Book of Joel – Introduction and Joel 1:1-12
Joel is the second of the 12 Minor Prophets found in most main-stream bibles. His life, family, and occupation can only be conjectured. We find the name of his father but little else is provided. Often a prophet will list a king or two during his ministry. That makes it easier to calculate a time. Joel does not do this. Following is one person’s guess of his time.
We do know that this book is about the Kingdom of Judah and perhaps others not mentioned but alluded to. We do not know of a precise date for his life and activities. Joel has four sections:
- the time of the locust (imagery or metaphorical)
- a warning that more calamity is coming (Judah? Israel? Israelis?)
- another call to repentance
- the Day of the Lord (Israel and all nations)
There is either much imagery or some form of actuality yet to be discovered or played out in the writings of Joel. We at Ahabiblemoments.com feel too much liberty is taken by many commentators or theologians. They complicate it, too often bending it toward a denominational plank or platform.
A great rule of thumb is to default to the most obvious. The Bible is written to be understood, not to be complicated. To understand scripture, one must have an open mind/heart and wisdom that is sought by a deliberate and personal petitioning of God to provide it. Then there is the oft ignored personal point. What is the motive of the one seeking understanding?
In writing another Minor Prophet commentary for ahamoments.com we keep in mind that the Old Testament is about a nation (Israel and Moses’ Law). The New Testament is about humans as individuals and God’s grace through Jesus. We should also be reminded that the early church did NOT HAVE the New Testament. Their salvation message came from Old Testament books, study, and acceptance. Much or the early church focused on Isaiah just as did the Ethiopian Eunuch when Phillip boarded his chariot and explained the New Testament plan of salvation.
Joel is not another doom-and-gloom book. It runs the entire gamut. It begins with warning and ends with the end of this world and the beginning of eternity where time is no more. Time was created back in Genesis 1.
P.S. Doom and gloom in scripture is sometimes better portrayed as warnings. It is something that can often be avoided when Israel came back to God. They seldom did. When they did, it didn’t last long.
When we study the prophets, we find they pretty much have the same basic ingredients: (1) warning of impending judgment because of the nations’ sinfulness; (2) a description of the sin; (3) a description of the coming judgment; (4) a call for repentance; and (5) a promise of future deliverance. [Bible.org; https://bible.org/seriespage/7-minor-prophets]
To time-stamp Joel is difficult. He leaves no road signs. For a good review of the historical summary judgements and chronology of Joel, one should read https://bible.org/seriespage/7-minor-prophets. We will remain within the stated parameters and stated context of Joel in this commentary. As we often state in our Bible Book commentaries in ahabiblemoments.com…
- We Teach – You Decide
- JIV means Jim’s Introspective View
When things are not evident, we do not try to spiritualize verses or sections of scripture to make fit a denominational point of view or doctrine. Our denomination at ahabiblemoments is the same one of the New Testament disciples.
Joel Chapter 1:1-12
Joel immediately uses parallel examples to begin his book; one that is current in the time of Joel and one that is prophetic. Locusts are not uncommon in Israel; a very *common issue in the Middle East countries. Following what is on the heels of COVID 19, the locust of 2020 in the Middle East are invasive once again. In a prime example of horrible timing, the locusts are reportedly the worst they have been in decades in countries like Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia … and are ravaging thousands of acres of crops in Yemen, Pakistan and India. [tmz.com; 2020]. To use locust as a parallel to a future event for Judah/Israel, perhaps the globe, is a big help to picture in Judean minds what Joel is talking about in his prophetic parallel.
*This is probably why the Pharaoh in the time of Moses gave little heed to the plague of locust. They were a common place occurrence. For a somewhat humorous look or take on this go to https://babylonbee.com/news/pharaoh-blames-plague-of-locusts-water-turning-to-blood-on-climate-change
Chapter 1:1-12 sets the stage for what has happened in the past and will on a much larger scale in Israel’s future. It is important for Israelis to pass on this information father-to-son, parents-to-children. If one does not know how can one be prepared? The simple answer is “they will not even be aware.” Too often this is akin to what some hope is a fundamental principle about attending church, bible studies, having devotions, reading commentaries. The information is there but few take the time to study it yet alone institute it. Going through the Bible in one year has more of a goal of making it within the year allotted time than it has to do with gaining knowledge, understanding, conviction, desire, and personal action. For Israel and the ultimate blessings and restoration promised by Joel to occur, Israel will need to experience the judgments of the Tribulation. It is this combination that will cause them to return to the Lord. Locusts are not a blessing. It is what Israel will need to pass through in God allowing (locust judgment) upon Israelis as a people to finally wake them up to the realization that Jesus was and still is their Messiah. Joel is stating that before the promise of redemption comes to His chosen people, they will need to be totally stripped of alternatives.
NOTE: Locust come out of nowhere giving little if any forewarning.
Joe 1:2 “Hear this, you elders, And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land!” You inhabitants of THE land. This is specific. Joel is referring to Israel; some suggest it is just Judah. Then Joel states it is unlike prior infestations. He continues in verse 3 to explain this is not an immediate invasion of enemies who will strip the land and people of possessions. It is not the future invasion of Assyrians or the Babylonians. It is not the holocausts of the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 – 1503. It is not Hitler’s Nazis. Joel prophesies that two thirds of Israel will die at this time of invasion. Zechariah 13:8-7 tells us the same. Joel is prophesying that this is generations into the future.
Joel 1:6 “For a *nation has come up against My land, Strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has the fangs of a fierce lion.” Some commentaries wish to draw a parallel with Daniel’s dream interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. If so it would need to be the toes that are a combination of clay and iron.
*Nation: In the Hebrew, the word is gôy. It can mean a Gentile people, troop of animals, or a flight of locusts.
Most often it refers to gentiles meaning non-Israeli. “…its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the jaw teeth [cheek teeth] of a lioness.” Here is the truth in Joel’s prophecy. The locusts come in three waves [verse 4] to utterly and totally devastate a crop. In this case those of God’s chosen people. The lioness’ cheek teeth grind their prey over and over.
Verse 7 is how we know the locust are but a metaphor. There My vine is desolation, and it has splintered My fig tree. He has stripped it,” It is not an “it” as would be used to identify something other than a human. This makes the above notation gôy of the word NATION meaning gentiles, not locust or a troop of animals.
Joel 1:9 is a reference to mid-tribulation in Jerusalem when the antichrist refuses offerings to be made in the rebuilt Temple to Jehovah but then must be made to him. The 3 ½ year mark. Even as Covid 19 ravished not only the world, but the minds of people, it has become a tool of governments to dominate one’s thought. Fear makes allowances for losing rights as a member of the human race. It is a play designed for the coming antichrist.
Joel 1:9 “The food offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of Jehovah; the priests, Jehovah’s ministers, mourn.”
Cut off meaning by the antichrist. Israelis will in initially accept the promises of the antichrist until he demands they worship him at the 3 1/2 year mark.
House of Jehovah meaning the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.
Joel 1:10-12 describe the devastation it will take to wake up the drunkard (Israel) to the fact of God the Father and God the begotten son. As stated earlier, there must come a point of absolute devastation and leaving NO alternative for Israel.
Next: We find the beginning of the solution beginning in Joel 1:13.