1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:
An Invasion of Locusts
Hear this, you elders;
give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children to another generation.
What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten.
Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine,
for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has come up against my land,
powerful and beyond number;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
and it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has laid waste my vine
and splintered my fig tree;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
their branches are made white.
Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth
for the bridegroom of her youth.
The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
from the house of the LORD.
The priests mourn,
the ministers of the LORD.
The fields are destroyed,
the ground mourns,
because the grain is destroyed,
the wine dries up,
the oil languishes.
Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil;
wail, O vinedressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
because the harvest of the field has perished.
The vine dries up;
the fig tree languishes.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
all the trees of the field are dried up,
and gladness dries up
from the children of man.
A Call to Repentance
Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
wail, O ministers of the altar.
Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
Because grain offering and drink offering
are withheld from the house of your God.
Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the LORD your God,
and cry out to the LORD.
Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
Is not the food cut off
before our eyes,
joy and gladness
from the house of our God?
The seed shrivels under the clods;
the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are torn down
because the grain has dried up.
How the beasts groan!
The herds of cattle are perplexed
because there is no pasture for them;
even the flocks of sheep suffer.
To you, O LORD, I call.
For fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness,
and flame has burned
all the trees of the field.
Even the beasts of the field pant for you
because the water brooks are dried up,
and fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness.
Joel 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
In this short and powerful book, the prophet Joel calls the nation to repent. Only referenced one other time in Scripture by Peter during a sermon, little is known of the prophet himself. He prophesied to the people of Judah during the reign of King Joash in 835 BC and followed through 2 other kings Jehoahaz and Jehoash, with his ministry prophet coming to a close around 796 BC. His words, a mere 3 chapter book, uttered such a profound word of warning – the Lord would judge their disobedience.
Ever since Eden, humankind has attempted to live in independence from the God who created them. Attempting to take control of their lives, their destinies, he allowed their rebellion yet it came with a price. It always does.
For the people of Judah, the land at this time was infiltrated with locusts who ate the entire crop they thought they controlled. As a word of prophetic warning, often locusts would symbolize foreign armies ravishing a land; it spoke of wars to come where they would be led into slavery.
As one of the lone voices in that call to repent, Joel called the priests to gather the people and seek repentance as a nation, as a people and yes as individuals for their rebellion.
“And also you priests put on your robes and join the outcry. You, who lead people in worship, lead them in lament. Spend the night dressed in gunnysacks, you servants of my God. Nothing’s going on in the place of worship, no offerings, no prayers—nothing. Declare a holy fast, call a special meeting, get the leaders together, round up everyone in the country. Get them into God’s Sanctuary for serious prayer to God.”Joel 1:13-14 The Message
Everything rises and falls on leadership. This is found within every sector of life – but most definitely in the Body of Christ. If the leader is not continuing to call the people toward the life Jesus desires; the very surrender of their life itself, complacency slowly creeps in. Programs, outreach, the ever popular ‘show’ put on Sunday mornings take precedence over the fact that hearts are far from God. People are more caught up in their own wants and are out of sync spiritually when the leader fails to lead. It is the absolute role of the pastor to lead the people through his or her own life, through their own commitment to their Savior.
And here is where Joel calls them out – almost in pleading to assemble the crowds and gather in prayer for the state of their condition; for the absolute need of God to intervene not only within the lives of every person but also for the nation itself.
There are many who speak of the importance of prayer but sadly more often than not it’s not completely practiced. When our hearts become like the heart of the Father, when the Holy Spirit begins to take over our thoughts and ways, when we surrender ourselves again and again first and foremost, God reveals the burden of His heart and prayers are taken to the next level of intercession.
When you consider the state of the world this day, the state of the Believer’s in name only, the call resounds. We as leaders, as Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, are to be in earnest prayer.
Oh people, all of us are leaders on some level. All of us have those entrusted to us by the grace of Jesus. Lead! Spiritually empower through your own commitment and renewed dedication to your Savior and prayer. Many are waiting for you to step up. Spiritually dead leaders make dead people. Stop. Look. Reflect. What is the current spiritual condition of those following you?
Joel 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The book of Joel centers around The Day of the Lord. Here is a brief synopsis of what that entails…
The Day of the Lord
- Though it probably refers to future events, it is not a requirement (as seen in Ezekiel 13:5). It is common for prophecy to speak to a historical event (in the near future) and eschatological (end times) events as well.
- This phrase is closely connected with natural disasters. It is linked to earthquakes, severe weather, dark clouds, plagues, and spiritual upheaval.
- However, the phrase also is connected to fruitfulness, blessing, and justice. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to punish evil.
Woe because of that day! For the Day of the LORD is near and will come as devastation from the Almighty.Joel 1:15 HCSB
In Joel 1, The Day of the Lord is a future judgment that is foreshadowed by a locust plague. It is natural to read these passages and get overwhelmed with terror. There should be a healthy fear, but there should also be rejoicing for those who know Jesus. In the end, humanity will have had its time, and we have seen what it has led to. The Day of the Lord is God’s day. He is coming and bringing His justice with Him.
In a sense, the judgment that Judah experienced with locusts was a lesser form of this day. It symbolized His power and control over all things and His promise to punish evil in the end. Those who know Jesus can celebrate with Him as He sets in motion the complete destruction of evil and suffering.