World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary


Do not fear, O soil;

be glad and rejoice,

for the Lord has done great things!


Do not fear, you animals of the field,

for the pastures of the wilderness are green;

the tree bears its fruit,

the fig tree and vine give their full yield.



O children of Zion, be glad

and rejoice in the Lord your God;

for he has given the early rain for your vindication,

he has poured down for you abundant rain,

the early and the later rain, as before.


The threshing floors shall be full of grain,

the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.



I will repay you for the years

that the swarming locust has eaten,

the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,

my great army, which I sent against you.



You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,

and praise the name of the Lord your God,

who has dealt wondrously with you.

And my people shall never again be put to shame.


You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,

and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.

And my people shall never again be put to shame.


God’s Spirit Poured Out


Then afterward

I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.


Even on the male and female slaves,

in those days, I will pour out my spirit.


Select a resource above

Promise of Mercy. (b. c. 720.)

18 Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.   19 Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:   20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.   21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.   22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.   23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.   24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.   25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you.   26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.   27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.

See how ready God is to succour and relieve his people, how he waits to be gracious; as soon as ever they humble themselves under this hand, and pray, and seek his face, he immediately meets them with his favours. They prayed that God would spare them, and see here with what good words and comfortable words he answered them; for God's promises are real answers to the prayers of faith, because with him saying and doing are not two things. Now observe,

I. Whence this mercy promised shall take rise (v. 18): God will be jealous for his land and pity his people. He will have an eye, 1. To his own honour, and the reputation of his covenant with Israel, by which he had conveyed to them that good land and had given in the value of it very high; now he will not suffer it to be despised nor disparaged, but will be jealous for the credit of his land, and the inhabitants of it, who had been praised as a happy people and therefore must not lie open to reproach as a miserable people. 2. To their distress: He will pity his people, and, in pity to them, he will restore them their forfeited comforts. God's compassion is a great encouragement to those that come humbly to him as penitents and as petitioners.

II. What his mercy shall be, in several instances:—1. The destroying army shall be dispersed and defeated (v. 20): "I will remove far off from you the northern army, that army of locusts and caterpillars that invaded you from the north, brought in upon the wings of a north wind, an army which you could put no stop to the progress of; but, when you have made your peace with God, he will ease you of these soldiers that are quartered upon you and will drive them into a land barren and desolate, into that vast howling wilderness that Israel wandered in, where, after having surfeited upon the plenty of Canaan, they shall perish for want of sustenance. Those that have their face to the east sea (the Dead Sea, which lay east of Judea) shall perish in that, and the rear of the army shall be lost in the Great Sea," called here the utmost sea. They had made the land barren and desolate, and now God will cast them into a land barren and desolate. Thus those whom God employs for the correction of his people come afterwards to be themselves reckoned with; and the rod is thrown into the fire. Nothing shall remain of these swarms of insects but the ill savour of them. When Egypt was eased of the plague of locusts they were carried away to the Red Sea, Exod. x. 19. Note, When an affliction has done its work it shall be removed in mercy, as the locusts of Canaan were from a penitent people, not as the locusts of Egypt were removed, in wrath, from an impenitent prince, only to make room for another plague. Many interpreters, by this northern army, understand that of Sennacherib, which was dispersed when God by it had accomplished his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, Isa. x. 12. This enemy shall be driven away, because he has done great things, has done a great deal of mischief, and has magnified to do it, has done it in the pride of his heart; therefore it follows (v. 21), The Lord will do great things for his people, as the enemy has done great things against them, to convince them that wherein they deal proudly he is, and will be, above them, that, what great things soever they did, they did no more than God commissioned them to do; and as, when he said to them, Go, they went, so, when he said to them, Come, they came, to show that they were soldiers under him. 2. The destroyed land shall be watered and made fruitful. When the army is scattered, yet what shall we do if the desolation they have made continue? It is therefore promised (v. 22) that the pastures of the wilderness, the pastures which the locusts had left as bare as the wilderness, shall again spring and the trees shall again bear their fruit, particularly the fig-tree and the vine. But, when we see how the country is wasted, we are tempted to say, Can these dry bones live? If the Lord should make windows in heaven, it cannot be; but it shall be, for (v. 23) the Lord has given and will give you the former rain and the latter rain, and, if he give them in mercy, he will give them moderately, so that the rain shall not turn into a judgment, and he will give them in due season, the latter rain in the first month, when it was wanted and expected. It would make it comfortable to them to see it coming from the hand of God, and ordered by his wisdom, for then we are sure it is well ordered. He has given you a teacher of righteousness, (so the margin reads it, for the same word that signifies the rain signifies a teacher. and that which we translate moderately is according to righteousness), and this teacher of righteousness, says one of the rabbin, is the King Messias, and of him many others understand this; for he is a teacher come from God, and he shows us the way of righteousness. But others understand it of any prophet that instructs unto righteousness, and some of Hezekiah particularly, others of Isaiah. Note, It is a good sign that God has mercy in store for a people when he sends them teachers of righteousness, pastors after his own heart. 3. All their losses shall be repaired (v. 25): "I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten; you shall be comforted according to the time that you have been afflicted, and shall have years of plenty to balance the years of famine." Thus does it repent the Lord concerning his servants, when they repent, and, to show how perfectly he is reconciled to them, he makes good the damage they have sustained by his judgments, and, like the jailer, washes their stripes. Though, in justice, he distrained upon them, and did them no wrong, yet, in compassion, he makes restitution; as the father of the prodigal, upon his return, made up all he had lost by his sin and folly, and took him into his family, as in his former estate. The locusts and caterpillars are here called God's great army which he sent among them, and he will repair what they had devoured because they were his army. 4. They shall have great abundance of all good things. The earth shall yield her increase, and they shall enjoy it. Look into the stores where they lay up, and you shall find the floors full of wheat, and the fats overflowing with wine and oil (v. 24), whereas, in the day of their distress, the wine and oil languished and the barns were broken down, ch. i. 10, 17. Look upon their tables, where they lay out what they have laid up, and you shall find that they eat in plenty and are satisfied, v. 26. They do not eat to excess, nor are surfeited; we hope the drunkards are cured by the late affliction of their inordinate love of wine and strong drink, for, though they were brought in howling for their scarcity (ch. i. 5), they are now brought in again here singing for the plenty of it; but now all shall have enough, and shall known when they have enough, for God will make their food nourishing and give them to be content with it.

These are the mercies promised, and in these God does great things (v. 21), He deals wondrously with his people, v. 26. Herein he glorifies his power, and shows that he can relieve his people though their distress be ever so great, and glorifies his goodness, that he will do it upon their repentance though their provocations were ever so great. Note, When God deals graciously with poor sinners that return to him it must be acknowledged that he deals wondrously and does great things. Some expositors understand these promises figuratively, as pointing at gospel-grace, and having their accomplishment in the abundant comforts that are treasured up for believers in the covenant of grace and the satisfaction of soul they have therein. When God sends us his promises to be the matter of our comfort, his graces to be the grounds of it, and his Spirit to be the author of it, we may well own that he has sent us (according to his promise here, v. 19) corn, and wine, and oil, or that which is unspeakably better, and we have reason to be satisfied therewith.

III. What use shall be made of these returns of God's mercy to them and the good account they shall turn to.

1. God shall have the glory thereof, for they shall rejoice in the Lord their God (v. 23), and what is the matter of their rejoicing shall be the matter of their thanksgiving; they shall praise the name of the Lord their God (v. 26) and not praise their idols, nor call their corn and wine the rewards that their lovers had given them. Note, The plenty of our creature-comforts is a mercy indeed to us when by them our hearts are enlarged in love and thankfulness to God, who gives us all things richly to enjoy, though we serve him but poorly. When God restores to us plenty after we have known scarcity, as it is doubly pleasant to us, so it should make us the more thankful to God. When Israel comes out of a wilderness into a Canaan, and there eats and is full, surely he will then bless the Lord, with a very sensible pleasure, for that good land which he has given him, Deut. viii. 10.

2. They shall have the credit, and comfort, and spiritual benefit, thereof. When God gives them plenty again, and gives them to be satisfied with it, (1.) Their reputation shall be retrieved; they and their God shall be no more reflected upon as unfaithful to one another when they have returned to him in a way of duty and he to them in a way of mercy (v. 19): "I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen, that triumphed in your calamities and insulted over you;" and v. 26, 27, "My people shall never be ashamed, as they have been, of their good land which they used to boast of, but shall again and ever have the same occasion to boast of it." Note, It redounds much to the honour of God when he does that which saves the honour of his people; and those that are his people indeed, though they may be for a time, shall not be always, a reproach among the heathens; if we be rightly ashamed of our sins against God, we shall never be ashamed of our glorying in God. (2.) Their joys shall be revived (v. 23): Be glad and rejoice, O land! and all the inhabitants of it. Times of plenty are commonly times of joy; yet the favour of God puts gladness into the heart more than those who have corn, and wine, and oil increase. But especially be glad them, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, v. 23. They mourned in Zion (v. 15), and therefore there in a particular manner they shall rejoice; for those that sow in penitential tears shall certainly reap in thankful joys. The children of Zion, who led the rest in fasting, must lead the rest in rejoicing. But observe, They shall rejoice in the Lord their God, not so much in the good themselves that are given them as in the good hand that gives them and in the return of his favour to them, as theirs in covenant, which these good things are the tokens and pledges of. The joy of harvest and the joy of a feast must both terminate in God, whose love we should taste in all the gifts of his bounty, that we may make him our chief joy, as he is our chief good, and the fountain of all good to us. (3.) Their faith in God shall be confirmed and increased. When temporal mercies are made by the grace of God to be of spiritual advantage to us, and plenty for the body is so far from being an enemy (as with many it proves) that it becomes a friend to the prosperity of the soul, then they are mercies indeed to us. This is promised here (v. 27): You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, the Holy One in the midst of thee (Hos. xi. 9), and that I am the Lord your God, and none else. As it proves that the Lord is God, and there is none other, because he wounds and he heals, he forms light and darkness, he does good and evil (Isa. xlv. 7; Deut. xxxii. 39), so it proves him to be God of Israel, a God in covenant with his people and a father to them, that as a father he both corrects them when they offend and comforts them when they repent. It was the burden of the threatenings in Ezekiel's prophecy, Such and such evils I will bring upon you, and you shall know that I am the Lord; and the same is here made the crown of the promises: You shall eat, and be satisfied, and rejoice, and thus you shall know that I am the Lord. Note, We should labour to grow in our acquaintance with God by all providences, both merciful and afflictive. When God gives to his people plenty, and peace, and joy, upon their return to him, he thereby gives them to understand that he is pleased with their repentance, that he has pardoned their sins, and that he is theirs as much as ever—that they are taken into the same covenant with him, for he is the Lord their God, and into the same communion, for he is in the midst of them, nigh unto them in all that they call upon him for, and, as the sun in the centre of the worlds, so in the midst of them as to diffuse his benign influences to all the parts of his land.

3. Even the inferior creatures shall share therein and be made easy thereby: Fear not, O land! v. 21. Be not afraid, you beasts of the field, v. 22. They had suffered for the sin of man, and for God's quarrel with him; and now they shall fare the better for man's repentance and God's reconciliation to him. Nay, the beasts were said to cry unto God (ch. i. 20); and now that cry is answered, and they are directed not to be afraid, for they shall have plenty of all that which their nature craves. God, in sparing Nineveh, had an eye to the cattle (Jonah iv. 11), for the cattle had fasted, ch. iii. 8. This may lead us to think of the restitution of all things, when the creature, that is now made subject to vanity and groans under it, shall be brought, though not into the glorious joy, yet into the glorious liberty, of the children of God, Rom. viii. 21.

Promise of Mercy. (b. c. 720.)

28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:   29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.   30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.   31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.   32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

The promises of corn, and wine, and oil, in the foregoing verses, would be very acceptable to a wasted country; but here we are taught that we must not rest in those things. God has reserved some better things for us, and these verses have reference to those better things, both the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory, with the happiness of true believers in both. We are here told,

I. How the kingdom of grace shall be introduced by a plentiful effusion of the Spirit, (v. 28, 29). We are not at a loss about the meaning of this promise, nor in doubt what it refers to and wherein it had its accomplishment, for the apostle Peter has given us an infallible explication and application of it, assuring us that when the Spirit was poured out upon the apostles, on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 1, &c.), that was the very thing which was spoken of here by the prophet Joel, v. 16, 17. That was the gift of the Spirit, which, according to this prediction, was to come, and we are not to look for any other, any more than for another accomplishment of the promise of the Messiah. Now, 1. The blessing itself here promised is the pouring out of the Spirit of God, his gifts, graces, and comforts, which the blessed Spirit is the author of. We often read in the Old Testament of the Spirit of the Lord coming by drops, as it were, upon the judges and prophets whom God raised up for extraordinary services; but now the Spirit shall be poured out plentifully in a full stream, as was promised with an eye to gospel-times, Isa. xliv. 3. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed. 2. The time fixed for this is afterwards; after the fulfilling of the foregoing promises this shall be fulfilled. St. Peter expounds this of the last days, the days of the Messiah, by whom the world was to have its last revelation of the divine will and grace in the last days of the Jewish church, a little before its dissolution. 3. The extent of this blessing, in respect of the persons on whom it shall be bestowed. The Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh, not as hitherto upon Jews only, but upon Gentiles also; for in Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, Rom. x. 11, 12. Hitherto divine revelation was confined to the seed of Abraham, none but those of the land of Israel had the Spirit of prophecy; but, in the last days, all flesh shall see the glory of God (Isa. xl. 5) and shall come to worship before him, Isa. lxvi. 23. The Jews understand it of all flesh in the land of Israel, and Peter himself did not fully understand it as speaking of the Gentiles till he saw it accomplished in the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Cornelius and his friends, who were Gentiles (Acts x. 44, 45), which was but a continuation of the same gift which was bestowed on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh, that is, upon all those whose hearts are made hearts of flesh, soft and tender, and so prepared to receive the impressions and influences of the Holy Ghost. Upon all flesh, that is, upon some of all sorts of men; the gifts of the Spirit shall not be so sparing, or so much confined, as they have been, but shall be more general and diffusive of themselves. (1.) The Spirit shall be poured out upon some of each sex. Not your sons only, but your daughters, shall prophesy; we read of four sisters in one family that were prophetesses, Acts xxi. 9. Not the parents only, but the children, shall be filled with the Spirit, which intimates the continuance of this gift for some ages successively in the church. (2.) Upon some of each age: "Your old men, who are past their vigour and whose spirits begin to decay, your young men, who have yet but little acquaintance with and experience of divine things, shall yet dream dreams and see visions;" God will reveal himself by dreams and visions both to the young and old. (3.) Upon those of the meanest rank and condition, even upon the servants and the handmaids. The Jewish doctors say, Prophecy does not reside on any but such as are wise, valiant, and rich, not upon the soul of a poor man, or a man in sorrow. But in Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free, Gal. iii. 28. There were many that were called being servants (1 Cor. vii. 21), but that was no obstruction to their receiving the Holy Ghost. (4.) The effect of this blessing: They shall prophesy; they shall receive new discoveries of divine things, and that not for their own use only, but for the benefit of the church. They shall interpret scripture, and speak of things secret, distant, and future, which by the utmost sagacities of reason, and their natural powers, they could not have any insight into nor foresight of. By these extraordinary gifts the Christian church was first founded and set up, and the scriptures were written, and the ministry settled, by which, with the ordinary operations and influences of the Spirit, it was to be afterwards maintained and kept up.

II. How the kingdom of glory shall be introduced by the universal change of nature, v. 30, 31. The pouring out of the Spirit will be very comfortable to the righteous; but let the unrighteous hear this, and tremble. There is a great and terrible day of the Lord coming, which shall be ushered in with wonders in heaven and earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke, the turning of the sun into darkness and the moon into blood. This is to have its full accomplishment (as the learned Dr. Pocock thinks) in the day of judgment, at the end of time, before which these signs will be performed in the letter of them, yet so that it was accomplished in part in the death of Christ (which is called the judgment of this world, when the earth quaked and the sun was darkened, and a great and terrible day it was), and more fully in the destruction of Jerusalem, which was a type and figure of the general judgment, and before which there were many amazing prodigies, besides the convulsions of states and kingdoms prophesied of under the figurative expressions of turning the sun into darkness and the moon into blood, and the wars and rumours of wars, and distress of nations, which our Saviour spoke of as the beginning of these sorrows, Matt. xxiv. 6, 7. But before the last judgment there will be wonders indeed in heaven and earth, the dissolution of both, without a metaphor. The judgments of God upon a sinful world, and the frequent destruction of wicked kingdoms by fire and sword, are prefaces to and presages of the judgment of the world in the last day. Those on whom the Spirit is poured out shall foresee and foretel that great and terrible day of the Lord, and expound the wonders in heaven and earth that go before it; for, as to his first coming, so to his second, all the prophets did and do bear witness, Rev. x. 7.

III. The safety and happiness of all true believers both in the first and second coming of Jesus Christ, v. 32. This speaks of particular persons, for to them the New Testament has more respect, and less to kingdoms and nations, than the Old. Now observe here, 1. That there is a salvation wrought out. Though the day of the Lord will be great and terrible, yet in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance from the terror of it. It is the day of the Lord, the day of his judgment, who knows how to separate between the precious and the vile. In the everlasting gospel, which went from Zion, in the church of the first-born typified by Mount Zion, and which is the Jerusalem that is from above, there is deliverance; a way of escaping the wrath to come is found out and laid open. Christ is himself not only the Saviour, but the salvation; he is so to the ends of the earth. This deliverance, laid up for us in the covenant of grace, is in performance of the promises made to the fathers. There shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said. See Luke i. 72. Note, This is ground of comfort and hope to sinners, that, whatever danger there is in their case, there is also deliverance, deliverance for them, if it be not their own fault. And, if we would share in this deliverance, we must ourselves apply to the gospel—Zion, to God's Jerusalem. 2. That there is a remnant interested in this salvation, and for whom the deliverance is wrought. It is in that remnant (that is, among them) that the deliverance is, or in their souls and spirits; there are the earnests and evidences of it. Christ in you, the hope of glory. They are called a remnant, because they are but a few in comparison with the multitudes that are left to perish; a little remnant but a chosen one, a remnant according to the election of grace. And here we are told who they are that shall be delivered in the great day. (1.) Those that sincerely call upon God: Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, whether Jew or Gentile (for the apostle so expounds it, Rom. x. 13, where he lays this down as the great rule of the gospel by which we must all be judged), shall be delivered. This calling on God supposes knowledge of him, faith in him, desire towards him, dependence on him, and, as an evidence of the sincerity of all this, a conscientious obedience to him; for, without that, crying Lord, Lord, will not stand us in any stead. Note, It is the praying remnant that shall be the saved remnant. And it will aggravate the ruin of those who perish that they might have been saved on such easy terms. (2.) Those that are effectually called to God. The deliverance is sure to the remnant whom the Lord shall call, not only with the common call of the gospel, with which many are called that are not chosen, but with a special call into the fellowship of Jesus Christ, whom the Lord predestinates, or prepares, so the Chaldee. St. Peter borrows this phrase, Acts ii. 39. Note, Those only shall be delivered in the great day that are now effectually called from sin to God, from self to Christ, from things below to things above.