Bible Studies in the Book of Joel
Joel Chapter 1: Locusts, destruction, near and far.
by I Gordon
 ↩ The Believers Bible Commentary quotes Montague S. Mills who writes:
"Joel was probably the first of the so called writing prophets; so this book provides a valuable insight into the history of prophecy, particularly as it furnishes a framework for the end times which is faithfully followed by all subsequent Scripture. God started a new work with the writing of Joel that of preparing the human race for the end of this temporal era, and thus gave an outline of His total plan. Later prophets, including even our Lord, would only flesh out this outline, but in keeping with the divine nature of true Scripture, never found it necessary to deviate from this, the initial revelation."
 ↩ For some information concerning the date and times, the Believers Bible Commentary states:
'Dates as varied as the tenth century to the fifth century B.C. have been suggested. Joel's position in the "Book of the Twelve," as the Jews call the Minor Prophets, indicates that Jewish tradition considered Joel to be an early book. Its style fits the earlier classical period better than the post-exilic era of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The fact that no king is mentioned may be due to the book having been written when Jehoiada the high priest was regent (in the boyhood years of Joash, who reigned between 835-796 B.C.). Also, Judah's enemies are the Phoenicians and Philistines (Joe 3:4) as well as the Egyptians and Edomites (Joel3:19), not her later foes - the Syrians, Assyrians, and Babylonians... If we accept the early date, Joel spoke to the nation of Judah from the reign of Joash to that of Ahaz. This would make him the earliest of the writing prophets.'
David Guzik writes:
The prophet Joel spoke to the southern kingdom of Judah, and makes no reference to the northern kingdom of Israel. It's hard to pin down his exact time, because he doesn't mention any other kings or prophets. Many scholars date the book of Joel to 835 b.c.... 835 b.c. was a time of turmoil and transition in Judah, at the end of the reign of the Queen Mother Athaliah and the beginning of the reign of King Joash. Athaliah seized power at the sudden death in battle of her son Ahaziah, who only reigned one year (2Ki 8:26, 2K 11:1). Athaliah killed all her son's heirs, except for one who was hidden in the temple and escaped - one-year-old Josiah (2Ki 1:3). Her six-year reign of terror ended in 835 B.C. when the High Priest Jehoiada overthrew Athaliah and set the seven-year-old Josiah on the throne (2Ki 1:4-21). During her six years as queen over Judah, Athaliah reigned wickedly. She was the granddaughter of a wicked king of Israel - making her the daughter or niece to Ahab, one of Israel's worst kings (2Ki 8:26). Athaliah raised her son Ahaziah to reign in the wicked pattern of Ahab, and even brought in Ahab's counsellors to advise him (2Ch 22:2-4). When Ahaziah was killed in battle and she seized power, and set her other sons to do evil, even desecrating the temple and its sacred things (2Ch 24:7). If we are accurate in thinking that Joel prophesied in 835 B.C. then the judgment he described came toward the end of the six-year reign of ungodliness under Queen Athaliah. No wonder God brought a heavy hand on Judah!
 ↩ It should be noted that this doesn't mean that people won't have love in the last days. No, no, no! They will still love. In a separate passage speaking of the last days it specifically mentions the love of people at this time, multiple times. So that's good aye? Let me quote the verse and highlight the abundant love that people will have then:
2Ti 3:1-5 but mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money , boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
 ↩ To explain how devastating this came to be, David Guzik writes: ' In 1915 a devastating plague of locusts covered what is modern-day Israel and Syria. The first swarms came in March, in clouds so thick they blocked out the sun. The female locusts immediately began to lay eggs, 100 at a time. Witnesses say that in one square yard, there were as many as 65,000 to 75,000 eggs. In a few weeks they hatched, and the young locusts resembled large ants. They couldn't fly yet, and got along by hopping. They marched along 400 to 600 feet a day, devouring every speck of vegetation along the way. After two more stages of molting they became adults who could fly - and the devastation continued.'
 ↩ And it can have more than one repeated fulfilment before an ultimate final fulfilment. There is a Jewish method of interpreting the Bible called 'Midrash' by which they would look for repeated patterns of an event to help illuminate its truth. These repeated patterns would be played out over history before an ultimate fulfilment. For more information on this have a read here: http://www.moriel.org/articles/sermons/midrash.htm The locust devastation in Joel can be viewed in this way. The same pattern can be seen in multiple events but its ultimate fulfilment awaits the final battle when Jesus returns as we shall see!
 ↩ Arno Gaebelein in 'The Annotated Bible' writes concerning this : ' But these literal locusts, which fell literally upon the land and destroyed in a short time all vegetation, are symbolic of other agencies which were to be used later in Israel's history to bring judgment upon the land and the people. They are typical of Gentile armies, as stated in the second chapter, where the Lord calls them 'My great army.' Here is unquestionably a prophetic forecast as to the future of the land. From Daniel's prophecy we learn twice that four world powers should subjugate Israel and prey upon the land: Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greco-Macedonia and Rome. Zechariah, also, in one of his night visions, beheld four horns, and these four horns scattered Judah and Jerusalem. We see, therefore, in the locusts, first, the literal locusts which destroyed everything in vegetation at the time Joel lived, and these locusts are symbolical of future judgments executed upon the land and the nations by the prophetically announced world powers. At the close of the 'times of the Gentiles,' during which Jerusalem is trodden down, the final invasion of the land takes place; it is this which is described in the second chapter.
 ↩ You might recall that at the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed (even mentioning locusts) saying:
1Ki 8:37-39 'when famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel--each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple-- then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men.'
And how did God respond to this?
2Ch 7:12-14 the LORD appeared to him at night and said: "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will 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.
God ALWAYS listens to a repentant heart but will oppose a proud willful person or nation.
 ↩ Can you imagine the current leader of your nation declaring that the nation needs to repent before God and seek Him because they have become too self-sufficient and proud? Would your leader proclaim that the nation should have a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer because of its pride? Can you see your leader doing that? I recently came across this speech by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. As you read his great address you can't help notice how times have changed! Here is a portion of the declaration and the full script can be found here: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/fast.htm
'We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behoves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.'
 ↩ My mother was a small child living in England during WWII. The churches were packed! Nearly everyone would go to church and call on God's mercy and protection during this time. After 9/11, the churches in the US saw a dramatic increase in their numbers as people again sought God. But oh the human heart that is so quick to forget its maker!
 ↩ This definition is taken from Dr Renald Showers excellent book 'Maranatha - Our Lord, Come!' I have benefited greatly from this book and will probably quote it quite extensively in this study especially concerning 'the Day of the Lord'. If you are interested in the rapture and Bible prophecy then I would definitely recommend this book.
 ↩ A useful resource to help you do this (which I have mentioned before) is 'The Daniel Project'. I have used this with non-Christians and I have not yet had anyone come back with a negative reaction. It has helped open discussions concerning the Lord, the state of the world and salvation. Check it out here: http://www.thedanielprojectmovie.com/