Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Book of Joel

The next prophet of focus in this Journey is the prophet Joel. Biblical scholars believe that this minor prophet ministered to the southern kingdom of Judah in the years 835 to 796 B.C., about five years after Obadiah's ministry and during the time of the prophet Elisha.

I find it fascinating that God chooses folks who, aside from their written prophecies, we know very little about. Neither Obadiah nor Joel have back stories of greatness. As Edie has mentioned in her comments, with the messages they bore--Obadiah, especially--they could not have been very popular in their day. But, the simple fact that they were chosen testifies to who God is and why these men were prophets at all.

"...But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God."
--I Corinthians 1: 27-29

God intended that His Name and His will be made known, be made great. These men of faithfulness held fast to their belief and to their calling. They were not in it to have a book named after them! They were on a mission from God. That speaks not only to the character of God but to the character of those He chose. Much to learn, even as we have few details.

Joel's name means "the Lord is God." Also interesting, on the topic of names, is that Joel's father's name was Pethuel, which means "openheartedness of or toward God." (Joel 1:1) I think that's an important point, to me, indicating a line of obedience and faithfulness to God in this family. God obviously had chosen Joel for a reason, and being openhearted to a relationship with God surely plays into his being openhearted in receiving and relaying the Word of God.

Although there is uncertainty surrounding exact details of the writing of Joel, my study Bible makes it clear that "the message of Joel is timeless, forming doctrine which could be repeated and applied in any age." Recognizing this as a book of prophecy, it could be a challenge to discern what was for then, what could be for now, and what will be for the future. May the Holy Spirit guide all of us in our reading!

As alluded to in the last post, the key focus of this book is the Day of the Lord. As I came to the background reading for this post, I came to the realization that I need to amend something I wrote in an earlier post. Although there will come a Day (capital D) of the Lord, in the end times, there have been (and perhaps will be?) days (lower-case d) of the Lord.

"The phrase does not have reference to a chronological time period, but to a general period of wrath and judgment uniquely belonging to the Lord. it is exclusively the day which unveils His character--mighty, powerful, and holy, thus terrifying His enemies." (from my S.B.)

Next week, as we begin Joel chapter 1, he will take us through a historical day of the Lord, a time in which Judah experienced a time of physical hardship and devastation. He will use this experience to, in future chapters, explain the yet-to-come Day of the Lord. I believe we have an opportunity to put into perspective what happens in such times, a response to such times, and the workings of God in such times. That glimpse into His character and nature is an opportunity I relish, though, once again, the picture may not be a pleasant one to view from all sides.

Lots more to uncover, and we'll begin--slowly!--with the first four verses of Joel.
'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Joel 1: 1-4

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Joel is such an interesting book. I think I will enjoy this journey...