The Prophet Joel
1. Author and Time of Writing
The first verse of this short book names Joel (= Jehovah is God) the son of Pethuel as author. Besides this very short message we do not know anything about the person and circumstances of Joel's life. There have been many guesses as to the time of when Joel lived. Some scientists say the book has been written around 400 BC or even later; other expositors think that Joel lived during the 9 th century BC, maybe at the time of king Jehoash in Judah.
A huge plague of locusts connected with a great drought gave the occasion for writing this book. Such incidents however are so frequent in wide parts of the east that one cannot draw any conclusions from it as to the historical background. As the Holy Scriptures are silent as to the time of writing we ought to respect this.
2. Purpose of Writing
The prophecy of Joel draws a wide circle from the calamity of his days up to time when the people of God will be oppressed and restored and blessed at the day of Christ. So Joel may be correctly called the prophet of the day of Jehovah. This day of Jehovah is mentioned five times (see paragraph 3. Peculiarities).
The great locust plague and the drought were a punishment of Jehovah. Already Moses and Solomon had prophesied such forms of judgement (Deut. 28:38-39 and 1 Kings 8:37). But the people of Israel would not recognize the hand of Jehovah in it. This is why, in chapter 1, the prophet calls the old men and the priests to lamentation and to repentance.
Chapter 2 shows an extended view. Here we see not only the locusts but an army of enemies invading the land from the north and destroying it. An alarm is sounded in mount Zion and the people repent. Now comes the day of Jehovah in which He Himself saves His people from the army of the north. The land is not only blessed outwardly by the early and the latter rain but the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh. Although Peter in Acts 2:16-21 repeats these words of Joel's verbally the final fulfilment of this prophecy is yet to come.
The last chapter describes the judgment of the nations which will happen in the day of Jehovah in the valley of Jehoshaphat. This chapter also lets us know about the full blessing of the millennium.
The Day of Jehovah
The day of Jehovah is mentioned five times in Joel: chapter 1:15; 2:1.11.31; 3:14.
This day is the day of Jehovah’s fierce anger in the OT (Is. 13:9; Zeph. 2:2+3) in which He will stand in the battle against His enemies (Ez. 13:5). Often this day is mentioned as at hand (Is. 13:6; Ez. 30:3; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7+14). But before the great and dreadful day of Jehovah Elijah the prophet will be sent (Mal. 4:5; Luke 1:17; Mark 9:11-13).
The day of Jehovah is called the day of the Lord in the NT (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Thes. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). This day of the Lord indicates the starting point of the period which will start at Christ’s appearing in glory with His saints. He will then come for judgment over the nations and to set up His glorious reign of peace (Matt. 25:31ff; Rev. 19:11ff). Second Thess. 2:2ff tells us that the day of the Lord is preceded by the total apostasy of Christendom and by the revealing of Antichrist the man of sin. The day of the Lord with its judgment will then come as a thief in the night (1 Thes. 5:2,4; 2 Pet. 3:10).
This is why the day of the Lord is not to be confounded with the coming of the Lord to rapture His saints at the end of the actual time of grace (John 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51ff; 1 Thess. 4:15ff). This, i.e. the rapture, is the next event which the believers of this day await (1 Thes. 1:10; Rev. 3:11; 22:7.12.20).
4. Overview of Contents
I. Joel 1: Historical Background: Locusts and Drought
II. Joel 2: Typological Significance: Attack of Northern Armies
III: Joel 3: The Day of Jehovah: Judgment and Blessing