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Literature / Book of Joel

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One of the books of the Minor Prophets that make up the Old Testament. In this book, the prophet Joel makes an analogy likening a plague of locusts that have struck the kingdom of God to an invading army coming upon the land, calling on the land to repent. In Protestant versions of the Bible, this book is three chapters long, while in Jewish and certain Catholic editions it is four chapters long, with the last few verses of chapter 2 split apart into another chapter.

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This book provides examples of:

  • The Day of Reckoning: Joel 3:1-16 is basically this in a nutshell, with God promising judgment unto the nations for the sake of His people Israel.
  • Doomed Hometown: For those living in Edom and Egypt at the time God will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, He promises in Joel 3:19 that those countries will be deserted desolations.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Joel 2:28-32 is interpreted by Christians as God's promise to pour out His Holy Spirit upon all flesh and to bring them to salvation through Jesus Christ. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled at the day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts, while Pentecostal and Charismatic believers believe there will be a second outpouring, the "latter rain", that will happen prior to the Lord's Second Coming.
    • Joel 3:1-16 foretells God's coming judgment to the nations, similar to how the nations were gathered at Armageddon in the Book of Revelation, complete with imagery of the winepress of God's wrath being trampled.
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  • Good Is Not Soft: Given that the prophet calls the army of locusts "God's army", it is apparent is God is using the locusts against His own people to bring them to a place of humility and repentance.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Joel calls for this to the people of Israel in Joel 2:12-14:
    Yet even now, declares the Lord,
    return to Me with all your heart,
    and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning.
    Rend your heart,
    and not your garments;
    return to the Lord your God,
    Who knows? He might turn aside and relent,
    and He might leave behind a blessing—
    a grain offering and a food offering
    for the Lord your God.
  • Hookers and Blow: Mentioned in God's judgment against the nations in Joel 3:1-3.
    At that time I, the Lord, will make Judah and Jerusalem prosperous again. Then in Judgment Valley I will bring together the nations that scattered my people Israel everywhere in the world, and I will bring charges against those nations. They divided up my land and gambled to see who would get my people; they sold boys and girls to pay for prostitutes and wine. (Contemporary English Version)
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  • Meaningful Name: The Valley of Jehoshaphat in Joel 3:2, with Jehoshaphat meaning "Yawheh has judged". It's pretty telling that this is the valley God will bring the world into to judge them for their actions against His people.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Joel 3:10 has God telling the nations, "Let the weak say, 'I am strong'," as a boast to stir up the nations to come up against Him and His people to fight. Sadly, this gets misinterpreted by Christian worship song writers as an encouraging thing that Christians should say about themselves. (They most likely are mixing this up with what Paul the apostle says of himself with God giving him the strength to endure all things in 2nd Corinthians 12:10: "For when I am weak, then I am strong.")
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: For "Tyre, Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia" that would sell God's people so as to take them far from their borders — to supposedly "render a recompense" unto God for Him kicking them out of the land that He gave to the Israelites — God promises that He will pay them back by having them be sold by the people of Judea to the Sabeans, "to a nation far off", as mentioned in Joel 3:4-8.
  • The Swarm: Chapters 1 and 2 have interestingly detailed descriptions of the swarm of locusts that are coming to invade Judah.
    What the fledging locust left,
    the adult locust has eaten;
    what the adult locust left,
    the larval locust has eaten;
    what the larval locust left,
    the hopper locust has eaten. (Joel 1:4, Modern English Version)
  • Where Is Your X Now?: In Joel 2:17:
    Between the temple porch and the altar,
    let the priests, ministers of the Lord, weep and say,
    “Have pity upon Your people,
    and do not make Your heritage a disgrace,
    a mockery among the nations.
    Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’ ”
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