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Joel 1

From chapter 1, in the book of Joel, we learn something about desolation. One commentator describes it in three different ways – the character of desolation, the reaction to desolation and the picture of coming desolation. Let us review: Locust swarms have devastated the land; famine ensues. Even the bark of the fig trees has been eaten, laying bare the branches (1:4, 7). Their destruction leaves nothing untouched; the loss of grain, wine, oil, fruit, is unprecedented. We are left to wonder which would be worse, the physical hunger or the spiritual wasteland. There is nothing left to sacrifice to God, resulting in spiritual barrenness.

Joel, led by God, recommends official mourning with sackcloth and fasting. He knows their only hope is in God. “Cry out to the Lord” (1:13, 14). The nation is called to repent as they gather before their Holy God! This is the reaction God desires when anyone falls away from Him. His heart is full of mercy and grace! He remains faithful to His covenant of love, in spite of momentary punishment. Joel went on to describe how future apostacy would remove all joy (1:16) just as fires ravage the land (1:19-20). The day of the Lord has come! This “Day of the Lord” is the theme of Joel’s prophecy. He explains it in three ways.

1.Chapter one links historically, with prophecies from Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel:

“Wail for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all

hands will go limp, every man’s heart will melt. Terror will seize them….”(Isaiah 13:6-8a).

“But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty – a day of vengeance….the sword will devour ‘til it is satisfied” (Jeremiah 46:10).

Alas for that day! For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near – a day of clouds, a time of doom for

the nations” (Ezekiel 30:2b-3).

We must note that the Day of the Lord will bring much fear and desolation! (Joel 2:11b). Jesus also warned about the Day of the Lord. Luke records His prophecy – wars, earthquakes, famine and pestilence will precede His return (Luke 21).

2.Joel also uses this historic plague as an illustration of the gravity of the ‘day of the Lord’ (Joel 2:1). Isaiah goes on to detail the day of the Lord as “a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it” (Isaiah 13:9). He goes on to say that God will punish the world for its evil, putting an end to man’s arrogance. Through it all there will be cosmic disturbances as God gives vent to His “burning anger” (Isaiah 13:10-13). It is not a pretty sight! This illustrates the partial fulfillment of prophecy of things yet to come.

3. There is an eschatological “day” coming when the great tribulation will take place followed by the Millennial reign. “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel” (Isaiah 4:2). Joel has been sent to warn God’s people “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill…for the day of the Lord is coming” (Joel 2:1). Ezekiel warned the nation of Israel to become watchmen (Ezekiel :33). This is the holy responsibility of all children of God.


We must realize we have not been chosen by God simply for us to go to heaven, but rather to be used to accomplish God’s purposes here on earth! Lest we get too caught up in watching for the “Day of the Lord“ let us remember Jesus’ words warning that the fields are ripe unto harvest, but the workers are few (John 4:35, Matthew 9:31). Spiritual desolation is all around us! Let us, like Him, be about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

by Marilyn Daniels (

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