The Minor Prophets and the Last Days - Joel

This is second instalment of the brief study on the minor prophets. We will be studying today about the prophet Joel. Not much is known about this prophet except that he was the son of Pethuel, also an unknown. Joel, the son of Pethuel was only mentioned twice in the Bible, first is from the book of the prophet itself, Joel 1:1 and then in the Book of Acts 2:16 which is about the initial fulfilment of the prophecy on outpouring of the Holy Spirit just after Jesus Christ has risen.

Likewise, the date when the book was written is uncertain. Most likely, it was written after the fall of Judah in 587 BC since the prophet mentioned also past suffering and the fall of the Jews, the people of Judah. The fact that the House of Judah fell after the fall of the House of Israel Joel prophesied the restoration of both kingdoms into a single kingdom of Israel in the later part of the book.

The Book of Joel is basically a prophecy on the last days and the Day of the Lord. The book is the Old Testament equivalent of the Book of Revelations of the New Testament, although in lesser detail.

The book is summarized as follows:

1. The invasion of locusts
Joel 1:2-12 details the coming locusts. These locusts are no ordinary locusts. They are actually the army of God destroying the earth. 

Joel 1:6-7
6 A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. 7 It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.

The Bible has many prophecies about the destroying locusts. Compare this verse with Isaiah prophecy of last days' locusts in Isa 33:2-4 and Jer 46:23-24. Joel was describing how locusts devour plants which will be the manner how God's army destroys the unbelievers in the Second Coming of Jesus. It shall be a horrifying, swift end but Jesus said, for the sake of the elect, He will shorten those days.

Joel also warned Israel:

Joel 1:2-4
2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? 3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.

He was simply saying that the plague of locust during the time of Moses centuries ago is nothing compared to the last days locusts because the coming locusts will destroy both plants and men.

2. The call to repentance
Joel 1: 13-20 warns Israel and repent especially those who were called to take care of the flock, the leaders of the Church.

Joel 1:13-14
13 Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.

The Day of the Lord is a destruction by fire to burn all our food chain.

Joel 1:15-18
15 Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 16 Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes — joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. 18 How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering.

3. More on the army of locusts
Chapter 2 gives us more details on the army of locusts. The time of coming of the army of locusts is clear-- it will be in the Day of the Lord. And this army of locusts is the army of God.

Joel 2:1-2
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand — 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.

The Day of the Lord is a year of darkness and gloom. Jesus also said:

Matt 24:21-22
21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

Again the army of God is also called army of locusts in Rev 9:2-11--

Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.

The king of the Abyss is also the king of this army. He is Abaddon or the Destroyer. He is identified as angel in Revelation but it is actually the Lord God who will be in command of this army.

Joel 2:11
11 The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

For a backgrounder of this army, read Greenland: The Camp of God's Army - Part 1 and Part 2. Nations will be in anguish and every face will turn pale at the sight of them (Joel 2:6). They will also bring terror even to the Antichrist (Dan 11:44).

4. Everyone is called to pray for deliverance
The Lord declared that we all should return to Him to avoid His coming wrath.

Joel 2:12-14
12'Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing — grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.

Read also Luke 21:36--

36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

The Lord promised deliverance after bringing suffering to His elect. Once His fury has ended, He will again gather His people and bring them back to the Promised Land. And right there, God will destroy the advancing army of the enemy.

Joel 2:19-21
19 The LORD will reply to them:
'I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.

20'I will drive the northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.' Surely he has done great things. 21 Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things.

That advancing army that will attack God's people are Gog and Magog prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. Read also The Battle of Armageddon for more details. God will also restore the Promised Land to become fertile and productive again (Joel 2: 21-27).

5. Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved
During the Day of the Lord, God's Spirit will be poured on all God's people. The power of God will be made manifest in prophesies, dreams and visions. The initial fulfilment was during the Day of the Pentecost when the apostles received the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire resting on each one of them (Acts 2:1-4). But unlike before that only the apostles and few converts received it, the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit will be more massive since it will be for all people.

Joel 2:28-31
28'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

Read also Ezek 39:29. Just like in the days of Peter and the apostles, many peoples believed and were converted. So will be during those days among the survivors of the last days.

Joel 2:32
32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

6. The Lord's army and harvest of nations
In chapter 3 of Joel, the prophet finally identified the army of locusts. They are the warriors of God from among the nations.

Joel 3:9-11
9 Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, 'I am strong!' 11 Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there.

Bring down your warriors, O LORD!

Read also Isaiah 13:2–8 about this army.

Then all nations will be gathered together in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This is the same Valley of Megiddo where the Battle of Armageddon will be fought. All nations will see Jesus Christ with great power and glory descending among the clouds. Jesus will protect His people and will destroy the enemies. Then the survivors will be judged. That will be the first judgment which is intended only for the survivors of the last days.

Joel 3:12-14
12'Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow — so great is their wickedness!'

14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Read also Matt 24:31; Rev 14:15; 19:15-- few prophecies about the coming harvest of the earth.

7. The Lord will finally dwell in Zion forever

Joel 3:18-21
18'In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house and will water the valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. 20 Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. 21 Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.'

The LORD dwells in Zion!

Check out The Millennium for more on the future glory of God's kingdom.

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