Joel (830-819 BC) was a prophet to Judah. He was one of the earlier prophets, it would seem, because there is no mention made of Assyria, Syria, or Babylon, due to the fact these enemies had not yet risen to prominence and power, thus were no threat to Judah. The present enemies are Phoenicia, Philistia, Egypt, and Edom, who belong to the days of Jehoash (II Chronicles 21:16,17).
Locusts tend to be a scourge for any land. Those who have seen them swarm tell us that, literally, they blot out the sun, completely cover the ground, and fill the sky in all directions. They are more like an army of soldiers marching in regular ranks and nothing can stop them. The devastation they leave in their path is utter and complete. A plague of locusts gave Joel the illustration he needed to appeal to the conscience of his country. The prophet opens his commission by announcing an extraordinary plague of locusts, accompanied by extreme drought, in the image of an invading army. In the second chapter, the formidable aspect of the locusts - their rapid progress, their sweeping destruction, the awful murmur of their countless throngs, the irresistible perseverance with which they make their way over every obstacle and through every nook and cranny - are delineated with the utmost graphic force.
It would seem that just such a swarm had invaded Judah. And Joel, for the moment is caught up by the Spirit, and gives a message for his people concerning an invasion to come that would be far worse than merely a plague of locusts. He views the enemy as a flood, and the Spirit raising up a standard against him. In view of the impending calamity, Joel urges the nation to repent (2:12-17). He foretells the restoration of the land to its former fertility, and declares that Jehovah would still be their God (2:18-26). He then announces the spiritual blessings that would be poured forth in the Messianic age. One of the best known prophecies of Joel is found in 2:28-32. This refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a prediction fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21).
A familiar theme throughout the prophecy is one that cannot be missed. It is "the day of the Lord", a most important period in Bible prophecy. Many of the prophets mention it as a period of time in man's misrule of government that ushers in the Lord as King of Kings. The day of the Lord is to be regarded as a day of terrible judgment, culminating at last in full and lasting blessings.
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