Consider Moffatt's translation of verses 1-2: “For in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, then I will gather all nations and bring them down into the Judgment Valley. . . .”
The prophet Zechariah foretells of something similar: “For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem. . . . Half of the city shall go into captivity . . .” (Zechariah 14:2). It does not make sense that God would have allowed Jerusalem to be attacked and taken if the nation had repented and returned to worshipping Him.
So, the modern Jews who are delivered from famine and destruction from the mighty locust army, who have their fortunes restored by God's perhaps miraculous blessing, fail to turn back to God in any meaningful way. God, then, is forced to act in judgment again, this time, with even greater devastation and death.
This prophecy of Joel 3:2 and Zechariah 14:2—gathering the nations to war against Jerusalem—could not have taken place before the 1967 Six Day War, as it was not a “whole city” of which a half could be taken. A portion of Jerusalem had been captured 19 years earlier by Jordan, and no Jew was allowed in that part of the occupied city. There was no freedom of religion; only Islam was allowed. After 1967, it was reunited and administered wholly by the State of Israel. It is now an entire city of which half can be sent into captivity.
Jesus, in Matthew 24:15-16, 21, reveals what will spur the flight of God's people from Jerusalem:
“Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. . . . For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
This is when the church is taken from Jerusalem to a Place of Safety. There, it is promised, she will be protected and “nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14).
If we surmised time was short a few years ago, we must be on the very cusp of turbulent events soon to assail God's church and His saints. We must be diligent in stepping up our efforts at securing our salvation, at being counted worthy of divine help during these uncertain times of peril and upheaval to come. The words of Jesus in Luke 21:36 should remain constantly in mind:“From hour to hour keep awake, praying that you may succeed in escaping all these dangers to come and in standing before the Son of man” (Moffatt).
What Is Joel 2 Really About?