Record breaking natural disasters keep happening around the world. The global economy remains in serious trouble. Millions are sinking into poverty. Islam is spreading around the world. Rumors of new wars in the Middle East are mounting. New threats to Israel are metastasizing. Yet as the world is being shaken and serious new threats and challenges are rising, so much of the world seems to be asleep. Alarm bells are going off, yet so much of the Church seems to be asleep as well, intoxicated by the pleasures of the world and unable or unwilling to respond to the call of God to pray, fast, and repent despite the fact that, as the Hebrew Prophet Joel wrote in the Bible, “the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near.”
“It is time to wake up.” That was the message Anne Graham Lotz — the internationally renowned Bible teacher and daughter of evangelist Billy Graham — brought to the 700 people who attended the 2011 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem in May and the more than 37,000 people from 113 countries around the world who have now watched part or all of the messages online at www.epicenterconference.com since the event ended. Anne taught chapter one of the Old Testament Book of Joel in a message entitled, “A Wake Up Call For Israel and the Church.” It was a powerful and challenging message and I would encourage you to watch it for free on-line or purchase the DVD package to watch with family, friends, and your church.
As a follow up, I am pleased to announce that Anne Graham Lotz and I will host a special worldwide simulcast on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 called, “A Wake Up Call For God’s People.” I will teach on Bible prophecies and current events that indicate that we are getting closer and closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anne will teach from the Scriptures on how we are to get our hearts ready to know God personally, have our sins forgiven, be living lives of purpose and impact, and to truly be ready for “the Day of the Lord.” If you are a pastor, please visit our special webpage, learn more the event, and sign up to show the simulcast to your congregation at 7pm eastern this 9/11, or 6pm mountain and pacific time. If you are a lay person, please ask your pastor to show the simulcast to your congregation as a way of remembering the events of September 11th to turn our hearts back to the Lord.
As we read in Joel 1:14-15,“Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near.”
That said, the other day I posted my notes of an overview of the Book of Joel. Today I am posting my notes of my own personal study of Joel chapter one. I hope you will find them helpful as you study the writings of this important minor prophet and teach them to others.
Joel Chapter One: “A Wake Up Call”
1. The first 13 verses of chapter one reference an actual, historic disaster, a literal plague of locusts that has just so devastated the “inhabitants of the land” of Israel that it will be remembered for generations to come. (1:2)
2. The Hebrew Prophet Joel does not begin by describing a prophetic or metaphoric event. He is referring to an actual historic event. The Lord is saying to all the current inhabitants of the land of Israel, “Has anything (else) like this happened in your days or in your fathers’ days?” (1:2)
3. The Lord is saying through Joel that the devastation that has been wrought foreshadows a future apocalyptic disaster coming to Israel in the End Times.
4. Locust plagues are classic forms of God’s judgment in Scripture, both in times past and in End Times prophecies yet to be fulfilled.
5. The Lord used Moses and Aaron to bring a plague of locusts as the 8th plague against the Pharoah and the Egyptian people during the events of the Exodus (Exodus 10:1-20)
6. The Lord used Moses to warn the children of Israel to obey Him fully when they enter the Promised Land or one of the judgments they will suffer will be plagues of locusts who will consume their fields (Deuteronomy 28:15,25,38)
7. King Solomon prayed to the Lord, asking if a plague of locusts ever came upon the children of Israel as a judgment and they should repent and pray and come back to the house of the Lord — the Temple that they were dedicating that day — that the Lord would hear from heaven and forgive them and heal their land (1 Kings 8:37-40)
8. The Lord responded to Solomon’s prayer and said that if there were a plague of locusts due to judgment and the children of Israel repented of their sins and turned back to the Lord and truly prayed and sought His face that He would hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
9. The Lord used the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation to warn Israel and the world that during the terrible events of the “Great Tribulation” when the 5th of 7 trumpets of judgment sounds, He will unleash a plague of demonic locusts and bring about a terrible devastation. (Revelation 9:1-12)
10. In the Book of Joel, chapter one, the Lord speaks through the prophet to various groups of people in Israel who have been devastated by the actual, historic locust plagues: “Elders,” who are supposed to hear God’s Word (1:2); “All inhabitants” of Israel, who are supposed to listen to God’s Word (1:2); “Drunkards,” who are supposed to wake up (1:5); “Wine drinkers,” who are supposed to wail (1:5); “Virgins,” who are supposed to wail (1:8); “Bridegrooms,” who are supposed to wail (1:8); “Priests,” who are supposed to mourn/wail/lament (1:9, 13); “Ministers of the Lord,” who are supposed to mourn/wail (1:9, 13); “Farmers,” who are supposed to “be ashamed” (1:11); and “Vinedressers,” who are supposed to wail (1:11)
11. Interesting are some of those not mentioned: No mention of a king (the words king/kings/kingdom/etc are used 2,597 times in the New American Standard Bible, but not here); No mention of government leaders of any kind; No mention of prophets (the word prophet is used 461 times in the NASB, but not here)
12. Perhaps the most important verse of chapter one is verse 5 is “Awake!”
13. This chapter is a wake up call for Israel, who should know better than to live in such sin because they have been given the Holy Scriptures and the prophets….and for the Church — people who say they are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ — who should know better than to live in such sin because they have the Holy Scriptures to teach and guide them
14. The question is: Will we wake up?
15. Do we see how far we are from the God who made us and loves us and is jealous for our love and affection?
16. Do we realize how drunk we are — with alcohol, with illegal drugs, with legal drugs, with entertainment, with the “things of this world”?
17. Do we realize how blind, deaf and dumb we are to what the Lord is trying to say to us through His Word?
18. Do we realize that if we don’t turn around quickly, the Lord is going to come and rock our world, shake our world, devastate our world, until we choose to curse Him, or until we choose to fall at His feet and give Him the worship He so richly deserves?
19. The good news is that the Lord tells the people through the Hebrew prophet what to do:
20. First, we must wake up from our drunken, intoxicated stupor (1:5)
21. Second, we are to consecrate a fast (1:14)
22. Third, we are to proclaim a solemn assembly (1:14)
23. Fourth, we are to gather the elders (1:14)
24. Fifth, we are to gather all the inhabitants of the land (1:14)
25. Sixth, we are to cry out to the Lord (1:14)
26. What should we say when we cry out to the Lord? The rest of the Bible teaches us to cry out in repentance and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive us, to help us, to heal us, to save us, to cleanse us, to adopt us into His family, to fill us with His Holy Spirit, and to teach us to walk in His ways. In John 1:12, we read, “But as many as received Him [Jesus, the Messiah], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” In John 3:16, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
27. The Hebrew Prophet describes the urgency of getting right with the Lord — because the “Day of the Lord” is coming (1:15)
28. It is near and will come as destruction from the Almighty
29. There will be a horrific famine (1:17)
30. There will be a horrific fire (1:19-20)
31. Animals will suffer (1:18)
32. People will suffer (1:19)
33. Therefore, we should turn to the Lord now, before all these End Times judgments are unleashed
I hope this is helpful. Next, I will post my notes from Joel chapter two.
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