Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Block 56: Joel

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“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   Joel 2:28
The minor prophets were consistent with their message, “repent and sin no more.”  But the Israelites did not listen.  Joel was the second of the twelve minor prophets (Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).  His name means “the Lord is God.”  Joel is only mentioned in the Bible one time: in the first verse of the Book of Joel, the prophet identifies himself and his father.
A plague of locusts had destroyed the land, and a severe drought followed.  This is ironic (and purposeful).  God had punished the Egyptians with a plague of locusts before freeing the Israelites, and later he punished the Israelites with a plague of locusts.  But the Judeans did not recognize these calamities as the warning they were meant to be.  Joel tried to explain that unless the Judeans repented immediately, armies would replace the locusts, and Judah would receive the God’s promised punishment.  Joel promised that if the people would repent, they would experience physical restoration, spiritual restoration and national restoration.  He described a judgment day that would be terrible and impossible to endure.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however…  Every time the Old Testament authors describe a future judgment for sins, they are foreshadowing the story of Jesus Christ and his death on a cross.  If we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear on the final day of atonement.  It is hard to tell if/when Joel’s prophecies were fulfilled.  Some believe that there was a fulfilled in the 9th century, others believe it was fulfilled at Pentecost (Peter quotes Joel 2:28 in Acts 2;17), while others believe the fulfillment is yet to occur.  Prophecies, such as Joel’s are not meant to be a road map or a time line, letting us know how long we have before we “really” have to repent to be saved.  Rather, they are intended to show us God’s character, His mercy, and His justice for now and all of time.

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