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Old Testament Overview - Joel

Repent, for the Day of the Lord is near.

Nothing else is known about Joel, except that he is the son of Pethuel and the writer of this book.  Because Joel's prophecies are directed toward Judah and Jerusalem, we can be confident that Joel was a prophet of Judah. See 1:9, 2:15, 23, 32, 3:1, 17, 20  Some Bible scholars believe that he is the earliest writing prophet because there is no mention of the Assyrians in the book. See 3:4-7, 19

Key EventsA locust invasion (1:1-20)  (This locust invasion helped Joel's contemporaries to understand what it will be like for those who will be there on the Day of the Lord.)  (1) The locusts transform Israel from a fruitful land to a wasteland. (1:1-12)  (Nothing can compare to the thorough destructiveness of the locusts. 1:1-4)  ("The four names in verse 4, meaning literally, the gnawer, the swarmer or multiplier, the licker, and the consumer or the devourer have been taken to mean either four types of locusts or four stages of growth in the case of one locust . . . Neither view is tenable, for the prophet uses the common word for locust ('arbeh) and then gives four poetic equivalents.  What the prophet means to convey is this: in the successive swarms of locusts what one portion of them left, the portion devoured." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets.)  ("Weep," "drunkards" for the grapes for your wine are gone. 1:5-7)  (The lion-like teeth of the locusts have chewed them up.)  (2) Grieve like a virgin who mourns after the death of her bridegroom. (1:8-12)  (Mourn priests, for there is no longer any grain or wine for your drink and grain offerings.)  (Notice that all the words Joel uses 1:9-12 describe destruction.)  (3) Humble yourselves, leaders of Judah in sackcloth and fasting, and cry out to God. (1:13-14)  (Because of the judgment of God on them, they should cry out to God for mercy.)  (When the Judgment of God falls on the world in the last days, men will be so hardened that they will not turn from the sin. See Rev. 9:20-21, 16:8-11(4) For the Day of the Lord is near! (1:15-20)  (It will be a day when plants, water, and joy will all dry up.)  (The Day of the Lord is a major theme of the Bible. See Isa. 2:12, 13:6-13; Jer. 30:7-8, 46:10; Ezek. 7:19, 13:5, 30:3; Joel 2:1, 11, 31, 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14; Zech. 14:1-3; Mal. 4:5; Acts 2:20; I Thess. 5:2; II Thess. 2:2; II Pet. 3:10)  ("It is reserved to denote only the most extraordinary visitations of Divine judgment."    J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book.

The locust invasion describes the future terror of the Day of the Lord (2:1-3:21)  (Joes uses the locust invasion to produce a greater fear of the coming final Day of the Lord.)  (1) Blow the trumpet in Zion for the Day of the Lord is coming. (2:1-2)  (Sound the alarm for the greatest judgment of God is coming. See Numb. 10:1-10 for God's instructions about the blowing of the trumpets.(2) This army will be destructive, relentless, and organized in the same manner as the invading locusts. (2:3-11)  (In 2:1-2, Joel describes an army who on the Day of the Lord will be greater than any army before it or after it; and then in 2:3-11, he shifts again to the locust invasion to describe what it will be like—it will be as thorough at destruction as an army of locusts.)  (Some scholars believe that these verses are describing the Assyrian or the Babylonian invasions.  Baxter, though, believes that chapter 2 is describing a still greater invasion.)  (The invasion here is a locust invasion, for all the destruction is agricultural. 2:3  The locusts sneak in like thieves, 2:9.  They are like horsemen and soldiers, so they are not horsemen and soldiers. 2:4, 7  Also, the defeat described in 2:20 sounds like the way a locust invasion often ends—with the locusts committing mass suicide by driving themselves into a large body of water.)  (Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that the Day of the Lord invasion that is being described here is a locust invasion.  Rather, it will be like a locust invasion.  The message is: If they cannot bear the locust invasion, how will they bear the greater invasion—a human invasion that is like a locust invasion, but on a much greater scale.)  (Locusts are used by God a number of times to deliver His judgment. See Exod. 10:12-15; Deut. 28:38-42; and I Kings 8:37  But, they are also used to symbolize God's judgment. See Rev. 9:1-12)    (2:7-8 and Prov. 30:25-27 are parallel passages.)  (3) therefore, repent and turn to God.  Gather all the people and weep before God. (2:12-17)  (The purpose of Joel's prediction of the terror of the Day of the Lord is to drive Judah to its knees in repentance. "'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.'" 2:12)  (Israel will repent when this future invasion takes place. See Zech. 12:10-13)  (Notice Joel's hope that God will respond with pity to genuine repentance. See Ps. 51:16-17 and James 4:4-6(4) Then, the Lord will have pity and restore your land to fruitfulness and drive your enemy into the seas. (2:18-27)  (God will reverse what the locusts did and the land will be transformed from a wasteland to a fruitful land. See especially 2:25(5) After this, the Lord will pour out His Spirit on "all people." (2:28-29)  (God will "pour out" His Spirit like water is poured out.)  (This pouring out of God's Spirit will result in people receiving "dreams" and "visions." See also Isa. 32:15, 44:3; Ezek. 36:26, 37:14, 39:29; Zech 12:10; and Acts 2:17-21(6) And God will judge Israel's enemies. (2:30-3:17)  (Preceding the Day of the Lord, there will be signs in the heavens. 2:30-31)  (The Pre-Wrath view of the timing of the rapture of the church sees the sun turning to darkness immediately preceding the wrath of God.  This view of the timing of the rapture believes that the rapture will come after the sun turns dark and just before the wrath of God. See I Thess. 4;13-17; I Cor. 15:51-53; Matt. 24:29-31  Compare 2:30-31 to 2:10, 3:15; Matt. 24:29; Isa. 3:9-10, 34:4; Rev. 6:12-13) (At that time, there will be deliverance for all who call on the name of the Lord. 2:32 See Jer. 33:3; Acts 2:21)  (Also, when Judah and Jerusalem are restored, God will gather the nations into the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" for judgment. 3:1-3)  (According to Christian tradition, the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" is the Kidron Valley which is the valley immediately to the east of Jerusalem. See also 3:14; Isa. 66:18; Zech. 12:2-9, 14:1-15; Ezek 38 and 39)  (At this time, Phoenicia—Tyre and Sidon—and Philistia will receive back what they have done to Israel. 3:4-8 See II Chron. 21:16-17 Compare the poetic justice toward Phoenicia and Philistia with the poetic justice toward Edom in Obadiah.)  (At that time, the nations will gather in battle against Israel and advance into the "Valley of Jehosophat." 3:9-12a)  (For a description of the battle of Armageddon, see Isa. 29:1-8; Jer. 30:7; Zech. 12:1-9, 14:1-5; Rev. 16:16, 19:11-21)  (Notice, that at this time even the weak will become bold and join those who attack Israel. 3;10)  (Compare with Jehoshaphat's victory in II Chron. 20:1-30.  That is undoubtedly why Joel call this place of judgment the "Valley of Jehoshaphat.  Compare 3:10 and Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3—they are opposites.)  (But in the "Valley of Jehoshaphat," rather than be victorious against Israel, they will receive God's judgment. 3:12-16)  (There God will harvest man's wickedness. 3:12-14 Compare 3:13 and Rev. 14:14-20, and also Jer. 51:33 and Isa. 63:1-4)  (The sun and moon will be darkened and God will roar out in judgment against the nations. 3:14-16 Compare 3:14 and 2:10; Matt. 24:29; Isa. 13:9-10, 34:4; Rev. 6:12-13  Compare 3:16 and Amos 1:2)  (Then, all will know that God is with Israel, and never again will foreigners invade her. 3:17)  (7) After the day of judgment, there will be a day of blessing. (3:18-21)  (At that time, Israel will overflow with God's blessing.  But Egypt and Edom will be desolate due to their sins toward Judah. Compare 3:18 and Amos 9:13)  ("Zion" is the southeast hill in Jerusalem that in prophecy symbolizes God presence and ultimately points to God's holy rule in the New Jerusalem. See Ps. 2:6, 14:7, 53:6, 110:2; Isa. 4:2-5)  (The "valley of acacias," which is known for being arid and dry will become well-watered.)

Key Verses: 2:12-13, 25, 28-29, 30-32, 33, 3;1-2, 9-16, 17-21

Key Teachings:  The Day of the Lord (1:1-12, 2:1-11, 28-32, 3:1-16, 17-21)  A call for repentance to avoid God's judgment (2:12-17)

Old Testament Overview Studies

Old Testament Overview
Table of Contents
Old Testament Overview Outline
Old Testament Overview Genesis
Old Testament Overview Exodus to Deuteronomy
Old Testament Overview Furniture of the Tabernacle
Old Testament Overview Dress of Priests and High Priest
Old Testament Overview Dress of High Priest
Old Testament Overview Canaan: What Can it Teach Us?
Old Testament Overview Israel, God's Kingdom
Old Testament Overview Moses—Failure the Backdoor to Success
Old Testament Overview The Mosaic Covenant
Old Testament Overview The Ten Commandments
Old Testament Overview The Offerings
Old Testament Overview Uncleanness
Old Testament Overview The Priesthood
Old Testament Overview The Festivals
Old Testament Overview The Nazirite Vow
Old Testament Overview Joshua to Ruth
Old Testament Overview Prophecies of the Redeemer—Genesis to Ruth
Old Testament Overview I and II Samuel
Old Testament Overview Saul and David Compared
Old Testament Overview Jonathan and David Compared
Old Testament Overview The Davidic Covenant
Old Testament Overview I And II Kings
Old Testament Overview Israel's and Judah's Kings
Old Testament Overview Divided Kings who Divided
Old Testament Overview Criticisms of God's Actions in the Old Testament
Old Testament Overview Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Old Testament Overview Ruth and Esther Compared
Old Testament Overview Job to Song of Solomon
Old Testament Overview Proverbs: Wise Man or Fool?
Old Testament Overview Isaiah
Old Testament Overview Jeremiah
Old Testament Overview Daniel
Old Testament Overview Hosea
Old Testament Overview Joel
Old Testament Overview Amos
Old Testament Overview Obadiah
Old Testament Overview Jonah
Old Testament Overview Micah
Old Testament Overview Nahum
Old Testament Overview Habakkuk
Old Testament Overview Zephaniah
Old Testament Overview Haggai
Old Testament Overview Zechariah
Old Testament Overview Malachi