There are only 3 chapters – yay!
Is there an entomologist in the house? There’s a plague of insects here, but depending on which translation you read, they are variously called locusts, cankerworms, palmerworms, or caterpillars (v 6). The crops are ruined, drought is causing prairie fires, and the people and animals will starve. It must be because the end is near! (v 15)
Everyone trembles in fear, because ominous natural disasters like storms, wildfires, earthquakes, and plagues are not understood by pre-scientific people. They believe that if they just pray harder, god will stop the devastation (v 17-20). (Funny – some people still think that way – what’s their excuse now?) God will then give them back what they lost to the locusts – that he himself sent! (v 25) Go figure!
And after that, he will flaunt his power in the heavens and on the earth with “blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” (v 30-31) Uh, those phenomena would be, respectively, either volcanoes or meteor showers (depending whether on earth or in the sky); solar eclipse; and lunar eclipse.
At that time, Yahweh says he will “gather the armies of the world… (and) judge them for harming my people… for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land (v 2). That’s pretty clear – don’t try to take away land that Yahweh promised to the Jews. At least, it was pretty clear to Pat Robertson in 2006 when he blamed Ariel Sharon’s stroke on Sharon’s decision to enforce the unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlers and Israeli troops from the disputed Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank.
Yahweh’s fighting mad in this chapter – he’s gonna get all his people back home and he doesn’t care if it takes a war to do it! He tells the other nations to “Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.” (v 10) Compare that verse with Isaiah 2:4 “The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” Hahaha, how quickly Yahweh forgets.
And when it’s all over, he again promises that everyone in Israel will live happily ever after. Why don’t I believe it?