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My Commentary On Joel

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The following commentary is based on both the 1984 and the 2011 edition of the New International Bible. The chapter titles of my commentary correspond with the chapter titles of the NIV to make for easy comparison.  

Before I begin this commentary I would like to say a few things about my own prophetic leanings.  The bottom line to these leanings is that I do not believe anyone has the full understanding of Biblical prophecy.  I take John 14:29 to be fundamental to my beliefs concerning prophecy.  There, Jesus told His disciples that He would die, rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, and give them the Holy Spirit.  They did not understand at the time they heard what He was saying, but, when what He was saying would be fulfilled. T then, they would remember His prediction and believe them to be true.  Therefore, I attempt to understand what the Bible predicts, but, even though I don't fully understand it all, at least I know what the Bible says so when it is fulfilled, I will remember, know, believe, and respond accordingly.  If we do not know that the Bible says about prophecy we will not respond accordingly.

Beyond what I've just said, I am what they call a Prophetic Futurist.  This means that I believe much of the book of Revelation is yet to be fulfilled.  Beyond that, there is a lot of gray in my understanding of the exact fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.      

It's quite clear who wrote this prophetic book of Joel.  It was a man named Joel, but what Joel it was we are unsure.  There are 13 Joel's mentioned in the Old Testament.  Which Joel wrote this prophetic book is unclear. 

The name Joel means "the Lord is God."  Joel's father was Pethuel, meaning, "vision from God."  That seems appropriate.  

There is a discrepancy among scholars to just when the book of Joel was written. The most common consensus seems to be that it was written somewhere before 722 BC probably around 750 to 760 BC or a bit earlier.  Others say he was a contemporary of Elijah that would have had him live in and around 900 to 850 BC. Still others say it had to be after the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile in 538 BC because chapter 3 verse 6 speaks of Jews of Judah and Jerusalem being sold to the Greeks.  That would have been after Babylon fell to the Persians and then after the Persians fell to the Greeks.  All that depends though if Joel 3:6 is understood as history past or prophetic of history yet to be fulfilled in Joel's day.  That being said, none of this is 100 percent certain.  Many Evangelical Bible teachers seem to think the book of Joel could well be the first of the prophetic books written.  If that is so, this book would be amazing.  Just think of it.  God, through Joel, predicted events that would happen at the end of this age way back to maybe 850 BC.    

It is also thought by many, but not by all, that it was written from Jerusalem.  I think the text suggests that it was written from Jerusalem because what is said in the text about Jerusalem.  This would narrow down, at least to a degree, the date of the book's writing to before 586 BC when Babylon overthrew Jerusalem. 

The main theme of the book seems to be "the Day of the Lord," sometimes called the last days, which usually refers to the time of the end of this age, the very last day of this age, and the 1000 year rule of Jesus on earth from Jerusalem.  Many Bible teachers say specifically that the "Day of the Lord" is the last seven years of this age, also known as the seventieth week of Daniel or the tribulation period.  We should note that not all scholars believe the Day of the Lord spoken of in Joel speaks to the end of this age.  Most Prophetic Futurists, which I am, do believe the Day of the Lord refers to the end of this present age.  A Prophetic Futurist believes that the book of Revelation will be fulfilled at the end of the age.  Those who believe in Replacement Theology, meaning the church has replaced Israel in prophetic history will differ from much of what you will read in this commentary.  I believe this prophetic book was written about and to Jews and their nation of Israel.  Replacement theologians believe that the prophecies of Joel relate to the end of days church.     

Why do I say that the Day of the Lord is a period of time and not just one day as the term seems to imply?  If you read the Bible passages that speak of the Day of the Lord you will note that it really is a period of time that culminated in one special Day of the Lord, that being, the return of Jesus to earth.  Joel 2:3 to 11 speaks of a specific war as being the Day of the Lord, a war that does not last just one day.  If this war is indeed the Day of the Lord that Joel says it is, then the Day of the Lord must be a period of time.  There are other Biblical passages that also speak to this war and the events that end this age that is seen as the Day of the Lord.  See also Isaiah 13:1 to 6 and Ezekiel 30.  They are just 2 more examples of the Day of the Lord being a period of time.

The book of Joel is quoted three times in the New Testament.  Peter quoted Joel 2:28 and following on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:16 to 21 when he stated that in the last days God would "pour out His Spirit on all flesh." 

In Matthew 24:29 Jesus quoted from Joel 2:31 when He said that "the sun will be darkened, the moon will turn to blood, and the stars will fall from the sky." 

Paul, in Romans 10:13, quoted Joel 2:32 when he said that "anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." 

The Apostle John alluded to the book of Joel in Revelation 6:12 and also in chapter 9 when he predict great earthquakes.  

Note to whom this book is written.  Verse 2 of chapter 1 states it was first and foremost written to the elders of Israel.  It is very clear that the elders of Israel, who often did not follow the Lord, as is the case today; needed to both hear and understand the message Joel spoke.  The other group to whom this prophecy was written is "to all who live in the land," as stated in verse 2 of chapter 1.  The land means Israel.  The specific land would be determined when Joel lived.  It was either written to Judah, the southern tribe of Israel, or Israel, the northern 10 tribes, or to all 12 tribes of Israel.  Again, all this depends on when you think this book was written.    

Joel 1:3 tells us that children and children's children, meaning, future generations, need to hear what is written in this book.  I specifically feel that the generation of Jews who are alive today need to hear the message of this book.  All Jewish generations need to hear this message as seen in Joel 1:3.  I would think the very last generation of Jews is the generation who need to understand this book most because it is to them this book is in reference to.  I would also suggest that all the generations of all nations need to hear this message in these last days, especially because of what you read in chapter 3.

Joel 1:5 speaks of "drunkards" needing to hear the message of the book of Joel as well.  Certainly this means those who are drunk with wine, but I think you can take this to mean even more than people drunk with wine.  Many are intoxicated with all sorts of things.  They are drunk with materialism and the cares of life.  As being drunk with wine robs you of your senses to that which is happening around you, so many things in life can rob you of being aware of what is happening and will soon happen as the end of this age approaches.  Whether Jews or Christians, we should never be intoxicated by the world around us.  It's for this reason many miss the meaning of this book.   

Many new Christians find themselves very interested in Biblical prophecy so they want to jump right into the book of Revelation, but, if one can begin to understand Old Testament prophecy as we read about in the book of Joel, the book of Revelation becomes a bit clearer.  

What I would like to do in this commentary is to not only major on the prophetic aspects to the book of Joel but also relate what God says to Israel and how that relates to the church and Christians today.  I will do this because much of how God dealt with Israel, He will deal with both Christians and the church.  The church has much to learn from the book of Joel beyond its prophetic significance. In closing this introduction I'd like to remind you that in 1 Corinthians 10:11 the Apostle Paul told us that all that was written in the Old Testament was to be an example for us to learn and live by.  He said something similar in Romans 15:4 when he said that all that was written in the past was meant to teach us. Therefore, even though the book of Joel is a book of prophecy, I maintain that there is more to learn from Joel than just prophecy.  There are things to learn that we can implement into our lives right now as Christians.  

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