Friday, July 19, 2024

Morning Message: The Lord Dwelleth in Zion

Bobservations' Column

Titled "The Lord Dwelleth in Zion"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

All of Joel is prophetic. Some have been fulfilled already, lending to God’s plans revealed through Joel’s writings. He is a true prophet. Has anyone met a Philistine lately? “Philistia” was Israel’s western coast, from Egypt to Lebanon. They no longer control the Mediterranean Sea, as they once were a powerful sea-faring people. Samson (Judges 13-16) fought against them and against their god Dagon, the fish god, bringing their temple down even upon himself.

The Philistines plotted against Israel’s Samson, who was the son of Manoah, of the Tribe of Dan. Manoah’s wife was one of Israel’s notable barren women, all of whom bore great men to Israel. Her prayers were answered when she became pregnant with Samson, yet the Bible does not reveal her name. Among his trials, his wife was given to another man, and he eventually went to Gaza to confront those Philistines (Gazites) that held the Israelites in subjection.

The Philistine plot would include a woman named Dililah, who was sent to entice Samson into revealing the source of his strength. Because they feared him, they wanted to defeat him, and do away with his power and that of Israel. Samson was seen as a threat against the Philistines, so they had no choice but to plot to destroy him, and keep Israel in subjection.

It was a time of “conquer, or be conquered,” and Samson went to Gaza and the plot to kill him took form. He could only resist Dililah’s siren pleadings for just so long. The weakness of the flesh took over, and “Sammy” gave into it. He feared that the Philistines would learn of the source of his power, but he told Dililah that it was his long hair (Part of his Nazarite Vow forbade him to cut his hair.), and if it was cut, he would be powerless. North of Gaza, just south of Joppa (southern Tel-Aviv) was Beth Dagon, “House of Dagon,” a town dedicated to the fish-god of the Philistines. They made sport of Samson, and secured him between the two pillars of the house. He had slain many of them, and now many of them were to slay Samson, their enemy.

The parallels to current events are many, and Joel’s prophetic Word is fulfilled now.

“Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither you have sold them, and will return your recompense upon your own head.” - Joel 3:7


Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Joel 3:9--21 - "The Lord Dwelleth in Zion"

Summary/Additional Commentary & Definitions:

As we finish up the book of Joel, we know that Judah’s future will be glorious. It will be a time of peace and prosperity, and of safety from all those who have sought to destroy them, a time when God will dwell again in Zion.

God uses the nations around Judah to get their attention and to bring judgment for their sins. He is faithful to His Word and will keep His covenant with His people.  They will turn back to their God and He will destroy their enemies. 

This beautiful future is reserved for them AFTER His judgment has been rendered on the nations, when Jesus rules on earth. When He is in residence in Jerusalem, there will be NOTHING evil in it. And the land will reflect His mercy throughout. Jerusalem will be a city filled with His praise! 

This morning's passage begins with the voice of the prophet Joel calling the nations to battle (vv. 9-11). As the prophet issued his call, he said, "Proclaim this among the nations." To proclaim is to make an announcement, with the command of God that will follow. This command concerned the nations, the Gentile people groups who in this instance appear to have refused to serve the LORD and acknowledge Him for who He is.

The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy occurs during what Jesus referred to as the time of great tribulation (Matthew 24:21) in the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9). John's Revelation describes a future time when a lawless anti-christ will lead the earth in a full rebellion against God, and Jesus will lead a heavenly army to destroy and judge those gathered in Israel to rise against the Lord and His people (Revelation 15:14-16, 19:11-21). It appears that this will be a gathering of all the nations (Revelation 19:15, Zechariah 14:16-21).

Sunday Morning's Audio MessageUploaded Sunday Afternoon!

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Prepare War (3:9) - literally, sanctify war: because the heathen always began war with religious ceremonies. The very phrase used of Babylon's preparations against Jerusalem (Jeremiah 6:4) is now used of the final foes of Jerusalem. God's enemies will one day do this same thing (Revelation 16;12-16), and God will laugh at them (Psalm 2) as they are no match for the Almighty One.  As Babylon was then desired by God to advance against her for her destruction, so now all her foes, of whom Babylon was the type, are desired to advance against her for their own destruction.

Plowshares Into Swords
(3:10) - This exhortation is for the nations to prepare to fight the returning Savior (Revelation 16:13-14). Note its reversal when the battle of Armageddon is over, and Christ's kingdom begins (Isaiah 2:4). 

Let the Weak Say I am Strong (3:10) - So universal shall be the rage of Israel's foes for invading her, that even the weak among them will fancy themselves strong enough to join the invading forces.

Thy Mighty Ones (3:11) - These "mighty ones" must be the armies of the saints with Christ in heaven, as they "come down" with Him to smite and judge the rebellious nations at Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21).

Judge All the Heathen Round About (3:12) - that is, all the nations from all parts of the earth which have maltreated Israel.

Harvest...Winepress (3:13) - This is a figurative scene describing God's judgment in the far eschatological sense at the advent of Christ's millennial rule. Compare Revelation 14:18: "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe."

Valley of Decision (3:14) - This location is the same as the Valley of Jehoshaphat where the sentence of judgment will be carried out (3:2, 12). "Decision" here means "judicial verdict." The multitudes of the rebelling nations are about to be sentenced and executed.

Roar Out of Zion (3:16) - The Lord is "The Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5), and His powerful coming will be to the nations like the triumphant roar of a mighty lion, shaking the very heavens.

Dwell For Ever (3:20) - God's promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David will surely be fulfilled, as they were unconditional and eternal.

Lord Dwelleth in Zion (3:21) - God Himself, in the person of His Son, will reign from the earthly Jerusalem for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6), then in the New Jerusalem forever (Revelation 22:3-5).


Saturday, July 13, 2024

Morning Message: Israel Restored

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Israel Restored"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

With Israel’s ultimatum being laid out in last week’s text, Israel must decide FOR the Lord God Jehovah if they are to receive of God’s favor. The invasion is on the horizon; judgment is coming for the sin(s) of the nation. Repentance on their part will catch the Lord God’s attention, and He will take pity on them.

Repent, and remain in His presence, or dig their heels in and try to run away from Him: we see the results of digging their heels in when we look at Genesis 4 and the story of Cain and Abel. Refusing to acknowledge his own sin, Cain ended up killing Abel, his only source of the prescribed blood sacrifice. Then he ran away from the Lord, separated from his family, and built a city named after his son Enoch. Eden was no longer his home, and later in history, Isaac’s son Esau found himself in similar circumstances, and moved away from his father and his family. A lack of honoring God, combined with unforgiveness will put us even further away from God. Cain’s story, and Esau’s history can teach us much about what it means to hold onto sin, and reject God’s grace and mercy.

The scriptures supply us with many examples of the bad decisions and of good decisions made by Israel. And they do not apply to Israel only. As Gentiles, the rest of Earth’s population are also called to be God’s children. This is surely the reason that God has preserved His Word since the Garden of Eden. It is available to every nation, and every person. Particularly, since the advancement of technology and the Internet, there are few excuses to not know the Lord. And even then, if some remote civilization or tribe has never heard of Jesus, they will be judged by His laws written in their hearts (According to Romans 2:14-16).

Above all else, God is faithful and just (1 John 1:9-10). God has made provisions for every contingency of man, so that we are without excuse. The ultimatum we face is the simple choice to believe. The eyes of the Jews are darkened until Zechariah 12, then their eyes will be opened. The eyes of the Gentiles have been opened by His sacred Word in the scriptures. To believe or not to believe; that is the question we each face.

Jacob wrestled with an angel in Genesis 32:24. In the end, Jacob had to give up

on his own power to be blessed with the power of God.  Give up, and win!

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Joel 2:30 - 3:8 - "Israel Restored"

Summary/Additional Commentary & Definitions:

In this last chapter, Joel describes the day of the Lord, a day of judgment that is to be proclaimed to all nations. If you ask the question, “What will the day of judgment be like? What will it be like to be there when all nations will be gathered together in one place?” It seems unimaginable. Joel uses words to paint pictures. He portrays the day of the Lord so you can taste, see, and picture what this day will be like, and so that we may heed His warnings.

"Restore" is the key word of this whole book. God works to restore the broken relationship between His people and Himself.  He works to restore all that was lost, and He breathes new life into His own and begins to bless once again.   The restoration of Judah and Jerusalem in Joel 3:1, happens through the gathering for judgment in verse 2.  Evil goes on and on and multiplies itself in every generation.

This judgment will happen. The same God who says, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." (Joel 2:25), and “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (2:28), also says, “I will gather all the nations” and, “I will enter into judgment with them” (3:2).

The judgment of nations has special reference to the way the nations have treated God’s people Israel: “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.” (Joel 3:2). Great evils were done against God’s people in the Old Testament and since. All of them are known to God. Not one of them will ever be forgotten. All that has been done will one day be brought to account.

Particular charges are laid out here. For example, they “have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it” (Joel 3:3). What is Joel talking about? This describes what we would call today: “human trafficking!” It was happening in Old Testament times, and it is still happening today.

Sometimes we wonder if there can ever be justice in the world. The answer in Scripture is Yes! God will bring justice: 
“He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31). On that day, he will gather all people, and he will enter into judgment against all sins. The evils God will bring to judgment are many. They include the evils done against Israel.

We all live in a world that is becoming more and more anti-God and it is ripe for judgement. If you haven't noticed you haven't been paying attention! 
Joel's message to Judah (and to us) is reaching its conclusion. For the past few weeks, we've been looking at the prophecies of Joel, and have examined the conditions of the 'day of the Lord' that are described in some detail in this book. Joel chapter 2 took us to the very end of this period of wrath. Joel chapter 3 continues and shows us the basis for the coming judgement of the nations. 

 "For the Day of the Lord is near upon all the earth." (Obadiah 15).

The context of Joel 3 clarifies that this is a time when God judges the earth. Verse 2 says, “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.”  The Valley of Jehoshaphat is the same as the “valley of decision.” Jehoshaphat means “Yahweh judges”; the “decision” being made in the valley is God’s, not the multitudes’. The literal, geographical location of this valley is likely the Kidron Valley on the east side of Jerusalem.

The focus of Joel 3 is on the future Day of the Lord. This time will include a gathering of the nations (verse 2), a judgment on wickedness (verse 13), and astronomical signs (verse 15). Joel’s prophecy of the valley of decision finds its counterpart in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and the judgment of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).

Immediately following the prophecy of judgment, Joel transitions to a description of the Lord’s millennial reign, a literal 1,000-year time period that follows the tribulation. During the millennium Christ rules as king from Jerusalem.  The millennium is described in many passages of scripture, including Joel 3:18-21. Further, Revelation 20:1-7 refers to “1,000 years” six times. It seems that God desires us to know that the millennial kingdom is a literal time period.

Joel notes the national restoration of Israel, in which the people will be regathered to the land (Isaiah 11:15, 16; Matthew 24:31).

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:  

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Afterward (2:28) "in the last days" (Isaiah 2:2) under Messiah after the invasion and deliverance of Israel from the northern army. Having up to this time stated the outward blessings, he now raises their minds to the expectation of extraordinary spiritual blessings, which constitute the true restoration of God's people (Isaiah 44:3). Fulfilled in earnest (Acts 2:17) on Pentecost; among the Jews and the subsequent election of a people among the Gentiles; hereafter more fully at the restoration of Israel (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:9, 34; Ezekiel 39:29; Zechariah 12:10) and the consequent conversion of the whole world (Isaiah 2:2; 11:9; 66:18-23; Micah 5:7; Romans 11:12, 15). As the Jews have been the seedmen of the elect Church gathered out of Jews and Gentiles, the first Gospel preachers being Jews from Jerusalem, so they shall be the harvest men of the coming world-wide Church, to be set up at Messiah's appearing. That the promise is not restricted to the first Pentecost appears from Peter's own words: "The promise is (not only) unto you and to your children, (but also) to all that are afar off (both in space and in time), even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Act 2:39). So here "upon all flesh."

I will pour out (2:28) - under the new covenant. See John 7:39.

My Spirit (2:28) - the Spirit, "proceeding from the Father and the Son," and at the same time one with the Father and the Son (compare Isaiah 11:2).

Sons. . . Daughters. . . Old. . . Young (2:28) -not merely on a privileged few (Numbers 11:29) as the prophets of the Old Testament, but men of all ages and ranks. See Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5, as to "daughters," that is, women, prophesying.

Dreams. . . Visions (2:28) - (Acts 9:10; 16:9). The "dreams" are attributed to the "old men," as more in accordance with their years; "visions" to the "young men," as adapted to their livelier minds. The three modes whereby God revealed His will under the Old Testament (Numbers 12:6), "prophecy, dreams, and visions," are here made the symbol of the full manifestation of Himself to all His people, not only in miraculous gifts to some, but by His indwelling Spirit to all in the New Testament (John 14:21, 23; 15:15). In Acts 16:9; 18:9, the term used is "vision," though in the night, not a dream. No other dream is mentioned in the New Testament save those given to Joseph in the very beginning of the New Testament, before the full Gospel had come; and to the wife of Pilate, a Gentile (Matthew 1:20; 2:13; 27:19). "Prophesying" in the New Testament is applied to all speaking under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and not merely to foretelling events. All true Christians are "priests" and "ministers" of our God (Isaiah 61:6), and have the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). 

And Also . . . Servants...Handmaids (2:29) - Even the very slaves by becoming the Lord's servants are His freemen (1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Philemon 1:16). Therefore, in Acts 2:18 it is quoted, "My servants" and "My handmaidens"; as it is only by becoming the Lord's servants, they are spiritually free, and partake of the same Spirit as the other members of the Church. of the Lord (2:30, 31) - This is the fourth appearance of this phrase (1:15; 2:1, 11; 3:14).  Unmistakable heavenly phenomena will signal the imminent arrival of God's wrath in the Day of the Lord (v. 10). 
As Messiah's manifestation is full of joy to believers, so it has an aspect of wrath to unbelievers, which is represented here.

Call On. . . the Name of the Lord (2:32) - The Lord, in Hebrew, JEHOVAH.  Applied to Jesus in Romans 10:13 (compare Acts 9:14; 1Corinthians 1:2). The name of the Lord refers to God's person and character. The Lord is our rock, our refuge, our fortress, our shepherd, our king, and our redeemer. In the Bible the Lord has revealed to us that He is merciful, kind, and caring. Everyone who invokes the name of God for mercy and salvation, by or in the name of Jesus, shall be saved (Acts 2:21). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Quoted by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:13. 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." 

Shall Be Delivered (2:32) - as the Christians were, just before Jerusalem's destruction, by fleeing to the mountains, warned by the Saviour (Matthew 24:16); a type of the spiritual deliverance of all believers, and of the last deliverance of the elect "remnant" of Israel from the final assault of Antichrist. "In Zion and Jerusalem" the Saviour first appeared; and there again shall He appear as the Deliverer (Zechariah 14:1-5).

Remnant (2:32) - In spite of the nation's sin, God promised to fulfill His unconditional covenants.  A future remnant of Jews will inherit God's promised blessings (Isaiah 10:20-22; 11:11, 16; Jeremiah 31:7; Micah 2:12; Zephaniah 3:13; Romans 9:27).

Bring Again the Captivity (3:1) - That is, reverse it.

Gather All Nations (3:2) - The nations of the world will be gathered to Jerusalem to the battle of Armageddon (Zechariah 12:3; 14:2; Revelation 16:16; 19:11-12). 

Valley of Jehoshaphat (3:2) - The name means "Yahweh judges" (3:12, 14) and, although the exact location is unknown, other prophets spoke of this judgment as occurring near Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38; 39; Daniel 11:45; Zechariah 9:14; 12:1).  This judgment of the nation's includes the event of Matthew 25:31-46. 

Parted My Land (3:2) - The land promised to Abraham, from the Nile to the Euphrates, has been "parted" by many nations in the 4,000 years since. 

My Heritage Israel (3:2) - 
the source of Judah's redemption is God's free love, wherewith He chose Israel as His peculiar heritage, and at the same time assuring them, when desponding because of trials, that He would plead their cause as His own, and as if He were injured in their person.

Cast Lots (3:3) - The practice of casting lots is mentioned seventy times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. In spite of the many references to casting lots in the Old Testament, nothing is known about the actual lots themselves. They could have been sticks of various lengths, flat stones like coins, or some kind of dice; but their exact nature is unknown. The closest modern practice to casting lots is likely flipping a coin.

Given a Boy for a Harlot...Sold a girl (3:3) - A description of what we would call today:  "human trafficking!"  It was happening in the ancient times, and continues to happen even today.

Tyre...Zidon...Palestine (3:4) - See Amos 1:6-10.

My silver. . . My gold (3:5) that is, the gold and silver of My people. The Philistines and Arabians had carried off all the treasures of King Jehoram's house (2 Chronicles 21:16, 17). Compare also 1 Kings 15:18; 2 Kings 12:18; 14:14, for the spoiling of the treasures of the temple and the king's palace in Judah by Syria. It was customary among the heathen to hang up in the idol temples some of the spoils of war as presents to their gods.

The Grecians (3:6) - literally, "Javanites," that is, the Ionians, a Greek colony on the coast of Asia Minor who were the first Greeks known to the Jews. The Greeks themselves, however, in their original descent came from Javan (Genesis 10:2, 4). Probably the germ of Greek civilization in part came through the Jewish slaves imported into Greece from Phoenicia by traffickers. Ezekiel 27:13 mentions Javan and Tyre as trading in the persons of men. There is ample evidence that the Greek nation was well established, and the Greek peoples widely known by the time of Joel.  The prophet here looks beyond the Babylonian captivity to the subsequent Persian rule and then that of the Greek empire. 

Far from their Border (3:6) - far from Judea; so that the captive Jews were cut off from all hope of return.

Raise Them (3:7) - that is, I will "rouse" them. Neither sea nor distance will prevent My bringing them back. 

Sabeans (3:8) - Trading merchants who lived in Arabia (1 Kings 10; Jeremiah 6:20). 

Friday, July 5, 2024

Morning Message: Love is the Answer

Bobservations Column
Titled: "Love is the Answer"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As Joel warns of an invading enemy coming to conquer His people, God lays out an ultimatum for the Jews in the passage today: “Deliverance for obedience.” It is a call for them to return unto Him, if they are to survive and remain in good standing with God. His agape’ is not at risk; it’s because of His agape’ that He makes this offer to them.

Justifying an error by the behaviors of those around us makes it impossible to identify the error itself. This is a mistake people and whole societies make: “This is the way we’ve always done it” is just another way of saying there might be a better way, but until somebody points it out to us, we will keep living the way we know.

Comparing ourselves to those around us, will neither challenge us, nor allow us to see God’s more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).

1 Corinthians 13 gives us the perfect challenge. “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not, and does not lift itself up, nor is it puffed up. (Love) does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, and thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails. …”

Our challenge today is the same as the Jewish nation’s. First, read the verse again, but replace the word “Love” with the name of Jesus. What is revealed is His faithful and loving nature, His grace and His mercy.

Lastly, read the verse once more, replacing the word “Love” with your own name. How far through the passage did you get? Comparing ourselves to others just like us is no challenge at all. Comparing ourselves to perfection reveals how far we have yet to go! Love is the answer!

“Hear O Israel: The Lord Our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
- Deuteronomy 6:4,5

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Joel 2:14-29 - "Love is the Answer"

Summary/Additional Commentary & Definitions:

God loves to restore broken things. Whether they be broken families, broken lives, or broken people, God is a God who loves to restore. As we come to our Old Testaments and study this theme of the Day of the Lord, it’s a theme that should send chills down our spine as it should have sent chills down the spine for early audience. God’s judgment is no trifling matter, and his punishments are not a little slap on the wrist. But God does not do what he does out of a malicious desire to make his children hurt because they’ve hurt him. No, God disciplines with an eye toward restoration and blessing. As Hosea puts it, God breaks us that he may heal us (Hosea 5:14-6:1).

How is God’s discipline a reflection of his love? Why do we struggle to believe that this is so?

There is a big difference between the angry father who disciplines because he is fed up with his disobedient children and just wants them to learn a lesson, and the kind but firm father who disciplines his children because he knows that such discipline is truly what is best for them. Too often, if we are not careful, we can think of God in the first category. But the Bible pictures a God who is angry with sin and disobedience, yes, but more than that he is a God who wants to restore people to a place of blessing, joy, and life. And sometimes, to do that, he must bring people through painful events to take care of the wickedness they won’t address.

In the passage we are studying today (2:14-29), we see God reversing the pain and misery that he earlier brought and warned would be worse if there were no repentance, and several different things that God plans on restoring: blessings, peace, and a right relationship with him.

Even in the midst of judgment, the opportunity to repent was given.  If the people would demonstrate genuine repentance, the Lord stood ready to forgive and bless.  

Sin is devastating. We saw that in chapter one. But God’s grace is greater, we see that here in chapter two. No matter your sin, there can be forgiveness, healing, blessing, and life. Because while God is a God who brings judgment, He is also merciful, gracious and loving.  He is the God who is willing to forgive and restore. 

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:  

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Blow...Consecrate...Call (2:15) - In the ancient world, horns were used to gather people for special occasions or to warn of danger. 
These are commands, not suggestions. They are a clear call for an urgent response! The nearness of the Day of the LORD demands drastic measures for the nation of Israel, and for us. All men at every point in history past, present and future are to turn to the Lord in His awesome mercy via the narrow path of repentance!

Sanctify a Fast (2:15) - Sanctify means set apart/make holy.  
Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. Fasting in the Old Testament expressed a mournful, urgent seeking of God in distressing circumstances. It was an outward expression of the inward reality of a shattered heart. It was an urgent response of repentance and great humility. It was the seeking of deliverance from a gracious merciful God.

Reproach . . .Shame (2:19-27) - "I will no more make you a reproach" and "my people shall never be ashamed" (vv. 26, 27) are ABSOLUTE statements that have yet to be fulfilled.  They can only be fulfilled in the far future (3:17). Joel now looks beyond the invasion to the time when God would heal His land and restore his blessings to His people.

Northern Army (2:20) - Although some have viewed this as a reference to the locusts, it is more likely referring to a military invasion by a country coming down from the north of Israel (see Ezekiel 38:6, 15: 39:2).  that future army will be driven into the eastern sea (Dead Sea) and the western sea (Mediterranean Sea).  This prophecy had an early fulfillment in the overnight slaying of the Assyrian host that had laid siege to Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:36).  Its ultimate fulfillment will be in the almost equally sudden destruction of the vast armies of Gog and Magog by God. 

Former Rain . . . Latter Rain (2:23) - The former rains came in October-December to prepare the seed-bed and assist germination, while the latter rains came in March-May to provide ample moisture for the grain and fruit crops to be rich and full.   The repentance of the people and the divine defeat of their enemies will be accompanied by the ending of the terrible drought and other pestilences.  This is referring to the millennial period that follows the period of the great tribulation.  The return of the seasonal rains signals return of the nation into divine favor which in turn signifies that they have returned to Jehovah, rending their hearts and not their garments (Joel 2:12-13). As before signifies that God had blessed them in the past.

I am in the midst of Israel (2:27) - The Lord's promised return would be a reversal of the Lord's departure (Ezekiel 8-11).

Pour Out My Spirit (2:28) - This great promise of the Holy Spirit was 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 (2:30-31) were not fulfilled at that time, but all will be fulfilled as Christ's return draws near.

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