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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. DIVISION OF THE PROPHECY.—The prophecy of Joel consists of two parts, the first embracing Joel 1:2–2:17, the second 2:18 to the end. In the former part we have a statement of the occasion of the prophecy, a visitation by locusts accompanied by a drought which caused the severest distress throughout the country; the prophet, therefore, exhorts the people to fasting, prayer, and mourning; for the present visitation of locusts is to him a symbol of the approaching Day of Jehovah, to be ushered in by another visitation of terrible and unprecedented intensity, which may perchance be averted by timely penance. We must suppose that the people complied with the prophet’s exhortations, for in the second part the prophet shows how their prayers had been heard, describing from 2:18 to the end God’s answer to the people’s prayer. The answer begins with a delivery from the famine: rain shall again descend upon the parched soil; fruitful seasons shall compensate for the locust ravages; and all shall know that Jehovah is Israel’s God (2:20–27). Then the spirit of prophecy shall be poured out upon all flesh, and the Day of Jehovah shall draw near, with dread-inspiring signs in heaven and earth. But the terrors of that day are not for the Jews, but for their enemies: in the judgment which marks its arrival those who trust in the Lord will escape (2:28–32); but on the heathen who have scattered Israel among the nations summary vengeance will be taken. They are invited ostensibly to arm themselves against Israel, but in reality to be destroyed by the heavenly ministers of the Lord’s wrath. The carnage will be fearful; the soil of Juda shall then become preternaturally fertile, but Egypt and Edom shall be turned into a wilderness (cf. Driver, Literature of the Old Testament, in loc.).

2. TIME OF THE PROPHECY.—There is a great variety of opinions regarding the age of the prophet Joel; the time in which different writers place him extends from 885 B.C. till after the period of Nehemias. Many contend that Joel is the oldest prophet whose prophecies are come down to us in writing, while others are of opinion that Joel wrote later than all the other prophets. There are especially three views that have been defended by many able writers:

a. Joel wrote at the time of king Joas (Credner, Wünsche, Movers, Williams, Hitzig, Winer, Ewald, Meier, Keil, Delitzsch, Fürst, Danko, Schrader, Vigouroux, Trochon, Kaulen, etc.).

b. Joel wrote at the time suggested by the place he holds in the canonical series of prophets; this differs, however, in the Hebrew Bible from that in the LXX. version. According to this view Joel must have written about the time of Osee and under the reign of king Ozias (Cyril, Theodoret, Ribera, Sanchez, Sa, Calmet, Scholz, Hengstenberg, Hävernick, Allioli, Loch, Pusey, Reinke, Schegg, Zschokke, etc.). Omitting those authors that assign Joel to the time of king Ezechias, or king Manasses, or king Josias, or, at least, to the time before the exile, we come to those that claim a still later date for the prophet.

c. Joel lived after the exile (Hilgenfeld, Merx, Scholz, Michaelis, etc.). It would lead us too far to attempt here a discussion of the reasons advanced for and against the various views just mentioned. Their exposition may be seen in Knabenbauer, Prophet Min., i. 188 ff.; and Driver, Literature of the Old Testament, pp. 288 ff. Besides, most of the foregoing writers exhibit, at least, a partial discussion of the question. It seems to us that the pre-exilic claims of Joel have the stronger arguments in their favor.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The Messianic reference of the prophecy may be inferred from its parallel passages of the Old Testament. For the diffusion of the Divine Spirit is commonly predicted for the time of the Messias (cf. Is. 11:9; 44:3; Jer. 31:33; Ezech. 36:25–28; 11:19; Os. 2:19–20).

b. The Messianic nature of the prophecy is also clear from the time for which the effusion of the Divine Spirit is predicted. For the clause “after this” is equivalent to the “latter days” which we have repeatedly explained as signifying the Messianic times.

c. The Messianic reference of the prophecy is also shown by the authentic explanation which it receives in Acts 2:16 ff.: “But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days (saith the Lord), I will pour out 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 upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood and fire, and vapor of smoke.…”

d. The references to the patristic testimonies in favor of the Messianic nature of Joel’s prophecy may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. II. i. 484.

e. Finally the synagogue must have understood the prophecy as referring to the time of the Messias. For the Midrash on Num. 11:16 (sect. 15) reads: “God said: In this world only a few prophesy; but in the future all Israelites will be prophets, as it is said: And it shall come to pass after this …” (cf. Yalkut, i. p. 220 c, and other passages).

JOEL 2:28–32

And it shall come to pass after this, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Moreover upon my servants and handmaids in those days I will pour forth my spirit. And I will show wonders in heaven and in earth, blood and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord doth come. And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem shall be salvation, as the Lord hath said, and in the residue whom the Lord shall call.

1. The opinion that the diffusion of the Spirit happened at the time of King Ezechias, or at the return from the Babylonian exile, is jejune and false (cf. Ephrem, Ps. Rufinus, Calmet, etc.).

2. The prophecy shows the universality of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

3. The Christian dispensation will be terminated by a day of judgment, preceded by the most dreadful natural phenomena.

4. Salvation comes to us only through faith and love, having for their object God as the founder of the supernatural order; these gifts are to be had only in the Church, and can be exercised only by those whom God calls by his efficacious grace.

5. The elect will be comparatively few; even of the residue God will not call every one.

6. As Is. 11:2 predicts a special indwelling of the Holy Ghost in Christ, so Joel predicts this special indwelling of the Divine Spirit in every Christian; Ezechiel adds that clean water is the instrumental cause of this indwelling of the Spirit (36:25–28).

7. Isaias hints, at last, at the mode in which the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul of the Christian will be effected, showing that it will resemble the process of generation (Is. 66:8, 9).








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