Summary: God gives a somber condemnation of indiffernce and speaks to the people of Joel’s day of what they must do to overcome it.
CHANGING THE SPIRITUAL CLIMATE: INDIFFERENCE
Joel 2:1, 12-28 (1:1-5, 13-16)
Joel is listed as one of the minor prophets, in contrast to the major prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Daniel. They are called the minor prophets simply because the short length of their works. The title, “minor prophets”, I believe, is somewhat mis-leading. Many people think that because they are minor prophets, that their messages must not be all that important. However, I beg to differ. God’s word is divinely inspired, all of it and that includes the so called minor prophets.
There is not a lot that we know about the prophet Joel. All the information we have about him from his prophecy is that he was the son of Pethuel (Pethuel means vision of God). This prophecy is primarily addressed to the nation of Judah, the southern kingdom and even more specifically, Jerusalem. There is not anything within this book that would tell of when it was written, we have no listed date, nor any references to any date within the book. Some scholars believe that Joel was written about 400 BC, others believe it was written as early as 800 BC. Perhaps no date is given so we will not be guilty of dating the message as being too old. The message of this book applies to us today in America and especially to the church. It is a message that is not too old nor is it one that can’t apply to any generation.
What is the message of this minor prophet? To understand his message, we must first understand the spiritual climate of his time. If the book was written around the 800’s, Joel would have been close to the time period of Isaiah and many of the problems of Isaiah’s time would also be faced by Joel and his people. There are certain “keys” found through out the prophecy that give us insight to the spiritual climate of Joel’s time.
In chapter 1:5, we find the word “awake” as it is addressed to the drunkards. This implies either sleep or slumber. The people of Joel’s day had a lack of awareness of the times they were living in. They were asleep spiritually, intoxicated with alcohol. In chapter 1:5, the command is given to be ashamed. Apparently there were those who were filled with pride and arrogance and failed to understand that God was the One in control. In chapter 2:12, we find the phrase “all your heart”. Also in chapter 3:14, we find reference to those “in the valley of decision”. The Hebrew word for decision is the word "charuwts" meaning decision, this comes from a threshing instrument that was sharp or sharp-pointed. The idea here is of something being balanced upon the sharp end of an object, and could fall either way. This tells us that many were on the edge of their commitment to God, they were half hearted, not totally sold out for the Lord. Another key that we find in Joel is in chapter 2:13, in the phrase “rend your hearts and not your garments. The rending of garments was an outward sign of repentance and deep sorrow among the Jewish people. Outwardly, things looked good, but God sees inwardly, and judges accordingly. No doubt, people were making a show of religion, doing all the right religious rituals to do, yet, inwardly, their hearts were far, far away from God.
One final key is found through out the book, chapter 1:9, 1:13, 1:16, and 2:17, all make references to either the priesthood, or the temple. The implication here is that the priests, the ministers of the Lord, were unconcerned about the people under them. As long as they received their portions, they had no concern for making intercession and carrying the needs of the people before God.
This was a nation that while outwardly looked religious, inwardly they were away from God, lukewarm and indifferent. If Joel was written about the 800’s BC, this would have been before Judah fell into deep idolatry. Before anyone falls away from God outwardly, inwardly they fall away from God, such was the condition of Judah. The prophecy of Joel points out certain truths that we need to see today.
I. THERE IS THE SOBER CONDEMNATION OF INDIFFERENCE.
1. Let me begin by asking you a series of questions, “Are you as excited for God now as when you were first saved?” “Are you as concerned about spiritual things now as when you were first saved?”, and “Do you love the Lord as much now as when you were first saved?”
2. There is a song that states, “He gets sweeter and sweeter as the days go by, Oh what a love between my Lord and I. I keep falling in love with Him, over and over and over and over again.” Isn’t that the way that it should be, that every day, we find that the Lord is better to us than we could ever imagine, that God’s promises are real and trustworthy? As we find these things out, it ought to excite us all the more for the Lord. I believe that God wants us excited as Christians.