JOEL 1:1


The Bible says in Joel 1:1-3, “The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.[2] Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?[3] Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” The statement made in verse one is true about all of the prophets and is the method by which we received the Bible. God uses human beings to do His work. Perhaps the most important work has to do with the Word of God: receiving it, understanding it, and then teaching it. That is what happens with everyone who becomes rightly related to Jesus. First we receive the Word and spiritual understanding is given to us, and then we teach others what the Lord has revealed to us through His Word. In verse two first Joel addresses himself to the “old men” and then to all the inhabitants of the land. Of course, God’s message is for everyone because He loves everyone and gives everyone the opportunity to be saved by Jesus Christ. But why did Joel address the “old men” first? That’s probably because Joel’s message is going to be about something that no one has ever seen or experienced in the land before, not even the old men who would have seen more than anyone else. God had blessed Israel because of how much He loved them, and because of the promises God had made to Abraham. But sin can destroy many things, and can cause good things to turn bad.


Beware of sin and what it will do to you, my friend. That is the message of the first part of Joel. You will reap what you sow. The message of the second part of Joel is that God has a solution to the sin problem. It is called forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ. God will fix this world. It is His plan, and He will do it. Along the way, God’s will is for children to hear the message. The sooner that they hear it, the sooner that they will have the chance to enter into belief in Jesus and have both their souls and their lives saved. That is why God tells the parents in Hosea 1:3, “Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” The number one responsibility of parents and grandparents is to teach their children about salvation in Christ and to teach them the Word of God. And then when they have children, they can also teach their children; and so the Gospel will go from one generation to the next.


In describing the terrible judgment that would come upon Israel because they did not turn from their sins and turn to the Lord, a very well-known verse is found in Joel 1:4, “That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.” Most home owners know what insects can do. Farmers certainly do. I have a small oak tree that had all of its leaves eaten in one night. It is quite a shock to go out on your lawn one August morning and there are no leaves on the tree. I looked closely at the oak tree and it was covered with caterpillars. Believe me, in my case there was no need for a second wave of insects. At least I was able to use an insecticide and get rid of the caterpillars. Just think of a world with no insecticides and how destructive the insects can be then. Probably the reason that the Lord tells the Israelites that four waves of insects would come is to emphasize how great the destruction to their land would be. Remember this is being told to them because they sinned greatly and turned away from the Lord.


In Joel 1:5 the first sin that the Israelites were guilty of is mentioned. It says, “Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.” The drinking of alcohol has the same problem that all drug use has from a spiritual standpoint. That problem is demonstrated by the first word of this verse: “Awake.” Drugs and alcohol dull the senses, reduce motivation, and take away a person’s capacity to correctly understand their situation and what they should or not do. It is hard enough to do the right thing when you have full control of your faculties, and it is impossible when you do not. A person can get all the motivation and comfort they need from the Spirit of God and the love of Christ. Outside substances and not needed and are counter-productive.


The Bible says in Joel 1:6-7, “For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.[7] He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.” God makes it very clear here that when He is talking about a great swarm of insects destroying the land and the strength of lions that are also “without number,” that God is talking about another “nation.” And so we see that the Lord is giving a very detailed warning. God is all about giving warnings because of His mercy. He does not want to bring judgment, but He eventually will because of His holiness and the righteous demands for justice. God will warn some nations for hundreds of years, and He will warn some people for their entire life, but eventually judgment will come if people do not repent and turn to Jesus. The teachings of Jesus were all about warnings so that people would take heart and fins His mercy. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:[14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The prophecies about things to come are all about warnings so that people will take the warnings before it is too late. That is why it says about the judgment to come in Revelation 20:11-15, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.[12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.[13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.[14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


The Bible says in Joel 1:8, “Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.” God used this verse to describe to the Israelites how terrible their sufferings would be. There can certainly be some great sufferings in this life. Look what Job was called to suffer. Jesus the Son of God lived on this earth as a Man, and He was called a “man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief.” One of the greatest sufferings that some people are called to deal with is when a loving parent loses a little child. The suffering mentioned in Joel 1:8 is very close to that. When a young bride loses the husband of her dreams and of what she thought would be her future, it is hard to think of many sufferings worse than that. I know personally know two women who had such a fate. Not only did they suffer losing the love of their life suddenly in tragedy, but of course, their entire lives were altered and their view of life was altered. One of them lost her young man in an airplane accident and one lost him by drowning. God used this example to warn the Israelites of how terribly they would suffer if they did not repent of their sins and turn to Him.


The Lord continues with His warning to the Israelites of what was going to happen if they did not repent and turn to Him, and the Bible says in Joel 1:9-13, “The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD's ministers, mourn.[10] The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.[11] Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.[12] The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.[13] Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.” The key word to this passage of scripture is the word “mourn.” God said in verse 9 that the priests would mourn, and then God told the priests in verse 13 to lament and howl and “lie all night in sackcloth.” What a contrast to the way believers can be. Christians should be the happiest people on earth. The Bible says in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Notice that we are told to rejoice in the Lord Jesus. We are not told to rejoice about what happens to us or to our loved ones. We are not told to rejoice about how successful we are or are not. We are not told to rejoice about the way people treat us. We are told to rejoice “in the Lord.” There is always a lot to rejoice about when you rejoice in the Lord. Let’s name a few. We can rejoice that Jesus came to die for our sins. We can rejoice that Jesus visited each one of us personally who are saved. We can rejoice that we have eternal life and will live with Christ in heaven for ever. We can rejoice that Jesus has given us so many great and precious promises in the Bible. We can rejoice that Jesus loves us with an eternal love. We can rejoice that the Lord has a plan for our lives and He is working on that plan. We can rejoice that Jesus has a purpose for all things. These are just a few of the things that we can rejoice about in the Lord Jesus. How joyful Christians can and should be. Christians who are rightly related to the Lord and who are putting Philippians 4:4 into practice are the happiest people in the world.


There are two groups of people who can be the most miserable people in the world. The first are lost souls: those who do not know Jesus as Savior. How can they be joyful? They certainly cannot “rejoice in the Lord” about any of the truths mentioned above. They do not have the Spirit of God. The second group of people who can be really miserable are believers who have un-confessed sin in their lives or who are not walking close to close to Jesus. King David experienced this kind of joylessness, and so he wrote in Psalms 51:12,Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” One of the terrible consequences of sin is that it takes away joy. One of the many blessings of salvation through faith in Jesus is that He gives joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory,” as we are told in First Peter 1:8.


Vines and crops and plants that wither and dry up are symbolic of what can happen to a Christian who loses his or her joy. And so it says in Joel 1:12, “joy is withered away from the sons of men.” If this has happened to you, what is the solution to get your joy back: confess your sins and turn to the Lord Jesus.                                               















Copyright; 2014 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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