Joel warned of 'the day of the Lord'

The book of Joel, containing only 73 verses in three chapters, is one of the shortest of Old Testament records.

The first division of the book gives a vivid description of a plague of locusts, accompanied by drought. Ezra C. Dalby, writing in Land and Leaders of Israel, made reference to the overwhelming calamity of a plague of locusts. He quoted a witness of a plague in 1915: " `In less than two months after their (the locusts') first appearance, not only was every green leaf devoured, but the very bark was peeled from the trees, which stood out white and lifeless, like skeletons. The fields were stripped to the ground. Even Arab babies left by their mothers in the shade of some tree, had their faces devoured before their screams were heard.' "Brother Dalby, who was principal of West Seminary in Salt Lake City, wrote: "Nothing can stop

the locustsT in their resistless march; they climb walls, enter houses by doors and windows, and even gnaw the woodwork of the rooms. Like a powerful army they march through the land, leaving desolation behind them.

"The purpose of Joel in referring to this terrible plague is to warn the people that the Day of the Lord is at hand, unless they repent. This great swarm of insects is the Lord's army; He is at their head; and they come to do the work entrusted to them, which is the destruction of the wicked. But repentance may avert the judgment, and this is the message of the prophet to his countrymen. They respond to his exhortations, and he is then commissioned to announce the removal of the plague.

"Many writers have contended that Joel's locusts were to be interpreted as figurative and allegorical; but we have every reason to believe that the plague actually occurred, and that the prophet was speaking to real people, and he was warning them that God was bringing destruction upon them because of their sins. It may be taken also as a symbol of God's final judgment on those who have transgressed the laws of God and are unrepentant. Wickedness that scorns God's mercy and refuses every offer of salvation has within itself the seeds of death. `The soul that sinneth, it shall die,' said Ezekiel; and all history bears witness to the truth of this statement. There is no escape from that edict, except through repentance.

"The principal thought in Joel's prophecy is the idea of the Day of the Lord, a time in the future when the Lord Himself will directly interpose in the affairs of men. That day will be one of terror, and also of blessing. It will sift out the righteous, and bring judgment upon the wicked. This was mentioned in connection with the prophecy of Zephaniah. It may be added here that, while we do not know when that final day will come, there is a day of decision for each of us. The powers of destruction are at work in every life, and every person must meet the issue. Each of us is confronted by the terrible `plague of locusts,' unseen perhaps, but real nevertheless. It cannot be stayed, unless we follow the advice of Joel. God throws out to us the lifeline. We may take it, and live; or reject it, and die."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed