Summary: The Sound of the Locusts! Overview of the book of Joel – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). Who wrote the book?

(2). When was it written?

(3). What's the big idea?

(4). So what?



• Locusts trivia:

• Locust are insects that rub their legs and wings against their body,

• To make a humming sound.

• They can hear this hum and a range of other sounds;

• Through ears on their abdomens.

• Adults grow to 7 cm (3 in) long,

• They eating the equivalent of their own weight in a day.

• Locusts are larger than grasshoppers and have transparent wings.

• They can fly for 15 hours at a time.

• When a lot of locusts come together,

• They change colour and form a swarm that can be miles wide;

• Blotting out the sun and devouring every plant in its path.


• New Planet Earth 2 footage (YouTube: );

• Captured one of the biggest plagues of locusts ever witnessed caught on camera.

• Billions of individual insects made up the mega-swarm;

• That stretched across 300 square kilometres (116 square miles);

• And munched its way through 40,000 tonnes of food a day.

• The presenter Sir David Attenborough sounds astounded;

• As he reveals how the battalions of crawling insects,

• Become even more devastating;

• As they suddenly start sprouting wings and turn into voracious whirlwind.

• TRANSITION: Locusts. Locusts everywhere.

• A devastating swarm had come to Judah, the Southern Kingdom.

• This was no small infestation; the people had never seen anything like it:

• Chapter 1 verse 4:

“What the locust swarm has left

the great locusts have eaten;

what the great locusts have left

the young locusts have eaten;

what the young locusts have left

other locusts have eaten.”

• The crops were gone.

• The people were hungry.

• The cattle were hungry.

• Question: What was happening—and why?

• Answer: The day of the Lord was upon them.

• When God was delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt,

• He sent a plague of locusts on the Egyptians’ crops.

• Now, hundreds of years later,

• He was judging His people with the same kind of plague for straying from Him.

• Now before we go much further;

• Let’s just pause and fill in some background information.

(1). Who wrote the book?


• This short book was written by ‘Yo’el’ (Hebrew “Yahweh Is God.”),

• The Greek equivalent is ‘Ioel’, and the Latin & English is ‘Joel’.

• Twelve other men in the Old Testament have this name,

• But none of them can be identified with the author of this book.

• We know almost nothing about him.

• Just the name of his father, who is identified ‘Pethuel’,

• And even the name of his father is not mentioned elsewhere in the OT.


• He preached to the people of Judah (Southern Kingdom),

• And expressed a great deal of interest in Jerusalem.


• Joel makes frequent references to Zion and the house of the Lord;

• He comments on the priests and the temple,

• (1:9, 13–14; 2:15–17, 23, 32; 3:1, 5–6, 16–17, 20–21),

• This would suggest that he probably lived not far from Jerusalem.

• Some commentators think Joel was a priest as well as a prophet.

(2). When was it written?

• Most scholars agree that dating this short book is a very difficult task,

• The reason being unlike most prophetic writers,

• Joel gave no explicit indication of his time period.


• Last week when we looked at the prophet Amos,

• He starts by giving us the names of two contemporary kings,

• And the fact of an earthquake that archaeologists could easily date.

• Not so Joel,

• With Joel we have no points of reference as far as dating the book.

• Now that does not stop Bible scholars from arguing a date;

• But it does stop me.


• A father was visiting his son, who lived in London,

• The son gave his dad the usual tour of the city showing him various tourist attractions.

• As they rushed from venue to venue the dad hardly had time to breathe.

• The son rushed his dad to an underground station saying,

• "If we can just catch this next train, we'll save ourselves three minutes."

• The dad looked at him and asked,

• "And what significant thing will we do with the three minutes we are saving?"

• TRANSITION: rather than waste time on what we don’t know;

• Let’s focus a little longer on what we do know!


“Nevertheless, while the date of the book cannot be known with certainty, the impact on its interpretation is minimal. The message of Joel is timeless, forming doctrine which could be repeated and applied in any age.”

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