on Joel 2 :3
A fire devoureth before them - They consume like a general conflagration. "They destroy the ground, not only for the time, but burn trees for two years after." Sir Hans Sloane, Nat. Hist. of Jamaica, vol. i., p. 29.
Behind them a flame burneth - "Wherever they feed," says Ludolf, in his History of Ethiopia, "their leavings seem as if parched with fire."
Nothing shall escape them - "After devouring the herbage," says Adanson, "with the fruits and leaves of trees, they attacked even the buds and the very bark; they did not so much as spare the reeds with which the huts were thatched."
on Joel 2 :3
A fire devoureth before them ... - Travelers, of different nations and characters, and in different lands, some unacquainted with the Bible words, have agreed to describe under this image the ravages of locusts. : "They scorch many things with their touch." : "Whatever of herb or leaf they gnaw, is, as it were, scorched by fire." : "Wherever they come, the ground seems burned, as it were with fire." : "Wherever they pass, they burn and spoil everything, and that irremediably." : "I have myself observed that the places where they had browsed were as scorched, as if the fire had passed there." : "They covered a square mile so completely, that it appeared, at a little distance, to have been burned and strewn over with brown ashes. Not a shrub, nor a blade of grass was visible." : "A few months afterward, a much larger army alighted and gave the whole country the appearance of having been burned." "Wherever they settled, it looks as if fire had devoured and burnt up everything." : "It is better to have to do with the Tartars, than with these little destructive animals; you would think that fire follows their track," are the descriptions of their ravages in Italy, Aethiopia, the Levant, India, South Africa. The locust, itself the image of God's judgments, is described as an enemy, invading, as they say, "with fire and sword," "breathing fire," wasting all, as he advances, and leaving behind him the blackness of ashes, and burning villages. : "Whatsoever he seizeth on, he shall consume as a devouring flame and shall leave nothing whole behind him."
The land is as the garden of Eden before them - In outward beauty the land was like that Paradise of God, where He placed our first parents; as were Sodom and Gomorrah, before God overthrew them Genesis 13:10. It was like a garden enclosed and protected from all inroad of evil. They sinned, and like our first parents forfeited its bliss. "A fruitful land God maketh barren, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein" Psalm 107:34. Ezekiel fortells the removal of the punishment, in connection with the Gospel promise of "a new heart and a new spirit. They shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden" Ezekiel 36:26, Ezekiel 36:35.
And behind them a desolate wilderness - The desolation caused by the locust is even more inconceivable to us, than their numbers. We have seen fields blighted; we have known of crops, of most moment to man's support, devoured; and in one year we heard of terrific famine, as its result. We do not readily set before our eyes a whole tract, embracing in extent several of our counties, in which not the one or other crop was smitten, but every green thing was gone. Yet such was the scourge of locusts, the image of other and worse scourges in the treasure-house of God's displeasure. A Syrian writer relates , "1004 a.d., a large swarm of locusts appeared in the land of Mosul and Bagdad, and it was very grievous in Shiraz. It left no herb nor even leaf on the trees, and even gnawed the pieces of linen which the fullers were bleaching; of each piece the fuller gave a scrap to its owner: and time was a famine, and a cor (about two quarters) of wheat was sold in Bagdad for 120 gold dinars (about 54 British pounds):" and again , "when it (the locust of 784 a.d.,) had consumed the whole tract of Edessa and Sarug, it passed to the west and for three years after this heavy chastisement there was a famine in the land." : "We traveled five days through lands wholly despoiled; and for the canes of maize, as large as the largest canes used to prop vines, it cannot be said how they were broken and trampled, as if donkeys had trampled them; and all this from the locusts. The wheat, barley, tafos , were as if they had never been sown; the trees without a single leaf; the tender wood all eaten; there was no memory of herb of any sort. If we had not been advised to take mules laden with harley and provisions for ourselves, we should have perished of hunger, we and our mules. This land was all covered with locusts without wings, and they said that they were the seed of those who had all gone, who had destroyed the land." : "Everywhere, where their legions march, verdure disappears from the country, like a curtain which is folded up; trees and plants stripped of leaves, and reduced to their branches and stalks, substitute, in the twinkling of an eye, the dreary spectacle of winter for the rich scenes of spring." "Happily this plague is not very often repeated, for there is none which brings so surely famine and the diseases which follow it." : "Desolation and famine mark their progress; all the expectations of the farmer vanish; his fields, which the rising sun beheld covered with luxuriance, are before evening a desert; the produce of his garden and orchard are alike destroyed, for where these destructive swarms alight, not a leaf is left upon the trees, a blade of grass in the pastures, nor an ear of corn in the field." : "In 1654 a great multitude of locusts came from the northwest to the Islands Tayyovvan and Formosa, which consumed all that grew in the fields, so that above eight thousand men perished by famine." : "They come sometimes in such prodigious swarms, that they darken the sky as they pass by and devour all in those parts where they settle, so that the inhabitants are often obliged to change their habitations for want of sustenance, as it has happened frequently in China and the Isle of Tajowak." : "The lands, ravaged throughout the west, produced no harvest. The year 1780 was still more wretched. A dry winter produced a new race of locusts which ravaged what had escaped the inclemency of the season. The farmer reaped not what he had sown, and was reduced to have neither nourishment, seed, nor cattle. The people experienced all the horrors of famine. You might see them wandering over the country to devour the roots; and, seeking in the bowels of the earth for means to lengthen their days, perhaps they rather abridged them. A countless number died of misery and bad nourishment. I have seen countrymen on the roads and in the streets dead of starvation, whom others were laying across asses, to go bury them. fathers sold their children. A husband, in concert with his wife, went to marry her in some other province as if she were his sister, and went to redeem her, when better off. I have seen women and children run after the camels, seek in their dung for some grain of indigested barley and devour it with avidity."
Yea, and nothing shall escape them - Or (which the words also include) "none shall escape him," literally, "and also there shall be no escaping as to him or from him." The word , being used elsewhere of the persons who escape, suggests, in itself, that we should not linger by the type of the locusts only, but think of enemies more terrible, who destroy not harvests only, but people, bodies or souls also. Yet the picture of devastation is complete. No creature of God so destroys the whole face of nature, as does the locust. A traveler in the Crimea uses unconsciously the words of the prophet; ; "On whatever spot they fall, the whole vegetable produce disappears. Nothing escapes them, from the leaves of the forest to the herbs on the plain. Fields, vineyards, gardens, pastures, everything is laid waste; and sometimes the only appearance left is a disgusting superficies caused by their putrefying bodies, the stench of which is sufficient to breed a pestilence." Another in South Africa says , "When they make their appearance, not a single field of grain remains unconsumed by them. This year the whole of the Sneuwberg will not, I suppose, produce a single bushel." : "They had (for a space 80 or 90 miles in length) devoured every green herb and every blade of grass; and had it not been for the reeds on which our cattle entirely subsisted while we skirted the banks of the river, the journey must have been discontinued, at least in the line that had been proposed." : "Not a shrub nor blade of grass was visible." The rapidity with which they complete the destruction is also observed. : "In two hours, they destroyed all the herbs around Rama."
All this which is a strong, but true, image of the locusts is a shadow of God's other judgments. It is often said of God, "A fire goeth before Him and burneth up His enemies on every side" Psalm 97:3. "The Lord will come with fire; by fire will the Lord plead with all flesh" Isaiah 66:15-16. This is said of the Judgment Day, as in Paul, "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8. That awful lurid stream of fire shall burn up "the earth and all the works that are therein" 2 Peter 3:10. All this whole circuit of the globe shall be enveloped in one burning deluge of fire; all gold and jewels, gardens, fields, pictures, books, "the cloud-capt towers and gorgeous palaces, shall dissolve, and leave not a rack behind." The good shall be removed beyond its reach, for they shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
But all which is in the earth and those who are of the earth shall be swept away by it. It shall go before the army of the Lord, the Angels whom "the Son of man shall send forth, to gather out of His kingdom all things that shall offend and them that do iniquity. It shall burn after them" Matthew 13:41. For it shall burn on during the Day of Judgment until it have consumed all for which it is sent. "The land will be a garden of Eden before it." For they will, our Lord says, be eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building, marrying and giving in marriage Luke 17:27-28, Luke 17:30; the world will be "glorifying itself and living deliciously," full of riches and delights, when it "shall be utterly burned with fire," and "in one hour so great riches shall come to nought" Revelation 18:7-8, Revelation 18:17. "And after it a desolate wilderness," for there shall be none left. "And none shall escape." For our Lord says, "they shall gather all things that offend; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire" Matthew 13:41, Matthew 13:49-50.
on Joel 2 :3
2:3 A fire - The Chaldeans, as a fire shall utterly consume all things. Behind them - What is left behind is as burnt with a flame. As Eden - Fruitful and pleasant.