"For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,Joel 3:1(NASB)
Because of the apostasy of priests and people alike, Joel prophesied of a plague of locusts of exceptional severity that would come on God's people. It was meant to be a harbinger of judgement if they did not repent. Though the book of Joel is brief in length, it gives a detailed account of the coming Day-of-the-Lord which will be a time of devastating destruction when God's beautiful land will become a desolate wasteland.
Some attribute his prophecy to the Babylon captivity, but it was only partially fulfilled at that time. The coming time of judgement prophesied by Joel, looks far into the future to the Time of Jacob's Trouble. The prophet's 'trumpet-call' for national repentance and his appeal for the entire kingdom to unite in a sacred assembly and call on God in penitence, went unheeded in his day, but during that future dreadful Day they will heed his words and return to the Lord.
God promised to destroy their enemies, re-establish the nation, restore their material prosperity, cause them to become great among the nations, and pour out His Spirit on all flesh, if they would turn from their wicked ways and call on the name of the Lord.
He promised to send them signs in the heaven above and earth below when the time for their restoration was near. Little did they know the Lord Jesus Christ came as the Consolation of Israel, through Whom all God's promised blessings would flow. Instead of repenting of their sin, listening to His teaching, obeying His Word, accepting Him as their Messiah, and proclaiming Him their rightful King, He was rejected by His people who cried instead, 'we will not have this Man rule over us'.
They did not recognise the deep darkness that covered the sky at Christ's crucifixion. They would not accept that the torn veil in the Temple reopened mans fellowship with the Father for all who would believe on His name. They did not recognise the signs of the time, when He fulfilled every prophetic utterance connected with His first advent - and so they were set aside for a season, while God called out from the Gentiles a people for His name.
Although many Jewish people believed on Him after His Resurrection, Israel missed the Day of her Visitation 2000 years ago - and crucified her Saviour. The promised kingdom had to be postponed and the end-time prophecies of Joel, which began on the Day of Pentecost, had to be delayed for a future Day when Israel will repent and call on the Lord - and Joel's welcome words guarantee that God will hear their cry from heaven and respond to His peoples' call for help. He will save them from utter destruction and, "restore the years the locusts have eaten."
God has not finished with His people Israel and He will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, as this verse indicates. A time is coming when apostate Israel will return to their God and be saved. Great blessings will be poured out on them... and upon the whole world. At that time, Israel will become the head of the nations and not the tail.
But first they must turn from being an apostate nation who rejected their Messiah, to one that returns to the Lord and calls on His name. It is during that time of devastating destruction and Great Tribulation that God will not only draw His people back to Himself but will also punish the anti-Semitic nations that have abused them and rejected His gracious offer of salvation.
God has not rejected His people, but to fulfil God's Word they have to be disciplined for disobedience as prophesied by Moses, Joel, and many other prophets. The Lord would not be true to His name if He did not punish His people for their apostate ways and centuries of spiritual adultery. Israel's covenant, made through Moses, makes it clear that disobedience and rebellion would result in that right hand of God's wrath falling upon them - for a time - but in His grace, He will draw them back to Himself during the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
The salvation the Church enjoys today will be experienced by Israel in that future Day - but before their restoration, God's wrath will be poured out on the nations at that terrible battle of Armageddon, "for behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem," declares the Lord, "I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations."
Heavenly Father, what amazing grace and steadfast love You have for Your people Israel, despite centuries of apostasy and rebellion. And I praise You for Your goodness and grace to the Church... for our great salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting - through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank You that You brought the Gentiles into Your precious promises of restoration and that Israel will one day recognise Jesus as their promised Messiah, repent of their sins, and receive their great inheritance. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.