"The Twelve"

Joel means "Yahweh is God," and his message urges an understanding of the holiness of God. The title given to this book is The Coming of the Day of the Lord. "This prophetic book is brief, but powerful; controversial, but important. Although it has only three short chapters, it provides a glimpse of an important set of future events encompassed by the 'Day of the Lord'.” [1]

JOEL (810-795 BC) "Yahweh is God"

Joel is a preacher of repentance. He is one of the earliest of all the prophets (pre-dates Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, etc.)! The oracle mentions: Phoenicia, Philistia, Egypt, and Edom (prominent in the 9th century BC and not later). He prophecies during the reign of Joash and wrote to the southern kingdom.


Background and Setting

ESV Joel 1:3 Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. (cf. Ex 10:2, 6)

“Locusts have rightly been called ‘the incarnation of hunger’. They have been known to devour over an area of almost ninety miles every green herb and every blade of grass, so that the ground gave the appearance of having been scorched by fire. . . . A locust plague was one of the most severe evils to come upon the ancient world” –Elwell
“Locusts are well known for their amazing ability to form gigantic swarms than can wreak devastation on a scale almost beyond imagination, and highly reliable eyewitness accounts of modern plagues border on the incredible.” —VanGemeren

God’s judgment against Egypt

ESV Exodus 10:14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again.

ESV Psalm 78:46 He gave their crops to the destroying locust and the fruit of their labor to the locust.

ESV Psalm 105:34 He spoke, and the locusts came, young locusts without number,

ESV Deuteronomy 28:38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground.

ESV 1 Kings 8:37 "If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemy besieges them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house,

They are experiencing the judgments of (importance of Torah):

(locust plague, a precursor to something even worse! → exile → “the Day of the LORD”)

The book looks back to a recent locust plague and the decimated land of Judah for the purpose of illustrating a far more terrifying decimation.

It is an appeal to repent in light of the holiness of God. The repeated warnings of coming judgment are always an expression of grace! Through the prophet, God was forewarning, beckoning, beseeching, calling, pleading, urging, compellingfor the purpose of stimulating repentance:

  • Reality of God’s holiness
  • Severity of sin’s offense
  • Glory of God
  • Blessed hope of God’s mercy

Chapter Summaries

Ch. 1: Devastation by locusts; The proclamation that the day of the Lord is near; Starvation & drought

Ch. 2: The Day of the Lord is coming; A call to rend hearts and return to God; Promise of deliverance

Ch. 3: Prophecies of judgment against the nations; Yahweh will be known in Zion and Judah will blessed

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