Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
Natural disasters are always a stark reminder that there are greater powers at work than we can comprehend. And when it comes to facing the coming judgment of God on a sinful world, we must not think too lightly of it. In the end, God is coming to judge righteously. For those who long for His coming, Joel might be the best book in the Bible.
Main Themes: Zealous for the Worship of the Lord; The Day of the Lord
“’Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:12-13)
“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered;” (Joel 2:32)
For a general introduction to the Minor Prophets, see “Profiting from the Prophets“
On the occasion of a severe locust plague in Judah, the prophet Joel seizes on the opportunity to warn the people of coming judgment if they do not repent of their sins. The barren landscape served as a powerful illustration of what would come when the Lord’s wrath was poured out. One of the major themes of Joel is the Day of the Lord; it is expressed in part in the days of the coming Babylonian invasion, as well as the end of days when Christ returns and judges the world.
The first half of Joel’s prophecy is focused on desolation and judgment. In their history, they had never seen a devastation so vast (1:2) and Joel urges them to take notice. Some have seen the detailed description of the locusts in verse 4 as a metaphor for the coming invasion by the Babylonians. One thing is certain: judgement is coming. In response to what is coming, Joel calls for the nation to repent (1:13-14) because the destruction would be nearly unbearable (1:15-20).
In chapter 2, we are introduced to a prophecy concerning future desolation (2:1-11) which has been viewed as a foretaste of the coming tribulation before the return of Christ. In light of all of Joel’s terrifying words, he exhorts them to return to God in repentance (2:12-17). Only God will be able to deliver them.
The second half of the book is more hopeful, as Joel gives the people of God a word of promise for their immediate deliverance (2:18-27). While God is using an opposing army as a instrument of judgment, He comforts them, “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame” (2:27).
The last five verses of chapter 2 are perhaps the most notable, as they are quoted by Peter in his first sermon in Acts 2. The promise is that, in the last days, God will pour out His Spirit along with His judgment. As the birth of the church at Pentecost inaugurated the beginning of “the last days”, there is still much that will be fulfilled in the future as the final end draws near. Chapter 3 presents a picture of God’s future judgments, with verses 9 through 17 sounding eerily similar to what is revealed in the Book of Revelation. In the end, when God brings His final judgment on The Day of the Lord, everything will be brought to consummation.
What Makes This Book So Great:
This book is breathtaking in its vivid imagery. It’s short; it packs a punch. But it also provides hope. While it can feel overwhelming and somewhat depressing reading about judgment in Scripture, it can actually have a sanctifying effect. Peter specifically exhorts the church to respond to their understanding of the Day of the Lord with sober resolution toward godliness (2 Pet. 2:10-13). When we see the Righteous Lord reigning, judging wickedness, our hearts race with anticipation, yet we are reminded of our call as believers to seek the Lord humbly with repentance and faith.
Joel is only 3 chapters and can be read quickly, yet it should be studied faithfully. For a helpful comparative study, read several other prophets (Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, etc.) as well as Revelation. Note the themes, as well as the specific details of the Day of the Lord.
- Irvin A. Busenitz, Joel & Obadiah: A Mentor Commentary. Mentor, 2013.
- David Allan Hubbard, Joel and Amos (TOTC). Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2009.
Note: Don’t miss the introduction to the prophets series here: Entreatingfavor.com/Profiting-from-the-Prophets/
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries