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The Book of Joel
Plague of Locusts - Prophet’s Warning
The potent prophecy of Joel contains just
three brief chapters, but it holds an extremely important position
in Scripture. Joel was the first writing prophet, and it is Joel
who introduces and defines “the day of the Lord.”
LITERAL AND LOCAL
PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS
The topics of this book are:
- (1.) A prophecy
of a great national hardship that would approach the land: great
lack of water and a horrible plague of locusts.
- (2.) The prophet
calls on his people to repent and to turn to God, assuring them
God would forgive them.
- (3.) He foretels
the restoration of the land to its previous fruitfulness.
- (4.) Then Joel gives a Messianic
prophecy, quoted by Peter (Acts 2:39).
- (5.) Finally,
the prophet foretells signs and judgments that would befall
the enemies of God.
Joel 1:1 The word
of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. (KJV) The
Lord gave these words to Joel, the son of Pethuel.
Joel was NOT a son of Samuel (1 Sam. 8:1–2),
for Samuel’s sons were wicked and this Joel is not wicked,
but instead he is a man of God, a prophet of God. Joel’s
father was Pethuel. Joel was a common name, and it means “Jehovah
Joel 1:2 Hear this,
ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath
this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? (KJV) Listen to me, you leaders of the people! Everyone, pay attention
and listen! In all your history, has anything like this ever happened
Clearly Israel was in the midst of a great
plague of locusts at this time. These plagues were fairly commonplace
in that land, but Joel calls to the old men and says, “Did
anything like this ever happen in your day? Did it happen in the
day of your fathers? Have you ever heard anything like this locust
plague?” They had not. This plague was really bad!
Joel 1:3 Tell ye your
children of it, and let your children tell their children, and
their children another generation. (KJV) Tell your children
about it in the years to come. Speak of this horrible event to
your children and they can tell their children.
Joel tells them, “You can pass this
to your children and they can tell their children, because this
plague of locusts won’t be seen again any time soon. I don’t
know if you have ever seen a plague of locusts or not. When I
was a child, they were everywhere one summer. Their ‘singing’
seemed never to stop, and the destruction was bad. The little
creatures were all over, everywhere! In the Olivet Discourse in
Matthew 24, the Lord Jesus identified the period which He labeled
the the Great Tribulation Period, He said that there has never been anything like it before, and
there is not going to be anything like it afterward. We have never
had a period like the Great Tribulation. In all periods of recorded
history in the past, there have always been previous times in
history that could match it. But, the Lord Jesus made it very
clear concerning the Great Tribulation: “For
then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning
of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”
(Mat. 24:21). Jesus said there was nothing like it in the past.
All the horrible disasters that Israel has seen in her past will not even come close to what this seven
year period will be like. Joel is saying, “This locust plague
is horrible; there has never been anything like it, but there
is coming another devastating period called the Day of the Lord,
which shall be worse.” The Day of the Lord will be a frightful
time, horrible beyond description, after which Christ will come
and establish His Kingdom. If people who deny that the Bible teaches
these things would study the total Word of God and not just lift
out a few verses here and there, they would see what it states.
The plague of locusts in the land of Egypt at the time of Moses
was a miraculous plague . . . it was a judgment of God. But, this
plague was what we would call a natural event . . . allowed by
God. . . . http://www.lastdaysprophecy.org/L_D_tribulation_what.htm . . . http://www.lastdaysprophecy.org/L_D_tribulation,_why.htm . . . http://www.hisservants.org/israel_h_s.htm
Joel 1:4 That which
the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which
the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which
the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten. (KJV)
The locusts come in different stages . . . . they come in waves.
After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming
locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts,
and then the stripping locusts, too!
The locusts represent devastation, and
Joel was saying that God would punish the people because of their
sin. I think four stages of locusts, rather than four different
insects, are meant. The first stage is that of the locust, just
emerging from the egg, without wings. The second is when, still
in their first skin, the locusts put forth little ones without
legs or wings. The third, when after their third casting off of
the old skin, they get small wings, which enable them to leap
but not to fly, they devour all before them, grass, shrubs, and
bark of trees. The fourth kind is the matured winged locusts.
Some think the first stage refers to Assyria and Babylon; the
second stage, to Medo-Persia; the third, to Greco-Macedonia and
Antiochus Epiphanes; the fourth, the Romans. Though the main reference
is to literal locusts, God doubtless had in view the successive
empires which attacked Judea, each worse than its predecessor,
Rome being the climax.
Joel 1:5 Awake, ye
drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because
of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. (KJV)
Wake up, you drunks, and weep! All the grapes are ruined, there
will be no more wine.
The locusts stripped the vineyards. No
more wine for the drunks. This shows that, even at the beginning
of the downfall of the nation Israel, their great sin was drunkenness.
Most of the accidents on our highways are caused by people who
exercise their right to drink. Entire families
have been killed because some drunk hit them head-on. When God’s
Word speaks of drunkenness, I will speak to you of drunkenness.
And when God’s Word speaks about the king being a drunkard,
then I will speak of the drunkenness in my nation’s capital.
With all the “cocktail parties” in Washington, D.C.,
it’s no wonder that some of the decisions which are being
handed down look as if they were coming from people who are not
in their right minds. Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl,
all ye drinkers of wine. Even at the start, drunkenness chipped
away the foundation of Israel. This is the only sin Joel will
mention. He does not mention idolatry at all, the great sin of
turning away from God, which eventually brought that nation down.
At the time of Joel, the people still made a profession of worshiping
God. Drunkenness dulls people’s physical and moral senses,
making them oblivious to sin. Joel told them to awaken from their
complacency and admit their sins before it was too late. Might
this not be a warning for many in today's society??
Plague of Locusts . . . Call to Repentance
Times of peace and prosperity can actually
lull us to sleep and turning away from God. We must never let
material abundance and our self confidence hinder our spiritual
Joel 1:6 For a nation
is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth
are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great
A great army of locusts has invaded my land. It is a terrible
and uncountable army. They have teeth as sharp as the teeth of
Here, Joel compares the locusts to an invading
army and its destructiveness. These small locusts, can ruin a
tree, or move through a field of grain and leave absolutely nothing
but the bare ground. They came, in most cases, as a judgment from
God, but this plague was a warning from God. Later Joel will move
ahead to that which is still future, the Day of the Lord which
will be just like a locust plague upon the Earth.
Joel 1:7 He hath laid
my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare,
and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. (KJV)
This locust army has destroyed my grapevines and fig trees, stripping
their bark and leaving the branches white and bare.
Locusts can actually kill a fig tree. They
can strip fig trees of its bark, leaving the naked wood exposed.
Joel sends out a message to the people. He will tell them
ten things that they must do.
Joel 1:8 Lament like
a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. (KJV)
The people are to weep with sorrow, as a young bride weeps when
her husband has died.
He says something
unusual: (1) They are to lament, like a young bride who has lost her husband.
That is the way Israel should moan and wail and weep.
Joel 1:9 The meat
offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the
Lord; the priests, the Lord's ministers, mourn. (KJV) There
is no grain or wine to offer in the Temple. The priests mourn
because there are no offerings.
not able to make an offering at all. (2) The priests,
the Lord’s ministers, mourn. All through this Passage the
same thing is said. Drunkards mourn and the priests mourn . .
. they all are affected by this plague. This verse and others
lead us to believe that the Joel was in Jerusalem. He speaks here
to the priests who minister in the house of the Lord.
Joel 1:10 The field
is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new
wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. (KJV) The crops are
ruined, gone. The grain, the grapes, and olives are gone.
There was no olive oil, no grapes, no
grain. The locusts destroyed the three important and necessary
crops of Israel. Even the land mourned. Israel and her land are
and always have been, closely intertwined. The Mosaic Law was
not only given to Israel, it was given to her land. Joel has spoken
to the drunks, he has spoken to the priests, and now he will speak
to the farmers.
Joel 1:11-12 Be ye
ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat
and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate
tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees
of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from
the sons of men. (KJV) Shame on you farmers! Wail, all you
vine growers! Weep, because the wheat and barley crops are ruined.
The grapevines and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate
trees, palm trees, apple trees . . . all the fruit trees have
dried up. All your joy has dried up with them.
The grape vines are dried up, the wheat
and barley and all the field crops are ruined. The fig trees have
all withered away. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple
trees . . . all the fruit trees have dried up and all the people’s
joy has dried up with them. (3) “Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen.” (4) “Howl,
O ye vinedressers.” The vinedressers are vineyard owners.
Joel 1:13 Gird yourselves,
and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come,
lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat
offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of
your God. (KJV) Put on your sackcloth, you priests! Wail,
you who serve before the altar! Come, spend all night in sackcloth,
you ministers of my God for there is no grain or wine to offer
in God's House.
(5) “Gird yourselves,” (6) “and lament, priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar.”
The priests could not perform their functions because there was
nothing for them to use for the offerings. They were to lie all
night girded with sackcloth and ashes because there was no meat
offering and no drink offering. The economy of the land was in
a shambles, not enough even to make an offering to God. But, God
makes it clear that it was not the ritual that was important but
the hearts of the people. It is still so today. We should not
come before God with a long face. He wanted them to come to His
house rejoicing and with joy in their hearts, and that is what
He wants from us today. There is no joy in worship today, and
there was no joy in Joel’s day. So, why is God telling His
people, “I want you to lament. I want you in sackcloth and
ashes. I want you to mourn”? Before He had told them, “I
want you to come before Me with joy.” WHY? Because of sin
in the nation. That is the same reason there is such a lack of
joy today. The music has to be loud and fast, and the jokes have
to be dirty to even get a laugh. Mega churches are propositioning
the unchurched with every kind of luxury. You cannot sell
the Gospel to unbelievers!
Joel 1:14 Sanctify
ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the
inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and
cry unto the Lord, (KJV) Now is the time for fasting. Call
the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and
all the people into the Temple of God, and cry out to Him there.
(7) “Sanctify ye a fast.” God had never asked
them to do that before. God had given them feast days . . . but,
He never gave them a day of fasting until they plunged so deep
into sin. The sin Joel mentions that was destroying the nation
was drunkenness. It robs people of their normal
thinking (then and now)! Correct judgments cannot be made while
under the influence of any liquor. (8) “Call a solemn assembly”
meaning that they were to come together. What God had wanted was
for them to come together and rejoice in His Presence; but because
of their sin, He says this is to be a solemn assembly. (9) “Gather the elders and all the inhabitants
of the land into the house of the Lord your God.” God
wanted them to go and worship in the Temple, and be serious
about it. (10) “Cry unto the Lord.” WHY? Because God is
merciful. God is gracious. God wants to forgive. God loved them,
and He loves us! God is good! They were to come to Him in this
horrible time of difficulty, and He would hear and answer their
Joel has given a warning to these people,
and he has given them these commands. These are the things they
are to do if they want the blessing of God upon them. What does
this Passage say to you? To me? We
must approach God with humility, sincere sorrow for sin, and urgent
prayer. The solemn (serious) assembly that Joel
called for was a sacred public religious gathering so that everyone
could repent (turn away from sin) and pray to God for mercy. Perhaps
the United States should take into consideration these ten things
that Joel stressed to Israel. Perhaps you and I personally should
consider them in our lives if we truly desire God’s blessings
Joel 1:15 Alas
for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction
from the Almighty shall it come. (KJV) The day of the Lord
is not far away. It shall be a day when terrible destruction comes
from the one and only, Almighty God.
The “day of the LORD”
is a common phrase in the Old Testament and in the Book of Joel
(Joel 2:1, 11, 31; Joel 3:14). It always refers to something extraordinary,
be it a present event (like a locust plague), an event in the
near future (like the destruction of Jerusalem or the defeat of
enemy nations), or the end of history as we know it, when God
will defeat ALL forces of evil. But, when the day of the Lord
speaks of a present event, it is also suggesting the final day
of the Lord.
This final historical event has TWO sides to it:
- (1) God’s last judgment
on all evil and sin, and
- (2) the final reward for
all faithful believers.
Righteousness and truth will
absolutely prevail, but not before much suffering (Zech. 14:1-3).
If you trust the Lord, you can look to this day with hope, because
all who are faithful will be united with God forever. Joel now moves
from the local situation, (plague of locusts),
down to the end of the age and the Day of the Lord.
Joel will now tell them about something in the future. A Kingdom
had been promised to David; war would cease, and there would finally
be peace on Earth. All the prophets spoke of this, and they also
spoke about what Joel is saying here . . . the coming of the
Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord must be distinguished
between other days mentioned in Scripture. Today we are living
in what Scripture calls man’s day. It began with Nebuchadnezzar,
and the Lord Jesus labeled it “the
times of the Gentiles.” He said, “… Jerusalem shall be trodden down
of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). We are living in a man’s
day. Man makes the judgments today. We appeal to the
Supreme Court, but not to God. People seem to have forgotten God
altogether. God’s Name is just a word to blaspheme and ridicule.
Joel makes it very clear what the Day of the Lord is.
He says it is a dark, gloomy, and difficult day. Israel thought they would enter the Kingdom, and there would be no problems. But Joel says that the Day of the Lord begins with night, with darkness,
with trouble. That darkness is the the Great Tribulation Period. It will be like this locust plague that
has come with its four stages of locusts, like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev.6). The Day of the
Lord will include the coming of Christ to Earth to establish His Kingdom. Only then
shall His people enter into the sunshine of His Presence. Joel
is the key to understanding the Day of the Lord. It must
fit into the program he describes. . . . http://www.hisservants.org/israel_h_s.htm . . . http://www.hisservants.org/tribulation_what_h_s.htm . . . http://www.hisservants.org/tribulation_why_h_s.htm . . . http://www.lastdaysprophecy.org/L_D_1000_years.htm
To summarize, there is:
The Day of the Lord is not the same as the Lord’s Day that is mentioned
in Rev.1:10. The Lord’s Day is the first day of the
week, which the New Testament makes very clear. Many people think the Day of the Lord and the Lord’s Day are
the same because the same words are used. That is stupidity, as
absurd as saying there is no difference between a chestnut horse
and a horse chestnut. If you take two words and turn them around,
you get something altogether different. In the one you have a nut,
and in the other you have a horse! The Day of the Lord and the Lord’s Day are two entirely different things.
Joel 1:16 Is not the
meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house
of our God? (KJV)
They watch helplessly as their food disappears before their very
eyes. All joy and gladness are gone from the House of God.
Joel continues talking about those locusts.
A horrible plague it was. He says they watch as their food disappears
before their eyes; as well as joy and gladness in the house of
Joel 1:17 The seed
is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the
barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. (KJV) The
seeds die in the parched ground, so the grain crops fail. The
barns and granaries are empty and abandoned.
The drought causes the seeds (grain) to
lose its life and moisture. The grain couldn’t come up because
of the drought, and anything that did come up, the locusts ate
down into the ground. The garners are laid desolate . . . the
granaries were empty!
Joel 1:18-19 How do
the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they
have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. 
O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures
of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of
the field. (KJV) The animals moan with hunger! The cattle
wander about searching for food, but there is no pasture for them.
The sheep cry out in misery.
Lord, the people cried, help us! The fire has consumed the pastures
and burned up all the trees.
The animals were subject to all this as
well as the people. The moaned with hunger. The cattle wandered
about searching for food when there was none. The locusts had
demolished every green thing. It was as if the ground had been
entirely burned off with fire.
Joel 1:20 The beasts
of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are
dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. (KJV) Even the wild animals cry out because there is no water
to drink. The streams have dried up, and locusts has consumed
every green thing in the forests and wilderness.
This locust plague was a very horrible
and grim time. Even the animal world . . . both the barnyard animals,
and the wild animals in the forest were affected by this plague. All life was affected. This judgment from God
touched all life in that land in that day. It becomes a prophetic
picture of the Day of the Lord that shall come. The sorrow of
the people should turn into repentance and humiliation before
Sin must always be mourned (Mat.5:4)
and confessed (1 John 1:9). And if it is not, God has appointed
a day for judgment. Every one in Joel’s time had added to
the nation’s guilt, so all shared in the nation’s
scourge, and every one must repent! When joy and gladness are
cut off from God’s House, when serious godliness decays,
when love grows cold, it is time to cry unto the Lord and get
right with Him. The prophet describes well the grievous calamity.
Even the animal life suffered for the people's transgression.
Whatever may happen to the nations and churches that persist in
ungodliness, true believers will find peace and comfort in the
acceptance of God, while the wicked (unbelievers, goats, Mat.25:31-46)
shall be burned up with His fury.
Book Of Joel
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