Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Exegesis of Joel (chapter 1)

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!—Joel 3:14a
Much has been said about “The Dark Night of the Soul” as of late (these last several years or so); it is a quote—actually a title to a book—by a Christian mystic named St. John of the Cross who lived during the Reformation of the mid-to-late fifteen hundreds.  Suffice it to say that his Dark Night of the Soul preceded his Light Day of the Lord; likewise, if we are to participate in the near coming Reformation of our day we must also go the way of the cross into the pure light of His presence in the Holy of Holies.  Every generation—it seems to me—is confronted with a day of scrutiny, a day of judgment, when God shows up to examine His work within the hearts of His people.  I am entirely too blind, without sufficient breadth of knowledge to see across enough horizons to substantiate this point, but I have come to think that the Day of the Lord is many days only culminating in one grand day at the end of the ages (and every generation thinks their day is that day; and of course, for them, it is!).  A Day of the Lord, an allotted timeframe within each generation at a designated point of their maturity—appointed by God—wherein He inspects His work within their hearts, is their final window of opportunity to right themselves with God in their particular generation or lifespan.  It is only theoretical that a soul can still be saved while there is breath in it; God alone knows when someone is irredeemable.  Though God’s hand is never too short, enough wrong choices can so desensitize a conscience as to make His hand seem nonexistent.  Every soul from every generation is therefore sealed or labeled for God (as bondservants of God upon their foreheads) or for themselves (as named after the beast or marked with the number of his name—666—upon their foreheads); a sealing of our generation has begun to occur.  Whose mark shall we receive? 
I believe—that like a sunspot eruption—a sudden flash of brilliance has just shown forth as a clarion call to our generation; this brilliant explosion of light is the emanation of the golden crown upon our Lord’s head and is a sure sign that He is about to execute His authority and punish any subject that is not really a subject, e. g., those that feign subjection but are not genuinely subject to Him from the heart.  He has arisen from off His throne and is about to either hold the scepter up or down in favor or disfavor, mercy or judgment, concerning this generation.  A wonderful Reformation is, indeed, coming, and God is scrutinizing His people so as to fit them for it.  Those that have been judging themselves will need no further judgment; those that have been slack and indulgent will suffer loss and much sorrow, but even now, if they will repent, God can and will restore them.  “But who can endure the day of His coming?  And who can stand when He appears?”—Malachi 3:2, partial.  “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world…”—John 3:19, partial.

Chapter One
A Generation of Vipers (Joel 1:1-3)
The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: hear this, O elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land.  Has anything like this happened in your days or in your fathers' days?   Tell your sons about it, and let your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation.
From the first blast of the trumpet (the prophet’s initial declaration) a fire is ignited and we—His people—are but wood beneath an altar in its path!  “The word of the Lord that came…” is enough to set the world on fire, but we are just getting started!  His word came to Joel, which means “the Lord is God;” seems benign enough—right?  Combine that meaning, however, with the meaning of Joel’s father, Pethuel: “opened or enlarged of God” or “ingenuousness of God.”  Now, ingenuousness is not a commonly used word—so what does it mean?  Answer: “Free from deceit or disgrace; open; artless; innocent” or “great simplicity of mind.”  So, the Lord is God—there is no other—and we have been enlarged to receive the magnitude of His person within as we maintain our singleness of purpose.  But how have we been enlarged and how do we escape the inevitable flames that are coming?  Answer: tears of repentance.  Internal enlargement only occurs when we allow ourselves to be hollowed out by sorrow over the destruction that sin brings.  When we allow ourselves to be habitually moved, we sacrifice ourselves by allowing internal erosion at the margin of our being; our emotions are like a subterranean sea ever pulling down our intractable and stubborn nature into itself to be drowned there—and in the process—hollowing out a cavernous home within our bodies which is likened to a cavern formed in limestone beneath the surface of the earth.  Just as fire has little effect upon limestone and water and tends to get snuffed out by the suffocating atmosphere of caverns, so fire has no fuel and little oxygen to long burn the soul that has been purged by sorrow.  Indeed, “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4).”  Many think to circumvent God’s way of the cross and sorrow today, and unfortunately, this nearing Day of the Lord—the Brightness of His Coming—will expose every false way and lay open all the secrets of every heart.  Thieves and robbers—those that thought they could come up into life another way—will be caught red handed; the very sorrow they tried to avoid will come upon them suddenly and intensified.  Indeed, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who choose another god (Psalm 16:4, partial, Amplified Bible).”
Since myrrh symbolically represents tears of repentance, and has a very unique quality when burned by fire, it also has significance in relationship to The Day of the Lord.   The formation of myrrh is produced by a process of internal attrition—a hollowing out—like as our displacement allows Christ to enlarge within us.  Myrrh is our personal residue; the cremated ashes of what remains of self life.  The phoenix that is to arise from these ashes now lies at the base of our heart.  We have endured the Dark Night of the Soul, the fiery furnace of affliction, and we are now one with our consuming fire of a God; we have so taken on the nature of our Lord that we even expand and bloom in the conflagration (myrrh comes in tears or drops of resin which respond differently than other resins to fire; whereas other resins melt or liquefy when heated up, myrrh expands and blooms).  Our tender Lord treasures our tears, but only wise men present them in the proper form of myrrh.  Myrrh is not symbolic of tears alone, but is symbolic of what they produce: godly sorrow not to be repented of.  Myrrh, like genuine sorrow, forms within the heart of trees; likewise, we as trees of righteousness must be genuinely sorry from the heart if we are to produce a final judgment that is fireproof—a repentance not to be repented of!  Tears and sorrow do more than purify—they kill; if we will, however, allow ourselves to be forever drowned by the flood (where God sits as King forever) we will forever remain baptized—forever placed into His death—and thus forever fireproofed.
The clarion call, the intensity of Joel’s voice, is so certain and strong as ought to have invoked much fear and trepidation within the elders of his day; unfortunately, they remained fast asleep—and were permanently laid to rest—while destruction and mayhem practically gnawed on their carcasses.   Their day and their father’s day saw nothing as ominous as the Day of the Lord that was fast approaching them and their sons, but the suggestion here is that they were complicitous (as we are today while our Day of the Lord fast approaches).  The three generations mentioned in verse three, proceeded by the elder’s generation and the generation of their fathers, seems to tie them into God’s warning of judgment or punishment:  “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:6-7, parts).”  Indeed, John the Baptist and even Christ Himself did not mince words with the elders of Israel, calling them, on several occasions, a “brood of vipers.”  They were the trustees of eternal life; they were the trumpet blowers that ought to have diligently kept the people alert and spiritually alive.  Thus, God’s judgment or indictment was harsher for them than others.  Likewise, when Christ railed against the scribes and Pharisees, His mercy had already been stretched to the breaking point, and imminent wrath was all that could be expected now.  If you still have any illusions about what God’s love looks like, then read the entire chapter of Matthew 23—it is a scathing indictment against the scribes and the Pharisees; here is verse 32-33: "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?”  
Complete Material Overthrow and Attrition (Joel 1:4-7)
“What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.”
The thoroughness of annihilation depicted by a swarm of locusts without number landing and devouring everything in your field of endeavor is a judgment without mercy, a railing rebuke, and so momentous an occurrence as to awaken almost anyone to their responsibility before God.  And surely—because of spiritual blindness—a complete material disaster is the only type of disaster that could have awoken them to their spiritual responsibility.  The completeness of this disaster is further accentuated by the four types of locusts used to devour all the material wealth; not so much the types as the fact that there are four stages of destruction.  Four is the number of material creation—the number of all that the natural eye can discern and therefore desire—thus, when everything material is stripped away every natural desire is unrealized and utter hopelessness sets in.
An interesting insertion here about the following verse out of Revelation and its pertinence to material attrition as a form of judgment in Joel’s day, Isaiah’s day, and ours: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east (Revelation 16:12).”  The meaning of the river Euphrates is “fruitfulness,” and is often referenced as one of the borderlines of the Promised Land; it is the fourth river mentioned in Genesis that flowed out of Eden and it signifies natural vigor or material wealth.  Isaiah (in Isaiah 8) shed light upon its significance when he spoke of the river Euphrates overflowing its banks as symbolizing the king of Assyria and all his glory overwhelming the forces of Israel and her ally Samaria.  This false hope, this unwise alliance is exactly why the judgment comes, however, and further citing Samaria’s capital, Damascus and implicitly identifying her king Rezin, son of Remaliah as the touchstone points of Israel’s sin gives us insight as to the nature of Israel’s sin and its magnitude.  Simply put, Damascus is all about superficiality and natural sight, and Rezin, son of Remaliah is a king of bling, an entrenched beguiling over the natural glistening gems of this creation and dimension.  As Israel was becoming bewitched through their affinity with Damascus, they thought to overthrow their more spiritual brothers, Judah and the house of David.  Their trust in the arm of flesh (Samaria) dictated a judgment from a larger arm of flesh (Assyria).
In an article just weeks ago (July/August 2009) a report was made about how the Euphrates river had been literally drying up lately; fruitfulness is drying up all the way back to the Earth’s Creational inception just as death had been rolled all the way back to Adam when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan to reach the Promised Land.  The implications: Kings of the East are magicians and sorcerers, the preeminent witchcraft users of men—those who pretend to be spiritual by originating a false life, signs and wonders from within their own souls—and when the river of natural vigor dries up, they are left with little option but to be divinely led to their death in the valley of Meggido at the feet of true Israelites (internally their souls are judged at the feet of their spirits).  In other words, a natural famine on a worldwide scale presages a soul famine.  Even truly spiritual people, His real people, are suffering heavily today only because they have some of this pseudo-spirituality going on inside of them.  We are currently being judged to victory or condemnation as we are all being symbolically dragged to the valley of Meggido to meet our Maker (on His turf, on His terms, on His Day).
It ought to be a joyous occasion, but alas, if we have not bought gold refined in the fire or traded off enough of our carnality to be ready for this wonderful Day of the Lord it will be a day of wailing and irredeemable loss.  This Day of the Lord destroys anything flammable (our God is a consuming fire) and the very brightness of His coming, the sheer magnitude of His brilliance, will so inflame our fragile hearts so as to purge away all natural affections to such an extreme degree that every natural heart will burst asunder and every thought of every heart will then be open and bare before God and everyone.  The amount of pain or loss that we suffer will depend entirely upon how much we value the thoughts of our own heart and mind and how much selfishness we were still embracing and hiding from others.  Beautiful in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints; horrible and shameful in His eyes will it be if we count our present losses and sufferings to be worthy of comparison to an outshining of the Lord alone on His own day.
“Awake, drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you wine drinkers, on account of the sweet wine that is cut off from your mouth.  For a nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the fangs of a lioness.  It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast them away; their branches have become white.”
An awaking drunkard is graphic image of someone awaking to the reality of impending punishment for their behavior and the consequences of overindulgence.  It is the image of our day; the rafters are sagging and our homes are imploding around us.  The Assyrians that were to come and strip away all material prosperity is likened now to something even more ravenous and ominous—the carnivorous lion and his lioness.  The whitening branches are sheered so clean as to be without their natural bark or covering of protection.  Our armies are splintered throughout the world on rabbit trails.  Our splintering fig tree is our fractured economy; our wasted vine is our wanton disregard for our national sovereignty.  The reality that a lion has, indeed, been spotted in the street or the open square is a terrible indictment; the irrational fear of the sluggard has come upon him with a vengeance.  When the slothful man said (Proverbs 26:13, partial) “There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets” he, no doubt, was not so much afraid of lions as his duty.  It is this slackness of duty—this slovenly diligence—that lulls us all into a stupor not unlike a literal drunken one.  As Matthew Henry once said, “He [a slothful man] dreads the way, the streets, the place where work is to be done and a journey to be gone; he hates business, hates everything that requires care and labor.  When he is pressed to be diligent, either in his worldly affairs or in the business of religion, this is his excuse (and a sorry excuse it is, as bad as none), There is a lion in the way, some insuperable difficulty or danger which he cannot pretend to grapple with.”  The irony is that the indolent behavior of the elders during Joel’s day was the cause for the Assyrian lion to arise and traverse their way and streets; what they feigned to fear became the very fear that overtook them.  The mighty and without number, symbolized earlier by the locust swarm, is like multiplied small foxes that have overrun the vineyard and spoiled the entire vine.  The utter internal attrition being reflected externally reminds me of a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, called “(Carrion Comfort);” here it is:

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruised bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, cheer.
Cheer whom though? The hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Rejoicing dries up from the sons of men (Joel 1: 8-12)
“Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth.  The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the LORD.  The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.  The field is ruined, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine dries up, fresh oil fails.  Be ashamed, O farmers, wail, O vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley; because the harvest of the field is destroyed.  The vine dries up and the fig tree fails; the pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, all the trees of the field dry up.  Indeed, rejoicing dries up from the sons of men.”
When a drunkard rejoices he often rejoices with wine, women and song; these are the natural man’s holy trinity of joy.  When God judges mankind, he judges them according to the very gods they worship.  Thus, all marriages cease and all forms of fruitfulness fail; families are destroyed before they begin, ministries are abandoned, and livelihoods shrivel away.  My guess is that these people were as oblivious as we are today, and as oblivious as will be the people alive when Christ returns (and we might be them).  “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37-39).”  I do not believe this is an indictment for any one or all of the activities cited, but it is an indictment to maintaining an even keel thought-pattern like “business as usual” when something extraordinary is about to happen.  We are required to know the sign of the times, and after we have enjoyed material merriment to the full, we would be wise to look upward for any future fulfillment.  To be materially sated is too often to be spiritually dull, but being blessed to the maximum degree ought to cause more praise and tend towards spiritual vigor.
There are five fruits mentioned in the above verses, one of the vine, and four of trees, plus an allusion to oil (olive oil most likely) and two earth bound grains: wheat and barley.  The vinedressers are lumped together with the farmers, just as both must meticulously attend to their crops should they desire a harvest; plus, both are more earth bound than the matured fruit trees.  The implicative to “wail like a virgin” in sackcloth or mourning for a bridegroom (supposedly lost in battle) is a picture of the worst kind of waste and destitution for it is a waste and destitution of a primary kind.  She is a virgin, has never known marital bliss, and yet, while imagining it with all her might, has it replaced with an irredeemable rape.  So devastatingly thoroughgoing is this fall from grace that attrition has reached even unto mature and historically fruitful trees—the very mainsprings of the land.  Let us look at what these four fruit-bearing trees symbolically represent: fig, pomegranate, palm, and apple.
Many feel the fig is the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and their reasoning is sound; after Adam and Eve ate and had their eyes opened, and they became ashamed, it was fig leaves that they sewed together in an attempt to conceal their nakedness.  Thus, the first fruit ever mentioned in the Bible was the fig, howbeit, only in leaf form and by inference to the fruit itself via the leaves.  Amazingly, Christ would later curse a fig tree when leaves were all He could find upon it, suggesting that fruitfulness ought to have been expected by the time He scrutinized.  The “be fruitful and multiply” mandate that God has given to all of mankind is therefore closely related to the fig tree.  The joy of sexual relations—the most glorious and sacred of the joys of natural life—is closely related to the fig.  The sweet taste of the fig and its deep mature and protective shading from dark green leaves symbolized the fruitfulness of marriage and domestication.  However, natural marriage was always intended to symbolize our spiritual marriage to God; when the Assyrians splintered the fig trees as they invaded the land, the judgment was not directed toward natural failed marriages, but toward their failure to remain true with God.  References throughout Scripture equating prosperity and security, viz. “each man under his own vine and fig tree” (1 Kings ) is many.  In Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, page 283, it says: “At its most basic level the fig tree is viewed as a wonderful part of settled life.  It symbolized the good life, and to live under one’s fig tree stood for a life of settledness (fig trees took several years of difficult labor to establish) joy, peace, and prosperity.  In his taunt, the king of Assyria uses the fig tree as part of his picture of the life he claimed that he wanted to extend to Israel: ‘Do not listen to Hezekiah.  This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me.  Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern’ (Is. 36:16 NIV).”  It is further noteworthy that one’s own cistern is mentioned here along with the fig tree as both speak of marital fidelity which produces true fruitfulness.  The Assyrian taunt is aimed at the very backend of things, the very aim of most people’s hearts, which is material prosperity; likewise, our enemy is ever taunting us and attempting to entice us to run the way of the masses.  Morality is always secondary to issues about our economy; so long as affluence can be had—at any cost—most are completely satisfied.  Unfortunately, the Assyrian taunt is heard and believed by many within the church today; the health and wealth gospel of superficiality has replaced the death to self and personal poverty gospel of depth.  Get rich quick schemes and instantaneous miracles along with a craven desire for signs and wonders have replaced “the several years of difficult labor to establish” one’s fig tree of deep and constant yet monotonous manna gathering and eating.  The punishment of overpowering might and the overflowing banks of the Euphrates (symbolic of the soon overwhelming force of Assyrian power upon Israel and Judah prophesied in Isaiah’s time) was initiated by God because they were not satisfied with the gentle spring of Shiloh (representing sound doctrine and boring orthodoxy).  This craven desire for signs and wonders without root or branch is like the “burning like a furnace” moment that the near coming Day of the Lord is bringing; it will destroy all evildoers and the arrogant.
The pomegranate is a most fascinating fruit that is used throughout Scripture to symbolize the human heart.  It is first mentioned in Exodus in relationship to the initial crafting of the High Priest’s robe, and is mentioned immediately after the breastplate of judgment that had gems in it called Urim and Thummim that was to be worn directly over the High Priest’s heart.  Urim means “plurality of light” and Thummim means “plurality of perfection or completeness.”  If the Urim lit up when Israel inquired of God, there was work yet to be done, thus more revelation to be had (this is the judgment—that the light has come); if the Thummim lit up, God was satisfied.  A healthy heart pumps a rich oxygenated blood colored red; less healthy hearts pump purple or even blue blood.  The mending of the human heart is therefore a process of enlightenment; the golden bells that ran along the hem between pomegranates of different colors was to alert those around that the heart of man was being refashioned and ought to be given time to heal of its circumcision.  The golden bells were therefore declarations of its ultimate healing, and being affixed between varying shades of blood colors acknowledged the process.  Exodus 28:32-34 says: "There shall be an opening at its top in the middle of it; around its opening there shall be a binding of woven work, like the opening of a coat of mail, so that it will not be torn.  You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe.”  The church is depicted—in expression—as an orchard of pomegranates.  When Solomon (representing Christ) begins to woo His bride to the bedchamber He first praises her and describes her beautiful and fragrant attributes.  In Song of Solomon 4:12-13, he says: “A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.  Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates…”  Now before the bride is unsealed (undressed for intimacy; the consummation of the marriage) an entire orchard of pomegranates begins to sprout.  I liken these shoots to the heart tendrils that begin to embrace—in advance— the object of her heart’s desire.  Thus, the pomegranate represents the heart, and its makeup—a hard and acidic rind surrounding many blood-red seeds of fleshly pulp is also not coincidental—being very similar to the actual makeup of one’s natural heart.
Much more can be said about the pomegranate, for its imagery in Scripture is profuse and profound throughout, nevertheless, let us end this by seeing the best and worst outcomes of those who have hearts.  First, the woman with an issue of blood lays hold of Christ: “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: for she said within herself, if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole (Matthew 9:20-21).”  Christ is, of course, the High Priest; she touches the hem of His garment where the pomegranates would have encircled its circumference with golden bells betwixt each pomegranate.  She is healed the moment she touches His hem all the way back to her blood pump; twelve years she had suffered with this condition (twelve is the number of divine government) thus she is now fully governed by the Spirit and therefore her blood now courses her spiritual veins.  Her real healing far transcends a physical healing of natural blood; she has touched the Savior and is now alive with His blood coursing through her veins.  A more troubling scenario surrounds the idea of being taken down to the valley of Meggido and having one’s heart burst asunder (yet there is the most glorious hope in this most inglorious sorrow).  Zechariah says: “In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.”  Commentator Matthew Henry, and others agree, that this verse is referring to the Israelite’s sorrow over good king Josiah being slain before his time in the valley of Megiddo.  The allusion to Christ and even the mentioning of Hadadrimmon is poetical and deeply symbolic of transcendent truths.  The Syrian gods of Hadad (the sun) and Rimmon (the moon or pomegranates) being combined in one name here is symbolic of the entire problem that God has with His people.  They are too moved by the mortal thunderers (as all the Syrian kings were thus known), the kings of this earth; because they made streets for themselves within the Syrian capital of Damascus—and turned to the voice of man rather than to the voice of God—they were, and are, judged harshly.  Hadadrimmon means “fierce/harshness of the pomegranate” or “bursting of the pomegranate.”  To subsist off of the Syrian deities is to be set up for a thundering and shattering rebuke; it is to have one’s heart burst asunder in harsh judgment.  King Josiah had met an untimely death in this valley years earlier even after a tremendous revival and reformation had been actualized by his efforts.  His father Manasseh before him had caused irredeemable damage that had to be judged; unfortunately, we in this country are paying the price for our father’s sin as well.  Our hope, however, is in Christ—whether we live or die—we are His and will not need to pay the ultimate price (eternal death) but we may need to suffer physical death.  Thus, many hearts are being ruptured by the process of purging; too much flesh for too long of a time has been consumed and the heart has calcified with plaque.  Many lose their natural lives too soon by poor diets, and so it is spiritually.  Some might get a bypass, some a new heart by an intercessor, but many will not be recipients of a miracle.  We must not faint or lose heart (literally) in this near approaching Day of the Lord.
Next is the date palm tree and its significance is tremendous (note: the date palm is the palm tree of the Bible and it grows dates—not coconuts—like the tropical palm tree).  Some Rabbinical sources claim that the date palm tree is the tree of life mentioned in context with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis.  Though this is uncertain, a noteworthy attribute of the date palm is its complete edibility or usefulness.  From the highest leaves and branches down to the roots, every bit of the date palm tree is either edible or useful to mankind.  The Hebrew word for a date palm means “erect” and Jericho was called “the city of palm trees.”  They symbolize women and resemble a woman standing; “Your stature is like that of a palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit.  I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.’”—SOS 7:7-8.  An erect or righteous woman, who can find?  She nurtures and provides for her household; she is fruitful.  The tallest and thickest walls surrounded Jericho, just as many date palms did.  Thus, like the pomegranate, a date palm closely symbolizes the heart; she is not easily won yet is fragile all the while—but it is absolutely necessary that she be won from the heart so as to motivate and inflame any worthy cause.  She is, indeed, at the center of all causes; she is the motherload, the milk and originator of the manchild.  Date palms grow in hot and arid climates and are an indicator (an oasis locator) of essential water; she is a diviner of life and represents the very spring of fertility and blessing that her roots draw from.  Hardly inferior to honey for sweetness, the processed date fruit this palm tree produces is a very desirable commodity.  Thus, the date palm appears to best represent femininity and mother love and care.  She is like the woman at the well; she is not the well herself, but a pointer to the well of life.  In Elim, a resting place for the children of Israel as they were leaving Egypt, they found twelve wells and seventy palm trees.  It was the seventy palm trees (elders or evangelists) that drew people to the twelve wells (tribal leaders or apostles).  Likewise, the lady at the well, and all womanly influence and grace (the bride of Christ) ought to point us to the well of life (Christ, the Apostle of our Faith).  Once the insatiable thirst is quenched (salvation), all the mothering palms are used to nurture and feed the newborn’s growing hunger. 
Finally, the apple and what it seems to signify in Scripture.  Its first mention in Scripture (supposedly; Strong#380) is thus: “For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.  He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.”—Deuteronomy 32:9-10.  The original Hebrew for this idiom was 'iyshown 'ayin (אישון עין), and can be literally translated as "Little Man of the Eye." This is a reference to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people's pupils. Other KJV translations of the word 'iyshown include dark and obscure, as a reference to the darkness of the pupil.”  Now the exact Hebrew word for apple (Strong #8598) means “fragrance” and infers “blowing its fragrance out” and seems to include other fruits as well (quince or orange).  Its first mention (actually) is in SOS 2:3 which says: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.  In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Also, SOS 8:5 says: “Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth.”  Earlier, Solomon (a type of Christ) has said (SOS 7:8, parts): “Oh, may…the fragrance of your breath [be] like apples…” and, back to SOS 2:5, partial: “Refresh me with apples, because I am lovesick.”  Now the only other times throughout Scripture where this Hebrew word for apple is mentioned is right here in Joel (1:12) and in one of my favorite verses (Proverbs 25:11): “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.”  This verse is the picture of what true prophecy looks like; the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (see Revelation 19:10), and eating his apples under His shady-apple-tree-self causes our breaths to breathe out His fruitful fragrance.  So often throughout history the apple has been depicted as the forbidden fruit, but just the opposite is and was the truth, and all the world is and was invited to taste and see that the Lord is good; nevertheless, it was and remains forbidden along this line alone: desire.  Only those that do not become lovesick and long for Him or those that refuse to be born again beneath His shade (humbly submitting to His dominance) are harmed by eating His apples.  The earlier reference to apples as the pupils of eyes now has a context in which to be better understood.  Certainly, we as His bride are fascinated by Him and His fruit; He is, indeed, the apple of our eye.  We are smitten by Him; He, and His fruit, is the object of our desire.  Likewise, the ‘Little Man of the Eye,’ or our reflection within His gleam signifies His desire to birth us and to make us His own.  To make us as apples of gold in settings of silver is for Him to breathe upon us, to give us life, and to transform us into unsullied and perfected ore (the golden apples) within a redemptive framework (silver).  Thus, using a bit of poetic license allows for a wide angle lens of interpretation and therefore—to cap off our search for a full understanding of the apple and its significance in Scripture—let us end this paragraph with one last derivation (Strong#892) and a word that was used just once in Scripture (Zechariah 2:8): “For thus the Lord of hosts, ‘after glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.’”  This Hebrew word for apple is, no doubt, the pupil of the eye itself; it means to “hollow out; something hollowed (as a gate), i. e. the pupil of the eye.”  The hollowing out process is to make room within oneself to fit another (we are in Christ; in the cleft of the rock); of course, God needs no hollowing out, but Scripture is written for our benefit.  We must therefore allow the hollowing out process if we are to make room for the displacing apple fruit; what we desire and long for is mirrored through the windows of our soul, our eye-gates.  Apples therefore are masculine and the sustenance of a bride; we are what we eat, therefore, let us eat only the fruit that His very person alone produces.

Repentance not to be repented of (Joel -14)
“Gird yourselves with sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar!  Come, spend the night in sackcloth O ministers of my God, for the grain offering and the drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.  Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

As C. S. Lewis once said (The Problem of Pain, p. 93):

No doubt Pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion.  But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment.  It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.
Perilous times require drastic measures, and the vision Joel is intimating is chock full of peril; he is, of course, seeing this before it actually happens.  Thus, he is warning his people like a trumpet, but so vehement and disastrous is the near Day of the Lord, it would be wiser to hear the trumpet as though it were the megaphone of Pain that C.S Lewis spoke of.  To consecrate, lament and wail and gather others to repent with you is the order of the day; feasting and celebration must be placed aside.  And so it is for us; a heart-chilling and sober day requires cool and sober heads to endure it.  The prophetic direction as of late involves knowing God really, His word actually, and living fruitfully.  The axe is at the root today, just as it was in Joel’s day, and for the generation he directly spoke to; it is also for all subsequent generations that are wise enough to hear the Word of the Lord in their Day of the Lord.  Do you feel the pain?  It is for the slow of heart; it is God gently but effectively shouting down all houses built upon sand. 
The grain offering and libation, grain in solid and liquid form, sober and fermented are dried up or exhausted.  Priests are without the rudimentary elements of their craft before God; sackcloth and long nights instead of decorous robes and sunny days.  Consecrate a fast and call a solemn assembly as a last ditch effort to appease the wrath of God.
Destruction from the Almighty (Joel -20)
“Alas for the day!  For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.  Has not food been cut off before our eyes, gladness and joy from the house of our God?  The seeds shrivel under their clods; the storehouses are desolate, the barns are torn down, for the grain is dried up.  How the beasts groan!  The herds of cattle wander aimlessly because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep suffer.  To You, O LORD, I cry; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field.  Even the beasts of the field pant for You; for the water brooks are dried up and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.”         
Indeed, the God who answers by fire—He is God!   Such was the answer and the divine pattern established by the bold challenge Elijah made to the 450 prophets of baal many years ago, and consequently and henceforth, God so answers idol worshipers.  Symbolically, a baptism in Holy Ghost and fire transcends the flesh it ignites; it falls upon the idol worshipping believer and purges the residue of false worship that yet resides in his flesh in the conflageration.  Ultimately, the dual nature of the Christian solidifies and melds into its new creation mold, and the fire of His Holy Word perpetually convicts those aspects of evil that have carried over into the Christian experience.  A Christian is commanded to live by the rule of the new creation, to be directed by the ruling disposition that was obtained by parktaking of the divine nature.  As the Christian matures into this mold, the already considered dead old nature—sometimes refered to in Scripture as flesh—(which nevertheless licks at the soul and disquiets the dispostion if we do not daily—by the Holy Spirit—mortify its demands upon us) continues to onslaught our person with its evil insitence.
The fire of the Holy Spirit, like the natural fire which devoured everything in the book of Joel, destroys all the wood, hay, and stubble of our religiosity.  Material stores, now depleted and devoured, promise to starve all the appetites associated with them. So devastated is the Israelite that even the animals they lead wander aimlessly; the beasts that are supposed to be under our feet now squish our future beneath their hooves.  Devastation reaches beyond immediate circumstances and imperils the eternal mandates of our purpose.