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Book of Joel

Book of Joel
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

Chronologically, Joel was the first prophet to leave records of his preaching. Joel exercised his prophetical ministry in Judah, probably under the kings Joash and Amaziah, around 800 years B.C. He called himself the son of Pethuel. Those were the years of relative peace and well being. Jerusalem, Zion, the Temple and divine services were always on the prophet's lips. However, the prophet viewed the disasters that struck Judah — drought and, especially, the locusts — as the beginning of God's judgment over the Jews and all people.

The main vice attacked by Joel is the mechanical, spiritless doing of the rites prescribed by the law. It was the time when the pious king Joash was trying to restore religion in Judah, but succeeded mainly in improving its external manifestations. The prophet foresaw even greater increase of pagan superstitions and subsequent God's punishment, and called the Jews to sincere repentance, saying, "Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil" (Joel 2:12-13).

Often Joel's single prophetic vision combined events divided by many centuries but similar from religious perspective. For example, the forthcoming God's judgment over the Jewish people was combined in Joel's vision with the forthcoming God's judgment over the Universe at the end of the world:

"Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake" (Joel 3:12-18).

But the Holy Ghost was to descend, and the people of God were to be renewed in spirit before the Great Judgment over the world:

"I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered" (Joel 2:28-32).

The Apostle Peter reminded the Jews of this prophecy of Joel when the Holy Ghost descended on the day of Pentecost.

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A detailed outline is provided below.

Chapter 1:


1-3. Introduction
4,5. Announcement of a coming judgment of locusts
6,7. Announcement of the coming judgment from the heathen nations, of which that of the locusts is a type
8-12. A lamentation of sorrow
13-20. A call to repentance

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Chapter 2:


1-3. A recurrence to the same judgments
4-11. A description of their executioners in which there is a blending of the idea of the locusts with that of the warriors. The picture is made vivid by the use of the present tense in the Revised Version
12-17. A call to repentance
18-32. A promise of future blessing
18-20. (a) The enemies overthrown
21-27. (b) The land blessed
28-32. (c) The Holy Spirit poured out

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Chapter 3:


1-15 The overthrow of the enemy
16,17 The deliverance of Jerusalem
18 The blessing on the land
19,20 The permanency of the restoration.

We now turn our attention to the Book of Amos.

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