In Week 12 of my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets, we looked at Joel. Almost nothing is known about Joel; he refers to himself as the “son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1) though that does not help us identify him. Since the book has few precise historical references it is difficult to identify when the book was written, and as a result scholars suggest dates ranging from the ninth to the fourth century. On the whole, I think it is more likely that Joel ministered in the post-exilic period, sometime during the fifth or fourth century.
Whenever Joel ministered, Judah was experiencing the covenant curses that God had promised if they disobeyed (Joel 1:2-20). So, Joel calls God’s people to genuine repentance in light of the coming Day of the Lord (Joel 2:13-17). There will come a day when God will restore his people (Joel 2:18-27) and pour out his Spirit on all of them so that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:28-32). The nations will be judged (Joel 3:1-16) and God’s people will experience the abundance of the new creation where God dwells with his people (Joel 3:17-21).
I would summarize the theological big idea of Joel as this: In the coming day of God’s universal judgment, those who call on the name of Jesus Christ will be filled with His Spirit to enjoy the new creation with Him forever. The day of God’s judgment is coming for all humanity, but all those who call on the name of Jesus Christ will be filled with His Spirit to enjoy the new creation with Him forever.
All human history is careening towards that great day, and on that Day each one of our lives will be measured against the standard of perfect righteousness. Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead, the righteous and the wicked. What will that Day be for you, friend? Will it be destruction, or will it be deliverance? We cannot prepare for that day by washing the filthy rags of our own righteousness. We must change into proper wedding clothes to sit down at the great banquet table, and those clothes are not in our wardrobe. We must call upon the name of the Lord and ask Him to count Jesus’ death as the one we deserve for our sin, and to credit Jesus’ righteousness to us. That is what will save us from the wrath of God in the ultimate Day of the Lord. Until then, may He fill us with His Spirit to proclaim His excellencies and may He preserve us spotless until the Day of Christ.
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Since 2006 Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He is also a member of Christ’s Covenant Church, where he serves on the Preaching Team, leads a small group, and teaches regularly in their Life Education classes.
Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology, which is a forum for all matters pertaining to biblical theology (and some entirely unrelated).
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