This outline of Joel is intended to assist you in your study of God’s Word — His letter to you. May you discover His character as you investigate the pages of Scripture.
We know almost nothing about the prophet Joel. His name means “Yahweh is God.” The book is dated anywhere from 835 B.C. to 312 B.C. The internal evidence suggests that elders were ruling (Joel 1:2, 14; 2:16) and that the Jews had been sold as slaves to the Greeks (Joel 3:6). Yet, it appears that the Babylonian captivity was still in the future (1:15; 2:1-9) and the temple was still standing (1:9, 13, 14, 16, 2:17). Tyre, Sidon, Philistia, Edom, and Egypt are the present enemies (3:4-9). This seems to fit with 2 Chronicles 21:8-16. Accordingly, the most likely time is that of Joash, the boy king, where it was likely the elders played a more prominent role. This would date the book to the time period of 870-860 B.C.
As Hosea develops the relationship of a husband and wife to portray the LORD’s interaction with Israel, thus Joel develops an invasion of locusts into a view of God’s impending destruction. In the Hebrew, the book consists of 4 chapters, with chapter 3 containing the English verses 2:28-32. There is a grammatical break in the book at 2:17/18. The book switches from 3rd to 2nd person, from Joel speaking about the LORD to the LORD speaking.
The book is noted as being intricately interrelated to other pre-Jesus Scriptural writings (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah,
Malachi, and Psalm 79). There has been some debate as to whether Joel borrowed from other authors or whether other authors borrowed from Joel. A third possibility is that some of both happened. However, given the nature and character of God and the seeming reversal of Joel’s doom by Isaiah and Micah, it seems most likely that at least those writings followed Joel’s. Also, for the reasons set forth above concerning the date of Joel, I think that Joel becomes a source document for the prophets that followed. The cross-references are the following:
- Joel 1:15 — Isaiah 13:6; Ezekiel 30:2-3; Zephaniah 1:7
- Joel 2:2 — Zephaniah 1:14
- Joel 2:3 — Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35 (reverse imagery)
- Joel 2:6 — Nahum 2:10
- Joel 2:17 — Psalm 79:10 (this is a Psalm of Asaph in Book III of the Psalms (the Petitioning Psalms) addressing the destruction of Jerusalem)
- Joel 2:27 — Isaiah 45:5, 18; Ezekiel 36:11
- Joel 2:28 — Ezekiel 39:29
- Joel 2:31 — Malachi 4:5
- Joel 2:32 — Obadiah 17
- Joel 3:4 — Obadiah 15
- Joel 3:10 — Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3 (reverse imagery)
- Joel 3:16 — Isaiah 13:13; Amos 1:2
- Joel 3:17 — Ezekiel 36:11
- Joel 3:18 — Amos 9:13
Joel also figures large in the New Testament, with some 28 references; including the notable ones in Matthew 24 in the Olivet Discourse, Acts 2 at the day of Pentacost, Romans 10 concerning salvation by faith, and the book of Revelation. Joel is a seminal book for an understanding of the prophetic message.
The book contains some great passages and prophecies.
- 2:12-13 (the pivot point of the book; the power of repentance to turn judgment to blessing)
- 2:25-27 (only God can restore years previously lost)
- 2:28-32 (the promise of the Spirit) cf Acts 1:4-5; 2:17-21
- 3:10 (the proclamation of war to the nations) cf Isaiah 2:4
- 3:13 (the harvest at the end of the age) cf Revelation 15:14-20
Date: ? Perhaps 870-860 B.C.
I. Like the Coming of Locusts
- The Invasion of Locusts 1:1-12
- The Call to mourning 1:13-20
- The Invasion of an Army 2:1-11
- The Call to Repentance 2:12-17
II. Like a Mighty God
- The Invasion of God 2:18-27
- The Pentecost of God 2:28-32
- The Judgment of God 3:1-17
- The Dwelling of God 3:18-21
Key Idea: Repent with all your heart 2:12-13
Key Passage: 2:28-32
Key Lesson: True Repentance Brings an Overflow of Blessings