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The Book of Joel


I.       Prophet Joel

Besides the brief description of Joel recorded in the book of Joel, we know very little about his background and his life. His name "Joel" (        ) indicates the expectation his parents have for him: "The Lord is God."  The word of God came to him and his prophecy was later fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. The prophecy is also fulfilled in "True Jesus Church" in the end day before the "great dreadful day of the Lord" arrives.  Not only did he prophesy about the Early Rain (Autumn Rain) which was to come on the day of Pentecost, he also prophesied about the Latter Rain (Spring Rain) which is still descending at this present time.

II.    Date of the completion of the book

There are various views on this issue.  Some conservative theologians believe that it was done in the 9th century B.C.  while the radical theologians agree it to be a work of after the nation was captured by the Babylonians.  In the midst of these different views, the question we should ask is: "What is the message of God to us through the prophet Joel?"

III. Outline of this book

The Hebrew Bible (BHS Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) divides the book of Joel into four chapters.  The Latin version (Vulgata), however, divides this book into three chapters; making the chapter three of the Hebrew Bible into chapter two verse 28-32. The English Bibles adhere to the tradition of the KJV, dividing it into three chapters.  The Chinese version follows the English version.

A.     Introduction (1:1)

B.     An Invasion of locusts predicates the day of the Lord (1:2-20)

1.        An Invasion of Locusts (1:2-4)

2.        Great disasters (1:5-14)

 a.      Drunkards - weep! (1:5-7)

 b.      My people - lament! (1:8)

 c.      Priests - mourn! (1:9-10)

 d.      Farmers - ashamed! (1:11-12)

 e.      Priests - despair! (1:13-14)

3.        Lamentation (1:15-18)

4.        Calling on God in moaning and groaning (1:19-20)

C.     Proclaim an army of locust comes with the great dreadful  day of the Lord (2:1-17)

1.        Proclaim the day of the Lord is coming (2:1-3)

2.        Description of the enemy's invasion (2:4-11)

3.        Urge the people to return to God (2:12-14)

4.        Urge the people to call on God (2:15-17)

D.     God answers the people (2:18-32)

1.        “God heeded” - introduction (2:18)

2.        Promises harvest (2:19a)

3.        Promises the departure of the enemy (2:19b-20)

4.        Be glad and rejoice: land(2:21), beasts of the  field(2:22), people of Zion(2:23-25)

5.        God's self-fulfillment (2:26-27)

6.        Prophesy the descent of the Holy Spirit (2:28-29)

7.        Signs of the great dreadful day (2:30-31)

8.        Promise salvation (2:32)

E.     The day of the Lord (3:1-17)

1.        Judge all nations (3:1-8)

2.        Declare wars among nations (3:9-10)

3.        The prayer and proclamation of the prophets (3:11)

4.        The final judgment (3:12-15)

5.        God will be the refuge of His people (3:16-17)

F.      The everlasting Jerusalem (3:18-20)

IV.  Special Topics in the Book of Joel

A.     The study of the dreadful plague of locust over the space of time

1.        The actual historical plague of locust (1:2-4)

2.        The plague of locusts represents enemy (1:6, 2:2,3-10,20)

 a.      A nation has invaded my land, powerful and numberless (1:6)

 b.      A great and powerful people, their like has never been from of old (2:2)

 c.      From the north (2:20)

 d.      All nations (3:2,9,12)

B.     Unprecedented disasters in the end days

1.        Earth quakes, heavens tremble, sun and moon are darkened, stars withdraw their shining (2:10)

2.        Show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood (2:30-31)

3.        The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining (3:15)


C.     The analysis of "the Lord's day" in the book of Joel

1.        The day of the Lord is at hand"

 a.      “For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.” (1:15)

 b.      That is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!  Like dawn spreading across the mountains (2:2)

 c.      The day of the Lord is near the valley of decision (3:14)

2.        "The day of the Lord is coming"

 a.      The day of the Lord is coming.  It is close at hand (2:1)

3.        "The day of the Lord is great and dreadful"

 a.      Who can endure it?

 b.      The Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, showing wonders in the heavens and on the earth, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (2:28-32)

D.     What are "grain offerings and drink offerings?"  What is their significance in the book of Joel?

1.        cf. Lev. 23:18,13; Num 6:15; 15:24; 28:3-9; 29:11,16-39

2.        Joel 1:9,13: Cut off from the house of the Lord Joel 2:14: Who knows?  He may leave behind a blessing

E.     After the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost, the disciples preached boldly.  The reference made in the first part of the first sermon is recorded in Joel 2:28-32.  Try to analyze the structure of the passage and the fulfillment of this event in history.

F.      The people of Zion shall be glad because of "showers", the autumn rain and spring rain.  Please read and compare the following verses relating to the early rain and the latter rain. Think about their fulfillment in the course of history.

G.     In Joel 3:10, "Beat your plowshare into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears" signifies a preparation for war, but in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks" signifies a "peace" (Zech 9:10; Hosea 2:18; Psalms 46:9).  What is the explanation of this contradiction?

H.    "Two different harvests with the same pruning hook"

1.        Please explain Joel 3:13; Rev 14:15-18; Mat 13:37-43; Jer 51:33

I.       Discussion on "the everlasting Jerusalem" (Joel 3:18-20)

J.      Why the "strangers shall never again pass through [Jerusalem]"(Joel 3:17)?

K.    Discussion on "Everyone who calls on Him will be saved" (Joel 2:32)

L.     What are the meaning and differences of "rending heart" and "rending garment"? (Joel 2:13)