Friday, November 11, 2016

The Old Testament Book of Joel (Plague, Prophecy, Restoration and Judgment)


The name Joel means “Jehovah is God”. What a wonderful name for a prophet. Joel did indeed write this book. He was a contemporary of Elijah and Elisha.

There was an actual plague of locusts in the land - read chapter 1 verse 4– the palmerworm, locust, cankerworm and caterpillar are all developmental stages of the desert locust which as recently as 1915 devastated Palestine. All of chapter 1 deals with an actual event.

All of the prophets seem to follow this theme: repent before the judgment. There will be judgment and then there will be an eventual blessing for Israel.


Chapter 2 changes to a prophecy of an invasion of locusts as “the day of the Lord.” That is, the locusts now represent an invading army from the north before the day of Armageddon (this army is described in Revelation 19). Read Joel 2:12 and 13:

12 “Even now,” declares the LORD,
   “return to me with all your heart,
   with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
   “return to me with all your heart,
   with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
 13 Rend your heart
   and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
   for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
   and he relents from sending calamity.

The Lord wants repentance and later offers a promise of deliverance and a promise of the Holy Spirit. In my Bible I underlined the phrase above about the Lord being slow to anger and abounding in love. That’s something we should remember. If you want a model of how a parent should behave, that's it.

Chapter 2 also gives the signs that will precede the 2nd advent and the day of the Lord: verses 28 – 31 say that sons and daughters will prophesy, old men will dream dreams, young men will see visions, there will be wonders in the heavens and on the earth, the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood. There will be an invader and the accompanying description is chilling if you imagine with your 21st century knowledge a picture of what is described in verses 2 – 6:

2 a day of darkness and gloom,
   a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
   a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
   nor ever will be in ages to come.
   a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
   a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
   nor ever will be in ages to come.
 3 Before them fire devours,
   behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
   behind them, a desert waste—
   nothing escapes them.
4 They have the appearance of horses;
   they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
   they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
   like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
 6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
   every face turns pale.

Really try to imagine the noise, the way they “leap” over mountaintops, the way the land is left like a desert waste, nothing escaping . . . But there’s good news. Keep reading the chapter and see how the Lord takes pity, drives the army away and restores the land.

Chapter 3 outlines the restoration of Israel and the judgment of the Gentile nations and the day of the Lord. You’ll find the reasons for the judgment and then its implementation. The final verses of this chapter tell of the blessings for God’s people:

17 “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God,
   dwell in Zion, my holy hill.
Jerusalem will be holy;
   never again will foreigners invade her.
   dwell in Zion, my holy hill.
Jerusalem will be holy;
   never again will foreigners invade her.
 18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
   and the hills will flow with milk;
   all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house
   and will water the valley of acacias.
19 But Egypt will be desolate,
   Edom a desert waste,
because of violence done to the people of Judah,
   in whose land they shed innocent blood.
20 Judah will be inhabited forever
   and Jerusalem through all generations.
21 Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged?
   No, I will not.”
   The LORD dwells in Zion!

Is the Messiah found in the book of Joel? Most definitely. Young’s Literal Translation of Joel 2:23 is:

23And ye sons of Zion, joy and rejoice, In Jehovah your God, For He hath given to you the Teacher for righteousness, And causeth to come down to you a shower, Sprinkling and gathered -- in the beginning.

The Messiah is the Teacher for righteousness. Jesus is that Teacher.