Who Was Joel?

The questions below come from Chapter 3 of Volume 7 of BH Carroll‘s “An Interpretation of the English Bible.”

Who was Joel?

Joel was a prophet, the son of a Pethuel, and probably a resident of Jerusalem.  Not much else is known about him.

What the date of this prophecy?

The date of Jeol’s prophecy is unknown.  Older writers favor an older date during the reign of Joash (800s BC).  Newer authors put his writing in the 400s BC.

What the occasion of this prophecy?

The occasion of the prophecy is a plague of locusts which destroy the land and devour all the food.  The prophecy may refer to a literal plague or may represent in invading army (Babylon?) that destroys Israel.  The cause for the invasion is because of the sin of Judah.  Joel calls on Judah to repent in order to turn away the judgement of God.

To whom was this prophecy given and how do you explain the use of the name “Israel” in 2:27; 3:2, 16?

The prophecy is given to the Kingdom of Judah.  References to Israel are to the descendants of Jacob that live in the Southern Kingdom.

What are the essential points in the analysis of this book?

  • The Judgement of God
    • The locust invasion (1:1-20)
    • The Day of the LORD: Invasion of a northern army (2:1-17)
  • The Kingdom of God
    • God delivers Israel from the invaders (2:18-32)
    • The LORD judges all the nations (3:1-21)

What formula of introduction is found in the title to this book?

“The word of the LORD that came to Joel”

What the interpretation of the coming of the locusts?

Modern writers believe that the locust invasion was a literal plague that happened in Joel’s day.  According to Carrol and the older writers, the 4 locust invasions listed in Joel 1 are an allegory for 4 world powers that threaten the southern kingdom: Babylon, Persia, Greek, and Rome.

Carrol believes the invasion is not a literal locust invasion because:

  1. The writing is apocalyptic in nature.  It is a prophecy about a great national calamity, not an agricultural history
  2. A description is given in chapter 2 of a literal northern army invasion.  This is either a second calamity that will one day befall Israel, or it is describing, in literal terms, the allegory of chapter 1.
  3. The impact of the “Day of the LORD” is far worse than would be effected by a plague of locusts
  4. Rev 9:3-11 describe a locust invasion as a symbol for an invading army

According to this position, then how interpret 1:2 to 2:27?

According to the allegorical position, the locust invasion and “Day of the Lord” invasion of chapter 2 are the same invasion (perhaps Babylon or Assyria).  The invaders threaten total devastation, necessitating the repentance of Judah.  When Judah fasts and repents, God will have pity on His people and drive the invaders from the land.  He will then restore the fortunes of the nation (grain, wine, oil).

What is the promise in 2:28-32 and where do we find the fulfillment?

Afterward, God will pour out His spirit on “all flesh” (all kinds of people) – young and old, men and women will dream dreams and prophesy.  Peter applied the fulfillment of this prophecy to the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of His Spirit on Pentecost:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  …And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. …Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, …this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smokeThe sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come”  

(Acts 2:1-20)

What the judgments of 3:1-21 and when their fulfillment?

This is God’s Judgment on the heathen nations that oppose His people.  God summons them to the battlefield, where He pours out His wrath on them.

 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. and [false spirits] go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.  …Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.  …God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

(Rev 16:12-19)

According to Carroll,  this event ushers in the millennium in which the Prince of Judah will win the victory over the world, bring about the full manifestation of His kingdom, and disseminate knowledge of Himself to the ends of the earth.

What ideas appear for the first time in Joel and what their application?

“Day of the LORD” – refers to a time of God’s Judgment – First on Israel which results in Israel’s conversion; and second upon the Heathen, which results in their destruction.  It finds its ultimate and final fulfillment in the last great day of judgment.

What the most important lessons of this book?

  1. God will punish disobedience
  2. He will be merciful to those that repent
  3. God will pour out His Spirit on His people in the last days
  4. God will save everyone who calls upon Him (2:32)
  5. Evil may triumph for a season, but God will have final victory over all things

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