THE DAY OF THE LORD
-- JOEL ONE --
Joel is called the Pentecost Prophet because Peter quoted his prophecy on that occasion. (Acts 2:28-32) The book of Joel has been called a "literary gem." It is very fluent and polished in style. The name Joel means "Jehovah is God." About twelve men in the Old Testament are named Joel. This Joel was only identified as "Joel the son of Pethuel." Many of the prophetic books are dated by the names of kings or historical events that are mentioned. This is not the case with Joel. King's reigns or major historical events are not mentioned. Therefore an exact date for the book would be impossible.
Joel was from the Southern kingdom of Judah. He warned Judah of the coming of the "day of the Lord." (Joel 1:15) The background of his book is a very serious locust plague. Joel considered this plague as a warning from God. It was a warning that if the people did not repent the "day of the Lord" would bring even more destruction. In the Bible the expression "the day of the Lord" relates to the doctrine of God's judgment. The day of the Lord came for nations when they received the punishment that was due because of sin. The final day of the Lord will come at Judgment. Those that died in sin can only say, "Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." (Joel 1:15)
A terrible plague of locust -- Joel 1:1-7: The message of this book was an inspired message. Observe the expression, "The word of the LORD that came to Joel." Joel describes a locust plague in that present day or in some following days that would be unlike any plague seen by old or young. They were to spread the information about the seriousness of "the day of the Lord." "Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation." (Joel 1:3) The Lord afflicted the land with literal pests. Joel wrote, "That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten." (Joel 1:4)
The locusts were a chastisement of the Lord. If the people failed to repent when the locust came God would punish them by the hand of a foreign army. These locusts were a type of the invading army that God would release upon the land. The locust and the army would take away the wealth of the land and bring miserable punishment upon the people because of their rebellion against God. The wine drinkers and alcoholics will be affected by the plague because they will not be able to get their drug of choice. The locust and the invading army would render the fruit-bearing plants barren. Sin brings terrible consequences.
A call to repentance -- Joel 1:8-13: The nation of Judah would suffer severe anguish. The farmers planted and tended his crops but it was all in vain. The crops were destroyed by the locust and by the army before the harvest. The people would mourn like a virgin for the husband of her youth. The picture is that of a young woman that was put away by her husband. She was then forced to live as a virgin. She would be girded with sackcloth and would be in a state of mourning. The fulfillment of this would be when Judah was sent away from God and made to live in a strange land.
The destruction would be so great in the land that the priest in the Temple would not have enough grain or drink offering to give to God. The land faced total devastation. They needed God help but they could not even offer the sacrifices He required. The harvest was a complete loss. The wheat, barley, figs, vines, apples, pomegranates, and palms were all gone. If the people should wonder what they could do to change their situation the only answer was that they must "Repent." The repentance that God desired is pictured in these words, "Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God." (Joel 1:13) The only thing that they can do was to put on sackcloth and cry out to God in repentance.
The day of the Lord -- Joel 1:14-17: Joel encouraged the priest to call for a fast all across the land. It was time for the entire nation to repent. The Law of Moses did not require a regular fast. However the people were required to fast on certain occasions. The season of fasting that God called for here was to encourage respect and love for God. This solemn assembly was to take place in the Temple. It was to be a time of scriptural worship and prayer to God. They were to cry to the Lord because of how sinful the nation had become. The "Day of the Lord" was at hand. Judah would now face God's judgment or the "destruction of the Almighty."
The devastation would be so great in the land that there would be a lack food and necessary supplies. Their being in the House of God would no longer be a time of joy and gladness. Complete devastation of the land was described in the words, "The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered." (Joel 1:17) The cause of this misery was the evil conduct of the Jewish nation.
Crying unto the Lord -- Joel 1:18-20: The devastation was great in the land. Joel wrote, "How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate." (Joel 1:18) Even the animals that could have been used as sacrifices to God were suffering and dying. The priest and the people must fast and pray in repentance before God. There was no other hope for the nation. It is still true, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
As a prophet Joel cried out to God to intercede for the people and the land. The people were to fast and the animals are forced to fast because there is nothing for them to eat or drink. The locusts like a fire have destroyed everything. Everyone and everything had been touched by the "Day of the Lord." God's judgment had come on that Land and on that people.
Today is the day when we should seriously consider God's judgment against the wicked. Will you not receive Christ as your Lord and Savior this day? To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized in order to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) After baptism worship and serve God according to His truth!