Joel 1:15 The Day of the LORD
Even the old men couldn’t remember a plague of this magnitude and certainly it will be talked about for several generations. For four years it went on and every year a different variety of devouring insects had struck. Even so history had apparently not recorded it for if so, the commentators would have been able to agree as to the date of Joel’s writing of it. They know that he was one of the earliest of Judah’s prophets and that it could have been written in Joash’s day (830 B.C.) or perhaps during the reign of Uzziah (750 B.C.). So, give or take 50 years, the Thompson Bible puts it at 800 with a question mark after the date.
One thing is certain, Joel seized the opportunity to use this natural phenomenon to remind God’s people of the coming "day of the LORD" (1:15). We don’t know the date of that event either except that it is surely coming, being spoken of many times in Scripture, five times in this tiny book alone. J.F.B. seems sure that Isaiah copied part of this prophecy word for word when he wrote of it in 13:9 (Hebrew). If that is truly the case then Joel is probably the first of the prophets to introduce this important Biblical event, though Isaiah spoke of it often beginning in 2:12 and describes it vividly in v.21 when men will hide in "the clefts of the rocks...for fear of the LORD and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (written about 760? B.C.).
This theme continues to dominate the writings of the prophets reaching a crescendo in Zech.14 where it is recorded that He "will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle" (v.2). Here is described the Lord Jesus doing battle and the resultant peace that will come to His city (v.11).
With much more to come on this subject in the two chapters to follow, we will conclude this one by noting that Joel sees the "day" as immanent and as "destruction from the Almighty" (v.15). Perhaps we are seeing the preparatory events in our day.
Joel 2:28 Afterward
It will be great to one day fully understand the prophetic gift as administered by the Holy Spirit. This book is a wonderful example of its peculiarities and its potential. Starting with a local disaster of his day Joel reaches clear across history to the end of time in three short chapters, yea, in one chapter, this one.
It may be coincidental that there were four phases to the plague of locusts but it nicely fits the fact that there would be four heathen nations with which Israel would be dealing, Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome. The prophet so intertwines the local events with the political future that it is hard to know which he is talking about much of the time. Wouldn’t it be exciting to be privy to what was going on in his head?
The purpose of his prophetic preaching is seen in verse 12, "Turn ye even to me with all you heart" etc. (read on).
Was it because Joel was the first of the prophets to see the judgements of the immediate future involving the Babylonian Captivity tied together with the distant distressing times that lay ahead for the disobedient nation at the end of the age that he was also given the great privilege of introducing the coming of the Holy Spirit?
Little did Joel understand what he was talking about when he said the word "afterward" (v.28), a word that Peter expanded upon by calling it "the last days" (Acts 2:17), for did not Paul say that the church age was hidden (Eph.3:9) which is what made it a mystery?
Did Joel see the Gentiles here when he said "all flesh" (v.28)? Did he mean salvation from sin when he said "whosoever" in verse 32? I think not, what do you think?
What God meant by it Peter was able to proclaim on the great day of Pentecost.
Joel 3:16 The Hope of the People
Standing on the high mountain of prophecy Joel looks far into the future and sees both the "great and terrible day of the Lord" (2:31) but beyond to the dawning of a new and glorious day (3:18). What a great chapter this is!
First must come the judgement. "All nations" (v.2) will gather on a great staging area between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, called here "the valley of Jehoshaphat" whose very name means the judgement of Jehovah. Here God is said to plead with the nations for His people. His "heritage," Israel. Such pleading as was seen when Gideon threshed the Midianites with the sword of the Lord. In Jeremiah the Lord of hosts pleads the cause of His people (50:34) and his means is the sword (note verses 35-37), a sword, a sword, a sword, etc. See also Isaiah 66:15&16 where it is said that Jehovah "pleads" by His sword and Jeremiah 25:29-33. (Joshua 5:13).
Here it is obligatory that the voice of another prophet come forth. We have not yet heard his voice but it is important that we do, for we shall see just Who this mighty conqueror is (Zech.14:1-4).
Multitudes upon multitudes in the valley of decision – valley of threshing instruments (v.14). (See same Hebrew word in Isa.28:27 and Amos 1:3). " Put ye in the sickle for the harvest is ripe" (v.13). The weak may say he is strong, but he will not be strong enough for at this time "the LORD will be the strength of the children of Israel" as He defends His dwelling, His holy mountain, the epicenter of the whole earth.
From this day, super abundance will be characterized by wine and milk (Isa.55:1-3) as God confirms the sure mercies of David. At that day a river will flow from Jerusalem, such a river making glad the city of God (Ps.46, Ezekiel 47).
Until then a river of life flows from the yielded bodies of the saints that brings life and health to all needy Samaritans. The Holy Spirit doing His office work. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."