October 21, 2021
“Woe because of that day! For the Day of the Lord is near and will come as a devastation from the Almighty. Hasn’t the food been cut off from our eyes...”
“Woe because of that day! For the Day of the Lord is near and will come as a devastation from the Almighty. Hasn’t the food been cut off from our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?” Joel 1:15-16
We don’t know a lot about ol’ Joel. All that one could ever understand about him is gleaned from the three chapters that form his message to Israel. Jewish tradition places him in the days of Uzziah, about 750-795 B.C. For a point of reference, Isaiah began prophesying during the reign of King Uzziah. Uzziah was a prosperous king, guided by the prophet Zechariah, but his pride led to his eventual downfall. As a result of his pride, Uzziah developed leprosy. Because of the nation’s sin (during Uzziah’s reign), there was a great earthquake and a famine resulting from locust infestation. Considering Joel’s account of the locust plague and his description of the earthquake (in chapter 2), we can rightly place Joel toward the end of Uzziah’s reign.
As I have mentioned before (when we have studied other prophets), prophecy is generally commenting on three stages of time: 1) Present-day/immediate future, 2) Jesus’ first coming/earthly ministry, and 3) End Times/Jesus’ return and fully established Kingdom. All three stages have the same message: Return to the Lord!
Considering these three stages, we can see that Joel was speaking of things happening in his own time. There was an actual famine caused by locusts and a real earthquake. Within 150 years, a whole other sort of “three-fold plague of locusts” would swarm Judah and destroy her, completely: The Babylonians. Joel’s message was both timely and prophetic. Joel’s prophecy reminds us of the turbulent political and religious condition of Israel when Jesus was born, and it reminds us of Jesus’ words concerning a time yet to come:
“Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This good news of the Kingdom will be proclaimed in the entire world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.” Matthew 24:9-14
In one sense, Jesus was speaking of the immediate future concerning the persecution of the early believers. But He also spoke directly of the end times, which I believe we are living in now. Still, the prophetic message is the same: Return to the Lord! As was the case with King Josiah in 2 Kings 22, so it may be in our time. The Judgment of the Lord was inevitable, but because King Josiah humbled himself (and the people followed suit), God relented His judgment against that generation. Based on God’s Word, what is His message for our generation? Return to the Lord, and bring as many people to His salvation as He allows you to!