The Prophecy of Joel

Discovery for Students

The Prophecy of Joel


Joel 1:1 through 3:21

“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12)


Although the date of Joel’s prophecy is uncertain, many Bible scholars believe that Joel was one of the earliest of the minor prophets, because both Amos and Isaiah borrowed imagery and quoted from Joel’s prophecy. A further clue to Joel’s era is found in his references to the enemies of Judah: Egypt, Edom, Tyre, Sidon and Palestine (which is Philistia) (Joel 3:4,19). Although Joel prophesied of the captivity of Israel, there was no mention made of the Syrians, Babylonians, or Assyrians, who were enemies at a later date.

The circumstances that prompted this prophecy included a locust plague and subsequent drought, fire, and famine. Joel began with a call to the eldest men to remember whether such a calamity had ever befallen them before. The sum of his argument was that this plague of locusts was the judgment of God. Joel drew an analogy between the natural destruction of the plague of locusts and the “day of the Lord,” indicating that the former calamity would be nothing compared to the latter. The army of locusts was a graphic illustration of the invaders who would be sent in judgment. However, true to God’s grace and mercy, the imminent judgment could be averted by true repentance.

Joel called the people to repentance, beginning with the old men, or elders of the land. He urged them to humble themselves in sincerity, not merely in outward form, and to lament as bitterly as a young wife would grieve at the untimely death of her husband. Next he urged them to proclaim a national day of fasting and prayer, to entreat the Lord for His mercy.

The meat and drink offerings (grain and wine, respectively) were absent from the Temple services due to the widespread destruction of crops and vineyards. Such religious rites were the people’s means of sustaining a proper relationship with God. Even the cattle and sheep were affected as they searched in vain for somewhere to graze.

The heart of Joel’s message was an urgent appeal to repentance, for the day of the Lord would be more terrible than the destruction of locusts. Promises of restoration of their land and reprieve from invading armies were given to the nation, if the Israelites would turn to the Lord with all their hearts (Joel 2:12-13).

The second chapter gave the beautiful promise of God to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in the latter days. Peter referred to this prophecy on the day of Pentecost and indicated that the Lord had fulfilled this prophecy before their eyes (Acts 2:16-18).

Some of the promises described future events, when the day of the Lord will come in full force against the enemies of God. In the last days, God will spare those who have turned to Him wholeheartedly, and will provide the deliverance that was promised to Israel in chapter 2.


  1. What natural calamities did Joel describe in chapter 1 as an object lesson to warn the people of God’s coming judgment?
  2. In chapter 1, verses 13 and 14, Joel addressed the priests, who were the leaders of the people. What did Joel instruct them to do? Why do you think he spoke to them?
  3. How did Joel describe the day of the Lord in chapter 2?
  4. How could the people avoid this terrible holocaust? What attitudes and actions was the Lord looking for?
  5. What physical promises did the Lord make to the people if they would turn to Him with all their hearts? Joel 2:18-27
  6. What spiritual promises did the Lord make to the people if they would repent of their sins? Joel 2:28-29
  7. What judgment did God pronounce upon Israel’s enemies, and why? Joel 3:8
  8. Joel told of a natural disaster to speak to the people regarding their need for true repentance. Consider some of the major tragedies which have occurred in recent years. How can you use such events to bring up the subject of Christ’s second coming with your friends and co-workers?


The day of the Lord is coming when He will return to judge the wicked and will spare those who have turned to Him with all their hearts. An outward show of religious zeal or humility will not suffice, as God is able to discern true repentance from that which is insincere and fleeting. What is the condition of your heart today?