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Day of the Lord is Near (Joel 1-2)

Minor Prophets  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Review

Our last time together, we finished the Book of Hosea, which focused on the spiritual unfaithfulness of Israel. The Northern Kingdom had chosen for over 200 years to pursue a path of idolatry and immorality that took them far away from God. At its root, they had been guilty of rebellion (13:16). God will come to them like a mama bear robbed of her cubs (v. 8) and even kings and armies won’t not be able to save them (v. 10).
The final chapter gave us a sneak peak at the national repentance of Israel. I believe this is still a future event. If we are to take the judgements of Israel literally, we should also take this promise of restoration literally. In that day, when Israel repents, God promises, “I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them” (Hos. 14:4).

Overview of Joel

We come now to the Book of Joel. This minor prophet is much shorter than Hosea. In fact, it is only three chapters and can be read easily in one sitting.
A good summary can be found in A Survey of the Old Testament: “Joel’s concern throughout the book was to address ‘the day of the Lord. The locust plague was the beginning and the judgment would get worse. He called on the people to repent and when they responded positively, favor and prosperity were proclaimed.”

The Locust Plague

Have you ever experienced a swarm of bugs or had your garden mowed down by pests? What was it like?
When God delivered Israel from captivity in Egypt, he sent ten plagues. One of them was locusts. Read Ex. 10:12-15.
A similar plague took place in the days of Joel. We don’t know the exact date or full scale of this event, but it is described in the first chapter.
Read Joel 1:1-12. A severe locust plague in the days of Joel absolutely decimates the crops and puts the people and animals at risk of starvation.
Read 2:1-10. This likely speaks of the infiltration of a human army, though the language still borrows from the locust plague. (e.g. dark skies, homes invaded, heads like horses).
See photos of a devastating locust plague that occurred in Palestine in 1915.

The Day of the Lord

This dreadful plague of locusts is a foreshadowing of a future reckoning known as the “Day of the Lord” (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14). This is the main theme of the Book of Joel, and appears many other places in Scripture as well. It is an important term to understand. In fact, you can’t properly appreciate the big story of the Bible without an understanding of the Day of the Lord.
The MacArthur Study Bible explains: The theme of Joel is the Day of the Lord. It permeates all parts of Joel’s message, making it the most sustained treatment in the entire OT (1:15; 2:1; 2:11; 2:31; 3:14). The phrase is employed 19 times by 8 different OT authors (Is. 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18 [2x], 20; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14 [2x]; Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:5). The phrase does not have reference to a chronological time period, but to a general period of wrath and judgment uniquely belonging to the Lord. It is exclusively the day which unveils His character—mighty, powerful, and holy, thus terrifying His enemies. The Day of the Lord does not always refer to an eschatological [future, end times] event; on occasion it has a near historical fulfillment, as seen in Ezek. 13:5, where it speaks of the Babylonian conquest and destruction of Jerusalem. As is common in prophecy, the near fulfillment is an historic event upon which to comprehend the more distant, eschatological fulfillment. The Day of the Lord is frequently associated with seismic disturbances (e.g., 2:1–11; 2:31; 3:16), violent weather (Ezek. 13:5ff.), clouds and thick darkness (e.g., 2:2; Zeph. 1:7ff.), cosmic upheaval (2:3, 30), and as a “great and very terrible” (2:11) day that would “come as destruction from the Almighty” (1:15). The latter half of Joel depicts time subsequent to the Day of the Lord in terms of promise and hope. There will be a pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh, accompanied by prophetic utterances, dreams, visions (2:28, 29), as well as the coming of Elijah, an epiphany bringing restoration and hope (Mal. 4:5, 6). As a result of the Day of the Lord there will be physical blessings, fruitfulness, and prosperity (2:21ff.; 3:16–21). It is a day when judgment is poured out on sinners that subsequently leads to blessings on the penitent, and reaffirmation of God’s covenant with His people. See note on 1 Thess. 5:2.
So, although the “Day of the Lord” often carries a negative meaning of judgment, it can also spill over into the season of blessing that will result. The Day of the Lord is a unique time in human history when there will be severe divine judgement followed by God’s presence, his healing, and his blessing.
From an eschatology standpoint, I believe the Day of the Lord will begin at the Rapture, will continue through the Tribulation (judgment) and will then carry all the way into the Millennium (blessing). Present day disasters foreshadow this apocalyptic time, but this future period of 1,007 years will be the ultimate “Day of the Lord.”

For Further Study

The Day of the Lord is not limited to just the OT. It appears five times in the NT as well. What do these passages tell us about it?
· 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 _______________________________________________________
· 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 ____________________________________________________
· 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 ____________________________________________________
· 2 Peter 3:8-10 __________________________________________________________
Our next time together, probably after Christmas, we will study the second half of the Book of Joel, and see how the Apostle Peter uses this book on the Day of Pentecost to explain the signs and wonders that accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Application

Should we be afraid of God? Why or why not? See Heb. 10:31.
Thank God that those who are in Christ are not under his judgment and wrath.
Believers today still need to be reminded to return to the Lord (v. 13) when they drift from him, for he is forgiving and eager to receive his people back into his fellowship. (ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible).
Am I living with a sense of urgency for the lost, realizing those who are apart from Christ will one day experience the dreadful Day of the Lord?
What does God say must be done to avoid judgment? (Joel 1:14)
What am I doing to rescue the lost from destruction? Be specific.
How can I bridge the gap when talking with unbelievers from current calamities (like a pandemic!) to God’s future judgment?
What verse(s) could I use to share the gospel with unbelievers?
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