Summary: An introduction to Joel’s description of the "Day of the Lord".
This morning we’ll begin in earnest our study of the Book of Revelation – God’s final word to His people. As we saw last week, there is really not anything new in the Book of Revelation, but rather John paints for us a number of pictures to help us gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of what we’ve already read in the first sixty-five books of the Bible. So, in a sense, Revelation is merely God’s summary, or His final word on every significant matter that has already been addressed in the Scriptures previously.
And since those previous Scriptures, especially those we find in the Old Testament prophets, are so crucial in laying a proper framework for the Book of Revelation, we’re going to take some time to examine those Scriptures in order to make sure that we let the Scriptures themselves, and not some theory, structure or system developed by man, serve as our guide as we work our way through the Revelation.
To the extent that it is possible based on the information we have, we’re going to work our way through those passages in the chronological order in which they were written, beginning with the earliest prophets. So this morning we’ll begin with the prophet Joel.
Please take your Bibles and open them up to the Book of Joel. You’ll find Joel in the Old Testament right after the major prophetic books of Ezekiel and Daniel, then the prophet Hosea followed by Joel. Since, in many cases, like this morning, we’ll be looking at some larger sections of Scripture, it’s just not practical for me to put those passages in your bulletin inserts or on the screen, so I want to encourage you to bring your Bibles each week. If you don’t have one with you, there are red Bibles in the chair backs throughout the auditorium. This will also have the added advantage of encouraging all of us to actually use our Bibles and to get more familiar with them.
I also want to use a common translation for our entire study of the Book of Revelation and these related Old Testament passages. That will provide us with the advantage of all reading the same words as well as make it much easier to track certain words and phrases through all the different passages we’ll be looking at in order to determine patterns
For a number of reasons, we’ve decided to use the ESV translation in our study, which frankly will require a change for me, too. I’m not going to take a lot of time to explain the reasons we’ve chosen that translation other than to say that it is a good, literal translation of the underlying Hebrew and Greek texts that is also readable.
I know that all of us have our preferred translations and I’m certainly not going to demand that you switch translations. But what we do want to do is to make it easy for everyone to have in their hands a hard copy of the ESV translation that we’ll be using if you’d like to have one. The church is going to order these Bibles in bulk and will make them available to everyone at an amount that will cover our costs. The regular editions will be available for $10 each and the large print edition will be available for $15 each. There is a sign-up sheet at the Welcome Center if you would like to order a Bible. We should have these here within two weeks at the most. In the meantime, I’ve also given you a link in your bulletin to the full ESV text that is available on the internet.
Now that we have those housekeeping matters out of the way, let’s dig into the book of Joel.
Although we’re examining the Book of Joel first, primarily because of its position in the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh, it is really difficult to know exactly when Joel prophesied. The most common conservative dating places his ministry during the reign of Joash in the southern kingdom of Judah, somewhere between 850 and 800 BC. But perhaps there is some value in not knowing for certain the specific circumstances under which Joel ministered because it makes the principles which we will find there even more universal in their application since they aren’t limited to any specific time or circumstances.
We really don’t know much about Joel either. He merely identifies himself as the son of Pethuel, someone who is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible.
I don’t believe it is at all a coincidence that we’ve begun our journey in the Book of Joel. As we will find in a moment, there is a pattern to the Book of Joel that will be repeated over and over again with other prophecies and which we will also find in the book of Revelation itself.