2. After this overthrow of David's kingdom, from which it never recovered, Joel predicted another break up of Judah's Commonwealth "before the great and terrible day of the Lord should come."
We learn this from the way Peter, on the day of Pentecost, handled Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel. He shows that Jehovah contemplated an early and a latter rain of the Spirit in the words of Joel 2:28, 29--a rain in the last days; and a rain in the latter days, already eighteen hundred years apart.
Peter did not say that the Pentecostian outpouring was a complete fulfillment of Joel's prediction, but that it was spoken of by him in the words he quoted. This was the Spirit's own interpretation of what he meant by Joel; and the partial application of it to the last days of the Mosaic Economy gave to that generation "the earnest of an approaching day of the Lord upon it.
After seventy years' captivity, Judah's Commonwealth, but not David's throne, was re-established, under Gentile supremacy. This was its condition in Peter's day. Its sun, moon, and stars illumined its heavens, in which unrighteousness dwelt incorporate in its powers.
Peter took up the prophecy of Joel as the burden of his proclamation of "judgment to come" upon the State; and upon the "cursed children, who had forsaken the right way," and become again entangled in the pollutions of the world from which they had escaped in obeying the truth which he ministered to the circumcision.
He urged upon them a then approaching epoch of "wonders and signs," which should bring destruction upon them and their country "before that great and terrible day of the Lord," in which Joel foretold the redemption of Israel, and the punishment of their oppressors. Nevertheless, he promised deliverance to all Jews who should call upon the name of the Lord; for at that time he knew nothing of the salvation of Gentiles in the great and terrible day.
The "wonders" and "signs" of this Mosaic Epoch are some of them indicated by the Great Prophet in this message he delivered to the people. "There shall be great earthquakes in places, and famines, and pestilences, (as) portents; and great signs also of heaven shall there be."
These portents were to occur before the encompassing of Jerusalem with armies, (which was the immediate sign of its approaching desolation, and the manifestation of the "great signs of heaven." Immediately after the desolation of the city these signs would be visible; for then Jesus said, "The sun should be darkened, and the moon should not give her light, and the stars should fall from the heavens."
These were the signs that indicated to the believers of that generation that Messiah the Prince, as Son of Man, though invisible, had come (see Matthew 10:23) with his armies, and taken vengeance upon his murderers, and burned up their city--Matthew 22:7. Thus, in "the tribulation of those days," which were "days of vengeance," when there was "great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people," as their prophets had foretold, the words of Joel were germinantly fulfilled, and Zion's days of widowhood and mourning established.
Haggai speaks of those days as well as of the days to come. "Thus saith the Lord: Yet once, it is a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land;" which signifies, as is explained in the next sentence, "And I will shake all the nations."
The earnest of this is found in the overthrow of Judah by the Romans, five hundred and eighty years after Haggai prophesied; the full measure when "the desires of all the nations shall come," and the Lord shall "overthrow the throne of kingdoms (an imperial throne), and shall destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations;" and the anti-typical Zerubbabel shall be "as a signet," or ensign, in Jerusalem--Haggai 2:22. Paul quotes from this prediction, and points out its germinant fulfillment, by applying it to one particular system of things to which the Hebrew Christians, to whom he was writing, were politically related.
Having reminded them that the Mosaic Economy under which they lived, had "waxed old and was ready to vanish away," he speaks of its removal after this wise: "He whose voice shook Sinai hath promised now, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heaven." And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that may be shaken, as of things that have been fulfilled, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Wherefore we taking a kingdom (not having received) which cannot be shaken, let us, &c." The heaven and the earth then shaken was one of "the heavens" spoken of by Haggai. Jehovah began with Judah's heaven and earth, and will end with those of all other nations. This is his order of judgment, as it is written by Paul, "Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile." The tribulation and anguish of the Jew is rapidly closing, while that of the Gentile has notably begun.
In the Day of the Lord upon David's throne, Nebuchadnezzar was His sword; in the Day of the Lord upon the murderers of His Son, the Romans were His sword; but in the Day of he Lord upon the Gentiles, Judah and Israel in the hand of the Son of David, will be His battle-axe and weapons of war to "destroy the strength of their kingdoms."
The Day of the Lord upon His Son's murderers was "the Day of God" earnestly desired by the apostles and their brethren, who were suffering persecution at the hands of the Jewish power--a day, (di ain,) through which their inflamed heavens would be dissolved, and "pass away with a great noise." Peter says Paul spake of these things in all his epistles; that is, of the dissolution with judgment of "the heavens and earth which are now;" namely, those existing when Peter wrote, which, while I am writing, are no where to be found extant.