Joel – Restoring Hope
• Nobody knows for sure when Joel was written, but the best guess is that he is a contemporary with Elisha. Egypt and Edom are the major threats facing Judah.
• Joel is an insider. He was familiar with the inner workings of the temple and the royal court and the people who operated there.
Passages to Study
Joel 1:1-13 – For once, a natural disaster is not the fault of either the people’s sin or God’s punishment. Joel blames the locusts, and calls on God’s people to mourn the loss. This disaster is universal – the farmers have no crop, the vinedressers have no grapes, the grove keepers have no fruit, and the priests have no sacrifices. Notice that unlike other prophecies where judgment is predicted, here there is no specific mention of specific sins of which Judah is guilty. Typically, when God condemns sin He does so specifically. Here, if this is judgment for sin, we are not told what that sin is.
Joel 1:19-20 – Joel leads the people in their cry to God. The time of crisis should lead people closer to God rather than farther away from Him. The proper response to hardship is not stoicism, nor is it despair, but fervent prayer and earnest expectation that what is hoped for will be realized.
Joel 2:12-21 – Even if a sin is not specifically mentioned, this time of crisis is an opportunity to realize Judah’s need for God and to draw nearer to Him. There are two significant calls in Joel’s oracle – come together, and come to God. God is a God of hope for those who will seek Him.
Joel 2:28-32 – Even as God makes things good now, He always has something better in the works. God’s coming is not only in judgment, but also in redemption.
Joel 3:16-21 – God will provide a “second Passover” where he judges the nations but protects His people. What has been taken away will be restored completely, as is God’s paradigm. God will avenge His people against their enemies.
• Where does hope come from in times of crisis?
• What is the significance of Joel himself leading the cry to God?
• What role do leaders play in restoring the hope of the people?
• What is God’s incentive for restoring His people’s hope?