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Joel is the earliest of all the prophets. The book was written somewhere around 830-800 BC. Joel is a contemporary of Homer, although they lived in different parts of the world. He is a person who dealt with a catastrophe in his day. His name, Joel, means 'Jehovah is God'.

He lived in the southern kingdom of Judah and in his day there was a terrible catastrophe, a locust invasion which almost destroyed the economy of the country. Joel teaches us the lesson that is hard to find at times in other prophets but it is there with all of them. The prophets were preachers and they were discussing problems of their day and one of the most important things is to be able to recapture the life of their day and the problems of their day because all of their eschatology was based upon something pertinent to their time.

In other words, future events are used by Joel to meet the problems of his day. In his day it was a locust invasion, which had a very detrimental effect upon the economy of the country. But fifty years after Joel, and for about two hundred years, it is going to be the Assyrian invasions under the principle of the 4th cycle of discipline.

So every prophet is dealing with the problems of his day and he didn't give a lot of abstruse, obscure information about the Tribulation. The Tribulation just paralleled the events of his day and therefore the message of the Tribulation is often something that parallels something that happens at that time. So Joel becomes a marvelous illustration of how to interpret the prophets.

Chapter 1

1~~The Word/'Doctrinal Communication' {dabar}
of Jehovah/God . . . {that came} to Joel
  {means 'Jehovah is God'}
the son of Pethuel
  {name means 'the graciousness of God'}.

{Verses 2-7: National Disaster Warning about the Assyrian Empire.}
2a~~``Hear, listen, concentrate, and obey' {shama`}
you 'old men'/elders {country leaders - judges and priests} {zaqen},
and give ear
  {give this bible doctrine a proper hearing and then decide},
all you inhabitants of the land.

2b~~'Have you ever seen anything like this?'
  {idiom: Literally 'Has this been in your days?' referring to
  the locust disaster to the agriculture economy - first of such huge
  disaster in Palestine area}
or even in the days of your fathers
  {all the days of Jewish written records?}?

{Note: There is a plague of locusts that has not been seen in Palestine for many generations.}

{Inhabitants of Land are to Teach Children - Grass Roots Campaign}
3~~Teach your children { caphar - piel intensive stem}
and your children . . . {teach} their children,
and their children . . . {teach} their children
and their children . . . {teach} another generation
  {meaning each generation is commanded to teach
  to stay in the Word or these disasters will come again}.

{Note: This means more than about the locusts. The only stable teaching we pass from generation to generation is bible doctrine. Teach the children! And Joel now sets a pattern for all the prophets, and all of the prophets [with the exception of Daniel] from Isaiah to Malachi have the same pattern. They take disasters, which occur in their country and use them as a basis of warning their nation. Joel will warn of the 4th cycle of discipline. Later on people like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Hosea, will warn of the 5th cycle of discipline. Then we have Zechariah and Malachi who warn of "stay in the Word or these cycles will come again" .So all of these prophets have a message to the people of their own day. Isaiah's message is the thing that will stave off the Sennacherib invasion, the cankerworm in verse four.}

{Attack of 4 Species of Locust - Dual Prophecy
  Near Prophecy - the Invasion of 4 Assyrian Kings
  Far Prophecy - the Attack of the Kings of the North, South East
  and West in the Tribulation}

4a~~That which the 'gnawing locust'/ palmerworm {gazam} has left
  {gazam - represents the future invasion of Tiglath-Pileser III}
has the 'swarming locust'/locust {'arbeh} eaten
  {'arbeh - represents the 2nd future invasion of Sargon II}.

4b~~And that which the 'swarming locust' has left
has the 'cleanup locust'/cankerworm {yekeq} eaten
  {yekeq - represents the 3rd future invasion of Sennacherib}.

4c~~And that which the cankerworm/'cleanup locust'
has left has the 'root eating locust'/caterpillar {chaciyl} eaten
  {chaciyl - represents the 4th future invasion of Esarhaddon}.

{Note: This should be interpreted based on entomology. In other words, what are these bugs? First, we have eschatology (future events) . . . each one of these locust invasions represents an Assyrian invasion of Judah.

Then we have interpretation - the literal locust invasions. Fifty years after Joel departs from the scene we have the first of four great Assyrian invasions. We have four types of locusts here and each one of the four represents one of the great Assyrian kings - Tiglath-Pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon.

The "palmerworm" is the Hebrew word gazam. Gazam, by itself, simply means to cut off or to eat off. And actually this is a type of locust, which in the ancient world they called 'the devourer'. He ate the top right off the crops and left only the stalks. So we will call him "the gnawing locust." When this one is first hatched it has no wings, it creeps along, and even before it develops anything with which to fly it already starts eating. It is an eater right from the start. And it describes the first of these great invaders - Tiglath-Pileser III. See also Isaiah chapters 7-11.

Next is the Hebrew word arbeh, which refers to a swarming locust. These are the stalk eaters. This refers to Sargon II. When Tiglath-Pileser died, Sargon represented the aristocrats. Tiglath-Pileser left no legitimate heir. Sargon II, mentioned in Isaiah 20:1, began the Sargonet dynasty (in between Tiglath-Pileser and Sargon was Shalmanezer the fifth, but he didn't last very long). Sargon took the surrender of Samaria in 721 BC and it was he who carried the Jews of the Northern Kingdom into captivity.

Third, called the 'cankerworm' is the Hebrew word yekeq/yelek, which means to lick up. So this is the cleanup locust invasion. This locust cleans up the little bit of stubble that is left. This is the most famous one in the Bible - Sennacherib. See also 2 Kings 18 and Isaiah Chapters 36-39.

Finally, the last locust called in the KJV, the 'caterpillar' is actually the Hebrew word chaciyl/chasil, which means to devour underground. Now we are getting the roots out, and this represents Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon did something that no Assyrian ever did - he conquered Egypt.}

{Verse 5: Special Warning to the Escapists}
5~~Wake up the drunks and weep
and howl, all you drinkers of wine
  {with the destruction of the crops by the locust, soon
  there will be no more wine to drink!};
because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth
  {their method of sublimation is about to be taken away by

{Note: Alcohol is only one of many means of sublimation - one way to escape from boredom, frustration, or a miserable set of circumstances from which there is no apparent escape. The people who lived in the time of Joel, right up to the locust plagues, were practicing escapism. Escapism always has at least one crutch and throughout the history of the world one of the greatest forms of escapism is excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages. Capacity of happiness can only be obtained through positive volition to the Word. If doctrine is missing from your soul, sublimation starts and God's discipline will eventually come also.}

{Verses 6-7: Economic Destruction of a Farming Economy from Invasion}
6~~For a nation/gentiles { gowy} {Assyria}
has come up upon my land . . .
strong, and without number,
whose teeth are the teeth of a lion,
and he {Assyria} has the cheek teeth of a great lion.

{Note: This is a near and future prophecy still. The near prophecy is about 150 years away when the Assyrians will come violently upon the Jews and administer the 4th cycle of discipline for God.}

7~~He {Assyria} has laid my vine waste
  {destruction of the crops by the Assyrians
  and still prophetically the King of the North},
and barked/splintered my fig tree
  {destruction of the trees also - other sources of food and oil}.
He has made it clean bare,
and cast it away.
The branches thereof are made white.

{Analogy To the Great True Loss to a Widowed Woman Who loved Her Husband}
8~~Lament like a 'young bride'/maiden/widow
  {b@thuwlah - also can mean virgin}
girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

{Note: Here we have the misery of the people, which is compared to a young bride who has lost her truly loved new husband. She loves him greatly but she loses him physically. This was considered in the day the bible was written as one of the greatest sorrows in the history of the human race and that is the point of the analogy.}

9a~~The meat offering and the drink offering
is cut off from the house of Jehovah/God.

{Note: The Assyrian invasions will also interrupt the dissemination of doctrine. The meat offering referred to the person of Christ with emphasis on propitiation. The meat offering was the way in which they taught the uniqueness of the person of the Messiah/Christ. The drink offering was the libation, which was poured out upon the other offerings, the ones that portrayed the work of Christ on the cross. These offerings, which were used to communicate Bible doctrine, are cut off because of economic disaster. These offerings called for animals, for wine, for flour and oil, and all of these things will be removed because of the invasion of the Assyrians in the future and because of the locust plagues in the time in which Joel lived.}

9b~~The priests - Jehovah/God's ministers - mourn.

{Note: All the priests can do is mourn, they cannot communicate, they cannot teach. Their Bible in those days was not complete and therefore they taught through these offerings. The offerings are not there.}

10~~The field is wasted {economic depression},
the land mourns.
For the corn is wasted.
The new wine is dried up,
the oil languishes {Olive oil}.

11~~ Be ashamed, O you farmers.
Howl, O you 'workers of the vineyards',
for the wheat and for the barley;
because the harvest of the field is perished.

12a~~The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languishes.
The pomegranate tree, the palm tree also,
and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered.

12b~~Because joy {happiness} {sasown}
is withered away from the sons of men.

{Note: The last phrase of verse 12 explains why it all happened. The only capacity for happiness comes from bible doctrine resident in your soul (see Proverbs Chapter 8 all of it, but particularly verses 31 and 32 in corrected translation). No Bible doctrine among the remnant, no interest in doctrine, no concern for doctrine, and it leads to a series of things, which actually start these cycles of discipline.}

13a~~Gird/prepare yourselves
  {put on sackcloth and get ready for discipline},
and lament, you priests.

13b~~Howl, you ministers of the altar.

13c~~Come, lie all night in sackcloth,
you ministers of my 'Elohiym/Godhead.
For the meat offering and the drink offering
is withheld from the house of your 'Elohiym/Godhead.

{Rebound is Commanded}
14~~Set apart a fast,
call a solemn assembly,
gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land
into the house of Jehovah/God your 'Elohiym/Godhead,
and cry unto Jehovah/God.

{Note: When they are called to sanctify or set aside a fast, and when sackcloth is mentioned, there are two concepts in mind. First, for the unbeliever in the country it is to 'change their mind' and believe. Secondly, for the believer it means the use of rebound - confess their sins and get back into fellowship. Two of the offerings were rebound offerings so they were well taught until the point of disaster. This is commanded upon the elders. RBT says right now these are the leaders in the land because the king, Joash 837-800 B.C. - is still in his minority and therefore the group of leaders rule in his place.}

{Verses 15-20: Now Prophecy of the Tribulation and Destruction}
15~~Alas for the day!
For the day of Jehovah/God is at hand.
And as a destruction from the Almighty {Shadday}
shall it come.

{Note: The 'day of the Lord' can include 'the Tribulation, the 2nd Advent, and Millennium', but sometimes only a certain portion of it. This verse refers to the last part of the Tribulation. 'At hand' means that it will come in its proper time in history. Along with this is 'destruction from the Almighty'- the invasion of the king of the north. 'The Almighty' means that God the Father permits this because of apostasy and because of a very bad spiritual condition in the land.}

{Note: This quoted in Isaiah 13:6.}

16~~Is not the meat cut off before our eyes,
yes, joy { simchah} and gladness {giyl}
from the house of our 'Elohiym/Godhead?

{Note: The abomination of desolation is alluded to here. 'Meat' here is a reference to food that sustains the people and hence the basic means of sustenance. Not only have they lost the basic things of life but also there is no spiritual life as mentioned by 'joy and gladness in the house of God', which is simply the place where they worship. So at this time in the future - the abomination of desolation is set up - and religion will control the land and everyone is in very bad shape.}

{Description of Crops Lost}
17~~The seed is rotten under their clods,
the garners are laid desolate,
the barns are broken down.
For the corn is withered.

{Description of Animals Lost}
18~~How do the beasts groan!
The herds of cattle are perplexed,
because they have no pasture.
Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.

{Verses 19-20: Prayer from the Remnant of Believers}
19-20`` O Jehovah/God,
to You will I cry.
For the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness,
and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.

20~~The beasts of the field cry also unto You.
For the rivers of waters are dried up,
and the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

{Note: Even the animals are having a bad time. And the fire here refers to the invasion of the King of the North in the Tribulation.}

{Note: The first chapter of Joel is actually a warning but what Joel has to say is going to be completely ignored and rejected by the people of the Southern Kingdom. And the result is that God will have to move them over into the 4th cycle of discipline, which will be administered by the Assyrians. The second chapter gives the answer to the problem. The thing that will stop all of these national disasters from occurring is salvation by faith and then spirituality among those who are born again.}