Joel said he was the son of Pethuel. Otherwise, he was a native to Jerusalem. He was a pious, godly, courageous preacher who came in the hour of opportunity to deliver a powerful Message from Yahweh to His People. He may have been a priest. His preaching centered generally on repentance of God’s People! Joel is known as The Prophet of Revival or Pentecost. The key Scripture is Joel 2:28-32, because a prophecy is given that God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh…to which, we see come in Acts 2 – and I’m glad for this, because it is because of this whole deal that we have His Spirit within us, and are able to also minister His Spirit unto others.
The burden of Joel’s Message is a certain fearful time of judgment which he mentions five times in three chapters – and refers to “the Day of the Lord.” The Key Verse helps explain it, “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand…” This day is yet to come and will begin with the removal of the Church, as the Lord will judge and interfere in the course of world politics. Joel points out God’s dealing with people as the outcome of their own spiritual condition. Genuine repentance is at the foundation of real revivals, and this was Joel’s burden as he labored to produce revival. He cries out in 2:13, “Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” A rent heart is followed by a rent veil, and access to God and Pentecostal Blessing follow true repentance.
Joel’s message contains the greatest description in literature of a locust devastation, but it also points out the invasion of locusts was only a type of another horrible invasion which was in swarms of heathen invasion in that day and will be further fulfilled in the last days or the days to come. He is scared for what may happen. His heart holds dear the people and his mind is in fear.
The Apostle Peter uses the passage Joel 2:28-32 as a powerful productive sermon on “The Day of Pentecost,” which was fulfilled gloriously in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon those exercising true repentance and faith unto Salvation. We see Peter’s Message in Acts 2:16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The instructions and background of this book
There is a plague, to begin with, that many older people don’t remember. The whole countryside is bare, and Joel tells the people to tell the story of this to their children and grandchildren. Those that have lived greedily are punished, and they will no longer be drunk with wine, because the vineyards have been destroyed. The people are mourning in misery, especially because of the destruction and that the crops have fallen into ruin. Joel reveals the plague was no accident, but that it is a disaster/judgment from God, to which, the priests must now lead the nation in repentance.
Joel now sees a picture of the swarms coming and compares them to an enemy army. The locusts quickly consume farmlands and the people are helpless. The locusts turn toward Jerusalem in attack, and they swarm the cities and through houses. The clouds of insects brought darkness and made it clear that God’s judgment has come. God sent the judgment so that people would come to a genuine repentance. In repenting, God would restore their vineyards, and they will be able to worship Him again with their offerings. A trumpet is blown calling the people to the Temple to fast and mourn. God then accepts the people’s repentance and promises removal of locusts. Good harvests are to follow and will compensate for all losses. This should bring people into the knowledge of God better, and give people hope for a better future.
People naturally come to God in calamity and then turn away when things are great. Joel hopes that one day God will give His Spirit to each person, not just a few that do His tasks or other purposes and special occasions. This locust plague is only a picture of the last great judgment awaiting the people, to which, believers will be saved but sinners perish. Joel then pictures enemy nations gathering for a final attack to Jerusalem, but these nations don’t know that God brought them together, and He is going to execute judgment upon them for their crimes against Judah. The nations are guilty, wickedness is great, and therefore, they must die. The time of its occurrence is also the time of deliverance of Jerusalem, to which God protects His People.
His prophecy of restoration to Israel
Joel 3:16-17, “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”
The Day of Darkness
Joel pictures the swarms of locusts as a person sees them in Jerusalem, and compares them to an enemy army. The swarms are so thick that they look like black clouds as they sweep over the mountains and farmlands. It appears that the swarm comes quickly like an uncontrollable bushfire and devours farmlands to barrenness. The locusts turn their sights to Jerusalem, attacking them in a cloud so thick that it blots out the sun and demonstrates to people that God’s judgment is upon them. This day was a day of darkness upon the people due to so much swarm of locusts.
Lessons Joel tries to express to all people
- Trials and other issues help to turn us back to God and prepare our minds to hear Him.
- Judgment day can mean either fear or glory depending on the attitude of our hearts.
- National calamities call for a nationwide prayer and repentance.
- God has blessings for those that yield their heart unto Him!
- You can either abide in Him or abide in the world – and either one will have to be the choice and not both. We are called to abide in Him only, for this will bring true repentance of heart. God knows us very well and understands the things that we do. He hopes that we will realize it and repent of our wrong.