The broader context of Joel 2:28-32 which concludes with “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered;” which the church of Christ knows is fulfilled on Pentecost since Peter in his preaching says that Joel’s prophecy is quoted and Peter says that what was happening that day was fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
The broader context? Joel speaks of temporal and eternal judgment. First is the invading army in the form of locust that will devastate the land and bring major upheaval onto the lives of Judah. The second judgment may very well be the final judgment, “the day of the Lord”, when God says to His angels to put in the sickle and judge the nations (see Joel 3:12-14, which sounds like the final judgment that’s described at the end of Revelation 20). The question as one reads Joel is “Why so much doom and judgment in this short book?
What was the sin of Judah? There are some hints and one answer becomes clear. In vs 5 he talks about the drunks that they will wail and cry when their alcohol is gone. Debauchery has ruined them so that they only cry for liquor. In vs 8 the virgin will cry when her bridegroom does not return. In vs 9 the priests will wail and cry when finally their drink and grain offerings are no longer pouring into the temple. In vs 10, the land even mourns when the crops don’t produce and in vs 18 the beasts groan under the judgment. In vs 11 the farmers will cry and wail when crops and vines don’t produce. So what’s the sin of the people?
Twice in 1:14 and 2:12-15 Joel tells the people to cry out to the LORD. They are to rend their hearts and not just their garments. They need to blow a trumpet and proclaim a solemn assembly. And ultimately, as fulfilled in Acts 2 and the New Covenant of Christ, everyone that finally calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered and saved.
The main point I would have to conclude is simple. The people had failed to call on the Lord in their lives. They had become so comfortable with their lives that they allowed their faith in God to die. Prayers stopped. Calling on God for wisdom and guidance stopped. They no longer called on the LORD. But with God’s judgment, they will then cry.
How shall we respond? Before it is too late, renew your faith in God. Turn to Him and He might relent. Learn again to call on God and cry out to Him for the help and justice that only He can offer. Don’t wait until you have fallen under His judgment to cry.
And if you are not yet a Christian, cry to Him and call out to Him for salvation. In Acts 2:37 the people did exactly this and Peter told them to repent and be baptized. If you would call on God today for salvation, then do as Paul did by “arising and being baptized, and wash away thy sins, CALLING ON HIS NAME” Acts 22:16. God bless you.