THE MINOR PROPHETS
We are now beginning the last division of Old Testament books, the division called the Minor Prophets. the Minor Prophets prophesied over a period of about 400 years. Some of them preached to the people of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and some to the people of Judah. They are called the “Minor Prophets” primarily because their books are shorter than those of the Major Prophets. We have only two small bits of information about the Prophet Joel: his name means “the Lord is God,” and he was the son of Pethuel (1:1). Anything else that we say about the man is guesswork. We guess that he prophesied to the people of Judah because he mentions the house of God, Mount Zion, and Jerusalem. Scholars have guessed anywhere from 800 B.C. to 400 B.C. as the time when he did his prophesying. (An early date is generally favored by conservative scholars for various reasons: the Jews placed his book next to Hosea and Amos, two early prophets; the enemies of the Jews that he mentions are early enemies such as Egypt, the Philistines, Phoenicia, and Edom.) His inspired message and not the man is what is important.
THE BOOK OF JOEL
Joel prophesied in order to show the nation their need for humility and repentance and to warn of coming judgment on “the Day of the Lord.” At the same time he seeks to keep the Jews faithful to God by reminding them of God’s coming salvation and His promised destruction of His enemies. The immediate occasion for Joel’s writing of his book was an invasion of locusts that utterly destroyed the land. Joel sees in the locust invasion a picture of God’s judgment on “the day of the Lord,” the day of His dreadful judgment. He warns that repentance must come before the “day of the Lord;” then God will show compassion. Joel writes: “let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand – a day of darkness and gloom … The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? … Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (from chap. 2). Joel’s prophecy contains a special prophecy of the Messianic age. Read [Joel 2:28-32]. Then see [Acts 2:14-21]. What day in the Messianic Kingdom was Joel prophesying according to Peter? We should remember that since this prophecy of Joel has already been fulfilled on Pentecost, we are now in the “last times,” always moving closer to that “day of the Lord” when all will be judged. We are to be serious now about living in the Spirit who was poured out on Pentecost so that we may face the coming “day of the Lord” in confidence through Christ.
GENERAL OUTLINE FOR THE BOOK OF JOEL
- An Invasion of Locusts Pictures the “Day of the Lord” (1-2:27)
- The Blessings and Judgments of God are Prophesied (2:28-3:21)
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