The Prophet Series: Joel
The Prophet Series: Joel
Date of Writing
Joel is difficult to date because unlike most prophetic books, no information is given in the opening lines that establish time limits. It is impossible to dogmatically date the book. Joel may be a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea (ninth century B.C.) or he may have prophesied after the captivity (postexilic) as many point to his mention of Israel being scattered among the nations (3:2).
The major points of the Book of Joel are that God is in control of all world events and so is in control of every life within it; that God responds to repentance; that God is most certainly going to finally judge Israel and the kingdoms of the world; and that He is also going to faithfully fulfill His covenant to Abraham and therefore to all true Israel.
The theme of the book is the day of the Lord, mentioned five times in this short book. There are many interpretations of “the day of the Lord” and the boundaries of its beginning and end, but in Joel it deals mainly with the Great Tribulation.
The book opens with a locust invasion that occured during Joel’s day that was on a scale never before seen and which would be talked about for generations to come. The locust invasion, a four wave invasion that devoured everything from grain to grapes, was only a precursor to the great invading army that would come during the Tribulation. God used the great locust invasion as a warning and a clear depiction. “If you think this is bad - what’s coming is worse. Repent! Return to Me!”
Whether Joel is prophesying during the 9th century or the 5th, he is warning Israel of a coming destruction that will make the locust invasion look mild. Having the Book of Revelation, we know that this warning still looms over the people, even the diaspora throughout the church as the day draws near. The only deliverance for them, Jew and Gentile, is through Christ. Indeed, the only deliverance from the horrors of the Great Tribulation will be through the Second Coming of Christ.
The book is composed of three short chapters. Please read it.
- An opening appeal
- A call to mourn
The Coming Day of the Lord
- The invincible army of the Tribulation
A renewed call to repentance
- An appeal for a change of heart
- An appeal for a national repentance
Forgiveness and restoration
- The Lord’s gracious promise to fulfill His promise to Abraham
Promise of a glorious future
- Judgment of the nations
- Armageddon Campaign
God controls all events in the world as well as the events in everyone’s lives.
Some think that we are claiming that God is forcing everyone to do what they do. Forcing someone to do a thing is not the same as controlling, especially if you are God and you have omniscience, i.e. you know what everyone is going to do in response to a cause. God caused a massive plague and drought during the time of Joel and the response of each person in Israel was known to Him.
Our individual lives are controlled just the same and without overruling our will to choose. I have often asked God, in fact I did so today, if He would change this and why He allowed that in my life. I even appeal to His power to do so, “This would be so easy for You to do right now.” I guess I’m trying to get my way by flattering Him, but I’m thinking that He saw that coming.
The comforting thing for the believer is that His will be done, and His will is good. On the believer’s end is to be sure that he doesn’t oppose that will, for it will … run him over. We all bear the Lord’s tire tracks on our backs. They are badges of honor if we have learned from them, and nothing to be ashamed of, for as I said, we all bear them, HEB 12:6.
The Remnant and the Judged
There is a remnant in Israel in Joel’s day as there is every day. They are comforted by Joel’s words but also saddened by them. The remnant always has sorrow for his fellow man, and in Israel’s case, for his fellow unbelieving Jew, for he understands God’s purpose for Israel and His love for her. There is an apostasy in Israel in Joel’s day as well, as there is every day, everywhere, and they should be in fear. The great army that the Lord is going to bring into Israel is going to destroy her thoroughly, leaving nothing but a solid wake of destruction that looks like a desolate wilderness left behind.
This is true for the whole world. There is a lot of sadness in this book as there was in Hosea, and (spoiler alert) as there is in all the prophets. Joel calls the land his own. He loves his own as our Lord and the apostle Paul loved the same people. The Lord was a Man of sorrows, says Isaiah, because He was despised and rejected, but not out of despair for His own reputation, rather out of love for His creatures and for His nation Israel. He, more than anyone, knew the consequences of rejecting Him. Through the prophetic gift, Joel knows of the same consequences. Joel would have suffered the same famine with the rest, but his sorrow was not over his empty belly. Notice how he calls Israel “my land.”
For a nation has invaded my land,
Mighty and without number;
Its teeth are the teeth of a lion,
And it has the fangs of a lioness.
All Christians suffer alongside their neighbors when want comes upon them or there is loss to their families. When my brother suffers, I suffer with him. Joel not only prophesied about the judgment of Israel but also of the judgment of the nations, including all anti-Semites. The nations of this world are going to perish. Read and understand and your desire as a witness for Christ will deepen alongside your sorrow for the world’s people.
Let the nations be aroused
And come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat,
For there I will sit to judge
All the surrounding nations.
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, tread, for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The world sleeps. It imagines that all will always go on as it has. Ignorance is the world’s greatest pandemic. The gospel roams from continent to continent. The resurrection of Christ is proclaimed as proven beyond doubt to peoples everywhere in all languages and still they scoff while they hold on to fairy tales of evolution and theories of infinite universes. Professing to be wise, they became fools. Yet, as Joel reveals, their capacity for folly has not yet reached its peak.
The Great Tribulation (the day of the Lord):
According to the prophet, the Tribulation is going to be the worst time the earth has ever seen. God is going to remove His restraining influence, He is going to allow the antichrist to come to power, and He is going to send His angels as both evangelists and carriers of plague and death.
One of the main reasons for the Tribulation is to bring about a worldwide revival. Yet amazingly, this is accomplished in an environment of hell on earth. The rejection of God, generation after generation, by both Jew and Gentile will come to a final judgment. In the intensity of the judgment, even unbelieving man will know that they experience wrath from God Himself.
REV 6:15-17 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"
Man was allowed to form a one-world government, he was allowed to bring his own schemes for meaning and happiness to their highest without the intervention of God the Restrainer, and the Antichrist was able to wield incredible power and influence for his father Satan. The result was war, violence, famine, and death. God then turned the sky to darkness, the moon to blood, and shook the earth. Amazingly, after seeing the result of their folly, personally feeling the wrath of God, and even arriving at the conclusion that it was all from the hand of the God of Israel, the Son of God, they flee from Him rather than believing on Him.
The Great Tribulation openly and conclusively shows us how hard-hearted man can be.
Yet there are also those who are saved. We look at the Great Tribulation with fascination as we behold, standing right beside the screaming man cowering from Jesus in the cleft of a rock, the common man rejoicing in the salvation and glory of the Lamb of God. No matter what comes upon the people of this earth until its end, there is always hope. The recipients of wrath persecute and execute those wonderful and courageous believers who reject the Antichrist, and not even that can stop them from praising the King of kings, the Lamb of God.
REV 7:9-10 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
"Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
Hope is a very good thing.
The Tribulation contains so much to study, and it is a solemn one. It occurs after the Rapture of the church and so no church age saint will experience it. Israel was warned of it thousands of years before its coming by Joel along with other prophets, and each man walking this earth in the deception that Jesus isn’t the Son of God and Savior of the world needs to hear its warning. The kingdoms of the earth, and all of man’s boasts in himself and his ability, are going to come crashing down.
The Victory Party is the Millennial Reign of Christ.
Joel reiterates the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant as all the prophets do. In fact, he ends his book with it. This is great comfort to the remnant in Israel during his life as well as to all the remnant sons of Abraham (and I include Gentile church age believers in this, GAL 3:7).
Then you will know that I am the Lord your God,
Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.
So Jerusalem will be holy,
And strangers will pass through it no more.
And it will come about in that day
That the mountains will drip with sweet wine,
And the hills will flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water;
And a spring will go out from the house of the Lord,
To water the valley of Shittim.
Disaster will be turned to paradise by our Lord at His Second Coming. All of His saints from all ages will be there to witness it - the Faithful and True has been faithful and true to His promise. The world’s idolatry contains nothing for us. The flesh has nothing to offer us. Satan and the kingdom of darkness were defeated outside the walls of Jerusalem two-thousand years ago. In Christ there is nothing but goodness and light and no amount of hatred towards Him can stop it.
MAT 5:14 “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Worship the Lord, all you His saints.
To Him to be the glory forever, and ever,
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries