The book of Joel was written to both warn of coming judgment and give promises of revival. Chapter 1 sets the stage for what is happening. Joel definitely speaks of the end times. Joel speaks of events happening today.
In vss 2-3 Joel proclaims that what is about to happen is something that has never happened before. He asks this rhetorical question as the introduction to the book “Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? ” The im plied answer is that what is about to happen is unprecedented. What follows appears to be ordinary disasters, but Jesus comments on the use of seemingly ordinary disasters as signs of the end. He likens them to birth pangs. Birth pangs start slow, but steadily increase in both frequency and intensity until childbirth. As we near the end, we will see disasters increase in frequency and intensity. In just the past ten years we have seen disasters escalate: 911, Hurricane Katrina, Tsunamis devastate Indonesia and Japan, Another hurricane devastate Haiti, so this is relevant to us.
We see the same escalation of frequency and intensity in vs 4 “What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.” One disaster is followed by a more extreme disaster until destruction is complete.
Vss 5-13 speak of economic and political ruin. Drunks are told to weep because there is “no new wine” given that people drink aged wine first, it speaks of a total loss. This loss even affects the church. Vs 9 tells us “The grain offering and the drink offering Have been cut off from the house of the LORD; The priests mourn, who minister to the LORD. ” The church has been ruined, unable to fulfill her mission. Those ministers who care grieve. Folks, this is happening today before our eyes. We are witnessing a political, economic, and moral collapse of Western Civilization. What are we to do as things go from bad to worse?
In vss 13-20, We are instructed to seek the Lord in solemn assembly. There is precedent for it in Lev 23:33-36. The solemn assembly, or sacred assembly, was about seeking God in repentance. The solemn assembly has transcended it's Mosaic context, having been a part of the practice of God's people throughout the centuries. Even today, we are to seek God in repentance as repentance is taught throughout Scripture. I will have more on this in the next installment which will be commentary on chapter 2.