Book of the Week 29: Joel

Hebrew Name: Yo’el

Human Author: Joel son of Pethuel                                    

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Joel is the twenty-ninth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Joel is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Joel is Yo’el, which means, “Yah is God.”
  4. The dating of the ministry of Joel is uncertain.
  5. Joel was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.

Story of the Book

Joel opens with a warning to the people of Judah. He warns Judah of the coming nation of Assyria, which will largely destroy the nation, and later warns that the kingdom of Babylon will carry Judah into exile. Joel uses figurative language to describe these invading nations as a swarm of locusts. Joel calls the nation to repent and cry out to God, proclaiming that God is rich in mercy and relents from sending calamity. Joel then describes the coming wrath a second time as a swarm of locusts: one who will destroy the nation if it does not repent. God proclaims that He would rise and deliver Judah and provide for its needs if the people would repent with all their hearts. The text then shifts to a future time called the “day of the Lord” (Joel 2:28-32) in which God makes a promise of deliverance and a promise to send the Holy Spirit upon the remnant of Judah who survive the exile. The book concludes with God’s proclamation that He will judge the nations, and then He gives a blessing to His chosen people. God concludes the book by promising to ultimately destroy Egypt and Edom, who oppressed God’s people. God proclaims that it is He who dwells in Zion, and it is He who will forgive the sins of His people.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Joel

Joel 2:28-32 describes a time called the “day of the Lord” in which God will pour out the Spirit of the Lord upon His people as he writes: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28-29). This passage is later brought to fulfillment in the book of Acts as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Apostles at Pentecost. Peter then quotes Joel 2:28-32a, proclaims Jesus Christ who was crucified to be both Lord and Christ, and tells his audience that the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Apostles that day was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Peter’s audience is cut to the heart by his testimony, and they ask him what they should do. Peter replies to the crowd saying, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The crowd of people does repent, and thousands believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah that day. Ever since this prophecy of Joel was fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, Jesus has not stopped appearing to people in visions and dreams to reveal Himself to unbelievers and to draw them to Himself. In this way, Jesus is actively fulfilling the prophecy given in Joel 2:28-32.