Friday, December 02, 2016

Reading Through Joel

Hosea to MicahWe now move into Joel, the 2nd book of the Minor Prophets, accompanied by The Minor Prophets vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Harold Shank. Joel prophecies the coming Day of the Lord in comparison with a locust plague and military invasion. It will be a day of judgment on the world and outpouring of the Spirit on God’s people. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

In the book of Joel, the prophet uses God's judgment through a locust plague to warn the nation about a greater judgment that was coming - the Day of the LORD. The people repent and God removes the judgment of the plague (2.21-27). Joel says that they should keep this in their historical memory to remind themselves of what will be needed when the judgment of the Day of the LORD comes.

Joel raises the issue of the “day of the LORD” in the midst of the locust plague, suggesting that the LORD is punishing his people by the plague and that an even more devastating day may lie ahead unless they repent. 149

In chapters 1-2 the locust plague is described as coming from God with total devastation. The temple service cannot be practiced because there is no grain or wine for the sacrificial offerings. The LORD is bringing on this devastation because of their sins and the only way to get relief and restoration is to repent with a whole heart. 2.21- describe this repentance and God's reversal of the devastation into blessing. Joel hopes the nation will learn from this and apply it to future situations.

The physical devastation mandated a spiritual solution. The locust plague which affected the drunkards, temple workers, and farmers must be addressed by the entire nation. The priests lamenting in the temple must be joined by the entire nation in sacred assembly, gathering to cry out to the LORD. Joel 1.15-20, 164

The God who requires devotion, who demands repentance, who forgives whatever his people do if they seek him with all their heart, is a God who is devoted to his people. Joel 2.13-14, 173

Chapter 3 looks at the judgment of the end. It includes the lavish pouring out of the Spirit on God's people, the Day of the LORD judgment on the nations and the subsequent restoration and prosperity of Israel based on their full repentance. There is a sense in which this was fulfilled at Pentecost. However, Israel as a whole does not repent and experiences the LORD's judgment through the Romans. The final fulfillment still awaits the coming of the LORD to be present with His people, the final judgment and eternity as heaven and earth come together forever.

The day of the LORD does not depend on human initiative. Future prosperity, protection, and pardon all rely on the presence of the LORD. Whether dealing with struggles and pain or living in prosperity and pleasure, Joel reminds the reader that the LORD is powerful and concludes with the promise that this powerful being is near. Joel 3.16-21, 192

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