New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:2 the like. The description of the invading host in this chapter goes well beyond even a legitimate metaphorical description of an invading swarm of locusts, as terrible as that can be. Such locust plagues have occurred many times in the Middle East and elsewhere. They might well serve as a type of the great armies that will invade the Holy Land in the last days, but the comparison does not emphasize the reality described here.
The prophecy may refer to the armies of Gog, which shall “come like a storm,…like a cloud to cover the land” (Ezekiel 38:9). Or it may refer to the time seen by the prophet Zechariah, who while also speaking of “the day of the LORD,” declared that (probably at the very end of the great tribulation period) God “will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zechariah 14:1-2).
2:3 garden of Eden. This is an incidental confirmation that Joel and the people of his time still believed in the historicity of the Garden of Eden.
2:4 appearance of horses. Invading locusts could hardly be described as having the appearance of horses, but an invasion of tanks could hardly be described any other way by one who had never seen such transport vehicles. Or, perhaps this is a more literal reference to the demonic horse-like creatures that will sweep over the world in the last days when they are unleashed with the sounding of God’s sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:13-19).
2:10 withdraw their shining. These phenomena—great earthquakes, darkened heavens—are frequently mentioned in connection with the coming period of judgment in the last days (e.g., Matthew 24:7,29; Revelation 6:12).
2:11 his army. The Lord’s army is a different army than the one described in the previous verses. This is the army of saints accompanying Christ and His holy angels when He returns to earth to destroy the ungodly hosts of the Beast and the old Dragon (Revelation 19:11-21).
2:20 northern army. This striking prophecy had a precursive fulfillment in the overnight slaying of the Assyrian host that had laid siege to Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:36). Its ultimate fulfillment will apparently be in the almost equally sudden destruction of the vast armies of Gog and Magog by God (Ezekiel 38:21-22). In both cases, the army is a “northern army” and in both cases the great numbers of dead men will cause an “ill savour” (note Ezekiel 39:11). The “east sea” possibly means the Caspian Sea; the “utmost sea” is the Mediterranean.
2:23 former rain moderately. The repentance of the people (Joel 2:12-17) and the divine defeat of their enemies will be accompanied by the ending of the terrible drought and other pestilences. The idyllic conditions described in Joel 2:19-27 must refer to the millennial period that follows the period of great tribulation. The rainfall will be gentle and dispersed through the year, perhaps as in the primeval world again (Genesis 2:6), rather than in the form of rare violent storms.
2:28 pour out my spirit. This great promise of the Holy Spirit was precursively fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21), though He was not given to “all flesh” at that time. The remaining parts of this prophecy (Joel 2:30-31) were not fulfilled at that time, but all will be fulfilled as Christ’s return draws near.
2:32 whosoever shall call. It is evident from this passage that “whosoever” calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Yet it is also clear that those who do this actually constitute “the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” Although we humans cannot fully comprehend the mystery of divine predestination versus human responsibility, it remains true that “whosoever will” can come. See notes on Romans 8:29; 10:13; Ephesians 1:5; Acts 13:48.
2:32 delivered. This part of Joel’s prophecy was applied, not only by Peter but also by Paul, to all believers in this present age (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).