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Joel prophesied as one of the early prophets. There were quite a few prophets, possibly as many as fifty. However, not all of them had their prophecies documented. Dating Joel is difficult, but many scholars date Joel about the time of the reign of Joash, king of Judah. That would mean that he was contemporary with and probably knew Elijah and Elisha. The Book of Joel is small, with only three chapters. Although considered a minor prophet, Joel had a lot to say. From his writing, we can see that Joel was acquainted with the land, farming, and geography. It is also clear that he lived and prophesied in Judah since he mentions Judah and Jerusalem. He was thoroughly familiar with the Temple and its ministry. The name Joel means, “The Lord is God.” Nothing is known about his personal life. Twelve other men in the Old Testament have this name, none of whom can be identified as the author of this book. His father, Pethuel, is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible.

What we do know about Joel was that he was called by God to minister to Judah. The Southern Kingdom had been in a state of disarray and decline for years, both economically and spiritually. Rival nations and city-states such as Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia had made frequent incursions into Israel. A recent locust plague and drought devastated Judah’s economy (Joel 1:4). Judah was weak from the inside out. It was a time of national mourning, where Joel writes, “The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree— all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away” (Joel 1:12). The message of Joel is a doctrine which could be repeated and applied to any age. We could easily apply it to our nation today! Joel’s message was about depending on material prosperity. His message was consistent with the warnings of Moses.

(Deuteronomy 6:10-12) 1 – “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

The nation of Judah was also spending a lot of time numbing themselves from life. There was a lot of drinking going on. Israel had originally hit the jackpot by getting a land of “milk and honey” handed to them by God. It was someone else’s land that already had homes, wells, and farms. All they had to do is enjoy the fruits and be thankful. But they found too many distractions that took them away from the one and only God who had given them everything. One of Joel’s first warnings was, “Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips“ (Joel 1:5).

Israel’s past was prosperous. Their vine vats had been overflowing, their fig trees and the pomegranates and apples, all the fruit trees had always been loaded down with fruit. The land they occupied had been fertile. As a result, the nation had gotten used to barns filled to the brim and olive oil flowing like a river (Joel 1:10, 17). The herds of cattle had always multiplied, and flocks were always plentiful (Joel 1:18). Now, misfortune befell the nation. The good times were gone! Joel would bring a painful warning that the benefits they had enjoyed could soon be taken from them.

Unlike the other prophets, Joel did not condemn Israel for idolatry or worshiping Baal. Yes, that was still wrong. Joel chooses to only mention one sin, the sin of drunkenness. His prophecy begins with a description of a literal plague of locusts. Joel uses that plague of locusts to compare with the future judgments which will come upon this earth. The first chapter is considered a literary gem. It is a remarkable passage of Scripture; unlike anything you will find elsewhere (take time to read Joel 1). The sin was that the excesses of the nation were at the expense of their relationship with God. It is probably worth a moment to document just some of what excessive alcohol and/or drugs can do to a nation. Either mouse over or touch the Bible verses here. You will see the NIV translations of those verses.

Physically: (Job 12:25; Psalms 107:27; Proverbs 23:29; Isaiah 19:14; 28:8; 29:9; Jeremiah 25:16)
Mentally: (Genesis 43:34; Isaiah 28:7; Hosea 4:11)
Prosperity and happiness: (Proverbs 23:29-32; Proverbs 23:21; compare Proverbs 21:17 and Ecclesiastes 19:1; Proverbs 20:1)
Morality: (Proverbs 31:5; Isaiah 5:23; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29; Ecclesiastes 31:26,29; Ephesians 5:18).

The prophet Joel also connects excessive drinking with gambling, promiscuity, and sexual immorality.

(Joel 3:3) – “They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink.”

Joel’s concerns had to do with a growing national acceptance of immorality to find “Worldly Joy.” Instead, Joel wanted the nation of Israel to be focused on God’s desire that the people know Him (Joel 3:17) and that God fully intended to make His dwelling place about His people through the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). The prophet’s ministry had a theme, “the day of the LORD.” He makes specific reference to it five times: Joel 1:15; 2:1–2; 2:10–11; 2:30–31; and 3:14–16. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel also refer to the Day of the Lord, sometimes calling it “that day.” Zechariah will particularly emphasize “that day,” the Day of the Lord.” Joel is the first prophet to introduce the Day of the Lord in prophecy.

(Joel 2:1-11) – “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come. Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. With a noise like that of chariots, they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. 8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows. Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?”

Joel is describing the second coming of Christ. The return of Jesus is to begin during a time of great trouble. It ends with the Jesus putting down all unrighteousness and establishing His eternal Kingdom here on earth. Joel is describing a time when many will turn to God. It will be a time unlike the Church has ever witnessed. Joel is calling on his nation to forsake their sins, calling them to repentance. He promises an outpouring of the Spirit “afterward.

(Joel 2:28–32) – “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”

It is the prophet Joel who confirms to us that eternal salvation comes to those who call upon Jesus’s name!


  • We are a prosperous nation, filled with many blessings. Why do you think people are giving up on God?
    • Ideas to Explore: The churches are not following God’s Truth? Have the people forgotten their God?
  • We are a nation that consumes a lot of alcohol. We are a nation on its way to legalizing many types of recreational drugs. Where do you think this will lead the nation’s people?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it rational to decriminalize drugs? How do we reconcile the number of deaths from drugs within our youth? Why do you think people need drugs?
  • The ideas are radically different between capitalism and socialism. Which one do you think can create more Godly people?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do government handouts create a deeper faith in God? Do you think that it even matters?
  • What is the secret to getting our nation to repent?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you think they need to repent? Of what sins would you accuse our nation first?


  1. NIV New International Version Translations