Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.The Message of the Book of Joel
The book of Joel, as we have it, consists of two parts.
I. A violent plague of locusts had visited the land, and from this destruction the Prophet saw nothing to save the people but repentance. In his call to repentance we notice four suggestions.
a. He discovers to the people the condition of affairs. He challenges them to say whether, in the memory of anyone living, a crisis of such importance had arisen.
b. He bids them wait for the desolation that covers the land. He calls in the nation to weep as a virgin mourning for the spouse of her youth.
c. He warns them that all that has happened is but the prelude of more awful judgments.
d. But having described to them the greatness of their danger, the Prophet goes on to tell them that from this danger they can only escape by genuine contrition and sincere repentance.
II. The Prophet's call to repentance had not been in vain, and to the humble and penitent nation Joel was sent to declare the Divine promise. In this we notice that it was:—
a. A promise of Restoration. Very shortly after refreshing showers had fallen, and the country, bare, barren, and desolate, was once more showing signs of life.
b. A promise of Refreshment. Upon the nation penitent and restored, the gift of God's spirit was to fall, bringing with it a new revelation of God, and a new power to serve Him in the world.
c. A promise of Deliverance. The day of the Lord, which was certainly coming, was to be a day of salvation to the Lord's people by being a day of destruction to their enemies.
d. A promise of Rest. No more famine, no more scarcity, no more barrenness, no more conflict; but rest and peace and joy in favour of the Lord.
III. The story of the book of Joel is a story with a national bearing. The language of this book had a clear and definite meaning for those to whom it was spoken, and no doubt much in the book has been already fulfilled. But the fulfilment of the book as a whole belongs to the time of the millennial glory when Israel shall have received and enthroned as King her long rejected Messiah.
IV. But let us not lose sight of its individual bearing. It is a call to contrition and repentance. God bids us recognize, and that speedily, the sinfulness of our present lives, and bids us humble ourselves before Him because of that.
—G. H. C. Macgergor, Messages of the Old Testament, p. 167.
References.—II. 1.—J. Keble, Sermons for Sundays After Trinity, part ii. p. 342. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, pp. 163, 272.
Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.
The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.
How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.