Nov. 16. Joel Warns and Exhorts

Joel 1:1-3:21

Nothing is known about the prophet Joel except his name and his father’s name. It is likely that his prophecy was written sometime after Judah’s return from Babylonian exile. Admonitions were addressed to priests instead of directly to kings as other prophets had spoken. The prophet began by describing a horrific scene of destruction and hunger due to a plague of locusts that had destroyed their crops and pastures. There was no grain even for the temple worship. In the face of their devastation, Joel called for fasting and an assembly to cry out to the Lord for relief.

The swarms of locusts were likened to an invading army poised to destroy the enemy. Joel also compared their destruction to the day of the Lord when sinners will be destroyed. The prophet called for repentance and a return to the Lord. True repentance brings mercy and forgiveness from a just and loving God. Joel looked forward a few hundred years to a day in which God’s Spirit would be poured out upon those who would fully trust in Him. (Peter referred to this Scripture as he preached the first gospel sermon that resulted in the establishment of the Lord’s church in Acts 2:14-21.)

Israel was pictured as a weak people struggling economically among stronger wicked nations. They even sold their children into slavery. As they faced those dire circumstances, they remained God’s chosen ones. He allowed them to suffer because of their sins, but in the end those who oppressed Judah paid the price for their misdeeds. Joel pictured the final restoration of Judah and Jerusalem in terms of material blessings which are temporary. However, the final restoration of His people in the final judgment will be a spiritual home with Him forever in heaven.