THE BOOK OF JOEL
Joel, whose message was to the people of Judah, is believed to have ministered in the reign of King Joash. This would make him a contemporary of Elisha, and it is possible that in his youth he also knew Elijah. Due to the plague of insects, which was a token of Divine chastening, occasion was given for clear reference to the coming “day of the Lord” in its two aspects of judgment on the Gentiles, and future blessing for Israel.
The book can be divided into three chief parts:
1. Ch.1. The desolation of the land by a plague of insects.
2. Chs.2:1 to 3:8. The day of the Lord in its various aspects.
3. Ch. 3:9-21. Preparation for and consummation of the day of the Lord.
THE DESOLATION OF THE LAND BY A PLAGUE OF INSECTS.
Because of Israel’s position as the earthly people of God, much that affected them nationally was the direct result of their behavior, good or bad. Due to their failure to walk humbly with God a plague of insects was allowed to visit the land, and eat up everything green as they moved along. Under the smart of such a judgment the people were ready to listen to any comment on that judgment. The prophet Joel was moved by God to liken it to the nation which would invade the land, Ch. 1:6, and advised that a solemn assembly be called, and that the people cry unto the Lord their God, vs. 13-14. The prophet then made a larger application of same, v.15, and likened it to the “day of the Lord” when the land would be overrun with enemies, and great destruction would result from the judgment of the Almighty.
THE DAY OF THE LORD IN ITS VARIOUS ASPECTS.
The land of Palestine is to be the scene of the greatest war this world has ever known, Ch..2:1-2. An invading army, equipped for the most modern mechanized form of warfare, will move through the land, and nothing shall be able to stand before it, vs. 4-5, 7-8, 10. Then, when it would seem that all hope is lost, a great army shall descend out of heaven, v.11 and Revelation 19:11-15, and by the destructive power of the Lord’s voice shall overthrow the invader, so that his defeat will be absolute and complete. In view of the mercy of God so clearly foretold by the prophet, he urges the people unto repentance, vs. 12-18, and gives God’s answer beforehand, that He will drive off the northern army, v.20, so that everyone should eat in plenty and thereafter never be ashamed, vs. 24-26. At the same time there will be an outpouring of the Spirit, and signs and wonders in the heavens and in the earth, which shall usher in the great and terrible day of the Lord.
All of the foregoing has a primary application to Israel. There is, however, liberty to apply some of it to the church. When God poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost the apostle quoted from Joel 2:28 to the first half of v.32. For this age, which in its entirety is spoken of as the “last days” there is an outpouring of the Spirit, and when the end of the age draws near, there will be signs in the heaven above and in the earth beneath.
In Ch. 3:1-2, we are told of the future re-gathering of the remnant of Judah, and the invasion of the land by the armies of the nations. This will bring about the battle of Armageddon.
PREPARATION FOR THE CONSUMMATION OF THE DAY OF THE LORD.
The prophet Joel tells of how the world will feverishly arm itself for the final struggle, Ch.3:9-10. Plowshares are to be made into swords and pruning hooks into spears. Then the great march will begin and the nations shall assemble their armies in the valley of Jehoshaphat, vs. 11-12. The sun and moon shall be darkened, and the Lord shall roar out of Zion, vs.15-16. Following the defeat of the Gentile armies, Judah will be restored and Jerusalem shall continue from generation to generation, v.20. This will all be brought about by a special cleansing God will give to His people, and the Lord Himself shall dwell in their midst to meet their every need.