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Joel

June 3, 2009

Background

I. The Problem and Solution for the Present Joel 1:1-20

  1. The Desecration of the Land       Joel 1:1-12
  2. Humble Yourself                             Joel 1:13-20

II. The Problem and Solution for the Future Joel 2:1-17

  1. The Day of the Lord                     Joel 2:1-11
  2. Humble Yourself                          Joel 2:12-17

III. The Promised Resolution Joel 2:18-3:21

  1. Land Restored                              Joel 2:18-27
  2. People Redeemed                       Joel 2:28-32
  3. Nations Judged                            Joel 3:1-16
  4. People Saved and Restored    Joel 3:17-21

Background

We know nothing for certain about Joel except that his father’s name was Pethuel
and that his prophecy and writing came from the Lord. Nothing in his writing
gives us solid clues to its date. His references to Jerusalem and Zion lead
us to believe he prophesied in that area. His reference in Chapter 1 to crop
failure was, unfortunately, an all too common occurrence. Crop failure is one
of the first tools God employs to discipline His children in attempting to turn
them back to Him. Some scholars believe Joel was an early prophet and that the
locusts could represent the armies of Assyria and/or Babylon who were known
to destroy crops as they conquered. Others believe they were actually locusts
since no mention of bloodshed is made in Chapter 1 and Joel’s style doesn’t
promote the idea of metaphors. Then Joel’s prophecy could be post-exile where
I placed it. The only other reason for placing it late is its’ theme centering
on the Day of the Lord. This theme was prophesied by others but never so clearly
as in post-exilic times. I have placed Joel’s prophecy late only because the
resource I used for chronologically identifying the time period of the kings
and the prophets did so.

But the dating is not critical to the message that God is sovereign and that
repentance brings resolution and restoration. Regardless of what problem we
are faced with, God protects and restores those who humble themselves before
His throne and place their trust in Him.

Joel’s prophecy and imagery concerning the Day of the Lord is validated by
Jesus in Matthew 24-25 and by John in Revelation 8-9 and 15-16. Joel’s prophecy
of redemption and restoration also coincides with Revelation 19:11-20:10. Joel
is another prophet who writes clearly and concisely what God revealed. Its’
message is both time related and timeless.

The Problem and Solution for the Present                      Joel 1:1-20

The Desecration of the Land                                             Joel 1:1-12

Perhaps Joel is one of Judah’s elders and they were meeting to determine what
they must do to survive the plague that is upon them. Joel has received word
from the Lord and speaks up at this meeting of elders and to those people attending
[vs. 1-2]. This context is speculation on my part but it makes sense given what
is taking place. None can recall a plague this severe in their time or anytime
before in their history. There was one plague of locusts which was worse [Ex.
10] and which the Lord vowed never to repeat. That plague was in Egypt, not
in the Promised Land, for the purpose of softening Pharaoh’s heart and releasing
Israel from slavery. So perhaps this plague was not as severe or perhaps Joel
is suggesting [irony] that they have forgotten what God’s disciplinary hand
is willing to do.

Regardless, Joel exhorts the elders to take note of what has and is happening,
remember it in detail, and pass it on to future generations. Verses 4-7 describe
with vivid detail what devastation locusts have on crops. They are like a powerful
army, devouring everything in its path. Their life has been sucked out and hope
is gone [vs. 8]. The people have nothing with which to even offer God in worship
[vs. 9]. The plague has affected more than grain and includes their grapes and
fruits. There is no joy in Judah/Israel. Their survival is in jeopardy.

Humble Yourself                                                              Joel 1:13-20

Joel now exhorts the priests to humble themselves before the Lord. They are
to rise up and be an example to all the people. Even though they have no offerings
to present to God, the priests are to call the people together to worship God
through fasting and prayer [vs. 14]. All the key elements of worship are involved;
humility, thanksgiving, confession, and supplication. They are to offer themselves
as a living sacrifice to God [Romans 12] in place of their normal required offerings.
They are to change from “taking God for granted” to “depending
on God” for their salvation. They are to humble themselves before God and
let Him change their hearts so heaven can be opened to pour out blessings upon
His people. Why? Because what they are experiencing is not unlike the coming
Day of the Lord [vs. 15].

This action is absolutely necessary to their survival because their food supply
has been cut off, their seed for new planting is drying up in the ground, hot
dry conditions have taken over, their animals lack pasture and water, and grass
fires are prevalent [vs. 16-20]. Therefore, Joel prays to God for help [vs.
19].

As I write this, we too have been in a severe drought for four of the last
five years. Conditions are much the same except we are able to get food elsewhere
and locusts haven’t invaded our land. Is this God’s discipline? It may be. We
consider ourselves to be religious because we live in the “Bible belt”.
But are we “depending on God” or “taking God for granted”?
I am not discerning in this matter but I am sure of one thing. The solution
is to humble ourselves before God, repenting of our sin, and offering ourselves
as a living sacrifice for growing His Kingdom and glorifying His Name. We are
to change from depending on ourselves to depending on Him. It takes a change
of heart and a change in our mind set. It takes a renewed desire on our part
to seek and obey God’s Will. We must allow free reign of His Holy Spirit dwelling
within us. Let us not forget Israel’s situation and God’s solution presented
through His prophet Joel.

The Problem and Solution for the Future                              Joel 2:1-17

The Day of the Lord                                       Joel 2:1-11

Joel now shifts topics to the coming Day of the Lord. When the Lord’s trumpet
sounds in Zion there will be every reason to tremble [see Rev. 8, 9, & 16].
It will be a time of darkness and gloom. A large army will approach Jerusalem
laying waste to everything in its path [vs. 2-5]. They will conquer everything
and everyone they come upon with ease because of their skill and discipline
[vs. 7-9]. But things are changing in the heavenly bodies. The sun and moon
are darkened, there are earthquakes, and the stars fail to shine [vs. 10]. The
Lord also has an army approaching Jerusalem. Thus begins the Battle of Armageddon
spoken of in Revelation 17:14-19:21 and in Ezekiel 38 and 39.

Humble Yourself                                             Joel 2:12-17

For this day [the plague of locusts] and for that Day of the Lord, they are
to return to the Lord in repentance that they might experience and know their
gracious, compassionate,, loving, patient, and forgiving God [vs. 13]. God will
honor those who honor Him by blessing them [vs. 14].

Once again Joel exhorts the people to call all the people together in worship.
Instead of warning the people of an approaching army, the trumpet will call
the people to worship. All people are to come; even those with young children
and those marrying. There is no acceptable excuse not to worship God. They are
to come weeping in sorrow for their sin and asking God for forgiveness and blessing
such that not one of all the people on earth has reason to question who the
one true Lord God Almighty is. He is the God of Israel and the God of all.

This is the solution to Israel’s current problem. This is the solution for
tomorrows’ problems. This is the solution for when the Day of the Lord comes.
This is the solution for all God’s creation all the time. Never fail to humbly
come before the God asking His forgiveness and committing to do His Will. God desires our whole hearts in worship of Him. Our worship of Him is for our own
good because God loves us and wants to bless us. But He refuses to bless those
who refuse to worship Him in humility. Those who refuse to worship Him now will be refused by Him in the future. Those who worship Him now will be privileged to worship Him in the future. The Day of the Lord is coming. Bow before Him in genuine humble worship today so that you may be spared when that dreadful day arrives. Remember, God honors those who honor Him. Honor the Lord with your worship.

The Promised Resolution                                                  Joel 2:18-3:21

Land Restored                                                                         Joel 2:18-27

The result of returning to the Lord in humble worship seeking forgiveness
results in blessing. The Lord will have pity on them, sending them a bountiful
harvest such that other nations take notice. God, in restoring His land, will
drive their enemies in the north to the eastern sea. In restoring the land and
His people, all the animals, pastures, and fruit trees will also be restored.
The land will flourish once again and support all forms of life. Rain will be
abundant and harvests will be great [vs. 23-24]. The harvests will be so great
that they will not recall their lack of food [vs. 25]. Instead, the people will
rejoice, praising God for His goodness [vs. 26]. They have experienced the presence
of God, the Lord God Almighty, in their lives.

God’s blessing comes to all the land and people when they turn to Him, repent of their sin, and worship Him.

People Redeemed                                                                Joel 2:28-32

Humble worship of God releases His Spirit among the people such that they
will know the Will of God [vs. 28-29]. The heavenly bodies will be in distress
before the Day of the Lord comes [vs. 30-31] but those who call upon the Name
of the Lord, those who placed their faith in Him, will be saved. God will protect,
deliver, and secure His people from their enemy in the north.

They need not fear the Day of the Lord because the Lord will come to save
those who fear Him.   Fear the Lord and you need not fear the Day of the Lord.

Nations Judged                                                                  Joel 3:1-16

Judah and Jerusalem will eventually be restored in the Day of the Lord. God
will fight for them against the army of their enemies in the Valley of Jehoshaphat
[Armageddon] and defeat them. Thus, they are judged for all the evil they reaped
upon God’s people. God will exercise vengeance on the enemies of His people
[vs. 4-6]. The Lord’s people will return to inhabit their land and Israel’s
enemies will serve them [vs. 7].

In the Day of the Lord, nations will be called to war against Israel but the
Lord and His army will be waiting in the Valley of Jehoshaphat to exercise judgment
and defeat them. The heavenly bodies will tremble but the Lord will protect
His people from harm.

This is a marvelous promise for Israel and for all who call upon the Lord
and worship Him in truth and in Spirit. This assurance is ours when we seek
Him and ask forgiveness. This promise is for all God’s people. Praise God and
thank Him for His protection in time of trouble and in the Day of the Lord.

People Saved and Restored                                            Joel 3:17-21

The Lord is God. He is the King of Kings and rules from His Holy City, Jerusalem.
The area of Judah and Jerusalem will have abundance greater than man can envision.
The areas to the south will be desolate because of the violence and destruction
they caused in warring against God’s people. Jerusalem, with Christ on the throne,
will rule the earth. Judah/God’s people have been forgiven and the Lord’s presence
and blessings reign. This is the Millennial Reign spoken of in Revelation 20.

Judah may be suffering today but God, through Joel, gives them a look at their
future. The brightness of their future is directly related to their acknowledging
the Lord as God, humbly seeking His forgiveness, and obeying His Will with the
help of His Holy Spirit. This principle is true for all people today and in
the Day of the Lord. We are to act today, freeing God to act on our behalf in
the future.

Rejoice in the Lord and know that He is good.

Rejoice in the Lord and know that He has forgiven your sin.

Rejoice in the Lord and know He lives in your heart.

Rejoice in the Lord and know He will sustain you.

Rejoice in the Lord and know He will protect you.

Rejoice in the Lord and know you will be in His presence forever.

Rejoice in the Lord.

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