Blow The Trumpet in Zion
What or where is Zion?
The second chapter of Joel begins with a reference to the name Zion so we should try to understand it’s meaning.
We’ve heard the word but do we understand it’s biblical meaning?
Questions we might ask are; “Where is the city of Zion, what does Zion mean, and isn’t there also a Mount Zion?
Answers: Psalm 87:2–3 says, “The Lord loves the gates of Zion…more than all the other dwellings of Jacob…Glorious things are said of you…city of God.” According to this passage, Zion is synonymous with the city of God, and it is a place that God loves. Zion is Jerusalem.
Mount Zion is the high hill on which David built a citadel. It is on the southeast side of the city.
The word Zion is found about one hundred and fifty times in the scriptures. Its meaning in the original text points to the idea of “fortification” and also carries the additional meaning of being “raised up” or as a “monument.”
This second chapter of Joel begins with a familiar phrase, “Blow the trumpet in Zion.” So, his meaning is, “Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem, the city of God, the glorious place which the Lord loves.”
Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them, flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots over mountaintops, they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array.
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
War is coming, Joel tells the people of Jerusalem, it is time to prepare. The blown trumpet in Zion alerted the people of an advancing army and warned them to prepare for war. In chapter one they were called to repent and prepare their hearts for God. Now they are warned to prepare to meet God face-to-face in case they should die in the battle. It was usually the priests who would blow the warning trumpets. (Num. 10:8),
Beware the sound of the trumpet.
Amos, a prophet who served the Lord many years later, used similar language to what we read here in Joel. He warned that even in the holy mountain the alarm must be sounded. When the trumpet sounds, the people of the city know danger is outside the walls. Amos 3:2. Now, shall a trumpet be blown in the city, in the holy city, and the people not be afraid? Surely they will. Amos 3:6. Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; Joel’s warning prophecies came much earlier than Amos. During the days of Amos, the army was literally on the doorstep. In Joel’s day, there was time to prepare the city.
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
When God’s people refused his warnings he did things to get their attention. God is not easily angered as some like to portray Him. He shows great patience. Often he lets hundreds of years and many generations pass before He acts. The prophets were sent to warn, usually, the people refused to listen. The wise among them chose to yield to God’s promptings. The locusts, one of many warnings, were discussed in the first chapter of Joel. God warned Israel over a thousand years before Joel’s day, that the plague of locusts would arrive. (Deu. 28:42), The fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.
For the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand:
Joel presented his strong warning to the Judah. He compared the severe plague of locusts to an army that would arrive in the future. Poverty and slow deaths likely hit many households during the time of the locusts swarms and the years after. God intended that they would understand that something similar but far worse was coming. The day of battle was coming, it is at hand, or very near, and there is no avoiding it. It is the day of the Lord, the day of his judgment.
This was their time–ours is coming
For the people of Judah, this was their time of judgment. A final day of God’s judgment will come to the entire world. That was of no consequence to Judah. They would only have their one day of judgment. They wouldn’t get another. If they weren’t ready, they would face God unrepentant and unprepared.
It’s the same for all of us. We all face our own Day of The Lord. Too many people meet God unprepared, having rejected repeated warnings. We all have our day of locusts and plagues. God tries to get our attention. Usually, it doesn’t work.
Later we hear the trumpets in our lives–an army is approaching. We scoff at it. We continue on unprepared, unrepentant and ultimately shocked when our personal Day of God arrives.
A day of darkness and gloominess
The darkness is something they had recently witnessed. The thick swarms of locusts darkened their daylight hours. It is a day of darkness and gloominess, the swarms of locusts were so large and thick they darkened the sky like one memorable plague in Egypt. (Ex. 10:15),
The message from the Lord’s prophet was intended to strike fear into the people. Without that fear, there would be no cause for repentance. Without repentance, God’s place of eternal rest would not be theirs to claim when they died. The strong warnings God sends are an act of love for those who are not ready.
A fire devours before them:
The sound of the army will terrify. Though they march through the garden of Eden, they will reduce it to a desolate wilderness.
The loud and noisy army-like the noise of chariots raced across the lands. Speed was their great ally. It appeared that nothing slowed their progress, as they flew on the tops of the mountains.
The Apostle John used some of this imagery from Joel when he wrote his Revelation of Jesus Christ. Rev. 9:7, 9, The shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared to the battle; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots, of many horses running to the battle. Historians, in describing the noise made by swarms of locusts, as something that is heard many miles away. They compare the noise to that of a roaring fire.
Remember, the noise of approaching danger is the trumpet of God. It was used to warn the people of Judah. God issues his warnings today also. Do you hear the warnings, or have you muted the noise of the approaching chariots?
Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color. They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down. They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?
The people writhe in pain:
The terror of the people is etched on their faces, as their color drains away while they stare hopelessly at the chariots and soldiers in their march toward the city. This is just imagery the prophet is using to describe what the Assyrians and later the Babylonians will look like, and how the people will respond.
They do not break ranks … every one marches in his own column:
With a poetic flair, Joel describes an imposing and disciplined army. They don’t push at one another, they keep moving forward, with tight columns. Though spears, arrows, and other projectiles fall in their midst, they march forward without fear, unphased by attacks. That gives them a sense of invincibility.
The ground trembles under their feet. Even the heavens tremble and the sun and moon grow dark.
Blood moon, eclipse or hyperbole?
The book of Joel has gained a lot of notoriety of late for its poetic language in describing this and other battles. It’s poetic, the sun and moon don’t actually turn dark. The heavens don’t really shake, but the ground would rumble from the army and chariots.
The prophet is describing war. In war, especially when an army lays siege to a city, fire is used as a weapon against the besieged citizens. As the black smoke from burning walls, homes, and storage facilities lifted into the sky, the sun and moon would become hidden in the black clouds.
The blood moon theories of several years ago famously used some of the verses in Joel to claim the Day of the Lord would darken the sun and moon. Those famously failed prophecies didn’t take into account the imagery of war the prophet used.
The LORD is great and very terrible:
The world will see amazing and terrifying signs in the heavens and on the earth in the last days. As of this writing, I believe we are still many years away from that end. The Lord’s coming is not imminent, it has an appointed time as the Bible makes clear.
There will be mighty earthquakes, a darkening of the sun and moon, and men’s hearts will fail them because of what they see coming. Most of the citizens of Zion didn’t listen when Joel warned them. It’s the nature of humanity. We like doing our own thing and don’t like the idea of a supreme being having the last word.
But He does.
Keep alert for the trumpet.
Listen well and you might hear the last trump.