Understanding The Bible
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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
JOEL: Introduction and Simple Outline
NAME: Joel means "Jehovah is God."
PROPHESIED TO: Mainly JUDAH, Southern (2-tribe) Kingdom
DATE: Joel was one of the "undated" prophets. Probably earliest of the writing prophets. Internal evidence indicates a northern enemy (2:20), whose name is not given, presumptively because Assyria had not risen to power and the mention of that country's name would not have produced unusual fear which might lead to repentance. Thus, the term was flexible enough to produce fear of invasion by Judah's normal enemies to the north, Syria and/or the Northern (10-tribe) Kingdom of Israel, but the prophecy was actually to be fulfilled by Assyria's invasion. Joel probably began his ministry around 830-820 BC (Whitcomb).
CONTEMPORARIES: None, unless Whitcomb's early date for Obadiah is accepted.
THEME: Urgent need for repentance.
The locust plague and drought (ch. 1) were warnings of an invasion by Assyria and the drying up of national resources so that Judah's defense would not be successful (2:1-11). Hence, the repentance would have to be a rending of heart and not garments (2:12-17) if Judah was to be delivered (2:18-21) and normal life restored (2:22-27). Unfortunately repentance was not forthcoming and God's deliverance was postponed to a day (yet future to us), "the day of the Lord," which would end in spiritual blessing upon a redeemed remnant (2:28-29; 3:1, 17-18), mighty signs in heaven and earth, and deliverance from enemies at the Lord Jesus' second coming (2:30-3:2; 3:9-16).
SPECIAL NOTE: The term, Day of the LORD, may have either an immediate or an ultimate application. In the near view, it is a time when God, in accordance with a pre-announced purpose and warning, openly deals in judgment (if repentance is not forthcoming). All such times of judgment are illustrative and prophetic of that great future period of judgment, pre-eminently "THE Day of the LORD, " described more fully in the book of Revelation, toward which climax all creation moves.
"NOW" (Joel's time) 1:1-2:27
"AFTERWARD" (the Latter Day) 2:28-3:21
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