-Introduction: Joel, the son of Pethuel, records the word of the LORD in this short book primarily warning Judah of God’s impending judgment in the day of the LORD because of their sins and urging them to turn back to God before it is too late. Joel’s ministry goes from approximately 835 BC to 796 BC and little is known of this prophet other than what is given in the Scriptures. He probably lived in or near Jerusalem. Judah had been become prosperous and complacent, taking God for granted and becoming self-centered with idolatry and sin. This kind of activity inevitably will bring the judgment of the LORD. This will have an impact on the short term as well as the great and awesome time in the last days when God consummates all things.
-Chapter 1: This message that Joel is giving from the LORD is to be told to sons, sons’ sons, and future generations (Joel 1:3). There is the imagery of the locusts devouring the rich and luxuriant fields leaving desolation and wailing by gnawing, swarming, creeping, and stripping (Joel 1:4). This represents, as we see in verse 6, an invading army who is mighty and without number with strong bite and force. It makes the land a waste and consumes everything in it (Joel 1:7). *Application* Sudden destruction is a fearful and devastating concept for us as humans to fathom. We see it in nature (i.e. tornados, fires, hurricanes, floods, etc.) and sometimes through human means (i.e. atomic or nuclear weaponry). Joel is preparing his people and us of the coming judgment of the LORD upon this world by using foreshadowing. It will be a time of mourning and woe, which the world has yet to experience its fullness. Joel was calling the people to awake out of their stupor and repent (Joel 1:5). It would behoove us as well to open sensible eyes and hears to the reality of a world gone far from the LORD. Return to Him before it is too late. Accept His grace and mercy in times of distress and judgment. He is calling you. He is our only hope.
-The grain and drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD (Joel 1:9, 13b). This has happened and will happen again in the great tribulation. There is great mourning and wailing as the Temple and land lay in ruins. Nature itself is reeling from the effects of this judgment. Shame and agony grip the inhabitants and rejoicing dries up in these difficult days.
-The call goes out to put on sackcloth and consecrate a fast proclaiming a solemn assembly gathering all the elders and inhabitants of the land to the House of the LORD. “Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty (Joel 1:15).” Even the beasts are groaning in the conditions they are under where finding food is futile. There is no pasture for them and the cattle wonder aimlessly; even the sheep suffer (Joel 1:18). The call for the people is to cry out to God in their misery due to this fiery judgment (Joel 1:14b, 19). *Application* There come times in our lives that all we can do is cry out to the LORD in our hurt and suffering. The New Testament speaks often about encountering these trials of life as a means of spiritual growth and proven character (Romans 5:3-5, 2 Corinthians 7:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:4, James 1:2-3). Allow the LORD to show you “what” He wants to teach you when trials and suffering come. The “what” is a better question to Him than the “why?”
Verse to Memorize: Joel 1:15