Summary: Why did any of the prophets even bother warning people? They did so for the same reason God gives us the gift of time: so that everyone has the opportunity to repent and come back to God.
Major News from Minor Prophets
Joel: The day of the Lord comes!
Very little is known about Joel. His name means “Jehovah is God” (Jo-el).
His life does not parallel any of the twelve other people named Joel in the Old Testament.
Besides being identified as the son of Penthuel at the beginning of this prophecy, he is only mentioned one other time in the entire Bible (Acts 2).
Why did the prophets even bother warning people?
They did so for the same reason God gives us the gift of time:
so that everyone has the opportunity to repent and come back to God.
1. The Day of the Lord is Near; Coming Judgment. Joel 1:1-15
This judgment centers on the warning of a plague of locusts.
Now- you may think: “ah, little grasshoppers. Not much of a problem, eh.”
Illustration: History records a similar event. Let me read to you: In 1915 a plague of locusts covered Palestine and Syria from the border of Egypt to the Taurus Mountains. The first swarms appeared in March. These were adult locusts that came from the northeast and moved toward the southwest in clouds so thick they obscured the sun. The females were 2.5 to 3 inches long, and they immediately began to lay eggs by digging holes in the soil about four inches deep and depositing about 100 eggs in each. The eggs were neatly arranged in a cylindrical mass about one inch long and about thick as a pencil. These holes were everywhere. Witnesses estimated that as many as 65,000-75,000 eggs were concentrated in a single square meter of soil, and patches like this covered the entire land from north to south. Having laid their eggs the locusts flew away.
Within a few weeks the young locusts hatched. These resembled large ants. They had no wings, and within a few days they began moving forward by hopping along the ground like fleas. They would cover four to six hundred feet a day, devouring any vegetation before them. By the end of May they had molted. In this stage they had wings, but they still did not fly. Instead they moved forward by walking, jumping only when they were frightened. They were bright yellow. Finally the locusts molted again, this time becoming the fully developed adults that had invaded the land initially.
According to a description of this plague by John D. Whiting in the December 1915 issue of National Geographic Magazine, the earlier stages of these insects attacked the vineyards. “Once entering a vineyard the sprawling vines would in the shortest time be nothing but bare bark. When the daintier morsels were gone, the bark was eaten off the young topmost branches, which, after exposure to the sun, were bleached snow-white. Then seemingly out of malice, they would gnaw off small limbs, perhaps to get at the pith within." Whiting describes how the locusts of the last stage completed the destruction begun by the earlier form." They attacked the olive trees, whose tough, bitter leaves had been passed over by the creeping locusts. They stripped every leaf, berry, and even the tender bark." They ate away "layer after layer" of the cactus plants, "giving the leaves the effect of having been jackplaned. Even on the scare and prized palms they had no pity, gnawing off the tenderer ends of the sword like branches and, diving deep into the heart, they tunneled after the juicy pith."
(From "The minor prophets" Vol 1 by James Montgomery Boice, "Joel")
Joel engages with the suffering so much that it becomes to him (and the voice of the Lord) a springboard to look at the ‘end days’ –it becomes a sonar echo of the ‘end days’ A ‘birth pang’
And I think that’s how it should be for ALL of us. In one sense- can’t help but have that happen. “Oh, the situation in the middle east… Israel/Palestine! It’s the end”
- in one sense it is! All these things are reminders, birth pains, pre-shocks (not after-shocks) of:
• what will be the end
• the fact that the world is not cyclical but moving towards a climax. Ending
• the fact that God will bring to an end all the evil of the world… this world itself… and all that offends Him
Joel has a lot to say about the future. Actually- it’s a marvelous book of present problems, disaster and darkness- but out of it and through it shines God’s light of hope and promises for the future
- never, in God’s economy, is there pain without His precious future promises
But there’s present promises and hope, too.
2. The Day of the Lord Postponed; Repentance. Joel 2:1-27
2:12- if the people return to God, rend their hearts and not their garment… truly repent and are contrite….Then the locusts are not the end of the story! NOW