“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25. This is a verse that we often quote as Christians when we get astray from the Lord and backslide, we do not experience any blessing. In fact, when this happens, trouble comes into our lives, even sometimes when we make wrong vital decisions, this may have a lasting impact, even though God forgives all sins and wrongdoing when we confess, we may still face discipline. This verse is a comfort that the Lord will restore to us all the lost years of backsliding. However, literally this applies to the nation of Israel when the Lord comes to reign in peace and righteousness and will restore to them the things they had lost.
The book of Joel is short, with three chapters, but contains much instruction in connection with the judgement of Judah, but also the restoration in the future. Joel means ‘Jehovah is God’, and here the Lord (Jehovah) is showing to the people of Judah that He is God indeed. Hosea’s prophecy mainly concerned Israel, but Joel’s prophecy is more in connection with the people of Judah.
If we are to benefit from reading the prophetical books, especially the minor prophets, we need to see Christ, or at least see if there is any reference of this book in the New Testament. Another way of enjoying a book like this is to see if there are any peculiarities, like characteristics that are striking in this book and indicate something of the future reign of Christ. In Joel 2:28-29, the pouring out of God’s spirit is ‘afterwards,’ that is, in the millennial age of blessing when Christ will reign. When the apostle Peter quoted this in Acts 2:18-21, it does not infer a complete fulfilment, but a present application.
The striking characteristic of the book of Joel is that the day of Jehovah is mentioned five times: chapter 1:15; 2:1.11.31; 3:14.
This day is the day of Jehovah’s fierce anger in the Old Testament (Isaiah 13:9; Zephaniah 2:2-3) in which He will stand in the battle against His enemies (Ezekiel 13:5) and fight for the nation of Israel. Often this day is mentioned as at hand (Is. 13:6; Ez. 30:3; Obadiah verse 15; Zeph. 1:7+14). But before the great and dreadful day of Jehovah, Elijah the prophet will be sent (Malachi 4:5; Luke 1:17; Mark 9:11-13).
The day of Jehovah is called the day of the Lord in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thes. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). The day of the Lord indicates the starting point of the period which will start at Christ’s appearing in glory with His saints. He will then come for judgment over the nations and establish His glorious reign of peace (Matt. 25:31ff; Revelation 19:11ff). 2 Thessalonians 2:2ff tells us that the day of the Lord is preceded by the total apostasy (deliberate turning away from the truth of the Word of God and from the Lord Himself) of Christendom (the system of people confessing the name of Christ, especially those who are not true to their faith) and by the revealing of Antichrist, also known as the man of sin. The day of the Lord with its judgment will then come as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2,4; 2 Pet. 3:10).
The day of the Lord is not to be confused with the coming of the Lord to take His saints at the end of the actual time of grace (John 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51ff; 1 Thess. 4:15ff). This is known as the rapture, which is the next event that each true believer awaits and has their hope (1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:11; 22:7.12.20). The day of the Lord will come at least seven years after the rapture. This again, is not just a day, but is an event that will probably be over a number of days, when the Lord will come first to destroy the enemies, and then set up His righteous kingdom and reign over the earth.
The book of Joel has three chapters, so it is divided in three sections:
- Joel 1 describes the plague of locusts and the drought that falls on Judah.
- Joel 2 prophesies about the coming day of the Lord (or the day of Jehovah as is known in the Old Testament), which will be marked beforehand by the ruin of the nation, but then there will be repentance and restoration.
- Joel 3 speaks about the events of the day of Jehovah where the enemies will be judged, those from Israel who will be faithful and will be blessed, and the kingdom of the Lord established.
This outline is adapted from Arend Remmers’ outline of Joel and from Arno Gaebelein’s notes on Joel. These can be found on www.biblecentre.org, a website full of rich spiritual resources for believers of all ages.