Joel was a prophet of the Lord, approximately 800BC, but it is very unclear exactly when he lived and worked for the Lord his God. His name means “The Lord is God” and his proclamation speaks the Word of the Lord to his generation and all after him, according as he is included in the Holy Scriptures. Joel may have been a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah and after the prophets Amos and Micah.
The book cites calamity, especially in the first chapter, which strikes the farming community with great destruction and desolation.
“Hear this, you elders, And listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?”
This is a calamity of calamities and brings total desolation to the land of Judah and death and disease to the people. It is a pestilence from the Lord and the land is brought to economic and social ruin by it. The whole countryside is destroyed and those who tend the fields and vineyards are reduced to poverty and sorrow. There is an outpouring of the grief in chapter one and this is developed through the three chapters of the book to show the spiritual desolation of the people of God and the restoration by the power of the Spirit of God.
There are no sacrifices to the Lord in this calamity because there is no provision for the people. The prophet calls for restoration and that the people repent and return to the Lord their God.
“Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth.”
The return to God must be sincere and sacrificial and the Lord will relent and heal their land.
The prophet Joel also points us to the situation in these last days, when God’s Spirit will be poured out on all His people and there will be an ingathering of people from every kindred, tribe and tongue. These last days have cataclysmic calamity and the people of God are kept safe from this. It is a time of great conflict and trouble.
“I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the LORD.”
This apocalyptic writing denotes what is coming in future days and could be happening right now in our world. The Lord is not slack concerning His promises and He has promised to deliver His holy people, and so he will.
“And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. All the streams of Judah will run with water, and a spring will flow from the house of the LORD…”
Whatever happens around us, the Lord will not forsake those who love Him. The future is bright even though all around seems dark and foreboding. The prophet Joel reminds us of the mercy of the Lord when all around gives way to conflict, loss and destruction. Those who put their trust in Him are never confounded.