Containing only 73 verses in three chapters, the book of Joel is one of the shortest of Old Testament records.
Despite its brevity, the book is recognized by Church members as containing important prophecies not only to the people of Joel's day but also to the people of latter days.Little is known of Joel. Even the time of his ministry is debated by Old Testament scholars. Because of certain references in the book, such as those pertaining to the temple, some scholars believe Joel prophesied in Judah before the Exile, around the time of King Joash, about 887-841 B.C. However, others think Joel prophesied later, about 400 B.C.
Regarding the time of Joel's ministry, Sidney B. Sperry, in The Voice of Israel's Prophets, wrote: "The date of Joel will have little or no bearing upon our exposition of the prophecy. The message of Joel is important for Latter-day Saints irrespective of the date."
Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit of God (Joel 2:28-32) was quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:17.)
That same prophecy was repeated in this dispensation when Moroni visited Joseph Smith on the evening of Sept. 21, 1823. This passage of Joel's prophecy tells of the day when the Lord's Spirit will be poured out "upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. . . ."
Moroni told Joseph Smith this prophecy "was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be." (Joseph Smith - History 1:41.)
Sperry noted that this revelation "gives us solid ground upon which to stand in interpreting the prophecy. . . . There is a time coming in the near future when the Spirit of God, now withdrawn in great measure from the world because of wickedness, shall be poured out upon all flesh. This great pentecostal era can, of course, come only after the wicked have had the judgments of God heaped upon them without measure. The Spirit does not abide in the midst of wickedness."
According to modern revelation, the "great and terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:37) is the second coming of the Savior. (See D&C 29:8-11, 14-15; 45:39:43.)
Sperry said he had no doubt that "Joel foresaw the dispensation in which we live and God's judgments upon the world. This he expressed in figures that would be easily understood by his people."
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: April 1983 general conference report; The Voice of Israel's Prophets by Sidney B. Sperry