September 12 (Daily reading: Joel) It is difficult to place the book of Joel chronologically. The only personal information about the prophet Joel is his father’s name. He announced the coming of “the day of the LORD” (1:15) as a destructive plague of locusts. The message of Joel has in common with other prophecies the judgment of God for the sins of His people, while at the same time giving hope when all seemed to be hopeless. This hope was conditioned on the repentance of the people. “Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness” (2:13). Those who repent would find that “the LORD is a refuge for His people” (3:16).
Joel is perhaps one of the better-known minor prophets because of Peter’s quote at Pentecost. He claimed that the event when the Holy Spirit appeared was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy: “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind” (2:28). Peter used Joel’s words to place the death and resurrection of Christ at the center of God’s plan for mankind. He said: “You nailed (Him) to a cross…and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again” (Ac. 2:23-24). Peter’s message culminated in the quote: “And it shall be that everyone that calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Ac. 2:21, quoting Joel 2:32). This truth takes us back to the theme of hope. Hope for the people of Joel’s day was found in the promise of their return to Jerusalem. Joel ended his book as Ezekiel ended his, with a reminder that “the LORD dwells in Zion” (3:21). Hope for our day is found in the promise of Christ’s return: “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3).
– Al Gary