Scripture reading – Joel 1-3
The Book of Joel is another of the minor prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures (not minor in the sense that his ministry was unimportant, but in the brevity of the book that bears his name and fills only three chapters in the Bible).
We know little of Joel except that his ministry was to Judah, the Southern Kingdom ,and he was the “son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1). Even the dates that Joel ministered are unknown, although scholars suggest he might have prophesied during the reign of King Joash (835-796 B.C.).
The Book of Joel described three catastrophic invasions that would befall Judah and serve as symbols of the great and dreadful judgment that would come upon the world in the “Day of the LORD.”
Joel 1 – A Plague of Locusts
From antiquity to our modern day, locusts have been the haunt of mankind, often devasting a nation’s crops and producing a famine that leaves both man and beast starving.
Joel called upon all the people of Judah to acknowledge the plague of locusts was unlike any the nation had faced (1:2-3). Coming in four waves (1:4), the locusts had entered Judah like an invading army, and there was nothing left to feed or sustain the population (1:4-7). Fruit vines, trees, and crops were in ruin, and the “field is wasted…corn is wasted” (1:10). There were no offerings to the LORD, because there was no harvest (1:9).
Why would the LORD allow this frightening hoard of locusts to descend upon His people and leave them starving? Because the LORD in His mercy will use natural disasters to cause a nation to reflect on its sin, repent, and turn to Him.
Joel called upon the “ministers of God, the priests, to stand between the altar and the porch of the Temple. Dressed in “sackcloth,” there were to “howl” all night and sorrow that there were no offerings, because there was no harvest (1:13). If the people did not repent of their sins and turn to God, Joel warned “the day of the LORD [was] at hand, as a destruction from the Almighty” (1:15).
After describing the devastation left in the wake of God’s judgment (1:16-18), Joel cried out to the LORD for the nation,
Joel 1:19-20 – 19 O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. 20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.”
Joel 2 – The Invasion of a Heathen Horde
The second invasion that comes as God’s judgment on Judah was that of a great army, so vast in number, they were like the locusts that had darkened the sky in Joel 1. Once again, the warning of an invading army gave cause for the people to repent of their sins and call upon the LORD (2:1).
We read, “the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand” (2:1). A day described as, “a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (2:2). The enemy will be “a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it” (2:2b).
The enemy of God’s people would spread across the land like a “fire devoureth” (2:3) and the sound will be “like the noise of a flame of fire [that] devoured” (2:5). The judgment of God on “the day of the LORD” will affect the universe, for “the earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (2:10).
Having stated the “day of the LORD is great and very terrible” (2:11), Joel declared the invitation of the LORD saying,
“Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (2:12-13).
Joel prayed for a national revival and called out to God, “Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (2:17b).
Knowing God is gracious and merciful, Joel encouraged the people if they would repent, the LORD would restore the nation, bless the land and “restore to you the years that the locust have eaten…26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (2:18-26).
Joel 3 – Armageddon
Joel prophesied the regathering of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem (3:1), and the Gentile nations gathering against Israel (3:2) in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (3:2, 12). The sins of the nations against Israel are listed (3:3) and God promised he will reward those nations for the evil they have done to His people (3:4). Knowing the oppression and ill treatment Israel and Judah had suffered (3:3-8), the LORD promised to make war against the nations of the earth (3:9-17).
I close observing there are two Gentile nations that are specifically named for destruction in the Day of the LORD: Egypt and Edom (3:19).
From time immemorial, Egypt and Edom (represented among the Arab tribes and nations of our day), have been perpetual enemies of Israel and Judah. Of those nations we read,
“Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah” (3:19).
All of this will surely be done in that day, “for the LORD dwelleth in Zion” (3:21).
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith