Joel

Joel

ג'ואל

Reading 0,11 - 3 Chapters - 73 verses - 2,034 words

Vital Statistics

Author

The prophet Joel cannot be identified with any of the 12 other figures in the OT who have the same name. He is not mentioned outside the books of Joel and (Acts 2:16). The non-Biblical legends about him are unconvincing. His father, Pethuel (1:1), is also unknown. Judging from his concern with Judah and Jerusalem (2:32; 3:1,6,8,16-20), it seems likely that Joel lived in that area.

Date

The book contains no references to datable historical events. Many interpreters date it somewhere between the late seventh and early fifth centuries B.C. In any case, its message is not significantly affected by its dating.

The book of Joel has striking linguistic parallels to the language of Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Some scholars maintain that the prophets borrowed phrases from one another; others hold that they drew more or less from the religious literary traditions that they and their readers shared in common - liturgical and otherwise.

Theological Message

Joel sees the massive locust plague and severe drought devastating Judah as a harbinger of the "great and dreadful day of the Lord (2:31). (The locusts he mentions in 1:4; 2:25 are best understood as real insects, not as allegorical representations of the Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks and Romans, as held by some interpreters.) Confronted with this crisis he calls on everyone to repent: old and young (1:2-3), drunkards (1:5), farmers (1:11) and priests (1:13). He describes the locusts as the Lord's army and sees in their coming a reminder that the day of the Lord is near. He does not voice the popular notion that the day will be one of judgment on the nations but deliverance and blessing for Israel. Instead - with Isaiah (2:20-21), Jeremiah (4:5-9), Amos (5:18-20) and Zephaniah (1:7-18) - he describes the day as one of punishment of unfaithful Israel as well. Restoration and blessing will come only after judgment and repentance.

Joel Interpretive Challenges

It is preferable to view chap. 1 as describing an actual invasion of locusts that devastated the Land. In chap. 2, a new level of description meets the interpreter. Here the prophet is projecting something beyond the locust plague of chap. 1, elevating the level of description to new heights, with increased intensity that is focused on the plague and the immediate necessity for true repentance. The prophet’s choice of similes, such as “have the appearance of horses” (2:4), and “ like warriors” (2:7), suggests that he is still using the actual locusts to illustrate an invasion which can only be the massive overtaking of the final Day of the Lord.

A second issue confronting the interpreter is Peter’s quotation from Joel 2:28-32 in Ac 2:16-21. Some have viewed the phenomena of Ac 2 and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as the fulfillment of the Joel passage, while others have reserved its fulfillment to the final Day of the Lord only— but clearly Joel is referring to the final terrible Day of the Lord. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, was not a fulfillment, but a preview and sample of the Spirit’s power and work to be released fully and finally in the Messiah’s kingdom after the Day of the Lord.

Outline

I. Title (1:1)

II. Judah Experiences a Foretaste of the Day of the Lord (1:2-2:17)

III. Judah is Assured of Salvation in the Day lo the Lord (2:18-3:21)

A. A Call to Mourning and Prayer (1:2-4)

B. The Announcement of the Day of the Lord (1:15-2:11)

C. A Call to Repentance and Prayer (2:12-17)

A. The Lord’s Restoration of Judah (2:18-27)

B. The Lord’s REnewal of His People (2:28-32)

C. The Coming of the Day of the Lord (ch.3)

    1. The nations judged (3:1-6)

    2. God’s people blessed (3:17-21)

Joel Horizontal

God's character in Joel

  1. God is accessible - 2:12

  2. God is longsuffering - 2:13

  3. God is merciful - 2:13

  4. God is wrathful - 2:12-14

Christ in Joel

Joel's prophecy described God pouring out His Spirit on the people so that one day, "You sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (2:28-32). Peter quotes from this passages in Joel as the prophecy previewed and sampled at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21). The final fulfillment of Joel's prophecy will come in the millennial kingdom of Christ when God's Spirit is poured out on all creation.

Notes