Joel (/oʊ əl/; Hebrew: יוֹאֵל – Yō'ēl; Greek: Ἰωήλ – Iōḗl; Syriac: ܝܘܐܝܠ – Yu'il) was a prophet of ancient Israel,
the second of the twelve minor prophets and according to the book itself the author of the Book of Joel.
He is mentioned by name only once in the Hebrew Bible,
in the introduction to that book, as the son of Pethuel (Joel 1:1).
The name Joel combines the covenant name of God, YHWH (or Yahweh), and El (god),
and has been translated as "one to whom YHWH is God," that is, a worshiper of YHWH. (Wikipedia)
Joel wrote to warn his audience about a coming day in which God would judge His people.
He compared this devastating judgment to a terrible locust invasion that had fairly recently swept through the land.
What he said about this coming judgment has only seen partial fulfillment;
some of it still lies in the eschatological future (i.e., the eschaton).
God would send blessing as well as judgment,
however, and this too has only come partially on the Israelites so far.
The prophet warned his hearers that unless they repented of their empty formalism in worship
and turned back to Yahweh wholeheartedly,
devastating judgment would overtake them.
If they repented, God would pardon them
and restore His blessings to them abundantly. (Thomas Constable)
Study of literature shows how pervasive plagues of locusts were over the course of history. The insects arrived unexpectedly, often after a change of wind direction or weather, and the consequences were devastating. The Ancient Egyptians carved locusts on tombs in the period 2470 to 2220 BC. A devastating plague in Egypt is also mentioned in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. The Iliad mentions locusts taking to the wing to escape fire. Plagues of locusts are also mentioned in the Quran. In the ninth century BC, the Chinese authorities appointed anti-locust officers. Human-headed locusts are also mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Aristotle studied locusts and their breeding habits and Livy recorded a devastating plague in Capua in 203 BC. He mentioned human epidemics following locust plagues which he associated with the stench from the putrifying corpses; the linking of human disease outbreaks to locust plagues was widespread. A pestilence in the northwestern provinces of China in 311 AD that killed 98% of the population locally was blamed on locusts, and may have been caused by an increase in numbers of rats (and their fleas) that devoured the locust carcasses.
During the last two millennia, locust plagues continued to appear at irregular intervals with the main recorded outbreaks of the desert and migratory locusts occurring in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Other species of locusts caused havoc in North and South America, Asia, and Australasia; 173 outbreaks over a period of 1924 years have been recorded in China. The Bombay locust (Nomadacris succincta) was a major pest in India and southeastern Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries, but has seldom swarmed since the last plague in 1908.
In the spring of 1747 locusts arrived outside Damascus eating the majority of the crops and vegetation of the surrounding countryside. One local barber, Ahmad al-Budayri, recalled the locusts "came like a black cloud. They covered everything: the trees and the crops. May God Almighty save us!"
The extinction of the Rocky Mountain locust has been a source of puzzlement. It had swarmed throughout the west of the United States and parts of Canada in the 19th century. Albert's swarm of 1875 was estimated to cover 198,000 square miles (510,000 km2) (greater than the area of California) and to weigh 27.5 million tons, with some 12.5 trillion insects. The last specimen was seen alive in Canada in 1902. Recent research suggests the breeding grounds of this insect in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains came under sustained agricultural development during the large influx of gold miners, destroying the underground eggs of the locust.
The 1915 infestation across Palestine and Syria was one of the main contributors to famine in Lebanon which lasted from 1915 to 1918 during which around 200,000 people died.
1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel:
30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
3:1 For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgement with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, 3 and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.
4 What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. 5 For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. 7 But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. 8 I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away; for the Lord has spoken.
The physical land of Israel is owned by God--even though He created everything. The Jewish people, specifically called to represent the One True God, were called to live in the Land--God's Land, God's People. The right of the Jews to live in the land is, however, conditioned on their obedience. Disobedience brought times of testing: a locus invasion or a military invasion from the North.
An invasion of locusts was unstoppable. In a matter of hours, green, lush, farm land, orchards, meadows, gardens was stripped bare leaving total desolation and immediate economic disaster affecting everyone.
The prophet Joel calls the entire nation to prayer, (1:6) because of an impending invasion of these flying grasshoppers. In this instance, evidently, the wake-up call succeeds! The entire nation repents and the invasion is thwarted. (2:12-27) God not only calls off the invasion but He heals the damages of sin in His people. (2:21-22) He gives them back their wasted years!
The latter part of Joel leaps forward in time to events concerned with the Final Redemption of Israel, soon to take place in our day! This explains why the Apostle Peter quotes Joel in his stirring message on the Day of Pentecost. Peter said Joel's prophecy was happening then and there that very day. Further revelation from God now tells us Israel was placed on hold in 70 AD because of their further disobedience, God is now calling out a Bride for Messiah Jesus, afterwards He will return Israel to center stage, fulfilling all His promises to Israel in spite of their four thousand year poor track record.
The Day of Pentecost
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“The Lord said to my Lord,Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ (Acts 2:1-34)
The Wasted Years
The Gog/Magog Invasion
The Body of Christ in Perilous Times
At the Gate
Hiding in the Rock
The Hidden of the Lord
Battle Hymn of the Republic
"Hard Times" Mavis Staples, (Stephen Foster)
"All the Good Times are Past and Gone"
Marching Upward to Zion
Come Thou Almighty King
No Hiding Place Down Here (Carter Family)
Notes by Lambert Dolphin