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The Book of Joel
Chapter 1

Joel 1:1-1:5
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.


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 is God.”

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 before?

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??

Joel 1:6-1:14
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 readiness.

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 lion. (KJV)
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 lions!

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.

They are 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. [12] 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 prayer.

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 on us.

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 their God.

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. [19] 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 God.

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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