake or repent. The four imperial nations of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome overrun Judea in succession.
FYI: The silver trumpets of the temple can only be sounded by a priest, whereas the shofar horn can be played by anyone. This is a possible indication that the warning is not coming from a fully functioning temple. It is not being sounded by priests but just some person who happens to notice that things are very wrong.
3 Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them. Joel 2:3
The invading locust armies are unstoppable as they pass through, devouring the land. They will leave all of Judah a desolate wilderness.
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run. 5 As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle. Joel 2:4-5
They are an unstoppable force, so powerful that their hyperbolic description is leaping on mountains. All armies forage as they march, it is the way of armies. As one Mexican peasant put it during the war for independence, “One side yells ‘liberty, liberty’ the other ‘justice, justice’ they all steal the chickens.” But these foreign invaders do not care that nothing at all is left.
6 Before them peoples are in anguish, all faces grow pale. 7 Like warriors they charge, like soldiers they scale the wall. They march each on his way, they do not swerve from their paths. 8 They do not jostle one another, each marches in his path; they burst through the weapons and are not halted. 9 They leap upon the city, they run upon the walls; they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief. Joel 2:6-9
Their war plans are perfect. Not a single soldier is lax in his duty. Not one breaks rank. They do their jobs throughly. They are numerous and greedy. They are warriors, or as the Hebrew puts it gevverim, i.e. mighty men. (See Also: Four kinds of Men)
10 The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. 11 The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his host is exceedingly great; he that executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? Joel 2:10-11
In Biblical prophecy, whenever the celestial orbs move or behave oddly, it is an indication of governmental change. (See Also: Sun, moon, and stars)
Surprisingly, the Lord here is commanding these foreign invaders. These locusts are doing His will. It is all on the Lord that the land will now lay desolate.