Appropriate Godís Mercy
Explore the Bible Series
June 3, 2007
Background Passage: Joel 1:1-3:21
Lesson Passage: Joel 1:15-16; 2:12-13, 18, 25-32
For many Christians, the Minor Prophets remain a neglected are of study, but these little books, as part of the inspired revelation of God, contain needful materials for growth in godliness.† Jesus and the apostles clearly regarded the Minor Prophets highly, and they quoted freely from these inspired texts.† For instance, the reference section of the United Bible Society lists thirty times that the New Testament quotes the Book of Joel.† These precious books made up the Bible that Jesus and the apostles knew and loved, and we neglect them at the risk of our own spiritual vitality.
Authorship: We know little of the life of the prophet
Joel.† The text indicates that his
fatherís name was Pethuel, and it appears that the prophetís family came from
Date: Just as the authorís identity is mystery, so the date remains uncertain.† Conservative scholars have suggested three possibilities.
have proposed an early date during the reign of King Josiah. This good king
date the prophecy during the early Post-Exilic Period (c. 400 B.C.).† These scholars highlight Joelís concern with
the reestablishment of the
(3) Still other scholars have taken a mediate position by dating the prophecy from the late Pre-exilic Period (c. 600 B.C.).† If this dating is accurate, Joelís predictions of judgment culminate in the Babylonian Captivity.† William Hendriksen, late conservative Bible scholar, held to this Post-exilic date.†
Occasion: The occurrence of a terrible locust plague formed
the background of Joelís prophecy.†
Sadly, locust plagues commonly occurred in the ancient
I. The Plague of Locusts (1:1-20)
A. Introduction of the Book (v. 1): Clearly, Joel believed that God had moved him to pen these words.† His thoughts bore the imprimatur of God.
B. Address to three groups of people (vv. 2-12)
1. ďHear this you eldersĒ (v. 2-4): Elders served as a kind of legislative body that governed the people during the Post-Exilic Period, Joel called on these men to recall anything like this locust invasion.† Even with their years of experience, these men could not remember such destruction. He reminded the elders of their educational responsibility to the children in the midst of this catastrophe.† The four kinds of locusts, mentioned in verse five, probably denote the stages of development of a single species of locust.
you drunkardsĒ (vv. 5-7): Joel used irony in awakening the drunkards of
ashamed, O tillers of the soilĒ (vv. 11-12): The locusts had destroyed all of
the crops: vineyards, grain harvests, and fruit trees.† The locust had been thorough in their
C. A call to repentance (vv. 13-20): The sad condition of the land gave occasion for Joel to call for season of repentance, including fasting, mourning, and prayer.† The prophet ended this section with an intercessory prayer of repentance (See vv. 19-20).
II. The Day of the Lord and Mercy for Godís People (2:1-32)
Day of the Lord (vv. 1-11): Joel introduced a common theme in the preaching of
the prophets, the Day of the Lord.†
Several of the prophets anticipated a coming day of judgment when God
would visit his wrath on the ungodly.† In
this particular case, Joel foresaw this judgment on the
the alarm (v. 1): Joel commanded that the people sound the trumpet of alarm in
the city of
2. the army of the Lord (vv. 2-5): Joel did not specify the
identity of this army, but he predicted that this fearsome force would descend
3. the state of the besieged people (vv. 6-11): This indomitable army will frighten the people with their irresistable power, and the ungodly will blanch in terror before their prowess. The onslaught of the army will be accompanied by great portents in the heavens: the earth will quake, the sun and moon will darken, and the stars will cease to shine.
B. Mercy for Godís People (vv. 12-27)
1. a promise of mercy (v. 12): Even in this late hour, God offered hope for the penitent.† They must return to the Lord, and the evidence of that return centered on fasting, weeping, and mourning.† The ancients often tore their clothing as a symbol of repentance; however, in this case, Joel forbade them to merely go through the outward motions of grief. They had to rend, according to the prophet, their hearts, not their clothes (See v. 13).
2. the Lordís gracious disposition (vv. 13-14): Joel made five claims about the Lord: Jehovah is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and he relents over disaster.
3. instructions for the penitent (vv. 15-17):† Joel instructed the people to call a solemn assembly to repent of their sins and consecrate themselves to the Lord. The priests were to lead this assembly by interceding for the people.
Lord pledged to renew his people (vv. 1-27): Jehovah promised to remember his
covenant.† The northern army, symbolized by
the locust plague, would be removed from the land, and the Lord promised to
restore what the time of plague had taken from
C. The Promise of the Holy Spirit (vv. 28-32): Now, the text takes a distant look at the future blessings of the Lord.† In due time, the prophet promised that God would pour out his Spirit on his people.† This outpouring will be universal in scope: sons and daughters, old men and young men, male and female. Great portents in the earth will immediately foreshadow this giving of the Spirit, and the Lord will attend the coming of the Spirit with a marvelous offer of grace (See v. 32). ††According to the Apostle Peter, God fulfilled this prophecy on the day of Pentecost (See Acts 2:1 ff).
III. Godís Judgment on the Nations (3:1-21)
indictment against the nations (vv. 1-6): In due time, the Lord will bring
judgment upon the nations for their sins against
punishment carried out (vv. 7-16): The Lord promised to stir up