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Joel 3:18

Joel 3:18

And it shall come to pass in that day
When antichrist shall be destroyed; the Jews converted; the power of godliness revived, and the presence of God among his people enjoyed. Vitringa, in his Commentary on Isaiah, frequently applies this, and such like prophecies, to the times of the Maccabees; though, he owns, they were but an emblem of better times under the Gospel dispensation; nor does he deny the mystical and spiritual sense of them; [that] the mountains shall drop down new wine;
which, and the following expressions, are to be understood not in a strict literal sense, as Lactantius F20 seems to have understood them; who says, that, in the Millennium, God will cause a rain of blessing to descend morning and evening; the earth shall bring forth all kind of fruit without the labour of man; honey shall drop from the rocks, and the fountains of milk and wine shall overflow: but hyperbolically, just as the land of Canaan is said to flow with milk and honey; not that it really did, but the phrase is used to denote the fertility of it, and the abundance of temporal blessings in it. The literal sense is this, that the mountains shall be covered with vines, on which they are often planted; these vines shall be full of large clusters of grape; and these grapes, being pressed, shall yield a large quantity of new wine; and so, by a metonymy, the mountains are said to drop it down F21, that is, abound with it, or produce an abundance of it: but the spiritual or mystical sense is, that the churches of Christ in those times, comparable to mountains, and so to hills in the next clause, for their exalted and visible glorious state in which they now will be; and for the rich gifts and graces of the Spirit within them; and for the pasture upon them, and the trees of righteousness that grow thereon; and also for their firmness and stability, their immovableness and perpetual duration; these shall abound with fresh and large discoveries of the love of God and Christ, which is better than wine, ( Song of Solomon 1:2 Song of Solomon 1:4 ) ; like wine, cheering and refreshing; like new wine, though old as to its original, yet new in the manifestations of it; and which are usually made in the church, and the ordinances of it, to the making glad the hearts of the Lord's people; also they shall abound with the blessings of grace, the fruits of love, such as pardon, peace, justification which, like wine, fill with joy, revive and comfort; and though they are ancient blessings, provided long ago, they are exhibited under the Gospel dispensation in a new covenant way; and the application of them is made in the churches, in Zion, where the Lord commands the blessing, even life for evermore. This may also take in the Gospel, which brings the good news of these blessings, and so is very reviving and cheering; and, though ordained and preached of old, is newly revealed under the present dispensation; and will be more clearly in later times, when all the mountains or churches will abound with it, and even the whole earth be filled with the knowledge of it, ( Isaiah 11:9 ) ; likewise the ordinance of the Lord's supper, that feast of fat things, of wines on the lees well refined, made in the mountain of the Lord, for all his people may be included; and both in that, and in the ministry of the word, the Lord is sometimes pleased, as he may more abundantly hereafter, to give his saints some foretaste of that new wine, which Christ and they shall partake of in his Father's kingdom; see ( Song of Solomon 7:9 ) ( Isaiah 25:6 ) ( 55:1-3 ) ( Matthew 26:29 ) ; and the hills shall flow with milk:
that is, there shall be much pasturage upon them, and a great number of cattle feeding thereon, which shall yield large quantities of milk; and so, by the same figure as before, the hills may be said to flow with it F23. The spiritual meaning is, that the churches of Christ, comparable to hills, for the reasons before given, shall abound with the means of grace, with the sincere milk of the word; to which the Gospel is compared for its whiteness and purity, for every word of God is pure and purifying; for assuaging the wrath the law produces; it being easy of digestion, even to newborn babes; and its salutary nourishing virtue and efficacy; and of this there will be great abundance in the latter day; see ( Song of Solomon 4:11 ) ( 1 Peter 2:2 1 Peter 2:3 ) ; and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters;
that is, the channels in which the rivers run; these, in a time of drought, are sometimes empty, and the bottoms of them to be seen, but now full of water, and flow with it: grace is often in Scripture compared to "water" because of its refreshing, cleansing, and fructifying nature; and "rivers" denote, an abundance of it; and the "channels", through which it is conveyed to men, out of the fulness of Christ, are the ordinances; see ( Zechariah 4:12 ) ; and the prophecy suggests, that these should not be dry and empty, but that large measures of grace shall be communicated by means of them to the souls of men, to their great comfort and edification, and for the supply of their wants; see ( Ezekiel 36:25 ) ( John 3:5 ) ( John 4:10 John 4:14 ) ( 7:37-39 ) ; and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord;
not meaning baptism, as some; nor Christ, the fountain of grace, life, and salvation; but the Gospel, the word of the Lord, that fountain full of excellent truths and doctrines; of the blessings of grace; of exceeding great and precious promises; and of much spiritual peace, joy, and comfort: this is the law or doctrine of the Lord, that should come out of Zion, or the church, ( Isaiah 2:3 ) ; the living waters that shall come out of Jerusalem, ( Zechariah 14:8 ) ; and the same with the waters in Ezekiel's vision, that came from under the threshold of the house, ( Ezekiel 47:1 ) ; it seems to denote the small beginnings of the Gospel, and the great increase and overflow of it in the world, as it does in all the above passages: this is referred by the ancient Jews F24 to the times of the Messiah; and shall water the valley of Shittim;
a plain or valley near Jordan, upon the borders of Moab, at the farther end of Canaan that way, ( Numbers 33:49 ) ( Joshua 3:1 ) . Benjamin of Tudela F25 says, that from the mount of Olives may be seen the plain and brook of Shittim, unto or near Mount Nebo, which was in the land of Moab. This valley or plain, as the Targum, was so called, either from the "shittah" tree, ( Isaiah 41:19 ) ; of which was the wood "shittim", so much used for various things in the tabernacle and temple, that grew there; and which Jerom on this place says was a kind of tree that grew in the wilderness, like a white thorn in colour and leaves, though not in size, for otherwise it was a very large tree, out of which the broadest planks might be cut, and its wood very strong, and of incredible, smoothness and beauty; and which grew not in cultivated places, nor in the Roman soil, but in the desert of Arabia; and therefore one would think did not grow in this plain near Jordan, and so could not be denominated from hence: but Dr. Shaw F26 observes, that the Acacia is by much the largest and the most common tree of these deserts (that is, of Arabia), as it might likewise have been of the plains of Shittim, over against Jericho, from whence it took its name; and adds, we have some reason to conjecture that the shittim wood, whereof the various utensils of the tabernacle, &c. ( Exodus 25:10 Exodus 25:13 Exodus 25:23 ) were made, was the wood of the acacia. Or it may be this place had its name from the rushes which grew on the banks of Jordan, near to which it was; for so, is the word interpreted by some {a}: and Saadiah Gaon says, this valley is Jordan; so called, because Jordan was near to a place called Shittim: however, be it as it will, this can never be understood in a literal sense, that any fountain should arise out of the temple, and flow as far as beyond Jordan, and water any tract of land there; but must be understood spiritually, of the same waters of the sanctuary as in Ezekiel's vision, ( Ezekiel 47:1 Ezekiel 47:8 ) ; at most, the literal sense could only be, that the whole land should be well watered from one end to the other, and, become very fertile and fruitful, by the order and direction of the Lord, that dwells in his temple. The mystical sense is best. Jarchi makes mention of a Midrash, that interprets it of the expiation of the sins of the Israelites, in the affair of Baalpeor at Shittim, ( Numbers 25:1-3 ) ; but the true spiritual sense is, that the Gospel shall be carried to the further parts of the earth; that the whole world shall be filled and watered with it, and become fruitful, which before was like a desert; these living waters shall flow, both toward the former and the hinder seas, the eastern and west: era, as in ( Zechariah 14:8 ) ; see ( Isaiah 11:9 ) . Some render it, "shall water the valley of cedars" F2; the shittim wood being a kind of cedar, of which many things belonging to the tabernacle, a type of the church, was made, being firm, sound, incorruptible, and durable; see ( Exodus 25:10 Exodus 25:23 ) ( Exodus 26:26 Exodus 26:32 ) ( 27:1 ) ; saints are compared to cedars for their height in Christ, their strength in him, and in his grace; their large and spreading leaves, branches, and roots, or growth in grace; and for their duration and incorruption; see ( Numbers 24:5 Numbers 24:6 ) ( Psalms 92:13 ) ; a valley may signify the low estate of God's people; or be an emblem of lowly, meek, and humble souls, to whom the Gospel is preached, and who are watered and revived by it, and to whom more grace is given; see ( Isaiah 40:4 ) ( 61:1 ) ( 57:15 ) . It is by Symmachus rendered "the valley of thorns"; and so Quinquarboreus F3 says the word signifies and designs such who are barren in good works.


FOOTNOTES:

F20 Epitome Divin. Institut. c. 11. Vid. Institut. l. 7. c. 24.
F21 "Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva, Et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella". Virgil. Eclog. 4. l. 29, 30.
F23 "Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina nectaris ibant, Flavaque de viridi stillabant ibice mella". Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1.
F24 Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.
F25 Itineranium, p. 44.
F26 Travels, c. 3. p. 444, 459. Ed. 2.
F1 Vid. Relaud. Palestina Illustrata, l. 1. c. 54, p. 351, 352.
F2 (Myjvh lxn ta) "vallem cedrorum lectissimorum", Junius & Tremellius, Tarnovius.
F3 Scholia in Targum in loc.
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