There have been great debates over this prophecy as to the time of writing, with no reigning kings of Israel or Judah mentioned in the introduction to help us in this matter. The locusts have also generated a great debate! If they are literal in chapter one, are they the army of the Lord in chapter two, or are they symbolic of a military conflict? The “Day of the Lord” is also another interesting expression, which we will give attention to regarding its near and future fulfilment. It is my exercise on this book to give pointers, pose questions, and compare scripture with scripture. This will not only help with Joel but will also be a guide to general Bible study.
Some background details for the setting and study of Joel!
Key words with their references? The Day of the Lord… 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14. The Lord your God… 1:14, 2:13, 2:14, 2:23, 2:26, 2:27, 3:17. Jerusalem… 2:32, 3:1, 3:6, 3:16, 3:17, 3:20. Judah… 3:1, 3:6, 3:8, 3:18, 3:19, 3:20. Zion… 2:1, 2:15, 2:23, 2:32, 3:16, 3:17, 3:21. House of the Lord… 1:9, 1:14, 3:18. Sanctify… 1:14, 2:15, 2:16, 3:9 (prepare). Solemn Assembly… 1:14, 2:15. Meat Offering/Drink Offering… 1:9, 1:13, 2:14.
Day of the Lord? This expression occurs five times in Joel (see above). It occurs many times in the Old Testament, with expressions like, “In that day…” (Zeph 3:16). At other times, the days is described as, “A day of darkness …” (Joel 2:2). It occurs in the New Testament in Acts 2:20, 1 Thess 5:2, 2 Thess 2:2 (Christ changed to Lord, JND, NASB & RV), 2 Peter 3:10. See also Rev 6:15-17. The day of the Lord is to be distinguished from the Day of Christ (Phil 1:10), Day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6), Day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 5:5), Day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:8). It must also be distinguished from the Day of God (2 Peter 3:12). So, after the rapture of the Church and before the Day of God, the “Day of the Lord” prophetically includes…
A seven-year period of Tribulation:
The beginning of sorrows (Matt 24:8), the first half of the Tribulation. Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21), the second half of the Tribulation.
The Battle or War of Armageddon (Rev 16:16).
The Coming of Christ in Glory (Matt 24:30, Zechariah 14:4).
The setting up of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan bound (Rev 20:1-6).
The Final Revolt as Satan is loosed for a little time, before being cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:7-10)
Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15).
Note: Many other events occur during the “Day of the Lord” and readers are encouraged to look for these in the Holy Scriptures: Judgment of the Living Nations, Signing of the Covenant, The Beast and the False Prophet, 144,000 sealed, Two Witnesses etc.
Time of writing? The book of Joel opens with his father named; Pethuel! There are no further personal details about himself, his family, or place of birth. Joel, like Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, omits any mention of the Kings of Israel and Judah! This has led to a great debate among commentators if the book of Joel should have an early date among the Minor Prophets, a pre-exilic date or a postexilic date! During the Kings of Judah, there was a time when the king was young, the priests were to the fore, and the services at the temple were functioning in a Godly manner. This was true in the days of Joash King of Judah and this might possibly fit Joel’s time of writing. Those who set out the various dates are listed below…
Reign of Joash… also spelt Jehoash (2 Kings 11:2, 21; 12:1-3).
J.B. Hewitt: Collected Writings Volume 1, Gospel Tract Publications. Warren W. Wiersbe: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, David Cook. Irving L. Jensen: Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament, Moody Press. David Gilliland: Ritchie Old Testament Commentaries What the Bible Teaches, John Ritchie Ltd.
Robert B. Chisholm: The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books.
JOEL: The Prophet of two days!
Introduction (1:1). Joel the son of Pethuel. No further family details are given and no references to the Kings of Israel or Judah!
The Divine Judgment that leads to a Doubtful Questioning (1:2-2:17)!
The Word of the Lord through the Prophet (1:2-14).
Hear… A word for the Elders (1:2-4). Wake up… A word for the Drunkards (1:5-7). Lament… A word for the People of the City (1:8-10). Ashamed… A word for the Husbandmen/Vinedressers (1:11-12). Fast… A word for the Priests (1:13-14).
Alas! A word from the heart of the Prophet as he anticipates the Desolation (1:15-20).
The Lord’s Army… another invasion in judgment (2:1-11).
The Call to Repentance (2:12-14).
The Gathering for Prayer (2:15-17).
The Doubtful Questioning, “Where is there God” (2:17).
The Divine Blessing that leads to a Conclusive Answer (2:18-3:21)!
God Removes the Northern Army (2:18-20). God Gives the Rain (2:21-24). God Restores the Loss (2:25-27). God Pours out the Spirit (2:28-32). God Recompenses the Nations (3:1-17). God Blesses the Children of Judah (3:18-21).
The Conclusive Answer, “I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion” (3:17).