Joel was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the period of the Divided Kingdom sometime between 930 - 722 BC. What the Lord spoke to Joel is an amazing and relevant prophecy that is very apocalyptic in nature. I think everyone who studies Biblical prophecy, the history of the Jews and the coming of our Messiah ought to be very familiar with the Book of Joel.
A major theme in Joel's prophecy is concerning the subject, 'The Day of the Lord'. This 'Day of the Lord' is discussing the return of the Messiah and the fate of the Jewish people at the end of time. The time that looks an awful lot like right now. It is during these climatic times before the Messiah returns that all hell breaks loose for the Jewish nation of Israel. Other prophets, like Zechariah and Zephaniah, discuss this time of turmoil for the Jews in Israel in great detail too. Yeshua, the Son of God, answered questions by his disciples about this time of the end. Joel is a 'must read' for all those who love the Lord's appearing. God's 'chosen people' have not been forgotten by their God. The time is soon approaching when He will reach for them in their hour of greatest need.
Earlier this week we celebrated the Lord's feast of Yom Teruah, the 'Day of the Awakening Blast', known to many as Rosh HaShanah. Joel tells us in Chapter 1 to blow the trumpet. In very heartfelt and alarming terms he is telling the sleeping nation of Judah that they need to awaken from their slumber. They have to wake up because the 'Day of the Lord' is at hand, here, right now! He describes how the enemy is eating their lunch and worms are feasting on their crops. The spiritual condition of Judah is spoken of in clear, abject reality. It is time for them to hear the trumpet blast, to wake up to what the devil has been doing all around them. The 'Day of the Lord' now is at hand. It's now or never, do or die, nothing to lose, time to finally wake up.
Beginning in Chapter 2 Joel tells them again to blow that trumpet, the 'Day of the Lord' is here. The rest of the chapter is a very cryptic and provides a very detailed description of that 'Day of the Lord. It is a time of great darkness for the Jews. It is a time when the beautiful fields of the land are now on fire and flames are all around the nation. The enemies of the Jews are now everywhere in the land and people are running everywhere. It tells the reader that not only will enemies and flames be everywhere but nature itself will be going crazy. Finally, the people are called by the Lord to a solemn assembly in order to repent so the Lord can come to rescue them. It is quite a scene:
"13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
16 The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
In Chapter 1, Joel tells of a plague of locusts which is ravaging the Jewish nation. It is unclear whether he is referring to real locusts or this being a spiritual metaphor concerning the actual state of the people in the land. Most think, and I would agree, that the disgraceful spiritual condition of the Jewish nation is being discussed. At the end of time the Jews who are living in Israel will be, for the most part of course, spiritually dead and morally vanquished. They will have no where to look but up. The Jews will be desperate for answers to questions they did not want to ask. They will be forced to call upon their true God, their Messiah. The prophecy of Joel is discussing this reuniting of the Jewish nation with their God whom they met on Mount Sinai. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His Name is Yeshua, Jesus, and they will now recognize Him as their Mashiach, the Messiah. It is at the end of Chapter 2 where we see this divine intervention.
The most noted passage in Joel for most of us who believe in Yeshua today is found in Joel 2:28-32:
"28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call."
This passage is well known for current day believers in Messiah because it is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17-21. Remember that Peter was telling everyone what they were witnessing on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. He stated that the current outpouring of the Spirit of God in Jerusalem that Shavuot was in fulfillment of what Joel had prophesied. It was the 'early rain' of God's Spirit being poured out upon His people. We see that before this dark and dangerous 'Day of the Lord' at the end of the age, the Lord promises to pour out His Spirit again upon His people. This is the 'latter rain'. It is the day all true Messianic followers of Yeshua are looking for. I believe it will be the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon God's people since the times of the Apostles. What a great thing it will be when we witness, and take part in, His empowerment on us, His body, to do His work!
Chapter 3 finds the Lord recapping the situation at the end of this age and what will happen. The bleak situation for Israel will finally turn. The Lord will intervene when it looks like the nation of the Jews is going down for the last time. Messiah returns, destroys His enemies and gives His favor to His people. It is exactly like what happened when Joseph's brothers came to him in Egypt during the days of the famine. The prophecy in Joel allows us to see the end of the turmoil and the enthronement of Yeshua the Messiah upon Mount Zion forever.
"18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion."