Repent and be Restored - The Prophecy of Joel - The Minor Prophet's Message
Joel is one of the Minor Prophets. That does not mean he is a “lesser” prophet. It simply means that the twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) had relatively shorter books than the four Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel).
Have you ever really ventured into the Minor Prophets – those books from Hosea to Malachi tucked quietly into the Old Testament? Some of the books seem obscure but each has unique lessons to teach us.
The prophecy of Joel may seem unimportant as it contains only three brief chapters. However, this little book is like an atom bomb—it is not very big, but it sure is potent and powerful.
Little is known about the prophet Joel, whose name means “the Lord is God,” apart from the name of his father, Pethuel (Joel 1:1). No other details of his personal history or background are recorded.
From references in his writings it is presumed that he was an inhabitant of Jerusalem, and he addressed most of his prophecies to Judah.
The date the book of Joel was written has aroused a good deal of discussion among biblical scholars. Most agree that Judah had not descended into the extreme spiritual and moral depravity of its latter days. It appears, therefore, that Joel should be placed among the earlier prophets, likely during the reign of King Joash of Judah (around 835 B.C.). If this is correct, then Joel would have been a contemporary of Hosea and Amos.
A major theme of Joel’s prophecies is his teachings about the Day of the Lord, when God will severely judge His own people and the rest of the world. The prophet states: “Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty” (1:15). The Day of the Lord is not a time to look forward to. The Bible reveals that it will be a period of unprecedented universal upheaval preceding Christ’s return, a time of divine punishment on the nations.
Joel says practically nothing about himself. Unlike many of the other prophets, Joel does not condemn Israel for idolatry. Earlier in their history, at the time Joel was prophesying, idolatry was not the great sin in Israel. Joel will only mention one sin, the sin of drunkenness.
Joel opens his prophecy with a unique description of a literal plague of locusts. Then he uses that plague of locusts to compare with the future judgements which will come upon this earth. The first chapter is a dramatic and literary gem. It is a remarkable passage of Scripture, unlike anything you will find elsewhere in literature.
Finally, Joel’s prophecy contains the very controversial passage in which he mentions the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was referred to by the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28–29).
Joel ends God’s warnings with God’s promises to restore the land of the Israelites and that they would be kept safe because they turned to Him and believed Him. He will forgive all their sins and bless them.
It may be disturbing, but we have to acknowledge that the Bible predicts world-shaking events for the near future. God inspired these prophecies, and they are sure to occur. Yet be ever mindful of the many prophecies that promise hope, joy and happiness as well.
Jesus Christ desires that we “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
The choices we make will determine if this promise becomes a reality in our lives.