29: Joel: The Book of Devastation

Joel lived and ministered in Jerusalem in the final years of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His prophecies warn of the coming judgment, call the nation to repent, and foretell the culmination of world history. The book is divided into two sections. In the first division (1:1-2:17), the prophet speaks words of admonishment and judgment. In the second division (2:18-3:21), Jehovah speaks words of hope and blessing.

Joel’s primary message was based on Judah’s plague of locusts and severe drought. In vivid language, he depicts the locusts that devastate the land as agents of divine judgment. They are compared to a great invading army stripping the land bare. But natural catastrophes are insignificant compared to the coming day of judgment. Unless the people heed God’s warning and repent, the locusts will return as humans to decimate Judah. The book depicts two future eras of desolation: the eminent Babylonian captivity and the Great Tribulation which will take place thousands of years later.

Joel promises the restoration of the land to its former fruitfulness if the people return to God. He assures them spiritual blessings will be followed by material blessings. Although the book begins with a dark picture, it ends in bright anticipation of a glorious era to come.

Essay Questions

1. Paraphrase a description of the great locust plague (Ch. 1).

2. Summarize the picture Joel paints of the coming judgment (Ch.  2).

3. Describe Joel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32).

4. In Acts 2:14-21, how is this prophecy fulfilled? What passage in Joel is quoted by Peter?

5. How does the book depict the coming global judgment? Describe the horrific “Day of the Lord” (3:1-21).

6. What do the following passages tell us concerning “The Day of the Lord?”  Isaiah 2:12; Amos 5:18; Ezekiel 13:5 and Zephaniah 1:7-14; II Thessalonians 2:2; II Peter 3:10

7. In Revelation chapter nine, how are locusts used to describe an invading army?


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