The vision in Jeremiah 1:11-12 of a staff of almond wood contains a pun in Hebrew. But there’s something else going on in the text beyond just the pun.
While the traditional reading of John 1:3-4 divides the sentences between the verses, there is some text-critical evidence that the perhaps the period should come before the last couple of words of verse 3. Which one is the correct reading, and how can we know?
Jeremiah accuses the Israelites of doing something incredibly foolish: forsaking a reliable source of water for cisterns that cannot even hold water. The prophet uses this image as a metaphor for Israel’s religious infidelity.
Many politically conservative Christians in America are tempted to resist, even to the point of armed rebellion, the results of the what they believe to be an illegitimate election. But Jeremiah’s letter to the exiled Jews in Babylon would point them in a different direction.
In John 1:15 John the Baptist identifies Jesus in a way that is usually translated “The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.” I propose that all three clauses should be translated temporally something like, “The one coming after me has existed since before me, because was first before me.”
Joel sees the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as an eschatological event, an event that demarcates what was for him the “age to come” from what was his “present age”. As Christians, we live in the “age to come” and are beneficiaries of the ideal experience of all Israel having the Spirit and prophesying that is anticipated by Moses in Numbers 11:24-30.
A translation and commentary on Joel 2:32 – “And it will be that all who call upon the name of the LORD will be saved. For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be an escape, just as the LORD has said, and among the survivors, whom the LORD is calling.”
If we truly have hearts that trust in God – if we truly want to join in with the faith-filled worldview of the prophet Joel – let us wait on God and believe that that even now he is both willing and able to forgive us, to save us, and to save our world.
Does Joel see God punishing Israel’s sin through the natural disasters such as the locust plague described in chapters 1 and 2? Perhaps (he has the right), but God likely has multiple purposes in a disaster. Whether we are sinful or righteous, our response to disaster ought to be the same: turn to Yahweh.
The KJV rendering of Psalm 5:3 can give one the impression that this is a prayer of general devotion to be recited in the morning. However, a careful reading of the psalm shows that quite a bit more is going on here.