PODCAST: The Scripture & The Sense Podcast #356 (with Daniel Whyte III)

This is Daniel Whyte III with The Scripture & The Sense Podcast #356, where I read the Word of God and give the sense of it based on an authoritative commentary source such as the Bible Knowledge Commentary. This podcast is based upon Nehemiah 8:8 where it says Ezra and the Levites “read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” The aim of this podcast is that through the simple reading of the Word of God and the giving of the sense of it, the church would be revived and the world would be awakened.

Today we are reading Joel 1:2-3.

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.

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That was Joel 1:2-3. Now here is the sense of it.

The FaithLife Study Bible reads:

The book of Joel is concerned with the Day of Yahweh, a coming time when God will judge the world and make all things right. Joel draws on a real-life catastrophe—a swarm of locusts devastating the land of Judah—to warn of the disaster that the Day of Yahweh will bring to those who do not repent. He also promises that God will save the people of Judah and Jerusalem who call on Him.

The Bible does not provide any biographical information about the prophet Joel (other than his father’s name, Pethuel). Since the book addresses a situation in Judah, Joel probably prophesied in this region rather than in the northern territory of Israel.

The date of Joel is uncertain, but the book could have been written during the period when Judah was an independent kingdom, as early as the late eighth century bc. It also could have been composed after the Babylonian exile, during the fifth century bc, when Judah was a province of the Persian Empire. Based on Joel 1:13 and 2:17, the temple clearly was functioning when the book was written, but this could have been Solomon’s temple (before the exile) or Zerubbabel’s temple (after the exile).

The first half of the book focuses on disaster and judgment for Judah, while the second half focuses on God’s restoration of Judah and judgment of Judah’s enemies. Each half can be divided into two sections.

The first section (Joel 1) describes a plague of locusts that brings about a famine. In response, Joel calls the people to repent in preparation for the Day of Yahweh. The second section (Joel 2:1–17) warns of judgment on the Day of Yahweh. It portrays an attacking army as if it were a locust invasion; this is the army of Yahweh. Again, the section ends with a call to repentance and an affirmation of God’s mercy and love.

In the book’s latter half, the third section (Joel 2:18–32) describes God restoring the land and bringing blessing—following the judgment and destruction described in the previous sections. God not only will restore the land’s fertility, but also will pour out his Spirit upon all people. The fourth section (Joel 3) describes God’s coming judgment on the nations that have been oppressing Judah. It ends with a portrayal of Judah’s future glory, with God dwelling on Mount Zion.

The main theme of Joel is the approaching Day of Yahweh, which initially brings pain for God’s people (the first half of the book) but ultimately leads to their renewal and vindication (the second half). In a locust plague, Joel sees just how frail humanity is and just how chaotic the world really is—emphasizing how desperately we need God. In the plague, Joel also sees a glimpse of what it will be like when Yahweh’s heavenly army invades the world to bring about order and peace: It will be grim before it gets better, because the evil that pervades much of humanity must be removed.

The forthcoming Day of Yahweh is meant to prompt God’s people to change their ways. The locust plague serves as a warning: People should turn to God with their whole hearts now, while there is still opportunity.

Joel emphasizes that God’s mercy will only extend so far before He returns to make all things right. And on that day, like locusts eat a field, God’s judgment will consume the evil of the world. God will have pity on repentant people and save those who call on His name, which is what all are called to do now. Joel reminds us that God is present and active in the world, working toward a difficult, but beautiful end—the restoration of peace and justice throughout the world.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary reads:

The opening chapter describes the effects of a severe locust plague which had swept over the land, destroying the agricultural produce on which both man and beast so heavily depended for survival. This disaster signaled an even worse calamity to come—the destructive day of the Lord. The prophet opened his message with an appeal to all who were living in the land, headed by the elders, to consider the uniqueness and significance of the disaster which had come on them. The elders were civil leaders who played a prominent part in the governmental and judicial systems. The rhetorical question in Joel 1:2b anticipates an emphatic negative response. Nothing in the experience of Joel’s generation or that of their ancestors was able to match the magnitude of this recent locust plague. The unique event would be spoken of throughout coming generations (your children, their children, and the next generation).

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Thank you for listening to the Scripture & The Sense Podcast. Remember to read the Word of God each and every day and pray without ceasing to God for wisdom to understand it and apply it to your life. Most importantly, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Please stay tuned for a complete presentation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ so that you can get your soul saved from Hell to that wonderful place called Heaven when you die. May God bless you and keep you is my prayer.