Joel 1 has a new prophet speaking the word from God. “The word of the Lord that came to Joel”. The prophet Joel spoke to the southern kingdom of Judah, and makes no reference to the northern kingdom of Israel. It’s hard to pin down when this writing occurs, because he doesn’t mention any other kings or prophets. Many scholars date the book of Joel to around 800 b.c. Joel is one of the earliest prophets – only Obadiah prophesied before him – and this prophecy happens prior to the fall of both kingdoms.
Joel is a prophet that gets truth directly from God. But he not only proclaims that to the people – he instructs them how to spread the truth and make impact. That means to teach it to the children. “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation”. Teaching our kids God’s truth is of extreme importance. It’s how the word truly gets spread. This is discipleship demonstrated as it should happen in a family. Parents teach their kids, who teach their kids, and on it goes for generations. It has to be interntional and continual. But this simple principle can change the world and a family forever.
Joel also demonstrates the impact of ongoing devastation. “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten”. There is a progression of destruction here where each type of locust takes a little bit more and causes a bit more damage. It’s how unrepented sin works. If we don’t address it through confession and repentance, it gradually eats away at our life and the judgment of God will take more and more.
Joel makes it clear that God’s people need to wake up and pay attention. Joel tells Judah that they should look at their condition and mourn, with emotion and passion. They should not miss the lesson and opportunity here – they need to turn around and come back to the Lord. Joel gives the formula for what that repentance should look like:
- “Consecrate a fast – make getting right with God the main thing, even more than eating
- call a solemn assembly – call all God’s people together to repent
- Gather the elders – it starts with the leaders
- all the inhabitants of the land – it should include all people
- to the house of the Lord your God – it happens in God’s house
- cry out to the Lord” – it simply is a cry to God for His grace and mercy and to restore right relationship
Joel paints a picture of how we should get right with God. Things are in shambles and destruction has happened. He informs the people how to turn that around and get right with God.