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I am Joel the son of Pethuel.
And this is the message
    the Lord gave to me.

Locusts Cover the Land

Listen, you leaders
and everyone else
    in the land.
Has anything like this
    ever happened before?
Tell our children!
Let it be told
    to our grandchildren
    and their children too.

Swarm after swarm of locusts[a]
has attacked our crops,
    eating everything in sight.
Sober up, you drunkards!
Cry long and loud;
    your wine supply is gone.
A powerful nation[b]
with countless troops
    has invaded our land.
They have the teeth and jaws
    of powerful lions.
Our grapevines and fig trees
are stripped bare;
    only naked branches remain.

Grieve like a young woman
mourning for the man
    she was to marry.
Offerings of grain and wine
are no longer brought
    to the Lord’s temple.
His servants, the priests,
    are deep in sorrow.
10 Barren fields mourn;
grain, grapes, and olives
    are scorched and shriveled.

11 Mourn for our farms
    and our vineyards!
There’s no wheat or barley
    growing in our fields.
12 Grapevines have dried up
and so has every tree—
    figs and pomegranates,[c]
    date palms and apples.
All happiness has faded away.

Return to God

13 Mourn, you priests who serve
    at the altar of my God.
Spend your days and nights
    wearing sackcloth.[d]
Offerings of grain and wine
are no longer brought
    to the Lord’s temple.

14 Tell the leaders and people
to come together
    at the temple.
Order them to go without eating[e]
    and to pray sincerely.
15 We are in for trouble!
Soon the Lord All-Powerful
    will bring disaster.
16 Our food is already gone;
there’s no more celebrating
    at the temple of our God.

17 Seeds dry up in the ground;[f]
    no harvest is possible.
Our barns are in bad shape,
with no grain
    to store in them.
18 Our cattle wander aimlessly,
moaning for lack of pasture,
    and sheep are suffering.[g]
19 I cry out to you, Lord.
Grasslands and forests are eaten
    by the scorching heat.
20 Wild animals have no water
    because of you;
rivers and streams are dry,
    and pastures are parched.

Locusts and an Enemy Army

Sound the trumpet on Zion,
    the Lord’s sacred hill.
Warn everyone to tremble!
The judgment day of the Lord
    is coming soon.
It will be dark and gloomy
    with storm clouds overhead.
Troops will cover the mountains
    like thunderclouds.
No army this powerful
has ever been gathered before
    or will ever be again.
Fiery flames surround them;
    no one escapes.
Before they invaded,
the land was like Eden;
    now only a desert remains.

They look like horses
    and charge like cavalry.
They roar over mountains
    like noisy chariots,
or a mighty army
    ready for battle.
They are a forest fire
    that feasts on straw.
The very sight of them
    is frightening.[h]
They climb over walls
    like warriors;
they march in columns
    and never turn aside.
They charge straight ahead,
    without pushing each other;
even arrows and spears
    cannot make them retreat.
They swarm over city walls
    and enter our homes;
they crawl in through windows,
    just like thieves.

10 They make the earth tremble
    and the heavens shake;
the sun and moon turn dark,
    and stars stop shining.
11 The Lord God leads this army
of countless troops,
    and they obey his commands.
The day of his judgment
is so terrible
    that no one can stand it.

The Lord’s Invitation

12 The Lord said:

It isn’t too late.
You can still return to me
    with all your heart.
Start crying and mourning!
    Go without eating.
13 Don’t rip your clothes
    to show your sorrow.
Instead, turn back to me
    with broken hearts.
I am merciful, kind, and caring.
I don’t easily lose my temper,
    and I don’t like to punish.

14 I am the Lord your God.
Perhaps I will change my mind
    and treat you with mercy.
Then you will be blessed
with enough grain and wine
    for offering sacrifices to me.

15 Sound the trumpet on Zion!
    Call the people together.
Show your sorrow
    by going without food.
16 Make sure that everyone
    is fit to worship me.[i]
Bring adults, children, babies,
and even bring newlyweds
    from their festivities.

17 Tell my servants, the priests,
    to cry inside the temple
and to offer this prayer
    near the altar:[j]
“Save your people, Lord God!
Don’t let foreign nations
    make jokes about us.
Don’t let them laugh and ask,
    ‘Where is your God?’”

The Lord Will Bless the Land

18 The Lord was deeply concerned
about his land
    and had pity on his people.
19 In answer to their prayers
    he said,
“I will give you enough grain,
wine, and olive oil
    to satisfy your needs.
No longer will I let you
    be insulted by the nations.
20 An army attacked from the north,
but I will chase it
    into a scorching desert.
There it will rot and stink
from the Dead Sea
    to the Mediterranean.”

The Lord works wonders
21     and does great things.
So tell the soil to celebrate
22 and wild animals
    to stop being afraid.
Grasslands are green again;
fruit trees and fig trees
    are loaded with fruit.
Grapevines are covered
    with grapes.

23 People of Zion,[k]
celebrate in honor
    of the Lord your God!
He is generous and has sent
the autumn and spring rains
    in the proper seasons.[l]
24 Grain will cover
    your threshing places;
jars will overflow
    with wine and olive oil.

The Lord Will Rescue His People

25 I, the Lord your God,
will make up for the losses
    caused by those swarms
and swarms of locusts[m]
    I sent to attack you.
26 My people, you will eat
    until you are satisfied.
Then you will praise me
for the wonderful things
    I have done.
Never again will you
    be put to shame.

27 Israel, you will know
    that I stand at your side.
I am the Lord your God—
    there are no other gods.
Never again will you
    be put to shame.

The Lord Will Work Wonders

The Lord said:

28 Later, I will give my Spirit
    to everyone.
Your sons and daughters
    will prophesy.
Your old men
    will have dreams,
and your young men
    will see visions.
29 In those days I will even give
my Spirit to my servants,
    both men and women.

30 I will work wonders
in the sky above
    and on the earth below.
There will be blood and fire
    and clouds of smoke.
31 The sun will turn dark,
and the moon
    will be as red as blood
before that great
and terrible day
    when I appear.

32 Then the Lord will save everyone who faithfully worships him. He has promised there will be survivors on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and among them will be his chosen ones.

The Lord Will Judge the Nations

At that time I, the Lord, will make Judah and Jerusalem prosperous again. Then in Judgment Valley[n] I will bring together the nations that scattered my people Israel everywhere in the world, and I will bring charges against those nations. They divided up my land and gambled to see who would get my people; they sold boys and girls to pay for prostitutes and wine.

You people of Tyre and Sidon[o] and you Philistines, why are you doing this? Are you trying to get even with me? I’ll strike back before you know what’s happened. You’ve taken my prized possessions, including my silver and gold, and carried them off to your temples.[p] You have dragged the people of Judah and Jerusalem from their land and sold them to the Greeks.

But I’ll make the people of Judah determined to come home, and what happened to them will happen to you. I’ll hand over your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans,[q] who live far away. I, the Lord, have spoken!

Judgment in Judgment Valley

Say to the nations:

“Get ready for war!
    Be eager to fight.
Line up for battle
    and prepare to attack.
10 Make swords out of plows
and spears out of garden tools.
    Strengthen every weakling.”

11 Hurry, all you nations!
    Come quickly.
Ask the Lord to bring
    his warriors along.[r]
12 You must come now
    to Judgment Valley,[s]
where the Lord will judge
    the surrounding nations.

13 They are a field of ripe crops.
    Bring in the harvest!
They are grapes piled high.
    Start trampling them now![t]
If our enemy’s sins were wine,
    every jar would overflow.
14 Crowds fill Decision Valley.
The judgment day of the Lord
    will soon be here—
15 no light from the sun or moon,
    and stars no longer shine.
16 From the heart of Jerusalem
the Lord roars like a lion,
    shaking the earth and sky.
But the Lord is a fortress,
a place of safety
    for his people Israel.

God Will Bless His People

17 I am the Lord your God.
And you will know I live on Zion,
    my sacred hill,
because Jerusalem will be sacred,
    untouched by foreign troops.
18 On that day, fruitful vineyards
    will cover the mountains.
And your cattle and goats
that graze on the hills
    will produce a lot of milk.
Streams in Judah
    will never run dry;
a stream from my house
    will flow in Acacia Valley.[u]

19 Egypt and Edom were cruel
and brutal to Judah,
    without a reason.
Now their countries will become
    a barren desert,
20 but Judah and Jerusalem
    will always have people.
21 I, the Lord, live on Mount Zion.
I will punish the guilty
    and defend the innocent.[v]

Footnotes

  1. 1.4 Swarm. . . locusts: The Hebrew text lists either four kinds of locusts or locusts in four stages of their development. Locusts are a type of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.
  2. 1.6 A powerful nation: The swarms of locusts.
  3. 1.12 pomegranates: A bright red fruit that looks like an apple.
  4. 1.13 sackcloth: A rough, dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
  5. 1.14 go without eating: As a way of showing sorrow for their sins.
  6. 1.17 Seeds. . . ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  7. 1.18 sheep are suffering: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  8. 2.6 The very. . . frightening: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  9. 2.16 fit to worship me: This required going through certain kinds of ceremonies.
  10. 2.17 inside. . . altar: The Hebrew text has “between the porch and the altar,” which is the place where the priests usually prayed for the people.
  11. 2.23 Zion: Jerusalem.
  12. 2.23 in. . . seasons: Or “as he used to do.”
  13. 2.25 swarms. . . locusts: See the note at 1.4.
  14. 3.2 Judgment Valley: The Hebrew text has “Jehoshaphat Valley,” which means “Valley of the Lord’s Judgment.” This valley is mentioned here and in verse 12, but nowhere else in the Bible.
  15. 3.4 Tyre and Sidon: Two Phoenician coastal cities.
  16. 3.5 temples: Or “palaces.”
  17. 3.8 Sabeans: The people of Seba, a region in southwest Arabia.
  18. 3.11 Ask. . . along: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  19. 3.12 Judgment Valley: See the note at 3.2.
  20. 3.13 grapes. . . now: People trampled grapes with their bare feet to squeeze out the juice.
  21. 3.18 Acacia Valley: In the plains of Moab, northeast of the Dead Sea.
  22. 3.21 I will. . . innocent: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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