A Study of Joel 1:5
“Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.”
“Awake Ye Drunkards”
Awake! Meaning to arise or watch.
Psalms 35:23 – Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
Psalm 17:15 – As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
We wonder why God is addressing drunkards and yet the latter part of this verse speaks to those drinkers of wine; a reference to all who drink the spiritual wine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know this to be the case since the verse references the new wine being cut off from your mouth. What then is meant by drunkards? It would appear that a biblical “drunkard” and a “drinker of wine” are two different things and carry two distinct meanings. Scripture indicates that the drunkard or drunkards are those who live carelessly with no regard for God. It is a term with much literal meaning to it. For example, we read in Isaiah that the earth shall reel to and fro as a drunkard.
Isaiah 24:20 – The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
As God destroys the earth to replace it with His New Earth, it will, in the process, reel to and fro as a drunkard. This is language indicating how a drunkard walks, swaying back and forth. The meaning is quite literal. Let us examine other verses to compare this thought.
Proverbs 23:21 – For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
A drunkard cares nothing of obeying God’s Word and many come to poverty. In the same way a drunkard might portray one who is spiritually blind to Christ; a negative sense since “drunkards” is a negative word used in scripture.
Deuteronomy 21:20 – And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
The above verse gives us more information on a drunkard. It is synonymous with rebellion and stubbornness. Drunkards are also synonymous with pride:
Isaiah 28:3 – The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:
God also shows us that drunkards are viewed as thorns. We know what scripture says about thorns…they symbolize the dry and non-green vegetation of the earth – those who do not bring forth good fruit unto salvation. They are seen as those who have not the spiritual life of the Word of God within them. In the spiritual sense a thorn represents the opposite of one with spiritual life, i.e. God’s elect or His green forest.
Nahum 1:10 – For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
Drunkards are as a fading flower and their doom is certain.
Isaiah 28:1 – ¶Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!
God seems to clearly speak against physical drunkenness and gives us many warnings against it. But what is its spiritual significance for us? It is apparent. God’s children cannot be drunkards.
1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 –
9 – ¶Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 – Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 – And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Joel 1:5 – Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
God appears to be addressing both the church, consisting of believers and unbelievers (drinkers of wine) and the pagans or blatant unbelievers (drunkards) as He warns of the time wherein the new wine will be cut off from the world. God’s Holy Spirit (He) will be restrained at that time – a time that we are now approaching or perhaps are already in.
2 Thessalonians 2:6-9 –
6 – And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 – For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
<John 14:26 – But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.>
8 – And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 – Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
As we study from Joel 1:5 we see that God is warning the entire world of the great spiritual famine to come. “Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.” (Joel 1:5)
If there is any spiritual meaning to the word “drunkard,” it must represent those who are spiritually blind to Christ.
Isaiah 19:14 – The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken <same Hebrew word as drunkard in Joel 1:5> man staggereth in his vomit.
When we consider Jeremiah chapter twenty-three we must wonder if the term “drunken” (same Hebrew word as drunkards in Joel 1:5) might be spiritual in nature as well as physical.
Jeremiah 23:9-12 –
9 – ¶Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.
<Jeremiah feels like a drunkard because of…as we read further…God’s words being dried up.>
10 – For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
<The pleasant places of the wilderness are indeed symbolic for God’s Word on this spiritual wilderness called earth. They are dried up due to the overtaking and plundering of the false prophets. Read on ->
11– For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
12 – Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.
<Jeremiah’s soul is so vexed that he feels spiritually empty, as a drunken man, verse 9. It would appear that a biblical “drunkard” can be interpreted physically and spiritually as one who has no love for the Creator. >
In Joel 1:5 God, it would seem, is addressing all of the unsaved (drunkards) and those within the church (drinkers of wine). Perhaps these “drinkers of wine” would encompass both the believers and unbelievers within the congregations? Let us remember the words of Christ:
Matthew 13:30 – Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
“Weep and Howl”
Joel 1:5 – Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl…
The term “weep and howl” is used in only one other passage in scripture, and that is in the Book of James.
James 5:1-11 –
1 – ¶Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 – Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
<God is addressing those who live in pleasure on the earth (verse 5); those who heap together treasure for the last days (verse 3); and those who condemn and kill the just (i.e. believers). The question is – are we to understand these verses of James in a literal manner? Most assuredly we are, however we many times cannot understand them literally without seeing the spiritual consequences. Here in verse 2 God points to the world and declares that their riches are corrupted and their garments are motheaten. God has much to say concerning the spiritual riches of believing in Jesus Christ as Lord. If this verse has literal riches in view, it nonetheless transforms into the corruption of one’s spiritual riches. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Matthew 6:24.>
“Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up,” Isaiah 50:9.
<James 5:2 declares “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.” For that, they are to weep and howl. Weather they are to weep and howl for worldly riches is insignificant when compared with the weeping and howling at Judgment Day. The biblical term “moth” has corruption and rottenness in view. This no doubt is eternal corruption. “Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness,” Hosea 5:12.
Matthew 6:19 – ¶Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
<Laying up physical treasures upon the earth – where moth and rust will corrupt – will one day evolve into eternal and spiritual corruption of which God compares to moth-eaten garments. “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame,” Revelation 16:15.
Isaiah 51:8 – For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
<Those who live out their lives apart from Christ are liken to a generation of old moth-eaten garments in the grave where the worms feast.>
Job 13:28 – And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.
3 – Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
<Cankered is defined in the Hebrew as rusted or corroded. Again this appears to have a double meaning since true believers are arrayed with the wealth of God’s spiritual silver and gold. The faith that Christ gives us along with all of His heavenly attributes are ascribed to us as our heavenly riches of silver and gold. To be a non-caring and non-loving materialistic person of the world is tantamount to having one’s eternal gold and silver corroded.>
4 – Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
5 – Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6 – Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
7 – Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
8 – Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
9 – Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
10 – Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
11 – Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
We have quoted a section of the fifth chapter of James in order to show the similarity of that chapter and Joel 1:5. These are the only chapters in all of scripture that use the term “weep and howl.” It would appear that God is warning us in Joel of the weeping and howling that is to come on a grand scale. It is only the true believers (drinkers of wine) who will be able to see the spiritual conditions as they overtake the world in these final days. We as true believers are to weep and howl as well …for the spiritual darkness that overtakes the earth. Our weeping and howling is for those who are still in the grips of the dominion of darkness. Those on the other side, however, weep and howl in eternity. “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matthew 25:30.
What does Scripture show us when we study the word howl? Let us briefly examine the word from both the old and new testaments.
The first usage of “howl” is found in Isaiah 13:6. We clearly see that this particular verse is a reference to the day of the LORD:
Isaiah 13:6 – ¶Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty,
<The Day of the LORD is the believer’s blessed hope. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13. In the above verse of Isaiah it is apparent that all unbelievers are to weep and howl.>
Zephaniah 1:11 – Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.
<Scripture tells a grand story that only God could have written down through the centuries. It is full of salvation, mercy, God’s sacrifices for a people to whom He has rescued from this fallen world. There is also the reverse side in which few congreagations care to preach. Nonetheless it is most biblical and to deliberately omit the teaching of an eternal darkness is equivalent to preaching a false gospel. The world has progressed thus far into a false spiritual condition in which any isolation of “religions” is viewed as spiritual bigotry and the whole counsel of God (Christ: the LIGHT of the world) will soon be scrutinized as some type of a radical hate crime of which this world will have no tolerance for. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be,” Matthew 24:21.>
In the above Zephaniah 1:11 verse – “Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.” – Maktesh is defined from the Hebrew as “a place in Jerusalem.” God uses many names of cities, towns, etc. to portray the spiritual city of believers, i.e. God’s elect. The merchant people are cut down, Zephaniah tells us. These merchant people are those who bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Please see the “Merchants of the Earth” studies). Zephaniah 1:11 tells us that “all they that bear silver are cut off. What is God’s true definition of silver? It is none other than God’s holy Word.
Psalms 12:6 – The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Proverbs 10:20 – ¶The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.
In addition: “The Tabernacle in the wilderness had a foundation made of pure silver. The entire building rested on blocks of silver, a total five tons. The silver foundation speaks of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on which our entire redemption depends on. Silver becomes in the Bible a symbol and a figure of the price of atonement.”
“Howl” is used many times in scripture to denote sorrow for the cutting off of God’s Word.
Isaiah 23:14 – Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.
<The ships of Tarshish, in all probability, portray the merchants who carry God’s Word. Please see – ‘The Merchants of the Earth’ studies.
Isaiah 15:3 – In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.
Ezekiel 30:1-3 –
1 – ¶The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2 – Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Howl ye, Woe worth the day!
3 – For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.
<Many passages of Scripture that use the word howl are in reference to the Day of the Lord and also the cutting off of the Gospel of Christ, which are basically synonymous in scripture.>
Joel 1:5 – Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
The Gospel is Cut Off
Multitudes of “church goers” today would never believe that God speaks of a time wherein His Word will be cut off. It is a time of great spiritual drought, and is quite biblical. The new wine is cut off from your mouth! What is this if not the silencing of God’s Word? Much of Scripture speaks of it. Yes, there were times past where God’s Word was lessened or even cut off in particular regions of the world; however the ultimate drought that Scripture speaks of is the time wherein Christ warns of – “then shall be great tribulation.” This is immediately preceding the Second Coming.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 –
17 – Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 – Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Isaiah 1:21-23 –
21 – ¶How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
<Is the literal city of Jerusalem God’s faithful city? No it is not, and neither is any city of the earth. God’s ultimate representation on this earth is the corporate church of Jesus Christ. This, however, is merely the external shell, consisting of both believers and non-believes. As physical Israel of old came into judgment, likewise the spiritual Israel (today’s organized churches) will come into judgment and God will cast them off, sparing only His true elect. The once faithful city will become the harlot, as we read of in Revelation chapter eighteen. The true merchants of this city will weep and howl for her judgment, Revelation 18:15, 19.>
22 – Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
<Recall that we spoke of silver earlier as being symbolic for the Word of God? God tells us here that the silver has become dross. What is dross? It is defined as the impurities of silver separated from the one in the process of melting, (the American Heritage Dictionary.)>
… “Thy wine mixed with water.” This is a watering down of God’s Word, precisely as we are witnessing today. The end result is the once faithful city becoming an harlot. Howl ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, it is cut off from your mouth! This is a pertinent part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Tell ye your children of it!”