J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
We have no information respecting Joel except such as is derived from the book which he has left us. He was specially a prophet to Judah and the man is lost in the ministry and message he delivers. He was a native of the Southern Kingdom and was not a priest, 1. 13; 2. 17. He has been called the Pioneer of The Prophets.
Name. His name means “Jehovah is God” and certainly characterises the message he gives in this book. His mission was to reveal that Jehovah was the Governor of nature and of nations. The substance of his message was the day of the Lord. Local things are used to teach “last things”, a day teaches of “the day”. His prophecy consists of one utterance, in and to Judah.
Date. He probably prophesied in the early days of Joash, B.C. 870-865. The date is principally determined by internal evidence. There are no distinct references made to the Assyrian or Babylonian invasions, B.C. 721-586. The Syrians are not mentioned. The enemies mentioned are the Philistines, Phoenicians, Edomites and the Egyptians, 3. 4, 19. Idolatry is not mentioned and the Temple worship is satisfactory, cf. 2 Kings 11. 17; 12. 2; 2 Chron. 20. Note his allusions to the centre of public worship which was at Jerusalem, 1. 9, 13, 14; 2. 15.
The purpose is both to warn and encourage. The first section closing at chapter 2. 17 deals with the calamity, the plague of locusts and a call to repentance. The second part from chapter 2. 18 is Jehovah’s response to repentance, the coming Spirit, the conquered nations and the comfort of God’s presence, 3. 21.
- Things present. Revelation and desolation, ch. 1.
- The Call to Attention, 1-3. Opportunity; Capacity, 2; Responsibility, 3.
- The Call to Contemplation, 4-12. The stripped land, 4, 10; The sobbing drunkards, 5; The strangers’ invasion, 6; The stricken wife, 8; The spiritual poverty, 9; The smitten husbandmen, 10-12.
- The Call to Lamentation, 13-20. The Lord’s messenger, 13; The Lord’s message, 14; The Lord’s meaning, 15-16; The Lord’s method, 17-20.
- Things imminent. Application and interpretation,
- The Approaching Day, 1-2. The appeal and anticipation, 1; The amazement, 2.
- The Awful Devastation, 3-10. Consuming, 3; Conquering, 4-5; Confident, 6-8; Calamities, 10.
- The Appealing Lord, 11-17. Intervention, 11; Contrition, 12; Confession, 13; Restoration, 14; Preparation, 15-17.
- The Assuring Word, 18-27. The divine pity, 18; Promise, 19; Power, 20; The divine pleasure, 21; Provision, 22, 24, 26; The divine promise, 23; The divine presence, 27-
- The Amazing Spirit, 28-29. The Spirit experienced, 28; The signs expressed, 29.
- Things distant. Restoration and vindication, 2.30 to 3. 21.
- The Judgment of the Nations, 2. 30 - 3. 8; cf. Matt. 25. 31-46. Reversal of estimates, 3. 1; Righteous judgment, 3. 2-3; Retribution on nations, 3. 4-8.
- The Justice of Jehovah, 9-16. The announcement of war, 9-10; The assembling nations, 11-12; The awful judgment, 13-16; The alluring mercy, 16 (end).
- The Joy of Judah, 17-21. By the knowledge of Jehovah, 17; By the blessing of Jehovah, 18; By desolation from Jehovah, 19; The salvation from Jehovah, 20; The recognition of Jehovah, 21.
1. Chapter one gives the greatest description in alfliterature of locust devastation. “The locust presents a combination of terrors, for it resembles a horse in its head, an elephant in its eyes, a bull in its neck, a stag in its horns, a lion in its breast, a scorpion in its belly, an eagle in its wings, a camel in its thighs, an ostrich in its feet, and finally a serpent in its tail”.
2. Here is the first intimation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, 2. 28, 29.
3. Joel prophesies the scattering of Jews over all the face of the earth and their final restoration, 3. 1-2.
4. Some authorities see in 1. 4, four species of locust, described as (i) the gnawing locust, (ii) the swarming locust, (iii) the licking locust, and (iv) the ravaging locust. Are they figurative of four great empires that have rendered the land of Palestine desolate, namely Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome?
5. Notice the desolation of Egypt and Edom, 3. 19, and the contented nation of Israel, 3. 20-21.
For Your Meditation
1. A rent heart, 2. 13—genuine repentance; A rent veil, Matt. 27. 51—because of redemption; a rent heaven, Isa. 64. 1—showers of refreshing.
2. Trace the expression “The Lord your God” and its seven connections.
3. The things that God will do and will be to Israel. The many expressions “I will”.
4. Compare and contrast with Acts 2 what is said about the outpouring of the Spirit.
5. The Day of Jehovah, an expression that occurs five times in this short book of seventy three verses. Look these up and collect other references in the Minor Prophets. The expression refers to that lengthened period which will follow the coming of the Lord for the Church, when God will deal in judgment with the earth preparatory to the introduction of the new heavens and the new earth. Its N.T. references suggest its coming will be sudden, 1 Thess. 5. 2, preceded by apostasy, 2 Thess. 2. 3, that it will be great and notable, Acts 2. 20, a time of judgment, Matt. 10. 15, 11. 22, 24; 12. 36, involving the recompensing of men and angels, Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2. 9; 3. 7. Joel reminds us that it will be ushered in by fearful judgments, 2. 1-11, then followed later by a time of rich blessing and Israel’s restoration, 2. 25-29; Zeph. 3.11-17, the enjoyment of the presence of Jehovah among His people, Joel 3. 17-21 and universal peace, Micah 4. 5. Read Amos. 5- 18-20; Obadiah 15; Zeph. 1. 7, 14; Zech. 14. 1; Mal. 4. 5. The visitation of locusts and drought in Joel’s day was a forecast of that final “day” so often mentioned in the Prophets.
Compare the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem, Joel 3. 1, with Isa. 11. 10-12; Ezek. 37. 21-28; Jer. 23. 5-8; Acts 15. 14-17: the judgment of the nations, Joel 3. 2-14 with Matt. 25. 31-46 and Rev. 18. 14-24: the shaking of heaven and earth, Joel 3. 15-16, and Isa. 24. 18-20.