Summary: Joel’s Day of the Lord prophecy reminds us that we are called by God to make disciples while we wait for that day to come to its ultimate consummation.
This morning, we’ll wrap up our brief look at the book of Joel. Please open up your Bibles and turn to that book. Once again, before we take a look at the passage we’ll be examining in more detail today, let’s take a moment to review the overall structure of the book.
[Use chart as a visual aid]
Three sections in Joel:
1. The past locust invasion (1:2-20)
2. A near-term judgment – invasion by a human army (2:1-27)
3. A far-term judgment and restoration (2:28-3:21)
We also need to review our definition of the “Day of the Lord”. Based on what we’ve seen here in Joel and what is confirmed other places in the Scriptures, we’re using this working definition for now, subject to modification as we learn more in future studies.
The “Day of the Lord” = a cycle consisting of:
• God revealing man’s sin,
• A means of salvation,
• An opportunity for repentance,
Although we have seen this pattern demonstrated throughout the entire book of Joel, there are some aspects of this cycle that will be revealed even more clearly as we examine the final part of the book beginning in Chapter 2, verse 28 and examine…
THE FAR-TERM JUDGMENT AND RESTORATION
As we come to verse 28 of chapter 2, it is quite clear that Joel is describing a third and very separate description of the “Day of the Lord”. In fact, the way that Joel is divided in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, makes this even clearer. In the Tanakh, verses 28 through 32 of chapter 2 actually comprise a separate chapter 3 and then Chapter 4 begins with what we have in our Bibles as Chapter 3, verse 1. But even without that clue from the Tanakh, we shouldn’t have much problem seeing that the entire last part of Joel, beginning in 2:28, describes an event that was far in the future when viewed from Joel’s perspective:
As we discovered last week, there is a noticeable change in the verb tenses between Chapter 1 and the rest of Joel. While the verbs in chapter 1 are almost all in the past tense, the verbs in the rest of the book are primarily future tense. But there is another clear change in perspective that occurs in 2:28. Beginning with that verse, Joel uses a number of phrases in this section that leave no doubt that he understood that he was looking at an event which would take place well in the future, one that was separate from the army invasion described in 2:1-27:
• And it shall come to pass afterward… (2:28)
• …in those days… (2:29)
• And it shall come to pass… (2:32)
• …in those days and at that time… (3:1)
And, as we’ll see this morning, there is some very clear evidence in the rest of Scripture that will help us to identify and understand the event, or more accurately, the cycle, of the “Day of the Lord” that Joel is describing here.
There is so much here in this passage and we obviously won’t have time to cover it all this morning, but let me just point out a few of the more significant aspects of the “Day of the Lord” that Joel describes for us.
1. This “Day of the Lord” is a cycle, not an event
This principle is one of the keys for a proper understanding of the Book of Revelation. Although, as we’ll see even this morning, there are some aspects of the “Day of the Lord” that involve major cataclysmic events, the entire “Day of the Lord”, as we have indicated with our definition of that term, is actually an entire cycle.
We can see this most clearly by going to Acts chapter 2 and observing how Peter uses the Book of Joel in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Acts 2. I’m going to begin reading in verse 14:
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.