Text: Joel 1:1-3, 2:25-27
By: ADEOYE, EMMANUEL (EVANGELIST)
WATCHING THE DAY OF THE LORD
LOCUSTS INVADE THE LAND!
(No End to Drought in Sight)
NATION FACES SEVERE ECONOMIC CRISIS
JOEL IN HIS TIME
Each prophet had his own unique approach to his own special message. Hosea’s message was an application of his sad domestic trials, emphasizing God’s jealous love; but Joel’s message was an interpretation of a national calamity — a plague of locusts and a drought — and emphasized God’s glorious kingdom.
Joel may well have been the first of the writing prophets: he probably ministered in Judah during the reign of King Joash (835 B.C. – 796 B.C.). You find the record in 2 Kings 11-12 and 2 Chron 22-24. Joash came to the throne at the age of seven, and Jehoiada the priest was his mentor. This may explain whey Joel says nothing about the king, since Joash was learning the job.
Joel’s major theme is the “DAY OF THE LORD” and the need for God’s people to be prepared. “DAY OF THE LORD” is used in Scripture to refer to different periods when God sent judgment to His people, but the main emphasis is on the future “day of the Lord” when the nations will be judged and Christ shall return to set up His glorious kingdom.
Joel refers to three important events, each of which he calls a “day of the Lord.” He sees the plague of locusts as an immediate day of the Lord (Joel 1, the invasion of Judah by Assyria as an imminent day of the Lord (Joel 21:27 ), and the final judgment of the world as the ultimate day of the Lord (2:27-3:21). In the first, the locusts are a metaphorical army: in the second, the locusts symbolize a real army: in the third, the locusts aren’t seen at all and the armies are very real and very dangerous.
If there had been newspapers in Joel’s day, the headlines might have read:
A wise preacher or teacher will get the people’s attention by referring to something they’re all concerned about. In this case, the people of Judah were talking about the economic crisis, so the Lord led Joel to use that event as a the background for his messages. The people didn’t realize it, but they were watching the Day of the Lord unfold before their very eyes, and the Prophet Joel explained it to them.
The name “Joel” means “the Lord is God.” Like all true prophets, Joel was commissioned to call the people back to the worship of the true God; and he did this by declaring “the word of the Lord” (1:1; see Jer 1:2; Ezek 1:3; and the first verses of Hosea, Micah. Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). It was the task of the priests to teach the people the Law, and it was the responsibility of the prophets to call the people back to the Lord whenever they strayed from His Law. The prophets also interpreted historical events in the light of the Word of God to help the people understand God’s will for their lives. They were “forth-tellers” as well as “foretellers.”
Joel wanted the people of Judah to understand what God was saying to them through the plague and the drought. In our own times, the nations of the world are experiencing severe droughts and famines, frightening epidemics, unexpected earthquakes, devastating floods, and other “natural disasters,” all of which have greatly affected national and global economy; yet very few people have asked. “What is God saying to us?” Joel wrote his book so the people would know what God was saying through these critical events.
God would send on the whole world. In this chapter, we want to focus on the first two applications of “the Day of the Lord.”
The Imminent Day of the Lord (Joel 2:1-27)
Now that he had their attention. Joel told the people to stop looking around at the locusts and to start looking ahead to the fulfillment of what the locust plague symbolized: the invasion of a fierce army from the north (v. 20). “Blow the trumpet!” (Joel 2:1-11) This was real war, so Joel commanded the watch-men to blow their trumpets and warn the people. The Jews used trumpets to call assemblies, announce special events, mark religious festivals, and warn the people that war had been declared (Num 10; Jer 4:5; 6:1; Hos 5:8).
In this case, they blew the trumpet to announce war and to call a fast (Joel 2:15). Their weapons against the invading enemy would be repentance and prayer; the Lord would fight for them.
Twice in this passage. Joel tells us that invasion is “the Day of the Lord” (vv. 1, 11), meaning a very special period that God had planned and would direct. “The Lord thunders at the head of His army” (v. 11, NIV). It was God who brought the locusts of the land and God would allow the Assyrians to invade the land (Isa 7:17-25; 8:7). He would permit them to ravage Judah just as the locusts had done, only the Assyrians would also abuse and kill people.
In his vivid account of the invading army, Joel sees them coming in great hordes, “like dawn spreading across the mountains” (Joel 2:2, NIV). Once again, he uses the locusts to describe the soldiers. Just as the locusts had destroyed everything edible before them, so the army would use a “scorched earth policy” and devastate the towns and the land (Isa 36:10; 37:11-13,18). The locusts looked like miniature horses, but the Assyrians would ride real horses and conquer the land.5 The prophet makes it clear that the Lord will be in charge of this invasion; this is His army fulfilling His Word (Joel 2:11).
The one thing that encourages us to repent and return to the Lord is the character of God. Knowing that He is indeed “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (Joel 2:13, NIV) ought to motivate us to seek His face. This description of the attributes of God goes back to Moses’ meeting with the Lord on Mt. Sinai, when he interceded for the sinful nation of Israel (Ex 34:6-7). You find echoes of it in Num 14:18 (another scene of Moses’ intercession); Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15; 103:8, and 145:8; and Jonah 4:2. Such a gracious God would “turn and have pity” (Joel 2:14. NIV).
Note that Joel’s concern was that the people would once again have offerings to bring to the Lord, not just food on their tables.
But all the people must assemble and then turn to the Lord (vv. 15-17). This includes elders and children, nursing babies and priests, and even the newlyweds who were not sup-posed to be disturbed during their first year of marriage, not even because of war (Deut 24:5). The prophet even gave them a prayer to use (Joel 2:17) that presents two reasons why God should deliver them:
(1) Israel’s covenant privileges as God’s heritage and
(2) the glory of God’s name before the other nations. Moses used these same arguments when he pled for the people (Ex 32:11-13; 33:12-23).
The Jews are indeed God’s special treasure and heritage (Ex 15:17; 19:5-6; Ps 94:5; Jer 2:7; 12:7-9). To Israel, He gave His laws, His covenants, the temple and priesthood, a special land, and the promise that they would bless the whole world (Gen 12:1-3; Rom 9:1-5).
“Believe his promises!” (Joel 2:18-27) Joel now looks beyond the invasion to the time when God would heal His land and restore his blessings to His people. Just as He blew the locusts into the depths of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea (eastern and western seas), so He could drive the invading army out of the land. In one night, God killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, and Sennacherib went home a defeated king (Isa 37:36-38). The corpses must have created quite a stench before they were buried.
Some Bible scholars believe that Ps 126 grew out of this event, for it describes a sudden and surprising deliverance.
that startled the nation. (Judah’s return from Babylonian Captivity was neither sudden or surprising.) “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (v.3) is echoed in Joel 2:21, “Be glad and rejoice; for the Lord will do great things.” Both Joel 2:23-27 and Ps 126:5-6 describe the restoration of the ravaged earth and the return of the harvests. This fulfilled what Isaiah promised to King Hezekiah (Isa 37:30).
EXPECTING THE DAY OF THE LORD
Joel’s message to Judah (and to us) is reaching its conclusion. He has described the immediate “Day of the Lord,” the terrible plague of the locusts. This led to a description of the imminent “Day of the Lord.” the impending invasion of the northern army. All that remains is for him to describe the ultimate “Day of the Lord” when God will judge all the nations of the earth. “For the Day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen” (Obad 15).
Joel describes a sequence of events relating to this “great and terrible Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31), what will happen before that day, during that day, and after that day.
- LIVE BY FAITH – (HABAKUK 2:4)
- WAIT ON THE LORD – (PSALM 34:5 ISAIAH 40:31)
- NEVER GIVE UP – (PSALM 27:13)
- SPEAK POSITIVE – (PROVERBS 23:7)