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                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                 Joel - The Day Of The Lord (1:1-2:27)

INTRODUCTION

1. We now turn to the book of Joel, and this will be the first of two
   lessons

2. The name "Joel" means "Jehovah is God", and we know very little
   about the author...
   a. The name appears frequently, with at least a dozen men sharing
      the name in the O.T.
   b. Described as "the son of Pethuel" (1:1), there is no reason to
      associate him with any other Joel mentioned in the Bible

[As we begin our study, let's do so with some...]

I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

   A. THE DATE...
      1. The date of the book is uncertain
         a. Some place it as one of the earliest of the "literary 
            prophets" (ca. 900 B.C.)
         b. Some believe it was written after the Exile (ca. 400 B.C.)
      2. Hailey, Young, and other scholars defend the early date
         a. Suggesting a date of 830 B.C.
         b. Which is the date I am presuming for our study

   B. THE OCCASION...
      1. Joel's prophecy was occasioned by a calamity that had struck
         the land
         a. Literally, it is described as a locust plague
         b. Some suggest that the locusts were symbolical of an army 
            that had invaded
      2. I take the description of the plague as literal
   
   C. THE MESSAGE...
      1. Joel sees the locust plague as a warning from God
         a. That the calamity was heralding "the day of the Lord" which
            was coming
         b. That if the people did not repent, this "day" would bring
            even more destruction
      2. So Joel's message is "Seek the Lord through repentance!"
         (1:1-2:27)
      3. Joel also has some things to say about what shall come to pass
         "afterward" (2:28-3:21)

[With this brief background as an introduction, let's now begin reading
the book with the aid of the following outline...]

II. OUTLINE OF THE BOOK (1:1-2:27)

   A. THE LAND IS LAID WASTE (1:1-12)
      1. Joel provides a graphic description of the locust plague (1-4)
      2. He calls for people to weep over the devastation (5-12)

   B. A PLEA TO CRY OUT TO THE LORD (1:13-20)
      1. To be led by the priests, consecrating a fast and calling the
         people together (13-14)
      2. For the present destruction is heralding the coming "day of 
         the Lord" (15-18)
      3. Joel and the beasts take the lead, with their own cry to the
         Lord (19-20)

   C. THE COMING "DAY OF THE LORD" (2:1-11)
      1. A cry to warn the people, for the day is coming! (1)
      2. This particular "day of the Lord" is vividly described (2-11)
         a. It will be a recurrence of the locust plague
         b. Described as an invading army, an army led by God!
   
   D. A CALL TO REPENTANCE (2:12-17)
      1. Voiced first by God Himself (12)
      2. Then elaborated upon by Joel (13-17)
         a. Repent, for God Who is gracious may relent and provide a 
            blessing
         b. Make it a national repentance, led by the priests

   E. THE LORD'S PROMISE IF THERE IS REPENTANCE (2:18-20)
      1. He will be zealous for His land, and show pity to the people
         (18)
      2. He will bless them with grain, wine, and oil (19)
      3. He will remove the "army" (locusts) from the north (20)

   F. A CALL TO COURAGE AND GLADNESS (2:21-24)
      1. A call directed by Joel towards:
         a. The land, for the Lord has done marvelous things (21)
         b. The beasts of the field, for the pastures and trees are 
            fruitful once again (22)
         c. The children of Zion, for the Lord is blessing the land 
            with rain and a full harvest (23-24)
      2. This passage implies the people repented, and the Lord was 
         keeping His promise!

   G. THE LORD'S REASSURANCE (2:25-27)
      1. God will restore what His "army" (the locusts) had destroyed
         (25)
      2. They will be blessed with plenty, and praise God for His grace
         (26)
      3. Then they shall truly know that God is over them (27)

[This ends the first part of Joel's prophecy.  It clearly pertained to
the people of his day.  The rest of the book looks forward to a period
described as "afterward" (2:28), "in those days and at that time"
(3:1), and "in that day" (3:18).  This section we will examine in
our next lesson.

But from what we have read thus far, what lessons can we learn from 
Joel?]

III. LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOEL

   A. THE VALUE OF NATURAL CALAMITIES...
      1. They can serve to turn men back to God
      2. God certainly used them to reach out to His people in the O.T.
         - cf. Am 4:6-12
      3. But not all calamities come from God; some came from Satan 
         - cf. Job 1:6-19
      4. Whether calamities come from God, Satan, or are purely 
         coincidental, they should be times of reflection concerning
         life and our relationship to God - e.g., Job 1:20-22

   B. THE NATURE OF TRUE REPENTANCE (2:12-13a)
      1. It must be with all our heart (12a)
      2. It must be inward, not just outward (12b-13a)

   C. THE NATURE OF GOD (2:13b)
      1. He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great 
         kindness - cf. Ps 103:8-14
      2. He relents from doing harm when we repent - cf. Jer 18:7-8

   D. "THE DAY OF THE LORD" CAN BE AVERTED...
      1. "The day of the Lord" often refers to God's judgment upon a 
         nation
         a. Such judgments were many, and often described in terms 
            indicative of the final judgment at the end of time - cf. 
            the judgment of Babylon, Isa 13:1-13
         b. In the first part of Joel's prophecy, it referred to a 
            plague of locusts that would be greater than what they had
            already experienced - Joel 2:1-11
      2. But such judgments could be averted - cf. Jer 18:7-8
         a. Such happened with the city of Nineveh - cf. Jonah 3:1-10
         b. And when we compare Joel 1:11; 2:1,11 with 2:13-14,18-23,
            it appears to have been averted in Joel's day!
      3. Of course, this does not pertain to the "ultimate" day of the
         Lord at the end of time, but to the "preliminary" judgments 
         that God often brings upon a nation

CONCLUSION

1. Our next lesson will complete our survey of the book of Joel, in 
   which we will find...
   a. Joel writing of events that heralded the beginning of the 
      Christian dispensation
   b. More lessons that are of value to the Christian

2. But in closing, may I remind you of that "day of the Lord" which is
   yet to come?
   a. A day vividly described in 2Pe 3:7-10
   b. A day which cannot be averted, but for which we can prepare 
      - 2Pe 3:11-14

For those who prepare themselves for this coming "day of the Lord", 
they will find that indeed the Lord is "gracious and merciful, slow to
anger, and of great kindness" (Joel 2:13). But for those who continue
in their sins, we can only say along with Joel...

   "Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall
   come as destruction from the Almighty." (Joel 1:15)
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