“That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten” (Joel 1:4).
Another prophet contemporary with Isaiah and Micah was the Prophet Joel. He also lived during the time the Assyrian Empire ravaged Israel and afflicted Judah. Joel’s prophecy also takes us in prospect to the deliverance of Israel from Sennacherib, a deliverance in which Israel would not fight, but behold the salvation of Jehovah. It is a figure of the ultimate deliverance in which Israel is saved by God, but not through their own military efforts.
Joel chapter one is preliminary, describing four stages of locusts, each destructive, and building in sequence. The Assyrian Empire afflicted Israel through four successive kings: (1) Tiglath Pileser, (2) Shalmaneser, (3) Sargon, and (4) Sennacherib. The fourth experience is referred to in the narrative of Isaiah, in which God miraculously delivered Jerusalem.
That is discussed in a previous article. In each case, these conflicts were initiated by Assyria against Israel. Similarly, there are four conflicts imposed upon Israel, from their independence in 1948 until their deliverance at the opening of the Kingdom. In 1948, the Arab nations invaded Israel hoping to destroy the fledgling nation, but God preserved Israel through this ordeal. In 1967, God provided for Israel a remarkable victory during the Six Day War, defeating Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. In 1973, Israel was attacked by Egypt from the south and Syria from the north, in a move that caught Israel by surprise. On this occasion Israel almost lost, but God preserved them.1, 2
(1) Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel at the time, resigned her office after the conflict as a remarkable example of moral integrity, judging that a deficit in her leadership had risked defeat for the nation.
(2) An editor notes that there was also the Sinai campaign of 1956, when Israel invaded the Sinai, supported by France and England, after Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. This, however, was not an invasion of Israel by enemy forces.
These three wars against Israel were separated by 19 and 6 years. Though other conflicts have risen since, no war comparable to these three has threatened Israel’s existence for the last 49 years. However, one additional conflict approaches, as indicated in Ezekiel 38:1-9. If this final threat is the next one to occur, then there will be four such deliverances of Israel by God.
These four occasions seem to parallel the four waves of Assyrian “locusts” discussed by Joel. The last of these, the campaign of Sennacherib, as suggested in a previous article, represents the final deliverance that ushers in the Kingdom. This deliverance from Sennacherib appears to be referred to in Joel chapter two. The description in verses 1 to 11 is intense. However, as in the prophet’s day God turned aside the invader, so in the modern fulfillment God will turn away the attacking forces, after Israel falls before God in earnest prayer.
Joel 2:12 introduces this spirit of contrite supplication, as advice from Jehovah, through the prophet Joel. “Therefore also now, saith Jehovah, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto Jehovah your God?”