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The Book of Joel

Joel foretells the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29). Nathaniel Westlake / Jesse Tree scheme featuring Joel / Mural / c. 1903-1910. Church of St Bede, Basingstoke. Public Domain.
Joel foretells the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29). Nathaniel Westlake / Jesse Tree scheme featuring Joel / Mural / c. 1903-1910. Church of St Bede, Basingstoke. Public Domain.

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Introduction to The Book of Joel

Joel (238-240)

<< Jonah (234-238)   •  (LTBL Index)   •  Proverbs (240-243) >>

The messages of the prophet Joel came during the last years of Persian rule over Judea.

Joel was a native of Jerusalem and began his ministry at a time when a great plague of locusts had caused much suffering among his people because of the destruction of crops. To Joel this was a sign of divine judgment, and he declared that the Jews could be delivered only if they repented:

Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repenteth him of the evil (Joel 2:13).

Repentance, Joel insisted, should not be a mere outward act but a real change of heart. When this comes about we are again in tune with God, or good. “Joel bespeaks the I am in dominion in the individual” (MBD/Joel), that in us which calls us to God in contriteness of heart. Then only can we receive His cleansing.

It is Joel who hears the Lord’s promise to restore all that has been lost through man’s failure to unify himself with the Lord:

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten ... And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and shall praise the name of Jehovah your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be put to shame (Joel 2:25).

This is one of those wonderful promises that thrill us with new hope. “The years that the locust hath eaten” symbolizes the periods of our lives that seemed devoid of good. They are the times when trouble reigned in mind or body or outer conditions, and we almost believed that a malicious fate stalked our path, a fate over which we had no more control than a farmer has over a swarm of locusts that suddenly destroy his crop. Or those years may be the periods when we lagged spiritually, when our prayers were unanswered and we could not get close to our Father-God. In the mortal consciousness, nothing of the past can be changed, but when we rise to the spiritual, God can give so much to the present moment that it seems to fill even the empty days of the past also. “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” If we turn to Him, there is no longer any belief in loss. Rather we shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of Jehovah, our God. The outer fullness comes quickly when there is the inner sense of completeness.

Beginning with verse 28 of chapter 2, The Book of Joel becomes apocalyptic in character and deals with what shall come after man is purified. We can almost hear the joy in the prophet’s voice as he uttered these words of the Lord:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. ... And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth ... And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered (Joel 2:28-32).

[This Introduction continues in the Introduction to The Proverbs].

Introduction to Joel by Elizabeth Sand Turner, Let There Be Light pp.238-240.

Joel 1

(Online: ASV WEB)

Lament over the Ruin of the Country

1 Yahweh’s* word that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel.

2 Hear this, you elders,

and listen, all you inhabitants of the land!

Has this ever happened in your days,

or in the days of your fathers?

3 Tell your children about it,

and have your children tell their children,

and their children, another generation.

4What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten.

What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten.

What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten.

5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep!

Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine,

for it is cut off from your mouth.

6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number.

His teeth are the teeth of a lion,

and he has the fangs of a lioness.

7 He has laid my vine waste,

and stripped my fig tree.

He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away.

Its branches are made white.

8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth

for the husband of her youth!

9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from Yahweh’s house.

The priests, Yahweh’s ministers, mourn.

10 The field is laid waste.

The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed,

The new wine has dried up,

and the oil languishes.

11 Be confounded, you farmers!

Wail, you vineyard keepers,

for the wheat and for the barley;

for the harvest of the field has perished.

12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered—

the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree,

even all of the trees of the field are withered;

for joy has withered away from the sons of men.

A Call to Repentance and Prayer

13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests!

Wail, you ministers of the altar.

Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God,

for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God’s house.

14 Sanctify a fast.

Call a solemn assembly.

Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of Yahweh, your God,

and cry to Yahweh.

15 Alas for the day!

For the day of Yahweh is at hand,

and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.

16 Isn’t the food cut off before our eyes,

joy and gladness from the house of our God?

17 The seeds rot under their clods.

The granaries are laid desolate.

The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered.

18 How the animals groan!

The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture.

Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.

19 Yahweh, I cry to you,

for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness,

and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.

20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you,

for the water brooks have dried up,

and the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

World English Bible Footnotes:

  • * 1:1. “Yahweh” is God’s proper Name, sometimes rendered “LORD” (all caps) in other translations.
  • 1:13. The Hebrew word rendered “God” is “אֱלֹהִ֑ים” (Elohim).

Joel 2

(Online: ASV WEB)

A Call to Repentance and Prayer (continued)

1 Blow the trumpet in Zion,

and sound an alarm in my holy mountain!

Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,

for the day of Yahweh comes,

for it is close at hand:

2 A day of darkness and gloominess,

a day of clouds and thick darkness.

As the dawn spreading on the mountains,

a great and strong people;

there has never been the like,

neither will there be any more after them,

even to the years of many generations.

3 A fire devours before them,

and behind them, a flame burns.

The land is as the garden of Eden before them,

and behind them, a desolate wilderness.

Yes, and no one has escaped them.

4 Their appearance is as the appearance of horses,

and they run as horsemen.

5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains, they leap,

like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble,

like a strong people set in battle array.

6 At their presence the peoples are in anguish.

All faces have grown pale.

7 They run like mighty men.

They climb the wall like warriors.

They each march in his line, and they don’t swerve off course.

8 One doesn’t jostle another.

They each march in their own path.

They burst through the defenses

and don’t break ranks.

9 They rush on the city.

They run on the wall.

They climb up into the houses.

They enter in at the windows like thieves.

10 The earth quakes before them.

The heavens tremble.

The sun and the moon are darkened,

and the stars withdraw their shining.

11 Yahweh thunders his voice before his army,

for his forces are very great;

for he is strong who obeys his command;

for the day of Yahweh is great and very awesome,

and who can endure it?

12“Yet even now,” says Yahweh, “turn to me with all your heart,

and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”

13 Tear your heart and not your garments,

and turn to Yahweh, your God;

for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness,

and relents from sending calamity.

14 Who knows? He may turn and relent,

and leave a blessing behind him,

even a meal offering and a drink offering to Yahweh, your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion!

Sanctify a fast.

Call a solemn assembly.

16 Gather the people.

Sanctify the assembly.

Assemble the elders.

Gather the children, and those who nurse from breasts.

Let the bridegroom go out of his room,

and the bride out of her chamber.

17 Let the priests, the ministers of Yahweh, weep between the porch and the altar,

and let them say, “Spare your people, Yahweh,

and don’t give your heritage to reproach,

that the nations should rule over them.

Why should they say among the peoples,

‘Where is their God?’ ”

God’s Response and Promise

18 Then Yahweh was jealous for his land,

and had pity on his people.

19 Yahweh answered his people,

“Behold,* I will send you grain, new wine, and oil,

and you will be satisfied with them;

and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.

20 But I will remove the northern army far away from you,

and will drive it into a barren and desolate land,

its front into the eastern sea,

and its back into the western sea;

and its stench will come up,

and its bad smell will rise.”

Surely he has done great things.

21 Land, don’t be afraid.

Be glad and rejoice, for Yahweh has done great things.

22 Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field;

for the pastures of the wilderness spring up,

for the tree bears its fruit.

The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.

23“Be glad then, you children of Zion,

and rejoice in Yahweh, your God;

for he gives you the early rain in just measure,

and he causes the rain to come down for you,

the early rain and the latter rain, as before.

24 The threshing floors will be full of wheat,

and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

the great locust, the grasshopper, and the caterpillar,

my great army, which I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied,

and will praise the name of Yahweh, your God,

who has dealt wondrously with you;

and my people will never again be disappointed.

27 You will know that I am among Israel,

and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else;

and my people will never again be disappointed.

God’s Spirit Poured Out

28“It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

and your sons and your daughters will prophesy.

Your old men will dream dreams.

Your young men will see visions.

29And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days,

I will pour out my Spirit.

30I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:

blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.

31The sun will be turned into darkness,

and the moon into blood,

before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes.

32It will happen that whoever will call on Yahweh’s name shall be saved;

for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape,

as Yahweh has said,

and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.

World English Bible Footnotes:

  • * 2:19. “Behold”, from “הִנֵּה”, means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.

Joel 3

(Online: ASV WEB)

God’s Spirit Poured Out (continued)

1“For, behold, in those days,

and in that time,

when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will gather all nations,

and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat;

and I will execute judgment on them there for my people,

and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations.

They have divided my land,

3 and have cast lots for my people,

and have given a boy for a prostitute,

and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.

4“Yes, and what are you to me, Tyre and Sidon,

and all the regions of Philistia?

Will you repay me?

And if you repay me,

I will swiftly and speedily return your repayment on your own head.

5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold,

and have carried my finest treasures into your temples,

6and have sold the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the sons of the Greeks,

that you may remove them far from their border.

7Behold, I will stir them up out of the place where you have sold them,

and will return your repayment on your own head;

8and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah,

and they will sell them to the men of Sheba,

to a faraway nation,

for Yahweh has spoken it.”

Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat

9Proclaim this among the nations:

“Prepare for war!

Stir up the mighty men.

Let all the warriors draw near.

Let them come up. 10Beat your plowshares into swords,

and your pruning hooks into spears.

Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’

11Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations,

and gather yourselves together.”

Cause your mighty ones to come down there, Yahweh.

12“Let the nations arouse themselves,

and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;

for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

13Put in the sickle;

for the harvest is ripe.

Come, tread, for the wine press is full,

the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.”

14Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!

For the day of Yahweh is near in the valley of decision.

15The sun and the moon are darkened,

and the stars withdraw their shining.

16Yahweh will roar from Zion,

and thunder from Jerusalem;

and the heavens and the earth will shake;

but Yahweh will be a refuge to his people,

and a stronghold to the children of Israel.

The Glorious Future of Judah

17“So you will know that I am Yahweh, your God,

dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain.

Then Jerusalem will be holy,

and no strangers will pass through her any more.

18It will happen in that day,

that the mountains will drop down sweet wine,

the hills will flow with milk,

all the brooks of Judah will flow with waters;

and a fountain will flow out from Yahweh’s house,

and will water the valley of Shittim.

19Egypt will be a desolation

and Edom will be a desolate wilderness,

for the violence done to the children of Judah,

because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20But Judah will be inhabited forever,

and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21I will cleanse their blood

that I have not cleansed,

for Yahweh dwells in Zion.”

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