1 I am Joel the son of Pethuel. And this is the message the Lord gave to me.
Locusts Cover the Land
2 Listen, you leaders and everyone else in the land. Has anything like this ever happened before? 3 Tell our children! Let it be told to our grandchildren and their children too.
4 Swarm after swarm of locusts[a] has attacked our crops, eating everything in sight. 5 Sober up, you drunkards! Cry long and loud; your wine supply is gone. 6 A powerful nation[b] with countless troops has invaded our land. They have the teeth and jaws of powerful lions. 7 Our grapevines and fig trees are stripped bare; only naked branches remain.
8 Grieve like a young woman mourning for the man she was to marry. 9 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
2 Sound the trumpet on Zion, the Lord’s sacred hill. Warn everyone to tremble! The judgment day of the Lord is coming soon. 2 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. 3 Fiery flames surround them; no one escapes. Before they invaded, the land was like Eden; now only a desert remains.
4 They look like horses and charge like cavalry. 5 They roar over mountains like noisy chariots, or a mighty army ready for battle. They are a forest fire that feasts on straw. 6 The very sight of them is frightening.[h] 7 They climb over walls like warriors; they march in columns and never turn aside. 8 They charge straight ahead, without pushing each other; even arrows and spears cannot make them retreat. 9 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
3 At that time I, the Lord, will make Judah and Jerusalem prosperous again. 2 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 3 and gambled to see who would get my people; they sold boys and girls to pay for prostitutes and wine.
4 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. 5 You’ve taken my prized possessions, including my silver and gold, and carried them off to your temples.[p]6 You have dragged the people of Judah and Jerusalem from their land and sold them to the Greeks.
7 But I’ll make the people of Judah determined to come home, and what happened to them will happen to you. 8 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
9 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]
1.4Swarm. . . 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.
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