The book of Joel is a record of the messages of the prophet Joel. As with most prophets, Joel’s message focuses on current events, but it also has a secondary application towards the future, some of which has occurred and some of which is yet to happen.
Little is known about Joel; when he lived is hard to pinpoint. His message is about the sorry state of the peoples’ disregard for God, which occurred when the dual disasters of locusts and drought devastated the land, representing God’s punishment. Joel then records the people’s response to it, with the book happily concluding with words of promise and hope.
Joel is sometimes called a minor prophet. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t important, but merely that the book named after him is shorter. (Compare this to the major prophets, whose books are much longer.)
For the past several months, most of the A Bible A Day posts have been about the minor prophets. Recall that they are called “minor” not because their prophecy is insignificant, but because their books are short!
Many passages in the New Testament of the Bible quote parts of the Old Testament, which was written hundreds of years before. In some versions of the Bible, footnotes — added by the translators — refer us to the original text.
One verse, however, cites the source from the text. It is in the book of Acts, where Peter directly references what the prophet Joel said. Here’s what happened:
Jesus tells the disciples that he will send the Holy Spirit to them to help and guide them. The Holy Spirit shows up and things get crazy: there’s the sound of a strong wind, the appearance of flames of fire, and the disciples start preaching in other languages.
The people freak out and blame it on too much wine.
Peter sets things straight by showing that this was foretold by the prophet Joel: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
Joel says it would happen, Peter and his buddies experience it, and things are forever changed: the Holy Spirit is given to all. Yes, all. That means them and it means us — you and me; all. As a result crazy things can happen for us, too!
The book of Joel is classified as one of the Bible’s prophetic books, as it contains a foretelling of the future. After multiple reads, however, this short, 3-chapter book begins to emerge more as poetry than prophecy, revealing multiple levels of meaning awaiting the patient reader to unveil and discover.
The name of the book is the same as the prophet who received God’s oracle — Joel. The nemesis of Joel’s story is a swarm of locust.
Joel’s message is one of unprecedented destruction via this army of locust, which eats everything in sight, devastating all plants — and the sustenance they produce. Both man and animal suffer as a result. However, there is also a grand and glorious redemption that follows, with God promising to restore the years that the locust ate.
Perhaps the most notable mention of locusts in the Bible is as one of the plagues that befall Egypt during Moses’ day. Another is that of locust — along with honey — comprising the unique dietary stylings of John the Baptist.
Aside from the life-nourishment that the locust provide to John, all the other Biblical references of locust relate to plague and destruction — and death — be it literal or figurative.
Regardless, I wouldn’t what them to eat my food or to eat them as food — I’m happy to take my locust as a metaphor.