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Chapter 1 - Joel 2:32

Chapter 1

Joel 2:32

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Calling on the name of the Lord concerns our salvation. The message of Joel centers on God’s relationship with His people. The intimacy of this relationship depends on our ardent desire to call His Name. Joel 2:32 is cited twice in the New Testament (Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13). Calling on the name of the Lord is indeed a significant subject that threads through the Old Testament to the New.

Ever since the beginning of Genesis, people have been calling on the name of the Lord (Gen 4:26). From generation to generation, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Aaron, Samuel, David, Elijah, Jonah, the Psalmists and the prophets habitually called on the name of the Lord (Gen 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25; 1Ki 18:24; Ps 99:6; 116:4, 13, 17; Lam 3:55 etc.; though cp. Gen 12:8 and Ex 6:3). Calling on the name of the Lord is a vast subject that deals with the spiritual discipline of prayer life as well as the proclamation of the Name. In this book, we will only be able to scrape the surface of what it means to call on the name of the Lord. At the very least, we can make an initial start in calling on the name of the Lord since our salvation is a result of such a call.

The Name of YHWH

The “Lord” in small capitals signifies that the original word in the Hebrew Bible is יהוה (YHWH). YHWH is God’s name. Our God is a personal God with a Name.

The text for Joel 2:32 should be rendered:

“Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved.”

Take note of the specific wording: “Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH”. The text doesn’t say to call on “God,” which is a generic term, but specifically to call on YHWH for our salvation. God and Lord are titles but they are not names. YHWH is the name of the one true God whom we call on.

In the Hebrew Bible, God’s name יהוה (YHWH) occurs 6828 times![1] This high frequency of occurrences is astounding. Our God is so willing to reveal Himself to us in a most direct way through His personal Name.

YHWH in its full transliterated form is Yahweh.[2] In the name of Yahweh, we have salvation. Salvation is in Yahweh. We call on Yahweh, for Yahweh is the One who saves us.

When I call on Yahweh, I witness God’s saving power in action.

YHWH – A Key Word in Joel

In the book of Joel, God’s name יהוה occurs 33 times.[3] In Old Testament times, the people of God knew God by His personal Name. Yahweh is not a remote God somewhere out there in the universe, but a personable God whom the Israelites related to in their prayers. When they prayed, they would often address God by His Name.


The book of Joel is Yahweh centered. The name “Yahweh” occurs in all three chapters, with a significant concentration in chapter 2.

Joel begins with the “word of Yahweh” coming to him (1:1). Yahweh has a message to give to His people through the prophet Joel, the son of Pethuel. The book ends with the final words, “Yahweh dwells in Zion” (3:21). From beginning to end, Yahweh is fully present with His people.

The word for “God,” אלהים (Elohim), occurs 11 times. Sometimes it is “my God” (1:13), or “our God” (1:16), or “their God” (2:17), or “your God” (1:13). The Name Yahweh is attached to God seven times — “Yahweh your God” (1:14; 2:13, 14, 23, 26, 27; 3:17). The Israelites knew God personally by His Name, Yahweh.

Significant Words in Joel

We can get an overview of the book of Joel by doing a thorough word study on all the significant words used in the book. In the following table, words that occur 10 times or more in Joel are listed.[4] More words can be listed in the table but for efficiency, I limit the list to these words to demonstrate how useful information can be drawn from the data.


(1) Putting all the significant words in table format can reveal some ma­jor themes of the book of Joel efficiently at one glance. Strong’s numbers are provided for those who do not read Hebrew.

(2) For the sake of thoroughness, all the usages of conjunct­ions, prepo­sitions, and pronouns are included in the tabulation even though these words might not carry particular significance in the initial observat­ions. Naturally, these words would occur frequently as they are necessary for proper sentence structure.

(3) The Name YHWH has the highest frequency of 33 occurrences, even above all the conjunctive and prepositional words. Evidently, Yahweh is the focus of attention in Joel.

(4) Nouns often reveal key concepts of a book. The major nouns in Joel are: all (16 times), children (15 times), day (13 times), people (13 times), earth (12 times), God (11 times), and nations (10 times).

(5) Verbs are also important for they are action words that often point to life applications. Take note of two verbs, “to be” (11 times) and “devour” (10 times). “To be” is a common verb that is used frequently in sentences, and we should pay particular attention to the tenses used. “Devour” or “eat” has a high frequency of occurrence, and is found only in chapters 1 and 2.

(6) Even though some words may not have a high frequency of occur­rence in the book, they are significant for the overall theme of Joel. For example, the word “call” occurs only 6 times, yet the action of calling is crucial to our spiritual life. Another example is the mentioning of places: Jerusalem occurs 6 times (5 times in chapter 3); Zion occurs 7 times (4 times in chapter 2, and 3 times in chapter 3); Judah occurs 6 times (all occurrences in chapter 3); Israel 3 times (once in chapter 2 and twice in chapter 3) — these places bear great significance in the book of Joel, par­ticularly in chapter 3. “Valley of Jehoshaphat” is mentioned twice (3:2, 12) and is prophetically significant as it is a “valley of decision” (3:14, 14), the place of the final conflict where God will judge all the nations.

The Word Statistics Method

The Bible word statistics method is a reliable tool for exegetical studies as it leads to conclu­sions objectively and scientifically. In our full-time pastoral training, Pastor Eric taught us how to use the Bible word statis­tics method in the New Testament survey. The exegetical principles of the method can also be used to study the Old Testament. Use this tool to discover Biblical truths for yourself. All interpretations need to be based on the authority of God’s Word.

In this book, I will not be able to go into the detail of the word statistics method. Basic steps are laid out to help readers identify major themes:

(1) Observe the words that are used frequently in the entire book as well as in each chapter.

(2) Identify the key words or phrases.

(3) Look up the definitions of the words in the original language. [5]

(4) Analyze how and where these words occur in the book.

(5) Note their emphases.

(6) Interpret the text correctly within the historical, cultural and liter­ary context of the passage, the book, and the entire Bible.

This basic word study approach serves as building blocks to more advanced word studies. Language is built on root words and related words within the family group, therefore it is necessary to explore the synonyms, antonyms and all their cognate forms for a broader under­standing of a key word. Bear in mind that words have different nuances and they are not necessarily used in the same way throughout the Bible. Different authors may use the same word but give different shades of meaning for their purposes.

As I prayerfully dig into the specific details of the word study, I often get practical insights into applying God’s word to my daily life.

Key phrases in relation to YHWH

Many careful steps need to be taken in the word study method before one can draw conclusions on the theme of the book. It is important to observe recurring phrases as some words do not carry much significance on their own. For example, the standalone word “day” does not carry any signifi­cant meaning, but when “day” is studied in the context of the phrase “the day of YHWH”, the phrase bears deep meaning.

In doing word studies, observe recurring words in phrases and analyze how they are used in relation to each other.

Here are some key phrases that are used in relation to the key word “YHWH” in Joel:

  1. The day of YHWH (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14)
  2. YHWH your God (1:14; 2:13, 14, 23, 26, 27; 3:17)
  3. The house of YHWH (1:9, 14; 3:18)
  4. O YHWH (1:19; 2:17; 3:11)
  5. The ministers of YHWH (1:9; 2:17)

“YHWH your God” (7 times) and “the day of YHWH” (5 times) are the two prominent key phrases in Joel. The word “day” occurs 13 times in Joel, of which 9 times are used in reference to “the day of Yahweh” (1:15, 15; 2:1, 2, 2, 11, 31; 3:14, 18). The theme “the day of Yahweh” runs through the entire book. Joel warns of the approaching judgment when Yahweh God will reward the faithful and punish the wicked. Joel’s prophecies foreshadow a future day of Yahweh when God’s final judgment will come upon all nations. It is prophetically the day when the Messiah will return to earth to deliver Israel from all her enemies.

Key points in the book of Joel

Once the primary theme is identified, we can analyze how the significant phrases and words relate to each other. In the following paragraph, the significant words and phrases are underlined to show their relationship to the overall theme of Joel.

All the inhabitants, children and people, need to know and learn about the day (1:2-3). The locusts devour their crops so completely that the land is devastated to an extreme crisis. All the trees of the field are burnt and dried up (1:10-12; 19-20). The ministers of YHWH are instructed to call a solemn fast to cry out to YHWH. The grain offerings and drink offerings had been cut off from the house of YHWH. Their worship to God has been disrupted. It is a day of judgment. The day of YHWH is a day of judgment, but also a day of salvation to those who call on YHWH. One day, the earth will quake and the heavens will tremble with cosmic signs of blood and fire. Not only the day of YHWH is com­ing (2:31), the day of YHWH is near (1:15; 2:1; 3:14). The day of YHWH is fearful, who can endure it? (2:11) While there is still time to repent, Joel calls the Israelites to return to YHWH with all their hearts before the day comes (2:12-13). Blessings will come with the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh (2:28-29). God has spoken repeatedly to His people, “I am YHWH, your God” (2:27; 3:17). YHWH God challenges all the surrounding nations to prepare for war against Him, but the people of God need not fear, for YHWH is a refuge and stronghold to His people (3:16-17). By trusting in YHWH, the Israelites are instructed to call on YHWH for salvation (2:32). Salvation will come to Judah and Jerusalem and they will be inhabited forever from generation to generation (3:20). YHWH dwells with them in Zion (3:21).

Acknowledge that YHWH is your God

Not everyone can call on the Name of Yahweh. To call on the Name of Yahweh, you must acknowledge that Yahweh is God. Joel is a prophet who knows Yahweh intimately as his God. The name “Joel” means “Yahweh is God”. This is an honorable name. Many parents like to choose the name Joel for their children.

Is Yahweh your God? If Yahweh is not your God, how would it benefit you to call on the Name, Yahweh?

“I am Yahweh your God” – spoken by Yahweh

God says directly to the people, “I am Yahweh your God”. Yahweh is the only God and there is no other.

Joel 2:27 “You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh your God, and there is none else.” (ESV, Yahweh restored and italics added)

Joel 3:17 “So you shall know that I am Yahweh your God who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.” (ESV, Yahweh restored and italics added)

Here are some points that can be developed progressively:

  1. “I am Yahweh”. The first thing God wants to draw your attention to is that God has a Name, and His Name is Yahweh. God is Yahweh.
  2. “I am Yahweh your God”. Acknowledge Yahweh as your God before you call on Yahweh.
  3. “I am Yahweh your God” occurs more than 30 times in the Old Testament. It is a personal message that God often gives to His people. God spoke these words to the Israelites when He delivered them from the bondage under the Egyptians (Ex 6:7). Know that Yahweh is a personable God who truly cares for you as He did for the Israelites.
  4. “I am Yahweh your God and there is none else” (Joel 2:27). There is only one God and He is called Yahweh. The first command­ment is: “I am Yahweh your God … you shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:2-3). Yahweh God warns against idolatry. “There is none else” means that there is no other god equal to Yahweh or besides Him (Deut 4:35, 39; Isa 45:5, 6, 14, 18, 21, 22; 46:9). To call on the name Yahweh means that you worship only one God, and the one God is Yahweh.
  5. Yahweh dwells in Zion” is stated twice in Joel (3:17, 21). God’s very presence will be revealed in Zion. God chooses Zion to live there with His people forever. All the people will know that God is Yahweh.

“Yahweh your God” – spoken by Joel

In speaking directly to the people, Joel is speaking to an audience who acknowledge Yahweh as their God. Joel specifically uses the phrase “Yahweh your God” five times:

  1. “the house of Yahweh your God” (1:14)
  2. “return to Yahweh your God” (2:13)
  3. “a grain offering and a drink offer­ing for Yahweh your God” (2:14)
  4. “rejoice in Yahweh your God” (2:23)
  5. “praise the Name of Yahweh your God who has dealt wondrously with you” (2:26)

The basic foundation of calling on the Name of Yahweh is to know that God’s Name is Yahweh and to acknowledge Yahweh as your God.


“O YHWH” is found in all three chapters of Joel. Joel is a man of God who knows how to call on the Name of Yahweh, and Yahweh answers him. Prayers do not need to be long. The most vital part in prayer is to connect to God through His Name. Calling on Yahweh is so much a part of Joel’s life that whenever he comes to God in prayer, he immediately calls, “O YHWH”.

Joel 1:19a “To you, O YHWH, I call”

Joel 2:17b “Spare your people O YHWH”

Joel 3:11b “Bring down your warriors O YHWH”

The calling of YHWH looks simple but in actual fact, it is a life-long training for all prophets and men of God who have truly learned to pray. Do not be fooled by its simplicity. Calling “O YHWH” requires commit­ment, perseverance and persistence.

Calling on Yahweh is not simply saying “O YHWH” and invoking His Name mechanically. Joel lives a life of calling on the Name of Yahweh. Other servants of God also live a life of calling “O YHWH”: Moses (Num 10:35, 36, etc), David (1Sam 23:10, 11 etc), Solomon (1Ki 3:7; 8:23, 25, etc), Elijah (1Ki 18:36, 37, etc), Elisha (2Ki 6:17, 20 etc), Hezekiah (2Ki 19:15, 16, 17 etc), Ezra (Ezra 9:15), Nehemiah (Neh 1:5), Isaiah (Isa 25:1, 63:16, 17 etc), Jeremiah (Jer 10:23, 24, etc), Daniel (Dan 9:8), Hosea (Hos 9:14), Jonah (Jonah 2:6, 4:2,3 etc), Habakkuk (Hab 1:2, 12, etc), and the Psalmists. These men of God are men of intense prayer.

In his book, Joel does not explain in detail the calling of “O YHWH” because he is not teaching us how to pray. Therefore, further elaboration will be given in the following exposition to lay down some basic spiritual principles behind the calling of Yahweh.

Psalmists call “O YHWH”

The book of Psalms is a book of prayer. What is striking is that the Psalmists constantly call on the name of Yahweh: “O YHWH” (Ps 3:3, 7; 5:1, 3, 8; 6:1, 2, 3, 4; 7:1, 3, 6, 8; 8:1, 9; 9:1, 13, 19, 20; etc). They repeatedly call “O YHWH” even within one single prayer.

For example, in Psalm 7, David calls YHWH four times:

  • O YHWH my God (v.1)
  • O YHWH my God (v.3)
  • Arise, O YHWH (v.6)
  • O YHWH (v.8).

Why is the name “Yahweh” repeated so often in a single prayer? Is this just a poetic way of praying?

In Psalm 3, the name “Yahweh” is repeated 6 times within 8 verses. The Psalmist is calling Yahweh in almost every sentence.

  • O YHWH (v.1)
  • But you O YHWH, are a shield about me (v.3)
  • I cried aloud to YHWH and he answered me (v.4)
  • I woke again, for YHWH sustained me (v.5)
  • Arise, O YHWH! Save me O my God! (v.7)
  • Salvation belongs to YHWH, your blessings be on your people! (v.8)

Such repetition of calling the Name deserves our attention. Obviously, the repetition implies a deep focus on and intimacy with Yahweh. To be able to stay focused on God in prayer requires spiritual concentration.

Let’s follow the examples of the Psalmists and make it our life-long practice to call on the name of Yahweh. Sadly this practice is almost lost in the busy life of our modern day churches. You need to put in extra time to focus on God and come into His presence every day.

From my own experience, a proper preparation of heart is necessary before calling the Name “Yahweh”. But the sad situation is that most Christians cannot even find twenty minutes to quiet before God in the morning.

You may know a lot about God through reading or listening to sermons, but you only meet with God directly through calling His Name. Make it a habit to go before God to call His Name. In His Name, God reveals Himself personally to you. What you need is not more knowledge but to live a life with God through calling His Name.

To you O YHWH

Joel 1:19-20 To you, O YHWH, I call. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has burned all the trees of the field. Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilder­ness. (ESV, YHWH restored and boldface added)

Joel cries out to Yahweh for the devastating locust plague had destroyed the crops. The locust plague, the drought, and the famine were “a destruction that came from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15). Joel is telling the people that the national crisis they are in is not a result of a natural disaster, but is an act from God. So severe was God’s judgment that food was cut off before their eyes (v.16), seed shriveled under the clods, storehouses were ruined, granaries broke down because the grains dried up (v.17), the cattle moaned because of no pasture, and the flocks of sheep suffered (v.18). The destruction on the land was God’s judgment on His rebellious people. The raging fire destroyed everything (v.19). The land was threat­ened by successive crises. Even the beasts of the field panted for God (v.20) and the creation groaned.

But what about God’s people? It seems that God’s people are always imperceptive of God’s judgment. Down through the centuries, people often get very offended by a loving God who brings judgment onto them.

It is in the middle of talking about God’s judgment on the nation that Joel calls out to God, “To you, O YHWH, I call”. Here, we can get a small glimpse of Joel’s prayer life and learn some essential spiritual principles in the calling of God’s Name.

O YHWH – Address God’s Name in prayer

True prayer is to connect with God through His Name. Joel addresses God by His Name “Yahweh” when he prays. This is the basic foundation of prayer, yet many Christians skip this step. In the original Hebrew, the word “O” is not there. There is a practical reason why the “O” is added before the Name. The English translators added the “O” to communicate the necessity of a deep reverence when calling the name Yahweh. In classical addresses, the “O” usually precedes the name when the person is formally addressed. We do not call the name “Yahweh” in a detached way. Neither do we call “Yahweh” like we call our friends and buddies. The Hebrew people in the OT call “YHWH” the one true God with deep reverence in adoration. Every time I call “YHWH” or “O YHWH”, I come before God with a godly fear and deep devotion to give Yahweh my all.

Do you address God’s Name when you pray? When we want to talk to another person, we would usually call the person’s name, wouldn’t we? We would address the person by his name when we talk to him directly. Even if he has a title, we would address his title with his name. Calling on the Name of Yahweh is the path to connecting directly with the living God.

Many Christians tell me that they don’t know how to pray. They say they are not good with words. A few years ago, an elderly lady in the church told me that she wanted to pray like her pastor. She wanted to know how to compose all these beautiful words. Prayer, first and fore­most, is to connect with God through His Name, and then the words will come. If we do not make contact with God first, yet start talking, we have not begun to pray. We would just end up talking to ourselves and not to God.

We make prayer so difficult because we have skipped the initial step of connecting with God through His Name. Today, Christians are in a pitiful state as they don’t know God’s Name and the importance of God’s Name. Visitors coming to our church for the first time often ask us about the name of Yahweh for they don’t hear Yahweh mentioned in other churches. Christians may have a lot of inform­ation about God, yet Yahweh is foreign to them. Start with a desire to know Yahweh.

Point 1 – To You

“To you” are two small words that can easily go unnoticed, but they are the two most important words when it comes to the direction of prayer. “To you O YHWH” is to turn your full attention to Yahweh.

In Hebrew, the word אֵלֶ֥יךָ (to you) has the preposi­tion אֵל which can be translated as “towards, into, to”. The preposition denotes “a motion to or a direction towards, whether physical or mental” (BDB). When Joel calls out to Yahweh, he turns his heart towards Yahweh. Similarly, when the Psalmists pray, their hearts are turned towards Yahweh.

Psalm 25:1To You, O YHWH, I lift up my soul.”

Psalm 28:1To You, O YHWH, I call.”

Psalm 30:8 To You, O YHWH, I cry.”

Turn your whole attention towards Yahweh. How? You must turn away from the “self” and look outward “to You” Yahweh. Many Christians have difficulty directing their attention to God. As soon as they close their eyes, they are still thinking about their own little world, their families, their jobs, and their problems. Their minds are very much preoccupied with their own needs. Their whole being turns inward when they pray. The result is that they say a lot in their prayers, but it is all a monologue. It is like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 “praying toward himself” (pros heauton prosēucheto). In prayer, stop all the self-talking. Do not turn inward like the Pharisee.

When you pray, turn outward to God. Make a turn in the direction to Yahweh and give Him your undivided attention.

Psalm 69:13 “As for me, my prayer is to You, O YHWH.”

Psalm 142:5 “I cry to You, O YHWH.”

The key point: Turn your full attention to Yahweh.

Point 2 – You YHWH

The focus of prayer is “You, Yahweh”. Your only concern is Yahweh. Stop thinking about “I”. Stop striving. Too many Christians are in a rush to unload their anxieties and problems on God as soon they start to pray. It is all “I”. The “I” makes us scattered. Forget the “I”. Change the “I” to “You” Yahweh. Set your mind on You, Yahweh.

Isaiah 63:16b You, YHWH, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name”

Learn from the great men of God who fix their focus on You, YHWH.

Jeremiah 10:6 “There is none like You, O YHWH, you are great and your name is great in might.”

The key point: “Not I but YHWH”. Focus on YHWH.

Point 3 – Be still before YHWH

Be still and quiet your heart before God. Spending the needed time to quiet before God is often pushed aside in our fast-paced city life. We are always in a rush to get things done quickly. When we come before God, we need to slow down. Do not hurry. Make time to quiet down your heart before God in prayer.

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before YHWH.”

Stop talking. Let not your heart be troubled. The choice is yours. Don’t allow your heart to make any noise.

Zephaniah 1:7a “Be silent before the Lord YHWH”

Be silent. Silence means a complete absence of sound. Turn off your phone and all digital devices so that there are no external disturbances when you come before God.

Always sit in the same place of silence where no one can disturb you. Create this solo space to call on Yahweh every day. Do not rush. Commit yourself to stillness.

Don’t fall asleep. Open the window and breathe in some fresh air.

Zechariah 2:13a “Be silent, all flesh, before YHWH.”

The key point: Spend time to quiet your heart so that you can stay still before Yahweh.

Point 4 – Call YHWH and wait expectantly for YHWH

Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for YHWH; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”

This is your appointment with God. You are alone with Yahweh. In stillness of heart, call “O Yahweh” and wait expectantly for Yahweh.

The principle of waiting expectantly for Yahweh is easy to understand but hard to practice. Ponder on the analogy of you calling someone by phone. When you dial the phone to get connected with the other person, you would wait for the person to pick up the phone before you start talking. It would be absurd to start talking to the person before he or she comes to the phone. But this is the sad situation of many Christians when they pray. They would ramble on without a care of whether God is there or not. They have no time to wait for God when they pray. Learn to wait patiently for Yahweh.

Call “O Yahweh”. Be very careful when you say the Name “Yahweh”.

Continue to be still. Call “O Yahweh” and wait with eager expectation for Yahweh.

Do not be in such a hurry. Surrender yourself to God and spend as much time as you need to wait for Yahweh.

Call “O Yahweh”. Listen attentively to the Name you are calling. Be still and with patience, wait expectantly for Yahweh.

Psalm 130:5 “I wait for YHWH, my soul waits and in his word I hope.”

The key point: Call Yahweh with special care and wait eagerly for Yahweh.

Point 5 – Seek God’s face

This is a sacred moment between you and God. You want to meet with Him. Seek His face.

Be very careful when you say the Name “Yahweh”. Let your heart be moved with love to call “O Yahweh”.

God desires that we seek His face. When we look intently at someone’s face, there is intimacy. We also get to know the character of the person directly.

Psalm 27:7-9a “Hear, O YHWH, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, YHWH, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me.”

We cannot see God with our physical eyes, so how do we seek after the face of God? The Hebrew word for face is פָּנִים (paniym). This word is often translated as “presence”.

Psalm 105:4 “Seek YHWH, and his strength; seek his presence (פָּנִים) continually!”

To seek the face of God is to seek His presence. In His presence, we find strength.

We are to seek the presence of God “continually”. The Hebrew word תָּמִיד (tamid) means “going on without interruption, continuity, continuously” (BDB). Seek God’s presence “always” (HCSB). Not only do we seek God’s presence during prayer time, but we also need to stay in His presence throughout the day. This is how we learn to pray without ceasing (1Thes 5:17).

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

God instructs His people to humble themselves to seek His face. In shepherding the church, I notice that Christians often turn away from God after they have sinned. They don’t pray anymore. They don’t go to church anymore. Like Adam, many Christians have a tendency to run away from God’s presence because of the shame and guilt that resulted from their disobedience. God is asking, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9). All the more, this is the crucial time to come before God. Do not hide your face from God, but come before His presence to repent with a contrite heart. Let God’s face shine on you to restore you. This is how you experience God’s salvation. Trust in Yahweh’s forgiveness. This concept is so important that the Psalmist repeats it three times within one prayer.

Psalm 80:3 “Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

Psalm 80:7 “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

These are truly words of salvation when we experience God’s face shining onto us.

Psalm 80:18-19 “Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! Restore us, O YHWH God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

The key point: Call Yahweh with loving care so that you can be “in the moment” to sense the presence of Yahweh.

Point 6 – Engage your eyes on YHWH

You need to be very attentive with your eyes when you call on the name of Yahweh. Look to Yahweh and be fully present before Him. Oftentimes it is not that God is not there, but you are not there. Your eyes are not fixed on Yahweh. Look to Yahweh and let your eyes engage in what Yahweh is doing.

Psalm 123:1-2 “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to YHWH our God, till he has mercy upon us.”

As the eyes of servants look, and as the eyes of a maidservant look, let your eyes look to Yahweh and be attentive to Yahweh.

You are not attentive because you have a short attention span. Your eyes are wandering away from Yahweh. You are not there with God. You are not single-minded on Yahweh as your eyes are distracted by other things. Suddenly you see the number of chores that need to get done. You are scattered. You become fidgety. A million thoughts race through your mind. There’s the special project, those blog posts, the laundry, and the appointments for the day. Many things are pulling you in different di­rections. Your eyes are looking away from Yahweh and you are not there.

Tell the mind to stop. Keep Yahweh in the center of your focus. Train yourself to look continually with submission to Yahweh like a servant attending his master. For how long? Until Yahweh God shows his mercy on you (Ps 123:2). “Have mercy upon us, O YHWH, have mercy upon us” (v. 3). This means that you don’t demand an immediate answer from Yahweh. Learn to persevere patiently until Yahweh extends His mercy to you. Even if you feel great oppression from the enemy in their scorning, have complete confidence in God and look to Yahweh.

Wait as servants. Let your eyes be fully engaged on Yahweh. Notice that the psalmist uses the word “eyes” four times: “my eyes”, “the eyes of servants”, “the eyes of a maid servant”, “our eyes”. Take your eyes away from your suffering and “lift up your eyes” to Yahweh.

As servants look to “the hand of their master” and a maidservant looks to “the hand of her mistress”, you look to Yahweh. The hand di­rects. Pay close attention to Yahweh as any slight movement of His hand would be a signal for you to respond. Let your gaze be fixed attentively on Yahweh and His ways.

Psalm 25:15a “My eyes are ever toward YHWH.”

Look steadfastly on Yahweh. Keep looking. Keep waiting. This is how I train myself to be fully present when I call on His Name.

Imagine how frustrating it is to talk to a person whose eyes are rolling everywhere but are not fully concentrated before you. Stop all the things that distract your eyes. Only with focused attention on the other person can a meaningful relation­ship take place when we are in each other’s company.

Psalm 141:8a “But my eyes are toward you, O YHWH, my Lord.”

The key point: Be attentive to Yahweh by engaging your eyes on what Lord Yahweh is doing.


In conclusion, true prayer is that we are not in charge: let go and let God take over. Like Joel, direct your mind and heart: “To you O Yahweh”. Focus on Yahweh. God has given His Name for you to focus on. Set a time in the morning to call on the Name of Yahweh. Commit yourself to this spiritual discipline over a period of time and see what happens. Schedule a consistent time to call on Yahweh as nothing happens automatically.

Grasp the important principles of addressing God’s Name in prayer. As you call Yahweh, follow this procedure to help you stay focused on Yahweh as you call His Name:

  1. To You O YHWH – Turn to Yahweh
  2. You YHWH – Focus on Yahweh
  3. Be still before YHWH
  4. Call YHWH and wait expectantly for Yahweh
  5. Seek God’s face – Be in the moment with Yahweh
  6. Engage your eyes on YHWH – Be fully present before Yahweh

Yahweh desires to reveal Himself to you through His Name. It is in His Name that you see God’s glory and majesty. Through His Name, you will build a close relationship with God. You will be transformed to become more and more like God in His character. Just as Yahweh passed before Moses and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgress­ion and sin” (Ex 34:6-7), in the same way, God’s goodness will pass before you when you behold Him in prayer. In this same manner, Joel expe­riences the goodness of God, the One who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13).

Spare your people, O YHWH

Joel 2:17b “Spare your people, O YHWH, and make not your herit­age a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (ESV, YHWH restored and boldface added)

Joel calls out to God and addresses God’s name in prayer again, “O Yahweh”. This is not a personal prayer but a desperate crying out to God for His intervention to save His people. God is looking for Christians to intercede, “Spare your people O Yahweh”.

Things were not getting better in Joel’s days. They thought the locust invasions were just a natural disaster and would soon go away. It is like the current thinking of people hoping that the Covid-19 pandemic will soon be over and life can get back to normal. Things will not get back to normal and will get worse.

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain” (2:1, 15). To sound the alarm with the trumpet is to wake up the people to warn them of impending danger. Joel already gave them a wake-up call in their locust plague crisis (1:5), but the people of God fell back into spiritual dormancy. Joel warned the people that the economic crisis was not over yet, but would escalate with the military invasion by an aggress­ive army (2:4-9). Greater destruction will be arriving with an army of rumbling horses and chariots charging for war. The warriors will march into the land, pounce upon the city, run upon walls, climb up into the houses and enter through the windows like a thief (2:7-9).

God is going to allow the armies to invade His own people to make them tremble. Even though the judgment seems as though God is against them, God is actually waking up His people. Understand God’s heart and be on His side to gain victory. God wants to save His people. This is why Joel intercedes, “Spare your people O YHWH.” It is not that Joel is more compassionate than God, but that he is beating after God’s heart. God is turning Joel into an intercessor so that he may think what God thinks and feel what God feels. God needs his leaders to turn the situation around for the nation.

Priest – Kohen in Hebrew

Joel is instructing the priests to intercede for God’s people. The Hebrew word for priest is Kohen or Cohen. The priests are called “ministers of Yahweh” (Joel 1:9; 2:17). A priest serves as a mediator between God and men. He acts as an ambassador for God, to represent God on His behalf to the people. He also acts on behalf of the people to bring their worship and sacrifices to God.

Joel interceded for the people. Joel could not do this alone, so he instructed the priests to join him to mourn and weep in front of the altar. The priests need to cry out to God on behalf of His people. Priests, first and foremost, minister by interceding for God’s people. The goal is to bring everyone to a right relationship with God. Let the ministers of YHWH weep and say, “Spare your people O YHWH” (2:17).

God is looking for intercessors

God is looking for intercessors in each generation. Let the Spirit of God move us to intercede for His people. Mourn for God’s people so that they do not discredit God’s Name and reputation and become a reproach among the nations (2:17, 19). Oftentimes in our church, people make mistakes due to weaknesses and lack of alertness. The church becomes the target of Satan. Spiritual attacks come from all sides to knock us down. This is the time I most need to pray through to plead for God’s mercy on our church. God intervenes. He spares us.

Moses was a great intercessor who interceded for the rebellious Israelites and pleaded with God not to wipe them out (Ex 32:9-14). Moses could not sit back and do nothing, and allow the Israelites to perish under the judgment of God. We too must follow the same. As a result of Moses’ intercession, “Yahweh relented” from the calamity that He had intended to bring upon the Israelites (v.14). Even though Moses did not sin, he identified himself so much with the Israelites that he even asked God to blot his name out of God’s book should there be no forgiveness for the Israelites (v.32). The intercession of Moses resulted in Israel receiving God’s mercy rather than judgment.

Be an intercessor

Every family needs intercessors. Every church needs intercessors. Are you an intercessor?

Leaders need to be intercessors. We often intercede for our people in the church. Every night, I count my sheep to make sure that they are safe in the pen but sometimes not all return. When a sheep is lost, we need to search for the lost sheep until we find it (Lk 17:4). I recall an incident when a member of our church went astray and had fallen deeply into sin. It took many hours of counseling and prayers for the person to pull through to overcome sins. When a member sins, the entire body of Christ suffers. Through travailing and agonizing for the person, I learn to feel God’s sorrow and be compassionate like God. In God’s mercy, He turned His wrath away from the person. “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” (Jer 9:1)

Be a person who beats after God’s own heart. Feel the heart of God. As we call on Yahweh on behalf of His people, we become more like our Creator. The longer I serve in the church, the more I realize that our calling on the name of Yahweh is not a personal matter at all. We call on Yahweh with a complete concern for His people. Let God’s concern be our concern.

“There is no one”

Yahweh is looking for intercessors to take hold of Him, but the stark reality is that “there is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you” (Isa 64:7). How sad. There is no one who calls on Yahweh. Why? No one is willing to rouse himself to take hold of Yahweh. The Hebrew word for rouse is עוּר (ur), which means “to awake, to stir up to activity” (BDB). The people of God have dozed off into a deep sleep and sunk into spiritual atrophy.

Who is willing to arise from spiritual slumber and call on Yahweh? Like the people in Joel’s time, the church today is sound asleep. While the outward performances of churches look promising, the inner life has gone into spiritual decay. It is said of the church of Sardis: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die.” (Rev 3:1-2) It requires great effort to come out from a deep spiritual sleep. Do you have the strength to take hold of God for His people?

God is looking for intercessors to call on Him but there is no one. Thus says Yahweh: “Why was no one there when I came? Why was there no one to answer when I called?” (Isa 50:2) These are chilling words.

God says to Ezekiel, “I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one” (Ezek 22:30). This is truly heartbreaking. God searched and found no one. Today, God is still desperately searching for a man to stand in the gap for this generation. Will you come out and stand in the gap?

Joel stood in the gap

Joel was a prophet who stood in the gap. God found him and used him mightily in the middle of a national crisis. Joel had faith in God regarding the salvation of Judah and so he called out to Yahweh on behalf of the people. Yahweh answered him. Calling out to God to spare His people is a plea for mercy.

Joel was a prophet with a heart of a true pastor. Joel didn’t just intercede once but lived a life of intercession calling on Yahweh. Our intercession counts. “Who knows? Perhaps God will turn and relent” (Joel 2:14). Yes, intercession can move God’s heart. When Joel and the priests interceded, the heart of our Sovereign God was moved. Even children, nursing infants, bride and bridegroom left their chambers to join in the intercess­ion (v.16). No personal affairs were more important than to plead together for God’s mercy. God relented from the extreme judgment and said, “I will no more make you a reproach among the nations” (v.19). Intercession can make a difference. Joel turned the people around to return to God and restored them to faith in Yahweh.

Joel was addressing the national crisis of his time and interceded for God’s people. What about our situation today? How can we follow the example of Joel to intercede for our generation? We are living in an unprecedented time in history. The Covid-19 crisis is sweeping across the world and disrupting everyone’s lives globally. Covid-19 is a wake-up call from God. Not only do we wake up, but more importantly, we “keep awake” (Mk 13:33) and “stay awake” (v.35). Jesus did not just say these words to his disciples, but “what I say to you I say to all: stay awake” (v.37). Wake up, keep awake and stay awake lest when Jesus returns, he “finds you asleep” (v.36). Covid-19 has put an urgency in my heart to preach the Gospel ever more intensely because time is running out. We learned a precious lesson back in 2003 when SARS hit Hong Kong. Our church woke up to respond to God with a sense of great urgency in the sudden outbreak of SARS in our community. Although people were anxious and fearful of the increasing numbers of deaths each day, new­comers kept coming to our church week after week. There were no social distancing stipulations, but contracting SARS leading to death was real. However, this did not stop the people from coming to our church. More and more young people came hun­gering for God’s Word. Eventually, our church could not accommodate everyone and needed to branch out to start a new congregation in another district.

But now, 17 years later with the onslaught of Covid-19, I see a differ­ent picture of response from Christians. Christians are not waking up. Many suffer from pandemic fatigue in this prolonged crisis. Christians are falling into a state of despondency and conforming to the world rather than crying out to God with the urgency to do His will. Instead of waking up, many are hitting the snooze button waiting for the crisis to go away soon. What if Covid-19 never ends?

The coronavirus pandemic is a sign pointing to the beginning of birth pangs of troubles that are coming in the end times. Labor pain is not a steady pain but repeated pains occurring one after another. Know that the hour of travail occurs in a process of time and we are only at the beginning. We need to accept the anguish of pain that has been brought onto us in this pandemic, to be strengthened to triumph over the next wave that is more severe ahead of us. The Omicron variant is less deadly but spreads more easily. What if the virus mutates into something even more dangerous and life-threatening? Once the birth pang begins, we can expect recurring pains to occur more frequently and with greater intensity. So, let us not complain about wearing masks and being put under restrictions. Persecutions have not even started yet. Our focus is to “get ready” for the imminent day of the Lord.

Christians from different parts of the world have been contacting us to say that they long to have all these restrictions lifted from them so that they can travel again, move on with the comfortable life of eating and do social networking. They want to return to the normal life of pre-Covid-19. But can we? Even if we could, should we? That is the question we need to ask ourselves before Almighty God. Business cannot be as usual. Covid-19 is not just another crisis to get through. This is the hour that God is awakening the Christians to get trained in preparation for the end times. Are you among the wise preparing the extra oil (Mt 25:1-13)? The wise are prepared because they live with anticipation of a crisis of delay in the coming of the bridegroom. The bridegroom is tarrying. Do you have the extra oil? The fools take things for granted thinking that every­thing is normal and as usual. It is time to put away the usual human way of thinking and be transformed by the renewal of the mind to see Covid-19 through God’s lens. Have mercy on your people O YHWH. Open our blind eyes. Open our deaf ears. Let us not conform to the world but live with an awakening love to do your will. Forgive our hypocrisy and despondency. We have forsa­ken our first love. We repent from the sin of lukewarmness. Our love of comfort has lured us into compromising with the world. We are caught in Satan’s snares unaware. We have become materialistic, self-satisfied and lazy. Free us from the bondage of double-mindedness which has led to unbelief. We are prone to quitting. You take no pleasure in those who shrink back. Forgive us for looking back after having put our hands on the plough. Soften our hardened hearts O YHWH. We humble ourselves before you in wholeheartedness and with a renewed urgency to do your will. Let us be single-minded to think your thoughts and walk in your ways. Let us stay awake and call your Name. Time is running out fast. Let us arise and be on fire to get the Church and everyone ready for the end times.

Will you call on God to spare His people? Will you be a Joel for this generation?

Bring down your warriors, O YHWH

Joel 3:11b “Bring down your warriors, O YHWH”.

Joel chapter 3 speaks of battle scenes where God vindicates His people. The time has come for God to judge the nations for oppressing Israel. In the midst of battle, Joel calls on the name of Yahweh for victory.

The nations are in rebellion against God. God is taunting the nations to march into the valley of Jehoshaphat for battle (Joel 3:12). Joel compels everyone to gather for war. “Let all the men of war draw near” (v.9). Advance and attack. “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears” (v.10). Even the farmers have to stop farming and fight by turning their farming equipment into weapons. Everyone goes to war. The weak ones are also compelled to fight. Joel hastens all the surrounding nations to gather for war. In the heat of battle, Joel suddenly calls out to God, “Bring down your warriors, O Yahweh” (v.11). And Yahweh answers him. The enemies are completely destroyed. Joel is a man of prayer. He is so connected to God all the time that when he calls on Yahweh, Yahweh answers.

Joel chapter 3 is prophetic regarding the gathering of the nations for the final battle in the end times. The name Jehoshaphat means “Yahweh judges”. Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of Judah. God gave him victory over the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites when they united their armies to fight against Jerusalem (2Chr 20:1-30). Prophetically speaking, the valley of Jehoshaphat is the “valley of decision” (repeated twice in v.14) where God will make a decisive act of judgment to end the final battle for Jerusalem.

Today, we fight spiritual battles for God in our churches. In shep­herding the church, we often need to face the hostility of God’s enemies. We can only call out to Yahweh to intervene to fight for us. There are enemies all around us but we need not fear, because Yahweh is a warrior (Ex 15:3) and mighty in battle (Ps 24:8). The most difficult enemies to fight are those who oppose us from within the church. Watch out for the Judases. The enemies, whether outside or inside, will fight against us, but they will stumble and not overcome, because Yahweh is our dread war­rior (Jer 20:11). There is absolutely no fear of the enemies in the presence of God. Before Yahweh, our persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fall and be thoroughly disgraced.

Call on the name of Yahweh for victory! His enemies will be defeated and judged.

In the final battle in Jerusalem, God will bring in the final redemption for His people on that Day. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to Yahweh” (Prov 21:31).


God desires that we call on His Name. This invitation is open to every­one, but only a few will respond. Many are called but few are chosen (Mt 22:14).

Joel 2:32 “Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH shall be saved.” (ESV, YHWH restored and boldface added)

The word “call” in Hebrew is קָרָא (qara). This verb in the Qal imperfect tense indicates that the action is incomplete; usually the verb is translated either as a present or a future tense. The action of calling is not a one-time event, but a continual calling on Yahweh.

Qara in Hebrew means “call, utter a loud sound, cry for help, or proclaim” (BDB). The calling is not silent but loud enough to be heard. Praying can be silent but calling must be audible.

Call aloud

Most of us pray in our hearts. We are accustomed to silent prayers. Do you pray aloud? We pray out loud when we give thanks before meals or in prayer meetings. What about when you are alone at home, do you pray aloud? Calling on the Name of Yahweh needs to be expressed audibly. Come before God with a pure heart and pray aloud. There is no need to shout but let your voice be heard before God.

We sing with our voices. Music is to be heard and never silent. Wait­ing on God needs to be silent but calling to God needs to be expressed audibly. “I cry aloud with my voice to Yahweh; I make supplication with my voice to Yahweh.” (Ps 142:1) Acquire the habit of praying out loud when you are alone and let your voice be heard before Yahweh. “Hear O YHWH, when I cry aloud” and Yahweh answers (Ps 27:7).

The same Hebrew word for “call” is sometimes translated as “cry”. To cry out to God involves the whole heart, “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O YHWH!” (Ps 119:145).Whenever we come to God in prayer, do not stand aloof, but let your whole being be involved in the calling of Yahweh. Cry out from a pure heart and call “Yahweh”.

When I cry out to Yahweh, I also learn to fear the Name of Yahweh. Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to God and he was heard because of his reverence to God (Heb 5:7). From the depths of your heart, cry out to Yahweh with deep reverence. Yahweh listens. Engage your heart to cry out with deep earnestness to God. David often cries aloud to Yahweh and Yahweh answers him from His holy hill (Ps 3:4).

Call the Name of YHWH with reverence

When you call the Name “Yahweh”, you need to say the Name with care and reverence. Open your heart and your whole being to Yahweh before you even say the Name. Come before Yahweh from the depths of your being before you call the Name.

Begin by whispering the Name from your heart. Open your mouth and whisper the Name “Yahweh”. Do not shout. Begin by whispering His Holy Name.

Slowly say the Name. There is no need to rush. Take time to call the Name with gentle and loving care.

As we stand before the Holy God, we become aware of our ungodli­ness. This is the time I cry out to plead for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Sins block our way to God. God does not listen to our prayers if we hide sins in our hearts. “I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” (Ps 66:17-19) God will hide His face from us when we have wicked deeds. “Then they will cry to Yahweh, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil” (Micah 3:4). Repent of your sins and seek for God’s forgiveness. This is how you call Yahweh with a pure heart. Yahweh listens.

Every morning, I learn to sit quietly before God for a set period of time to call His Name. I don’t go into deep meditation or think of what words to say. There is no need to analyze anything. There are no special techniques involved. I spend time to prepare my heart to focus on Yahweh. In the stillness of heart, I call on the name of Yahweh. A burning desire and hunger for God is all that is needed in the calling of the Name. Shut the door, be alone and call His Name, “O YHWH”.

The Name of Yahweh is our single focus. There is no other agenda in the calling of Yahweh. No prayer request. No prayer items. Call the Name “Yahweh”. Let Yahweh lead. Yahweh does His work in our lives and we get strengthened as He transforms us to be more like Him from day to day. “I call to you all day long” and “O YHWH, unite my heart to fear your Name” (Ps 86:3, 11).

Call on the Name of YHWH in public worship

On other occasions, we call on the name of Yahweh to proclaim His holy Name publicly so that people may come to know that Yahweh is God. In the event of Mount Carmel, Elijah called on Yahweh and Yahweh answered him. “O YHWH, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O YHWH, answer me, that this people may know that you, O YHWH, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back” (1Ki 18:36-37).

Elijah was a man of faith. He called on Yahweh and proclaimed Yahweh as the one true God. Yahweh answered him and fire came down to consume the burnt offering. In response, the people fell on their faces and said, “YHWH, he is God; YHWH, he is God” (v.39). Interestingly, the Hebrew name “Elijah” means “Yahweh is God”.

In our Sunday worship services, I call on Yahweh and proclaim His Name to lead the congregation to worship the only true God, YHWH.

Call on YHWH with all your heart

Joel lived in a time of national crisis. Nothing like this in history had ever happened before in their days or in the days of their fathers (Joel 1:2). “Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land!” Pay close attention to Joel. The message is so significant that the people were instructed to “tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation” (v.3). The message of Joel is not to be forgotten but to be passed down from one generation to the next. We need to grasp the message of the book of Joel so thoroughly that we can tell our children about it, so that they too can pass on the message to their children. The book of Joel is relevant to our generation.

We need to understand our time. We are living in a very significant hour that is unique in human history. Today, the world is stricken with the terror of disasters, earthquakes, wars, fighting, persecu­tions, hunger, famine, climate crisis, terrorist attacks, and pandemics. From the Covid-19 that has been spreading globally, sufferings and disasters are increas­ing worldwide. In the past few years, we have been experiencing unusual weather patterns around the world. Snow is falling on the Sahara Desert. Not to mention rainfall increasing in the Arctic region. Extreme weather that is damaging crops is triggering spikes in the prices of agricultural commodities. When the food chain collapses, the food shortages will be the prelude to worldwide famine. More people will die from famine than from the Covid-19 pandemic. There will be huge breakouts of wars. All these signs are paving the way of the end times. The world is on the edge of collapse. Rumors of wars, famines, and increasing frequency of earth­quakes are the beginning of birth pangs leading to the end of this age (Mt 24:3; 7-8).

Our present crises, be it political, social, financial, economic, climatic, or environmental, are escalating in intensity that requires a response like that of Joel. Our time is no different from the time of Joel. The prophetic message of Joel is most relevant to our generation as we are nearer to the Day of YHWH. People of God need to wake up to call on the name of Yahweh. As we call on Yahweh, we gather our children to call on Yahweh together, so that in their turn, they will pass on the life of calling on Yahweh to their children.

Wake up! Weep, mourn, and lament

Joel 1:5a Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail.” (ESV, boldface added)

Let’s wake up! Calling on YHWH involves weeping, mourning and lamenting from the heart. Joel chapter 1 speaks of the locust plague and its devastating results on the land. Locusts are ravenous eaters. “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten” (1:4). The destruction was catastrophic as the locusts moved in four stages of successive swarms, destroying all the crops. It is similar to what we are experiencing in the Covid-19 pan­demic that is coming onto us wave after wave, with each increasing in greater intensity. In the four successive waves of locust invasion, farmers lost their harvest year after year. A locust plague can last for a few years, just as the coronavirus pandemic could last for a few years.

Joel 1:8 Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth. (ESV, boldface added)

Calling the Name of Yahweh is not a mere uttering of God’s Name, but a deep plea of a repentant heart filled with lament, like that of a young bride wearing sackcloth who mourns for the death of her bridegroom. It is unthinkable that a bride would be wearing a sack­cloth on her wedding day. When joy turns to deep sorrow, the agony of bereave­ment would be too unbearable. One can only wail and weep in grief. It is with this level of lamentation from the heart that Joel calls out to Yahweh to save the Israelites from their desperate plight.

As if the crisis of the swarming locusts were not enough, the crisis mounted when the drought came.

Joel 1:11-12 “Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil; wail, O vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field has per­ished. The vine dries up; the fig tree languishes. Pomegranate, palm, and apple, all the trees of the field are dried up, and gladness dries up from the children of man.” (ESV, boldface added)

With the coming of the drought, the fields were ruined and the ground dried up. The wheat and barley were totally destroyed. The fig trees languished, and the vine, pomegranate, and apples all shriveled. All the trees in the field withered away. The food is cut off (v.16). Can you feel their desperate situation?

As if the drought crisis that came with the scorching heat were not enough, a devastating fire came and burnt up all the trees of the field (v.19) and destroyed the pastures of the wilderness (v.19, 20). The crisis was not going away but increased with intensity. It was one crisis after another.

God’s judgment came, yet His people were still asleep and drunk in their pitiful spiritual state. It is time to wake up, repent and put on sackcloth to cry out to God for mercy. Weep, wail, mourn and lament.

Joel is telling the people to get in touch with reality and lament like the lamenting virgin. Wake up and weep. This is a wake-up call for us too. You cannot weep without feeling painful in the heart. The unexpected Covid-19 crisis that has plunged into our lives worldwide is not by accident. Business is not as usual. Life cannot be the same again. We cannot get back to the life before Covid-19. We need to be willing to change. Call on Yahweh to understand our times. Covid-19 caught the attention of everyone on a worldwide scale such that all the countries are affected by the same disaster. No one can stay aloof. More headline news of further upcoming disasters will be on the global level from now on. Call on the name of Yahweh. Lament and mourn.

Let us be broken and pray with deep mourning to weep over our sins. Call for God’s mercy to come upon us.

Cry out to YHWH

Joel 1:13-14 “Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O minis­ters of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of YHWH your God, cry out to YHWH.” (ESV, YHWH restored and boldface added)

The Hebrew word for “cry out” is זָעַק (zaaq), which means “to call, to cry out in need” (BDB). It is difficult to cry out to Yahweh if one does not feel the need in the heart. Sin makes our hearts callous such that we become indifferent and unresponsive even in our desperate situation.

Joel exhorted the priests to gather the elders to call on Yahweh together in their great distress. Was Joel a priest? We cannot tell as the only identifying background is the mentioning of his father’s name. Was Pethuel a priest? No extra information is given about Pethuel either.

From the internal evidence, Joel probably lived in the environs of Jerusalem and was familiar with the temple worship. He was concerned that the grain offerings and drink offerings had been cut off from the house of Yahweh. Without wine and grain, the people of God were not able to offer anything to Yahweh. Their worship to God was disrupted and stopped. This whole matter cut into Joel’s heart deeply.

Joel told the priests to put on sackcloth to wail and weep in front of the altar. Sleeping and eating were not important anymore. Like the lamenting virgin, they were to weep through the night (v.13). They were to call a solemn assembly to gather all the elders and the inhabitants to cry out to Yahweh together. A joint effort of corporate calling in the house of YHWH was necessary for them to break through spiritually. Calling for a fast to cry out to Yahweh together was surely a most appropriate move at this time of crisis after crisis.

Return to YHWH with all your heart

Joel 2:12-13 “Yet even now,” declares YHWH, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to YHWH your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” (ESV, YHWH restored and bold­face added)

God is a wholehearted God for He loves us with all His heart. In this covenantal relationship, it is only right that we also love Him with all our hearts. The people of God in Joel’s time turned away from Yahweh and needed to get back into a right relationship with God.

Returning to Yahweh must begin from the heart. Indeed God searches our hearts. Putting on sackcloth and rending the garment are pointless if a heart of repentance is not there. God will be gracious and merciful to us if we return to Him with all our hearts.

(1) Open your heart to Yahweh God and repent. Draw near to Yahweh with complete openness of heart and let God come close to you. Any resistance on your part will close the channel for God to cleanse you thoroughly from within. When you have sins in your heart, you need to repent and return to God.

(2) Yield your heart completely to God. Give your whole heart to God and do not hold back. Many Christians are afraid of God getting too close as they don’t want Him to touch their hearts. I watch them with sadness when I see their hearts hardening towards God. Their hearts grow cold and they become lukewarm. The fire of God is no longer there. Surrender everything in your heart to God.

In my early Christian days, maintaining a daily devotion time with God was a daunt­ing task. I would be in such a rush to do my daily activities that I did not make time for God. I had difficulty getting up early in the morning to spend time with God. I was lazy. As a result, my spiritual life was dry and stagnant with no burning fire for God. Many times I would kneel before God to ask for His forgiveness for not return­ing to Him with all my heart. We need to be zealous in our repentance. When Bible reading becomes stale and prayer is feeble, return to Yahweh with all your heart. Let Him turn all your restlessness into restfulness in Him.

Call to Yahweh from the depths of your heart to return to Him. The calling is not done in a mechanical way. Neither do you use the Name of Yahweh as a formula. Do not “mouth” His Name, or pay lip service to God. Call “Yahweh” from your heart to deliver you.

In the 6th full-time training conducted by Pastor Eric in 1994, he taught us how to call on the name of Yahweh. It was the first time I had learned to call on Yahweh in prayer. I began the process of learning to call on Yahweh with all my heart. “With my whole heart I cry; answer me O Yahweh!” (Ps 119:145) When I call on God’s Name, I feel His pleasure. Yahweh takes pleasure in those who fear him (Ps 147:11). When I watch myself and others calling out to Yahweh from the depths of the heart, there is a deep stirring in our souls to take hold of God. It is a moment of inner awakening. You will know it yourself when the calling is from the heart. You are strengthened when you call on God’s trusted Name. He always hears this kind of prayer. Yahweh God takes pleasure in His people and adorns the humble with salvation (Ps 149:4).

Call on YHWH for the Day is Near

Joel speaks of a significant day: the day of YHWH יֹ֣ום יְהוָ֑ה. The calamity of the locusts in chapter 1 and the invading army in chapter 2 foreshadow a greater devastating judgment to come in chapter 3. The day of Yahweh is a day of judgment for the disobedient but also a day of salvation to those who trust Him.

Joel describes the day of Yahweh as “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Joel 2:2).

Joel 2:11 “And YHWH utters his voice before his army, because his encampment is very large; strong is the one who carries out his decree, for great is the day of Yahweh and exceedingly fearful. Who can endure it?” (LEB, boldface added)

The calamities will be so dreadful that the suffering will be beyond des­cript­ion. It will surely be a great and terrible day, who can endure it? We must get ready for that day for it will surely come. There will be unusual cosmological signs to signal the day of Yahweh.

Joel 2:31 “The sun will be changed to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yahweh.” (LEB, boldface added)

We often think that the day of Yahweh is very far away from us. But Joel tells us that not only is the day of Yahweh coming, it is near.

Joel 1:15 “Ah! For the day! For the day of Yahweh is near. It will come like destruction from Shaddai.” (LEB, boldface added)

Joel 2:1 “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh is coming — it is indeed near.” (LEB, boldface added)

Joel 3:14 “Commotion, commotion in the valley of decision! For the day of Yahweh is near in the valley of decision!” (LEB, boldface added)

Each disaster that is happening in our world is bringing the day of Yahweh nearer and nearer. The Hebrew word for “near” is קָרוֹב (qarob), which means “near in place or time” (BDB). The day of Yahweh is indeed imminent; therefore the wake-up call to spiritual alertness demands an imme­diate response. Do not procrastinate any longer but get yourself spiritually ready for that day. Call on Yahweh.

The nearness of the Day of YHWH

How often do you ponder on the day of Yahweh? I often meditate on the day of Yahweh as we are moving ever closer to that day.

Let’s call on the name of Yahweh, for God’s judgment has come. The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down since 2020. The music stopped. 2.3 million people died from the virus in one year. We globally were forced to stop in our tracks altogether. Much of our lives came to a halt with city lockdowns and social distancing. But even long before Covid-19, many of our lives had already been in effectual lock­down, and the coronavirus outbreak simply brought our pitiful situation to the surface. Already in the past decade, have you noticed that with smart­phones and social media, sitting together with friends and family has ironically become less sociable, with people disengaged from one an­other in self absorption in their phones? People don’t have time to engage in meaning­ful conversation anymore. Even at the dinner table, everyone is busy with their phones and not talking to each other. Conversations have turned to quick and short messages. We seem to be more efficient, but we have become more isolated and self-centered. Loneliness, fear, anxiety, stress, and depress­ion have started controlling many lives. Has Covid-19 wakened us up to put our lives in order before God? All the more, this is the time we need to call on the name of Yahweh.

The judgment of the locust invasion in Joel has parallels — whether physical or spiritual — in modern times. While everyone’s attention has been focused on combating the coronavirus, many may not be aware of the locust swarms migrating across Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, and southwest China, destroying crops. We are living in critical days of the end times. Pandemic, locusts, plague, drought and famine are signs of the end times (cf. Lk 21:11).

Just as the locust plague and the famine in Joel foreshadow a far greater and devastating judgment to come, we are now living in the shadow of the nearness of the day. Are we prepared for famine when it comes our way? It may just be around the corner. Could it be that from now on, wearing face masks is a necessity of life until the day of Yahweh? That day does not suddenly come without signs and warnings. Each sign ought to prompt us to repent speedily in preparing for the coming Kingdom.

Other prophets also speak of the Day of YHWH

One of the prominent themes of the OT prophets is the day of Yahweh. The OT prophets prophesied concerning their times, but their pro­phecies speak prophetically of the end times in which we are living today.

  1. The day of Yahweh is also called “that day” (Isa 2:11) or “the great day” (Zeph 1:14a).
  2. The day of Yahweh is near, a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations (Ezek 30:3).
  3. The day of Yahweh is darkness and gloom with no light and brightness (Amos 5:18, 20).
  4. The great day of Yahweh is a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and lofty battlements (Zeph 1:14-16).

In a nutshell, the day of Yahweh is a great and dreadful day (Mal 4:5). It is a terrible day of wrath, who can withstand it? (Rev 6:17)

As the day of Yahweh is yet to come, we now wait for its eschatolog­ical arrival. The end times will be dreadful. Who can endure the intense crisis? The day of Yahweh is great yet terrible — great for the remnant as they will experience salvation, and terrible for the wicked as they will be punished in judgment.

Promise of Salvation from YHWH

The promise of salvation comes in the form of blessings from Yahweh. The blessings that God pours out are twofold: earthly physical abundance (Joel 2:18-27) and spiritual empowering (2:28-32). Signs and wonders will follow in the heavens and the earth.

Physical Blessings: God will pour down abundant rain to bless His people and the land.

Joel 2:23 “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in YHWH your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.”(ESV, YHWH restored and italics added)

Physical blessings will come upon the land. Abundant rain will come to nurture the crops. In the agricultural world, the farmers depend on the autumn rain (early rain) and the spring rain (latter rain) for a full harvest. God promises to give the early and the latter rain. The threshing floor will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with wine and oil (v.24). The wilderness will turn into green pastures; trees will bear fruit; and the vine and the fig tree will give their full yield. God’s people will eat in plenty and be satisfied (v.26).

Spiritual Blessings: Afterwards, God will bless His people spiritually by pouring out His Spirit. Twice, God says “I will pour out my Spirit”. The word “pour” denotes God’s great generosity in the giving of His Spirit. The outpouring of the Spirit is a sign of God’s salvation to His people.

Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (ESV, italics added)

Joel is revealing a prophecy that is unheard of in his time regarding the Spirit. All along, the Spirit came upon kings, priests, and prophets. Only men with special offices received the anointing of the Spirit. But now, the Spirit is no longer limited to certain individuals but will be made avail­able to everyone who calls on Him. All gender, age and social barriers will be removed. Spiritual blessings will come abundantly upon all flesh — sons and daughters, the old and the young; even male and female servants will be included. This prophecy would have been mind blowing to those who heard it in the days of Joel.

Prophecies are fulfilled in progressive stages

The prophecies in the Old Testament are fulfilled in progressive stages. Some parts have been partially fulfilled, some are being fulfilled, and some will be completely fulfilled in the age to come. The initial fulfillment began at Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out onto the disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4). Such mighty act­ivities of the Spirit will complete its fulfillment at the end of this age when “the Gospel of the Kingdom” is proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations (Mt 24:14a). There will be a final harvest in bringing the Gospel to all nations. The latter rain will ripen the crop right before the harvest. Spiritually speaking, we are at the end of the latter rain, and the crops will come to full maturity, ripe and ready for harvesting. “And then the end will come” (Mt 24:14b). This will mark the end of this present age. Christ (the Messiah) who is seated on the cloud will return to the earth with his sharp sickle, “for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe” (Rev 14:14-15). Time is running out. Christ will soon put in the sickle to end this age and bring in the age to come.

On the other hand, an angel will swing his sickle and gather the grape harvest and throw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God (Rev 14:19). This is in line with the end-time prophecy in Joel 3:13, “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great.” Joel is prophetically speaking about the future when the measure of wickedness reaches its height. At that time, God’s long-suffering will no longer avail. Judgment comes. God’s full wrath will come upon the wicked. At the end of the age, there will be a separation between the righteous and the wicked (Mt 13:49).

It is like the days of Noah: as soon as God shut the door of the ark, the flood came (Gen 7:16). The ark is the symbol of the Church. We are now living at the same edge of time. Before the age of the Church closes, we still have the remaining little time to spread “the Gospel of the Kingdom” to all nations (Mt 24:14). Let us go forward in the empowering of the Spirit to save souls and bring in the final harvest for God’s Kingdom.

Signs and wonders

Joel 2:30-31 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of YHWH comes.” (ESV, YHWH restored, italics added)

The unusual cosmological signs point to the final phase of the end times right before the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus in the New Testament also warned the disciples of similar dramatic changes in the sun, moon and stars at his coming.

Matthew 24:29-30 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shak­en. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (ESV, italics added)

The coming of the son of man will be a glorious day. The God of Israel will manifest His glory openly for everyone to see as the Messiah comes on the clouds of heaven. The Messiah will usher in the new age to deliver His people.

The sequence of progressive events

The prophecies of Joel 2:28-31 point to a long span of time. We are now looking at Joel’s prophecies that were written about 2600+ years ago. The outpouring of the Spirit began its fulfillment at Pentecost 2000+ years ago and will have its complete fulfillment at the end of the age.

There is a sequence of progressive events in the prophecy:

  1. The pouring of the Spirit has begun at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-18)
  2. The Spirit has been poured onto the Jews and Gentiles (Acts 2:1-13; Acts 10:34-46)
  3. The Church is empowered with God’s Spirit
  4. Further empowering of the Spirit brings the Gospel to all nations for the final harvest
  5. Signs and wonders take place in heaven and on earth
  6. The son of man comes to earth on the clouds of heaven

The Remnant

Joel 2:32 “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of YHWH shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as YHWH has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom YHWH calls.” (ESV, YHWH restored and italics added)

Let’s consider the two parts of this verse and see how they are linked together:

(1) Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH

(2) The remnant whom YHWH calls

Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH

Joel 2:32a “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of YHWH shall be saved.”

This is a call to come to YHWH. The invitation to call on the name of YHWH is open to everyone. However, not everyone will respond. Will you respond? Only those who call on the name of YHWH will experience salvation.

Joel is also prophetically pointing to a future event that will take place in the final phase of salvation for mankind.

The day of Yahweh will be impossible to endure without God’s mercy. To the wicked it will be a terrible day. To the righteous who call on the Name of Yahweh, they will be saved. “The name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov 18:10).

In turbulent times, Yahweh gives strength and peace to those who call on Him. Bear in mind that those who call on Yahweh are not merely crying out to God to escape from the destruction but expressing their faith in total reliance on Yahweh, the One in whom they take refuge. They trust in Yahweh as their God, and He delivers them. Call on Yahweh when you are in danger. More importantly, nurture a life of calling on the name of Yahweh every day. If you do not have the spiritual discipline of daily calling on Yahweh, how will you call on Yahweh in that critical hour of the day?

Call on Yahweh now in the Covid-19 crisis. Covid-19 caught us unprepared to face the end times. The end times is right at our doorstep. God is telling us that perilous times are here, at least for a season, so that we still have time to freely preach the Gospel. Global persecutions will begin, but God’s people are not prepared. You must “be prepared” because the “Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt 24:44). With the Omicron being a less severe variant of Covid-19, I see God extending a season of grace for us to prepare ourselves for more difficult days ahead of us. This is the time to toughen up physically and spiritually to face the harsh realities of the end times crises. Brace yourself for famine and outbreak of wars. When Russia invaded Ukraine early this year in 2022, it was an escalation of the Russia-Ukraine war that took place in 2014. Will this war spiral into a global warfare among the nations? When you hear of wars and rumours of war, you know that the great tribulation is here. Such things must happen, “but the end is not yet” (Mt 24:6). Now that we are still living in a relatively peaceful time, call on the name of Yahweh to equip us spiritually for worse days ahead. Under the great persecution of the antichrist, he will throw us into prison and even kill us. Have you noticed that the Covid-19 pandemic is quickly turning the world into a cashless society? For hygiene purposes, we have gotten used to using the convenience of mobile payment transactions. While people are saying, “There is peace and security”, then suddenly destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1Thes 5:3). One day, people cannot buy or sell without the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-17). A time of deep darkness is coming. Get ready and prepare yourself for extreme suffer­ing. Sudden destruction will come upon the whole world when we least expect it. Call on Yahweh for extra grace to endure all persecutions, so that we may be counted on to bring the Gospel to all nations before the end comes (Mt 24:14).

Trust fully in Yahweh today as you live under the authority of Yahweh to call His Name in these end times.

The Remnant whom YHWH calls

Joel 2:32b “Among the survivors shall be those whom YHWH calls.”

The Hebrew word for survivor is שָׂרִיד (sarid), which carries the meaning of “remnant, the remaining, that which is left” (TWOT). There is a remnant whom Yahweh calls to Himself.

“Remnant” is a recurring theme in the OT. They are a small group that remains from a larger community of people. Whenever remnant is used in the Bible, it is used in relation to God’s people. “For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return” (Isa 10:22; cf. Rom 9:27). The remnant is always the faithful few who remain true to God.

Prophecies are fulfilled in multi-layers. In the immediate context of Joel’s days, Joel is foretelling that God will deliver a remnant for Himself with the forthcoming of the invasions and the destruction of Zion and Jerusalem (Joel 2:32). The same promise is given in Obadiah, “But in Mount Zion, there will be those who escape, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions” (Obad 1:17).

Throughout history, God continued to deliver a remnant for Himself. In the Assyrian invasion, multitudes of Israelites were cast off and Micah prophesied that God would gather a remnant of Israel for His purpose.

Micah 2:12 “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like a sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men.” (ESV, italics added)

Similarly, Jeremiah foretold that God would gather a remnant out of his flock after the Babylonian captivity.

Jeremiah 23:3 “Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.” But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.” (ESV, italics added)

In the further development of Joel’s prophecy, the future of Israel will be assured by a faithful remnant whom Yahweh calls.

God’s purposes were always fulfilled by the few. In the future, God’s purposes will not be accomplished by the majority but by the few.

It is always the faithful remnant who fulfill the purpose of God. Many are called, but few are chosen (Mt 22:14). Even though the majority of Israelites rebel against God, there is always a faithful few whose hearts are totally committed to God.

In the days of Noah, out of millions of people, “only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark” (Gen 7:23). “Only a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through water” (1Pet 3:20). The percentage of those who are saved is pitifully small.

Joseph suffered under his brothers’ hands and was sold to slavery. In his suffering, he said to his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors” (Gen 45:7). God’s purpose for Israel remains. God’s purpose for human­ity will always be accomplished by the loyal few. Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to des­truction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mt 7:13-14) The narrow path is paved with hardship and suffering that refuses to compromise with the world. Many have tried to broaden the road to their peril. Only with radical obedience to Yahweh will the remnant persevere to the end without shrinking back and giving up.

Today, God is refining and purifying a remnant for Himself whom He can trust to fulfill His final purpose before this present age closes.

The key point: The remnant call on Yahweh and are called by Yahweh. Yahweh and His remnant have a dynamic and interactive relationship with each other. Be a part of a remnant that calls on Yahweh. Though the number is small, they are the hope of restoration in God’s program for humanity.

Salvation in the coming Kingdom

Joel chapter 3 paints a broad vision of the future hope of salvation in Mount Zion and Jerusalem.

Take special note of the prophecies in Joel chapter 3 regarding Israel (Joel 3:2, 16). There will be a future restoration of Judah (Joel 3:1, 6, 8, 18, 19, 20) and Jerusalem (Joel 3:1, 6, 16, 17, 20) and they will be inhab­ited forever to all generations. God chooses Zion as His dwelling place (Joel 3:16, 17, 21).

Restoration of Judah and Jerusalem

Joel 3:1 “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.” (ESV, boldface added)

Joel is one of the prophets whom God uses to speak about the restoration of Israel. When will the restoration take place? The dating of the book of Joel is uncertain as Joel does not mention any ruling kings. Some scholars place him along with the prophets in the 9th or 6th century BCE while others suggest that he lived during the second temple period in the 5th century BCE. Whether Joel lived before or after the exiles does not change the overall message regarding God’s abundant mercies in restoring Judah and Jerusalem.

Joel focuses on Judah and Jerusalem, so there is a high possibility that the book was written during the Babylonian invasions. The locust plague probably took a few years to destroy the land, while the military invasion from Babylon went on for twenty years (606 to 586 BCE) before the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem. Joel could be living in these turbulent years when he wrote his book.

OT prophecies are often fulfilled in progressive stages. From history, we know that the ten tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and the inhabitants in Judah were removed to Babylon in 586 BCE. God made a promise to restore the captives back to the land after their exiles (Jer 16:15). “I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares YHWH, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile” (Jer 29:14). “I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says YHWH” (Jer 30:3). “I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel” (Ezek 39:25).

The fulfillment of this prophecy took place under the Persian rule in 538 BCE. King Cyrus freed the Jews to return to Judah to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The ruined cities were rebuilt. God restored the land to His people. They once again planted vineyards, built gardens, drank wine and ate plenteous fruit (cf. Amos 9:14).

In that sense, the prophecy of restoration was partially fulfilled. Prophecies are often fulfilled in progressive stages.

In the wider context of Joel 3, the prophecy progresses towards its final fulfill­ment when the Messiah will come to restore all things and put every­thing into subjection to God. God will finally judge all the nations for treating His people in scorn and contempt.

Joel 3:2b-3 “I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.” (ESV, boldface added)

Throughout history, the nations scattered the Jews and divided their land; they even cast lots and enslaved them. Their evil deeds were so horrific that a captive boy would be traded for a prostitute and a girl sold for wine. This kind of lawlessness happened in history and will be multi­plied at the end of the age (Mt 24:12). As prophesied by Zechariah, God will “gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then Yahweh will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.” (Zech 14:2-3)

Lawlessness will increase at the end of the last days. “The times of Jacob’s trouble” with its terrible suffering will come upon Israel when the antichrist appears. “There will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now and never will be. And if those days are not cut short, no human being will be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short” (Mt 24:21-22).

All this will set the stage for God’s judgment to come upon all the nations and for the Messiah to come to restore Israel and the land. Before this happens, there is still the final conflict in Jerusalem.

The final battle in the valley of Jehoshaphat

Joel 3:2a “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” (ESV)

God is deeply concerned for the people of Israel. In the final conflict of the battle for Jerusalem, God will judge the nations and gather them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat which could be the crux of the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:12-16). No one is absolutely sure where the val­ley of Jehoshaphat is located. It would be in Jerusalem where God’s final judgment will come upon the rebellious nations. Zechariah proph­esies that all nations will be gathered to battle against Jerusalem covering the area from Jerusalem to Megiddo (Zech 12-14). All the kings of the entire earth will be assembled together for this final battle on the great day of God the Almighty. Even now, “the kings of the earth set them­selves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh and against His Anointed (Ps 2:2). The nations are fighting against God and His Messiah. This prophecy will have its final fulfillment “at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Rev 16:16).

Joel 3:12 “Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations” (ESV)

Yahweh God will judge the nations in this valley of decision to end the final battle over Jerusalem.

Joel 3:14 “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of YHWH is near in the valley of Jehoshaphat” (ESV, YHWH restored)

When this final conflict takes place, we know that the day of Yahweh is just around the corner. So dreadful is the day that the sun and moon will be darkened and the stars will withdraw their shining (3:15; cf. 2:30-31). All these remarkable happenings in the sky are manifestations of the end times. When the 6th seal is broken, there will be “a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth” (Rev 6:12-13).

Joel 3:16 “YHWH roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But YHWH is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.” (ESV, YHWH restored; boldface added)

Yahweh will then roar from Zion and utter His voice from Jerusalem. The roaring signifies God’s wrath as He carries out judgment upon the nations. The heavens and the earth will quake. Yahweh is concerned for the children of Israel in these turbulent times. Those who trust in Yahweh need not fear. Why? They can call on Yahweh to save them. Yahweh will be a refuge and stronghold to them.

While the nations are being gathered for judgment, God’s people are promised a glorious hope of everlasting peace to all generations. This final battle closes “the end of this age” and prepares the beginning of the new age. It is not “the end of the world” as the world will continue with Jesus reigning on earth in the millennial kingdom of the new age.

Jerusalem shall be holy

Joel 3:17 “So you shall know that I am YHWH your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it.” (ESV, YHWH restored, italics and boldface added)

Jerusalem is the focus of attention. The final restoration of Judah and Jerusalem will take place when the Messiah returns to rule the earth with righteousness in the coming Kingdom.

Jerusalem shall be holy. Yahweh will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land (Jer 33:15). Jeremiah prophesies also about the safety of Judah and Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 33:16 “In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘YHWH is our righteousness.’” (ESV, YHWH restored, italics and boldface added)

God will restore Jerusalem to glory in the final victory. This is God’s unwavering promise to the people of Israel. Other prophets also prophesy about the greatness of this city of God.

Zechariah 8:3 “Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city.”

Isaiah 1:26 “Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.”

Isaiah 60:14 “They shall call you the City of YHWH, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

Jeremiah 33:9 “And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity that I provide for it”

Jerusalem will be a glory before all the nations of the earth. Foreigners of conquering armies will not overrun Jerusalem again. Jerusalem will not be annihilated. God will wipe out all His enemies and there will be lasting peace in Jerusalem. Zephaniah gives further detail of this prophecy of Jerusalem.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! YHWH has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, YHWH, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. YHWH your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (ESV, YHWH restored, italics and boldface added)

The nation of Israel will take center stage and be restored to its fullness in the coming Kingdom. This prophecy will ultimately be fulfilled when the Messiah reigns on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Yahweh will dwell in Zion and rejoice over His people with gladness and exuberant joy.

Joel 3:18 “And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of YHWH and water the Valley of Shittim.”

Israel will be beautiful with mountains dripping sweet wine and hills flowing with milk. The land will be restored to its full abundance. It will be a fertile land flowing with milk and honey. There will be no more drought. Streambeds of Judah will flow with water. A fountain will come forth from the house of Yahweh. Even the Valley of Shittim will be filled with water. Shittim is a Hebrew word for “acacia” (BDB). In one of our journeys to Israel, we explored the land of Moab. The valley in the land of Moab is known for its barrenness yet on rare occasions “acacia trees” grow there even under extreme climatic conditions of heat and dryness, thus the valley is given its name. In the age to come, an overflowing of water will run through this valley and transform the desolate wadi into a flourishing land. All this is symbolizing that flowing streams of living water will flow out far and wide.

Judah and Jerusalem will be inhabited forever

Joel 3:20 “But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations. (ESV italics and boldface added)

Joel’s message of salvation points to the future Kingdom. Not only will Judah and Jerusalem be fully restored, but also everlasting peace will be in Judah and Jerusalem for people to inhabit forever. This will take place when God sets up His literal Kingdom on earth.

As prophesied by Daniel, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” (Dan 2:44) God will set up this kingdom through the “son of man” (Dan 7:13). Daniel sees the son of man as a man-figure who comes in the presence of the Ancient of Days. To this man is given dominion and glory and a kingdom such that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be des­troyed (v.14). The prophecy points to the Messiah King who will rule this future Kingdom and restore all things such that this Kingdom will not collapse like previous kingdoms but will stand forever.

The eternal city will be established in Jerusalem. The literal throne will be set up for a human king to rule and he is descended from the line of David. This King will sit on the Davidic throne and make Jerusalem holy. He will bring all things into subjection to God. People will then be able to live with everlasting peace in Jerusalem from generation to generation.

The Messiah will restore all things

We must read the OT and NT as a unified whole for the complete message of salvation. The OT prophets foretell the Messiah who will restore all things. The prophecies regarding the Messiah are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Acts 3:20-21 “… the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (ESV, bold­face added)

In the NT, Jesus began fulfilling his Messianic mission in his life and teaching. After Jesus’ death, God fully endorsed Jesus as His Messiah by raising him from the dead and exalting him to sit at His right hand. Heaven received him. Jesus’ mission is not finished yet. Jesus as the Messiah King will return to earth to do the restoration work by putting all things under subjection to God so that God may be all in all (1Cor 15:28).

The disciples were always longing for the restoration of Israel. Their hope is in the Messiah to restore Israel. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples asked Jesus an urgent question that was burning in their hearts: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) To this question, Jesus replied that the restoration will take place at the time that is known only to the Father (v.7). Only the Father knows when Jesus will return to earth. Even Jesus himself does not know. Jesus will remain in heaven until the Father tells him to return to earth to restore Israel.

The Messianic mission of Jesus

All through Jesus’ life, he grew up with full knowledge of his Messianic mission. Even before the conception, the angel Gabriel had already announced to Mary about the appointed role of Jesus in the future Kingdom.

Luke 1:32-33 “He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (ESV, italics added)

“Lord God” is a title of Yahweh. What Israel long awaited in the OT, the promise of the Messianic king, is now made known to Mary. She will bear a son and call him Jesus. Even the future of Jesus is foretold by Gabriel in this visit. Yahweh will grant Jesus the throne of his father David to rule over His kingdom. Jesus is the one to reign on the future Davidic throne over the nation of Israel forever. This Kingdom will not collapse but will stand forever.

Then at Jesus’ birth, an angel of the Lord openly announced to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The word “Christ” comes from the Greek word χριστός (chrīstós) which is translated from the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ). Both carry the same meaning: “Messiah, the one who is anointed”. Jesus is the Messiah Lord.

When baby Jesus was presented at the Temple of Jerusalem, Simeon held the baby in front of his parents and blessed God because he had seen God’s salvation. The Spirit specifically revealed to righteous Simeon that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Lk 2:25-26). In the NT, sometimes the word “Lord” refers to God, and sometimes to Jesus. Here, the Lord refers to God. Simeon had now seen baby Jesus as the promised Messiah, God’s Anointed one. Joseph and Mary were told specifically about the appointed role of Jesus as God’s Messiah. As a boy growing up, Jesus would have learned all these remarkable events from his parents.

At the age of 12, Jesus was found in the temple of Jerusalem sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions (Lk 2:46). When his parents found him after he had gone missing, he said “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (v.49). Jesus as a young boy was already preoccupied with the things of Yahweh, whom he calls “Father” in the NT.

As the years went on, Jesus proved himself worthy of the high calling of the Messiah. He performed signs and wonders in the power of God. The focal point of Jesus’ Messianic mission was to bring the Kingdom of God on earth. The presence of the Kingdom was brought near in Jesus’ first coming when he manifested the power of the Kingdom in his life and teaching. In that sense, Jesus has begun establishing the Kingdom but not yet in its full completion until his return to earth.

With the exaltation of Jesus, the Messiah now rules as head over the Church. We can experience the reality of the Kingdom individually as well as corporately in the church that lives under the Lordship of Christ. The mission of Jesus as Messiah is not finished yet and is still continuing. When Christ was on earth, the Kingdom had not yet ruled over the earth. There comes a future time when the literal Kingdom will rule over Israel and all nations.

In the Parousia (the second coming of Christ), Jesus will fulfill the prophecy of the everlasting peace in Jerusalem (Joel 3:17, 20). The Messiah will be the one to bring in the final restoration to Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:1). When Jesus the Messiah returns to reign on earth, the Kingdom of God will come into full fruition on earth during the millennium. Jesus the Messiah will put all things in subjection under his feet so that he can bring the entire world to submit to God’s rule (1Cor 15:24-28). “All things” include people, nations, angels and all creation. The Messiah King will rule in righteousness over Israel and the world until all the enemies are destroyed, including Satan who will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the millennial reign (Rev 20:10). The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1Cor 15:26). Then death and Hades will also be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). It will be in the age to come that Jesus will consummate the Kingdom of God through his righteous reign on earth.

God Dwells in Zion

The book of Joel ends with these significant words:

Joel 3:21b “YHWH dwells in Zion.” (ESV, YHWH restored)

The holy mountain of Zion is specifically chosen to be the place where Yahweh dwells. Zion is one of the hills of Jerusalem. Why Zion? “I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Ps 2:6). God decrees Zion to be the place where He will set up a man to be His King on earth.

The promise of salvation will finally take place when this man reigns as King over all the earthly kings. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15). The sounding of this seventh and last of the trumpets signals the arrival of the long-awaited Kingdom. This is indeed the great hope of salvation for humankind.

Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ

Christ will return to earth as King of kings to bring everlasting peace to Israel and the world. Life in the millennial years will be “heaven on earth” under Jesus’ rule. There will be peace among the nations. People will live in harmony with one another. There will be no more wars. It will take a process to complete the restoration work so that all creation may come into perfect harmony.

The restoration is not magical work that can happen automatically in an instant. Ponder on the five days that God used to create light, firma­ment, sea, land, vegetation, sun, moon, birds and sea creatures before He created man on the 6th day. God spent a great amount of time to create the natural world. Even the Garden of Eden did not happen with a snap of a finger. Yahweh God planted Eden with His own hands (Gen 2:8). If you have ever planted a garden, you would know that it takes years to make a small garden look beautiful, not to mention the great Garden of Eden. It will need the millennial years for Jesus to lead his saints to bring everlasting peace and harmony to all creation. Finally, there will be no more wars. Nations will live in love and peace.

Perfect harmony will come upon the animal world. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isa 11:6; cf. Isa 65:25) Picture the astounding scene of a lion grazing with a lamb. The lion is not going to eat up the lamb. The goat will not be harmed by the leopard. The calf will not be threatened by the lion. All ferocious wild beasts will even submit to a little child. The nursing child can play safely near the hole of a cobra. A toddler can put his hands in the nests of the deadly snakes without harm. (Isa 11:8) Everything is safe. Meditate on this day and night. This is how I live in the Word of God.

God dwells with His people forever on earth

Joel’s prophecies ultimately point to the future when God dwells in Zion with His people forever.

Psalm 132:13-18 For YHWH has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.” (ESV, YHWH restored)

Yahweh desired and chose Zion for His dwelling place forever. Zion is the place Yahweh chose to reside in with His saints and with the king, His anointed.

Ezekiel gives further detail regarding God’s everlasting covenant with His people, and God will set up His sanctuary to dwell with them forever.

Ezekiel 37:24-28 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my ser­vant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am YHWH who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (ESV, YHWH restored; italics added)

Christ, the one sitting on the Davidic throne, shall be King and Shepherd of all. God has given Jesus all authority to rule heaven and earth (Mt 28:18). Christ will be the one to unite all things in heaven and on earth in God’s plan (Eph 1:9-10). Christ will finally deliver the Kingdom to God the Father (1Cor 15:24-28). God will then purify the creation by fire.

There will be a new heaven and a new earth. The New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven from God onto the new earth (Rev 21:1-2). “He will dwell with them and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God” (v.3). The new earth will continue forever as God’s dwelling place with men.

Our hope of salvation is in the coming Kingdom and the New Jerusalem coming to earth with Yahweh dwelling in Zion. The final goal of salvation is that God will tabernacle with His people forever on earth.

Inherit the Kingdom with Christ

We look forward to the day when we will inherit the Kingdom with Christ. The popular Gospel message today proclaims that the goal of salvation is to go up to heaven when we die. This tragically reduces salvation to a ticket to heaven. That is not the message of salvation in the Bible. Somewhere along the way, we have been misled to think that we are saved in order to obtain a seat in heaven. On the contrary, God has designed a magnificent program of salvation for humanity to inherit His Kingdom on earth with Jesus as the first-born of the creation.

Christ will reign in Zion but Christ will not be reigning alone. Jesus said, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne.” (Rev 3:21) Having a place to sit on Jesus’ throne does not mean that we are going to be sitting on Jesus’ lap playing the guitar and singing songs in heaven. Sitting on Jesus’ throne is figurative language that points to the privilege of reigning as kings in Jesus’ authority. Can you catch the vision of the Kingdom of God and of His Christ?

The vision of salvation has to do with the glorious Kingdom in which Christ will reign as King in Jerusalem and his remnant will co-reign with him. Are you prepared to co-reign with Christ? This is the ultimate pur­pose for which men were originally created. For God said to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28). “Subdue” and “dominion” have to do with ruling and putting all creation under control. Right at the beginning, men were given the role to rule under God’s authority. It is a delegated rule given to men to act as God’s representative. Adam disobeyed and failed. Jesus, the “last Adam” (1Cor 15:45) or “the second man” (v.47), succeeded in his perfect obedience to God. God then put all rule and authority under the feet of Jesus. Through Jesus, we now have a foretaste of “the powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:5). The Spirit is given to Christians as a guarantee (2Cor 1:22; 5:5) not merely for the assurance of eternal life, but more importantly as an inheritance to function in the fullness of power in the coming Kingdom. In the new age, the saints of God will be granted fully “the powers of the age to come” to rule with Jesus who will restore all things by conquering all the enemies and bringing all nations into subjection to God.

Man is the crowning glory of God with Christ being the first fruit of the new creation. As the firstborn of all creation (Col 1:15), Jesus is the leading man of the new creation, the firstborn among the brothers (Rom 8:29). I now begin to appreciate the prayer of the Psalmist, “O Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens … what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:1,4; cf. Heb 2:6-8). Why does God shower so much love on man? God’s eternal purpose surrounds around man. Not only does Yahweh want Jesus to rule with Him (Dan 7:14), but in God’s magnificent design, He desires to give His everlasting king­dom also to the saints of the Most High (Dan 7:27). Humans have such a glorious role to play in God’s plan of salvation.

We await “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23) on that day so that we can co-reign with Christ to fulfill God’s unique purpose for men. This Kingdom will be “in the new world, when the son of man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28; Lk 22:29-30). All this will take place in the coming Kingdom.

As we call on the name of Yahweh, we call with His Kingdom in view. Jesus reigns in the Church today and he will reign fully on the earthly Davidic throne to rule Israel and the world. Unfortunately, the Gospel message today is non-messianic and non-monotheistic.

The Bible proclaims that a Jewish man
will rule as King over all the earthly kings
to bring all nations to the one God Yahweh.

God wants us to get excited to participate dynamically with the rule of Christ in the Church today and also to reign with Christ in the future Kingdom to bring people to Yahweh. Make it your goal to call on Yahweh for it entails a dynamic partnership with Jesus now and in the future in accomplishing God’s ultimate purpose on earth.

The promise of our salvation is that we will “inherit the Kingdom” that our Father prepared for us from the foundation of the world (Mt 25:34). Jesus does not invite us to go up to heaven but to inherit the Kingdom with him.

God has appointed Jesus “heir of all things” (Heb 1:2). If Jesus were God, he would not need an inheritance from God. We can share the eter­nal inheritance with Jesus because God the Father has given it all to Jesus.

With God as our Father and we His children, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Together with Jesus, we will inherit the earth and dwell upon it forever (Ps 37:29). If we have the meekness of Jesus, we shall also inherit the earth with him (Mt 5:5; Ps 37:11). He who overcomes “shall inherit all things” (KJV, Rev 21:7) from God, for God says, “I will be his God and he shall be my sons.”

Salvation is complete when we finally “inherit eternal life” (cf. Mt 19:29; Mk 10:17; Lk 10:25; Lk 18:18) to live with God forever on the new earth.

Life of the Kingdom in the Church

We do not need to wait until the future to experience the Kingdom of God. The reign of God begins today as we live out the law of His Kingdom in this life.

The purpose of our salvation is to live for the Kingdom. We are citizens of this Kingdom when we are saved. God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13-14). Jesus, the first-born of the new creation, demon­strated the power of the Kingdom in his life. As we implement Jesus’ teaching and become his disciples, we live out the life of the Kingdom. The Church plays an important role to advance God’s Kingdom in this present age. Jesus as the head of the Church rules as Lord in the Church. One day, Jesus’ reign will be fully manifested on earth in the coming Kingdom.

In this present age, we can experience God’s Kingship in a church that acknowledges God as King and Jesus as Lord. A person who calls on the name of YHWH acquires a lifestyle of the Kingdom through active participation in the body of Christ. God’s transformation work is taking place in us now as we make it our goal “to shine like the sun” in the kingdom of our Father (Mt 13:43; cf. Dan 12:3).

Today, we experience the Kingdom in a limited sense as God’s Kingship is manifested on earth only “in part” in this age. God’s Kingship will be manifested in its fullness in the coming Kingdom through Jesus’ physical reign on earth.

How you live your short life on earth will determine your future involvement in the future Kingdom that will last one thousand years. If only you knew the salvation that God has prepared for mankind, you would live radically for Him today.

The Kingdom of God is God’s redemptive reign. Let us be worthy to enter into the joy of the Messianic Kingdom (Mt 25:10; 21; 23) and “inherit the Kingdom” (Mt 25:34). Children of God who have saving faith live for the Kingdom, for “if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).


The message of salvation in Joel is relevant to us as we are now nearer to the day of Yahweh. As Paul says, “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11). Do you see the urgency to call on the Name of Yahweh? How can you call on Yahweh if Yahweh is not your God? How can you call on God’s Name if you do not even know His Name?

For most of my Christian life, I was not aware of the significance of God’s Name Yahweh. For decades, I only called on the name of Jesus. I will expound on what it means to call on the name of Jesus in Acts 2 and Romans 10. Our calling on the name of Jesus needs to be founded on the firm foundation of calling on Yahweh. Yahweh is the God who saves us through Jesus the Messiah. Spend time digging into the riches of the Name of Yahweh. It is only in the last ten years that I spent every day learning about Yahweh in Scripture. Since 2013, I started writing blogs to share about the Name of Yahweh on the internet. The motivation behind this book is also to inspire you to grasp the significance of the Name so that you will call on Yahweh. If the Name Yahweh does not interest you, you would have no desire to spend time to call on Yahweh.

Calling on Yahweh is not invoking the Name in a mechanical manner as though the calling is something magical. The calling is exercised with faith in Yahweh God.

I call on God’s Name because I trust in Yahweh as my God and desire to build an ongoing friendship with Him. The calling is not a casual uttering of the Name but a deep cry expressing my full submission to Yahweh, to live under the authority of His Name. “Yahweh is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Ps 145:18). Call on Yahweh with a pure and honest heart that trusts in Yahweh alone without wavering.

Let’s heed the message of Joel and call on Yahweh God in truthful­ness of heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning. At the beginning of the book of Joel, God’s judgment first came upon the people of Yahweh. The people of God needed to lament and return to Yahweh for deliver­ance. The people of God called on the name of Yahweh from their hearts. Yahweh saved the remnant who called His Name. As a result, the rem­nant became a sign to the nations. The nations were then given a chance to repent. Afterwards, God’s judgment came upon the nations.

We are now living in the last days. God’s judgment will first come upon His Church (1Pet 4:17). Among the seven churches in Revelation, only two proved to be faithful, namely Smyrna and Philadelphia. Not all churches are in good spiritual condition. There is a remnant even among the churches of God. Churches like Smyrna and Philadelphia will stand out as signs to the nations in the end times.

Let’s be among the remnant as an individual and also as a church. Let’s be a sign in the last days to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. Call on Yahweh for Yahweh is King. Call on Yahweh and live under His Kingship individually as well as corporately as a church.

Start calling on Yahweh today. If you don’t call on the Name of Yahweh now, how will you call on Yahweh for your final salvation?

Salvation and blessings will come on the remnant who call on Yahweh and the remnant whom Yahweh calls (Joel 2:32). The end time will be beyond human endurance, so the only way we can survive is to call on Yahweh. Calling on Yahweh is a lifestyle that fully trusts in Yahweh with a total heart.

Whenever I call on the name of YHWH, “hallowed be Your Name”, I do not stop there. I also pray the next three important words: “Your Kingdom come” (Lk 11:2). As we call on the name of YHWH, let’s long and pray for the Kingdom to come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10).

[1] The statistics are taken from the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) which is an eclectic edition for text critical issues; edited by Elliger, Rudolph, & Weil; 5th edition; Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 1997.

[2] There is still an ongoing debate among Hebrew scholars regarding the precise vocalization of “YHWH”, but with the immense progress made in the study of Hebrew in the last century, Biblical scholars generally agree that the pronunciation of YHWH is Yahweh.

[3] In the table, the statistics for the occurrences of YHWH for each chapter of Joel are taken from the Leningrad Codex. The statistics can be tabulated from the Bible statistics tool at the following website: Select the book of Joel, key in H3068 which is the Strong’s number for יהוה (trans­lated as LORD) and H3069 which is another Strong’s number for יהוה (translated as GOD). Then hit Search.

[4] The statistics for all the Hebrew words for each chapter of Joel are taken from the Leningrad Codex. The table statistics can be tabulated with the Bible statistics tool at Select the book of Joel, key in 1:1 to 3:21, and hit search.

[5] For the Old Testament, consult the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) and Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT). For the New Testament, consult Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.



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