God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) and love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4). But love is not timid or empty of truth. It does not keep silent when sin threatens to destroy. It speaks up—in earnest warning.
That is what the prophet is doing here. Joel’s words foreshadow The Great and Terrible Day of God’s Final Judgment. The day upon which the sheep will be separated from the goats (Mt. 25:31-46); And death, Satan and all of his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10-14).
It will be a great day in that on that day God will appear, and for all who have received grace through faith—the songs of praise and joy will be sung with unbridled delight! But it will be a terrible day for all who ignored Christ, or simply chose to live for self instead of surrendering to the Lord Jesus.
Someone might ask, “What about those who never had an opportunity to hear about Jesus?”
To that question I have a very simple answer, “I don’t know. God hasn’t revealed that answer to us. What God has revealed to us is this—He knows all, and as the sovereign and just King of all—He will do what is right on that day. The fate of those who do not hear about Jesus is not my concern. My mission—and if Jesus is your Lord—your mission—is to be His witness to the world. (Acts 1:8)
“…a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.” (Joel 2:2)
Have you ever watched the sun rise? It begins slowly—with morning’s first glimmer of light breaking up through the blackness of night, growing brighter until you see it—the brilliance of the sun peeks over the horizon. Now it’s full on, as light spreads out everywhere in unstoppable, awe-inspiring fashion. Light instantly engulfs everything.
That’s a good thing when you’re describing a sunrise. But the prophet here is using this same imagery to describe the overwhelming arrival of the armies of Heaven on THAT DAY. His appearing will be overwhelming, unstoppable and utterly awe-inspiring! For those who believe it will be the greatest moment ever. For the unbeliever it will be the worst.
Jesus described His return on that day like this, “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me.” (Rev. 16:15) "Watching for Jesus" isn’t about sitting at your window peering non-stop into the sky. It’s about walking with Christ. When you walk with Christ—you have nothing to fear—ever.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rm. 8:1)
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