Unknown date, possibly after the Fall of Samaria, or even of Jerusalem.
What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. – Joel 1:4
The book of Joel’s prophecies breaks neatly into three parts. In chapter 1 he acknowledges the devastation of a recent locust plague – described as a nation powerful and beyond number – but keeps a cool distance from it. Joel’s concern is that his hearers will understand the power behind the locusts: For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
The book pivots in the middle of chapter 2: “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. Joel plants his call in a logical consideration: Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? In other words, what does Israel have to lose? Perhaps the LORD won’t relent; but if He might, doesn’t it make sense to return?
In the final act Joel looks forward – beyond the present plague, to a new beginning for his nation and for the earth. A day when not only will the LORD restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, and when He will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, and when the LORD brings Judah’s enemies together in the Valley of Decision, but when it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 37:4-5: Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.
Joel 1 through 3. Now let’s read it!
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.