With verse 23, a special blessing begins. In verse 21, the land was
addressed, “Fear not, O land”. In verse 22, the beasts of the field
were addressed, “Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field.” But verse 23 is
differently addressed. We read, "Be glad then, ye children of Zion.
They stand now in a different relationship to the Lord. He is called in
the same verse, "The LORD your God.” LORD, the covenant name.
Therefore, his people are addressed here as “children of Zion.”
Earlier, Zion appeared in Joel 2:1 and 15, but there Zion was
mentioned in the context of the announcement of judgment and the
call to repentance, respectively. But now, in response to their
repentance, there is a response from God to that same Zion, God's
covenant people.
Those children will receive rain. How significant! Israel is a "land
overflowing with milk and honey" (see Ex 33:3, Dt 6:3, 11:9, 31:20,
among others). But that’s only the case when it rains. And therefore,
only in the way of obedience to and blessing from the Lord will the
land be fruitful. As a result of the LORD’s blessing with the rain,
there will be wheat, wine, and oil (verse 24). We read this blessing
twice, both in verse 19 and verse 24. In other words, the people of
Israel can count on it!
In verse 23, we read, “He hath given you the former rain moderately,
and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and
the latter rain in the first month.” The first part of the sentence is
translated differently in the Dutch Bible. We read there: “He will give
you that Teacher of righteousness’” This is indeed a possible
translation. The word “Teacher” can also be translated as “rain” and
the word “moderately” as “righteousness”. The word “rain” has a
double meaning here, both rain and teacher. The Lord gives both! In
1 Kings 8:36, we find how the LORD will give rain after repentance.
In Ezekiel 37:24, we read how the Messiah will come with a
covenant of peace and bring a life of righteousness.
Joel, driven by the Holy Spirit, brings purposeful anticipation to his
prophecy. The people of Israel were waiting for the Messiah. The
blessing of God is only possible in and through Him. In Him,
righteousness is found. The Messiah is also called the Great Prophet.
He teaches as the supreme prophet by Word and Spirit. He comes
with the mild rain of His teaching, His Word.
How privileged we are to know so much more than the people of
Israel in the days of Joel. Let us sit at the feet of the Messiah, Jesus,
and in and through Him receive all heavenly blessings.
Rev. J. Th. Pronk