Book of Joel Summary

Main Idea

The book of Joel is a call to God’s people to repent and turn to Him (Joel 1:13-14, 2:12) so that they can experience forgiveness and restoration (Joel 2:25-27) in light of the promise of a future spiritual blessing of salvation (Joel 3:17-19) and of a coming judgment (Joel 3:1-16).

Explanation of Main Idea

God’s people have experienced a ravaging by great swarms of locusts—the crops have been ruined (Joel 1:10-12). In light of this, Joel admonishes the people to fast and repent (Joel 1:13-14) with all their heart because the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Joel 2:13). The Lord is “jeaolous for his land” and will “take pity on his people” (Joel 2:18), therefore, if they do repent, thier enemies will be pushed back (Joel 2:20) and the land will experience blessing once again (Joel 2:22-25) ultimately resulting in the people knowing the power and love of God (Joel 2:27).

Joel also points people to the coming of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28), the future experience of salvation (Joel 2:32), and the dawning of the “Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:30, 3:1-16). Nations will be judged (3:1-16) and God’s people and Jerusalem will be blessed  and protected forever (Joel 3:17, 20).

Purpose

The book of Joel was written to call God’s people to repentance and to encourage them that He will eventually deliver and bless them. Their enemies will be defeated. God is more than reasonable—He is gracious and loves to forgive and heal. His program for His people is far bigger than their current experience. He is going to do a new work and provide a new home that is not susceptible to a locust invasion, but will be a place of perpetual abundance and provision.

Leading Themes

  1. Repentance The book of Joel contains some beautiful invitations to repentance. “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, fo He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing…”  (Joel 2:12-14).
  2. The Day of the Lord The eschatological Day of the Lord is “that time during which God will deal with Israel and the nations through judgment and deliverance.” Joel tells us that it is “dreadful” and that “it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15). It is “close at hand—a day of darkness and gloom” such as the world has never experienced (Joel 2:1-3). The earth will be shaken, the stars will no longer shine, and it cannot be endured by anyone (Joel 2:10-11). The way to escape this is through true repentance (Joel 2:12-14)
  3. The Promise of the Holy Spirit and Salvation Peter quotes the book of Joel in his speech to the large crowd at Pentecost (Acts 2:17-20) citing the coming of the Holy Spirit as a fulfillment of the words of Joel’s prophecy. “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32) looks forward to the day wherein we are now living. Peter went on to say that this “gift of the Holy Spirit (was)…a promise for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39).
  4. Restoration God is a god of restoration. The land has been ravaged by locusts and the people are experiencing ruin. “Surely the joy of mankind is withered away,” Joel summarizes (Joel 1:12). But God extends an invitation and promises “to take pity on his people” (Joel 2:18) by “sending…grain, new wine, and oil” (Joel 2:19), protecting them, taking away fear, and most notable, “repaying…what the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

How Does This Relate To Us?

Everyone needs to repent. All mankind has fallen and rebelled against the Lord. Repentance is the key to enter into a relationship with God. After Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, his listeners asked him what they should do. He responded, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2:38).

We also need to understand the heart and character of God. He is the God of Restoration. This gives a new perspective on our past. While wasted time, moral failures, and sinful choices are not pleasing to the Lord, they can all be used by God to bring about good. 

Are you filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in His joy and power? Joel’s promise, quoted by Peter, is for you.

Jesus is coming back! There is a terrible judgment that is coming. The earth will be shaken and millions will die. For those of us who know the Lord, what are we doing to save people from the Day of the Lord? And are we looking forward to the beautiful, perfect existence that is ours in Christ?

Study Questions

Textual Questions

  1. To whom was this prophecy addressed? Look at Joel 1:2, 13, 14. Why do you think it was addressed to this group of people?
  2. Scan through the first two chapters. How many words of repentance can you find?
  3. How does Joel describe the Day of the Lord in the following passages: Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1-11, and Joel 3:1-16? Write down as many adjectives as you can.

Life Application Questions

  1. How does the character of God as described in Joel 2:13 help you to repent?
  2. Are there any areas of your life that you feel have been ravaged and destroyed that you’d like God to restore?
  3. Why do you think the Day of the Lord is said to be “in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14)? What decision is this referring to?

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