Joel 1

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

INTRODUCTION:

The book of Joel is named after the prophet to whom God delivered these messages. Joel means the LORD (Jehovah) is God.

Joel was a prophet of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Little is known about him. It is impossible to date Joel precisely because no Israelite king or foreign nation is mentioned in it. Many believe Joel wrote his book during the reign of Joash (835-796 B.C.), which, if accurate, would make him the earliest prophet in Judah, his ministry beginning shortly after the days of Elijah and Elisha.

References to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem in 1:9, 13, 14, and 2:15 hint that he likely prophesied in Jerusalem.

Joel 1:9 - The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.

Joel 1:13 - Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

Joel 1:14 - Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,

Joel 2:15 - Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.

Where else would they call a solemn assembly but in Jerusalem?

The theme of Joel is the solemn warning of divine judgment to be visited upon Israel in the day of the LORD. This day was foreshadowed by the locust plague as recorded in the first chapter.

The key phrase in Joel is the day of the LORD. It is found in the following verses:

Joel 1:15 - Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

Joel 2:1 - Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

Joel 2:11 - And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Joel 2:31 - The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Joel 3:14 - Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

The day of the LORD "refers to any time when God steps forth in judgment, putting down evil and rebellion, and triumphing gloriously. In the future, the Day of the LORD includes the Tribulation Period, the Second Coming, the Millennial Reign of Christ, and the final destruction of the heavens and earth with fire." (Believer's Bible Commentary, p. 1109)

I. THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS AS A TYPE OF THE DAY OF THE LORD - 1:1 - 2:11

A. The devastation of the locust horde - 1:1-7

The severe locust plague in verses 1-7 foreshadows an even worse disaster which will take place in the future. It is the day of the LORD.

Joel 1:1 - The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.

Other than what is stated in this verse, nothing is known of Pethuel.

Joel 1:2 - Hear this, ye old men [i.e. you elders], and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days [i.e. has anything like this happened in your days], or even in the days of your fathers?

The reply to the question could only be, No! What was about to happen was unique.

The elders refers to leaders in the nation of Judah.

Joel 1:3 - Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.

Joel 1:4 - That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.

Four varieties of locust (out of a total of more than 80) are mentioned. Literally, the Hebrew words mean shearer, swarmer, lapper, and devourer. Locust swarms commonly number in the millions, if not billions. Each succeeding group of locusts eats whatever is left from the previous invasion, making the devastation complete. It suggests that there will be four successive invasions of locusts. What is not eaten by the first group of locusts will be eaten by the second group. Whatever the second group leaves will be eaten by the third group, and whatever the third group leaves will be eaten by the fourth group. The fourth group will leave nothing. The devastation will be complete.

The devastation caused by the locusts will affect the drunkards -

Joel 1:5 - Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

The locusts will destroy the vineyards, leaving the drunkards without wine. (Drunkenness is the only specific sin mentioned in the book of Joel.)

Joel 1:6 - For a nation [a reference to the locusts] is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth [i.e. the fangs] of a great lion.

Joel 1:7 - He hath laid my vine waste, and barked [i.e. ruined or splintered] my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare [i.e. stripped it bare], and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.

The branches were white because they were stripped of their bark.

B. This invasion prefigures the human invaders of the future: the Assyrians and Chaldeans (or Babylonians) - 1:8-20

Joel 1:8 - Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

The one addressed in verse 8 and told to lament is feminine gender and cannot refer to the drunkards in verse 5 nor the farmers in verse 11 because both are masculine gender. It seems to represent either the land or Jerusalem.

A virgin is a betrothed woman whose fiance, because of the binding nature of betrothal, could be called her husband. According to this verse, he had died before the marriage was consummated.

Sackcloth was a coarse, dark cloth which was worn as an expression of sorrow when mourning the loss of someone or something

The primary reason for the mourning is the effect the locust plague would have on worshiping the LORD -

Joel 1:9 - The meat [i.e. grain] offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.

The meat offering (i.e. the grain offering) and drink offering, which involved the offering of wine, could no longer be offered because the locusts had wiped out the grain, the grapes, and the olive oil needed for these offerings. The locusts had consumed them all.

Not only do the drunkards and the priests have reason to mourn, the farmers and grape growers also have reason to mourn -

Joel 1:10 - The field is wasted [i.e. is ruined], the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted [i.e. the grain is ruined]: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth [i.e. olive oil fails].

Joel 1:11 - Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen [i.e. you farmers]; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished [i.e. is destroyed].

Joel 1:12 - The vine [i.e. the grapevine] is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth [i.e. has withered]; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree [possibly an apricot tree], even all the trees of the field, are withered [i.e. dried up]: because joy is withered away [i.e. has dried up] from the sons of men.

There will be no joy or rejoicing in the harvest because there won't be any harvest. Their crops have been totally destroyed.

Joel 1:13 - Gird yourselves [suggests gird yourselves with sackcloth], and lament [i.e. mourn], ye priests: howl [i.e. wail], ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering [i.e. the grain offering] and the drink offering is withholden [i.e. are withheld] from the house of your God.

Joel 1:14 - Sanctify [i.e. consecrate] ye a fast, call a solemn [i.e. sacred] assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,

The priests are called upon to lead the people in a fast and solemn public gathering of national repentance.

Joel 1:15 - Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand [i.e. is near], and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

I have already said that the day of the LORD "refers to any time when God steps forth in judgment, putting down evil and rebellion, and triumphing gloriously. In the future, the Day of the LORD includes the Tribulation Period, the Second Coming, the Millennial Reign of Christ, and the final destruction of the heavens and earth with fire."

The day of the LORD is not the locust plague, but is a precursor to the coming of the day of the LORD. It will also bring total destruction to Judah. It seems best understood as referring to the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions as well as to the future destruction in the tribulation.

Verses 16-20 describe the aftermath of the locust plague -

Joel 1:16 - Is not the meat [i.e. food] cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?

Not only is there no food, but there is also no joy or gladness coming from the temple.

Drought had also apparently come -

Joel 1:17 - The seed is rotten [i.e. shriveled] under their clods [i.e. clods of dirt], the garners are laid desolate [i.e. the storehouses are in shambles], the barns are broken [or torn] down [with nothing to store in the granaries, they were apparently not maintained and left to deteriorate]; for the corn is withered [i.e. dried up].

Even the animals are affected as a result of the locust plague and the drought. They do not have enough to eat or drink -

Joel 1:18 - How do the beasts [i.e. animals] groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed [i.e. restless], because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate [i.e. suffer punishment].

Joel 1:19 - O LORD, to thee will I cry [i.e. to You I cry out]: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness [i.e. fire has devoured the open pastures], and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.

Joel 1:20 - The beasts of the field cry also unto thee [i.e. even the wild animals cry out to you, LORD]: for the rivers of waters are dried up [i.e. the water brooks are dried up], and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness [and fire has devoured the open pastures].

Even the animals suffer because of man's sin, and they too cry to God.

Scriptures
Series

This sermon is the 1st part of the series, Study of Joel. Other sermons in this series are: