INTRODUCTION TO Joel
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Before analyzing the test of any book of the Bible, it is well to learn the historical background.
Also, it is best to make a "skyscraper" view of its general contents. Accordingly, this introduction is divided into two parts: background and survey.
- Most scholars believe Joel wrote this book. Very little is known about the prophet Joel and his father, Pethuel.
- Joel is a common name in the Old Testament appearing twelve other times. None of the other Joel's appear to be the prophet. This is the only Pethuel in the Bible.
- The book concentration on Judah and Jerusalem brings most scholars to agree that he was from the area.
- The dating below, if correct would make Joel's ministry just after Elisha's death. (2 Kings 13:20) Joel though of Judah might have known Jonah and some of the other northern kingdom's (aka Samaria, Israel, Ephraim) prophets in their school of prophets.
- Date and Place of Writing
- Most scholars believe that Joel was written during the reign of Jehoash (aka Joash), the king of Judah (836-797 B.C.).
- The date above makes Joel the earliest prophet to have his own book (unlike Nathan, Elijah and Elisha) with the possible exception being Obadiah.
- Other than a few facts noted in the three chapters, there is little information in the book to date the book's writing.
- Joash (Jehoash) became king of Judah at the age of seven. (2 Kings 11-12; and 2 Chron. 23-24) The elders and priest ruled in his name until he was old enough. Since Joel speaks to the elders and priests of Judah, not the king most date Joel under Joash's reign. See "Addressee" section below for more reasoning.
- The date Joel was written does not change it's message.
- Joel addresses the people of Judah and Jerusalem in the first half of the book. His message is in regard to three disasters that hit Judah; locust, drought, and fire. Perhaps they are what is mentioned in 2 Chron. 24:17-19.
- The later part of the book takes what happened to Judah as a sign of the Day of the Lord; that is in regard to Jesus second coming. The second half's message of hope and judgement is for all generations, especially us since his coming is so near.
- Occasion and Purpose
- Joel addresses the people of Judah and Jerusalem in the first half of the book. His message is in regard to three disasters that hit Judah; locust, drought, and fire. He calls for repentance and seeking the Lord as can be found in Deut. 2:38-42, and 1 Kings 8:35-40, and 2 Chron. 6:26-31, 7:13-14.
- The later part of the book takes what happened to Judah as a harbinger of the Great Day of the Lord (2:11, 31); that is in regard to Jesus second coming.
- Form and Style
Joel is a prophet book.
Joel is written in poetic form similar to other prophetic books.
- Place Among the Old Testament Books
- Joel is one of the smaller books of the Old Testament. Scholars have placed it with the other eleven minor prophets.
- Just because scholars have classified twelve of the prophetic books as minor does not mean that their message is any less important than the four major prophets. In fact the New Testament quotes the minor prophets more than the major prophets.
Joel takes what happened to Judah as described in 1:1 to 2:17 as a harbinger of the Great Day of the Lord (2:11, 31); that is in regard to Jesus second coming. If the date of Joel above is correct, then he is the first to prophecy about the Great Day of the Lord. The locusts in 1:4 and 2:25 should be considered insects and not invading armies (as some have done). He calls the locusts the Lord's army. (2:11) However, 2:2 and 2:11 state the locust are like a large army during in the Day of the Lord. Confronted with the three fold disasters Joel calls for repentence and turning to the Lord. He describes the day of the Lord as one of punishment for unfaithful Israel and for the nations in regard to their relationship with Israel. Restoration and blessing will come after the Day of the Lord.
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