Survey of Joel

Book Type: The second book of the Minor Prophets; the twenty-ninth book of the Old Testament; the twenty-ninth book of the Bible.

Author: Joel, specifically named in Joel 1:1.

Audience: Though little is known about the specific context of Joel's writing, he most likely wrote to Jewish people living throughout Judah during the reign of King Joash. They had witnessed the ungodliness of their leaders and neighbors, the military conquests of northern enemies, as well as God's judgments through natural means such as locusts. Joel referred to many of these events, using them to call people to repent and return to the Lord and His ways.

Date: Most likely during the reign of King Joash, approximately 835 to 796 BC.

Overview: The brief book of Joel consists of three chapters and three main sections. The first section focuses on the experiences current to Joel's audience when he originally wrote the letter (Joel 1). He refers to the plague of locusts upon the land as a judgment from the Lord. The people were to view their judgment as a call to repentance to the Lord (Joel 1:13–20). This repentance was to begin with the priests (Joel 1:13). A fast was to be called, as well as a solemn assembly (Joel 1:14). Joel notes the day of the LORD is near (Joel 1:15).

The second section transitions to spiritual themes beyond the immediate situation (Joel 2:1–17). Because the day of the LORD was near, they were to sound an alarm (Joel 2:1). An army would soon invade (Joel 2:2–11), and the people were to repent (Joel 2:12–17). Their repentance was to include fasting, weeping, and mourning (Joel 2:12). The themes ending chapter 1 repeat at the end of chapter 2, calling people to consecrate themselves before God.

In the future, despite the bad things taking place in their time, the Lord would make all things right (Joel 2:18—3:21). This would include restoring physical blessings (Joel 2:21–27), spiritual blessings (Joel 2:28–32), and blessings upon the people of God (Joel 3:17–21). Chapter 3 also speaks of various judgments upon Israel's enemies (Joel 3:1–16). Judah and Jerusalem would have a glorious future (Joel 3:17–21). Verses 20–21 end with uplifting words: "But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the LORD dwells in Zion."

Key Verses (ESV):

Joel 1:4: "What the cutting locust left, \ the swarming locust has eaten. \ What the swarming locust left, \ the hopping locust has eaten, \ and what the hopping locust left, \ the destroying locust has eaten." Joel 2:25: "I will restore to you the years \ that the swarming locust has eaten, \ the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, \ my great army, which I sent among you." Joel 2:28: "And it shall come to pass afterward, \ that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; \ your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, \ your old men shall dream dreams, \ and your young men shall see visions."