Book of Joel: Jehovah is God

book of joel

Book of Joel

Joel, the son of Pethuel,” whose name means “Yahweh is God,” gives the book of Joel its title. Little is known of Joel except what is learned in the book itself. His references to Judah and Jerusalem, along with his knowledge of the activities of priest and temple, suggest that he was from Judah or perhaps even Jerusalem. His address to priests and elders likely eliminates him as a member of either group.

The “day of the Lord” the dominant theme of the Book of Joel. Both the nations and Israel experience this judgment. However, for the repentant community, the “day” also holds out the hope of restoration. Ultimately, the Lord’s covenant faithfulness is expressed in his promises of abundance and protection, which evidence his dwelling in the midst of his people. This is epitomized in the great promise of “my Spirit” that would be poured out on “all flesh”.

Joel calls all the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem to lament and return to the Lord during a time of national calamity. This crisis is precipitated in the first instance by a locust plague that has destroyed both wine and grain and therefore threatens the ability of the people of God to present offerings in the temple. Given this background, Joel may have served as a lament in the ongoing life of God’s people during other times of national tragedy.

The locust plague was only a foretaste of the judgment to come in the day of the Lord. This is a timeless call to repentance with the promise of blessing. Just as the people faced the tragedy of their crops being destroyed, we too will face tragic judgment if we live in sin. But God’s grace is available to us both now and in that coming day.

Authorship and Date

The author of the book of Joel is the prophet Joel, who identifies himself in the introduction as “the son of Pethuel.” His many references to agriculture may indicate he was a farmer or a herdsman.

Unlike most of the other Old Testament prophets, Joel mentions no kings of Judah or Israel and no historical events that might give us some indication about when he wrote his prophecy. The similarity of Joel’s concept of the day of the Lord to the language of the prophet Zephaniah may indicate they were contemporaries. Zephaniah prophesied shortly before the fall of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah in 587 B.C.

Historical Setting

If Joel did write the book about 600 B.C., he would have lived in the frantic final years of the nation of Judah. After the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem in 587/596 B.C. the leading citizens of Judah were carried into captivity in Babylon.

Theological Contribution of the Book of Joel

The Book of Joel is remarkable because it shows that a message from God can often come packaged in the form of a natural disaster. This prophet teaches us that the Lord may use a natural disaster to stir His people a renewed awareness of His will.

Special Consideration in the Book of Joel

Readers of Joel are always impressed with the prediction of the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter used this passage to explain the exciting events of Pentecost to his hearers. Just as Joel predicted, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all these early followers of Jesus who were gathered in Jerusalem seeking God’s will and praying for His divine guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Book of Joel about? The Book of Joel is a prophetic work found in the Old Testament of the Bible. It primarily focuses on themes of judgment, repentance, and restoration. Joel describes a devastating locust plague as a metaphor for an impending divine judgment, calling upon the people of Judah to repent and return to God. Additionally, the book contains prophecies about future events, including the outpouring of God’s Spirit and the Day of the Lord.

When was the Book of Joel written? The exact date of the Book of Joel’s composition is uncertain, but scholars generally place it in the 5th or 4th century BCE. Some suggest it was written after the Babylonian exile, while others argue for an earlier date. Regardless, Joel’s message remains relevant across time, addressing timeless themes of repentance, divine judgment, and restoration.

What is the significance of the locust plague in Joel? The locust plague described in Joel serves as a powerful symbol of God’s judgment. It represents the devastation that comes upon the land due to disobedience and sin. However, the locust plague also serves as a call to repentance, urging the people to turn back to God in sincere mourning and fasting. Through repentance, Joel suggests that restoration and blessing can follow.

How does the Book of Joel relate to other prophetic books in the Bible? While Joel is one of the shorter prophetic books, its themes and messages resonate with those found in other prophetic works, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos. Like these prophets, Joel warns of impending judgment but also holds out hope for restoration and renewal for those who turn back to God. Additionally, Joel’s prophecies about the outpouring of God’s Spirit are echoed in the New Testament, particularly in Acts 2.

What lessons can we learn from the Book of Joel today? The Book of Joel speaks to universal truths about the consequences of sin, the importance of repentance, and the faithfulness of God. Its message challenges readers to examine their own lives, to recognize areas of disobedience, and to turn back to God in humility and sincerity. Moreover, Joel’s vision of restoration and the promise of God’s Spirit serve as reminders of God’s grace and mercy, offering hope even in the midst of judgment.

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.

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