Sunday School Bible Survey:      JOEL

Theme: Repentance and revival

Key verse:
"And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil" (Joel 2:13).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Joel, a prophet of Judah, probably exercised his ministry during the reign of Joash (II Chronicles 22 to 24). In his youth he may have known Elijah, and he certainly was a contemporary of Elisha. The plagues of insects, which were the token of the divine chastening, give occasion for the unveiling of the coming "day of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:12, refs.), in its two aspects of judgment on the Gentiles and blessing for Israel.

Joel is in three chief parts:

  1. The plague of insects (1:1-20).
  2. The day of the Lord (2:1—3:8).
  3. Retrospect of the day of the Lord, and full kingdom blessing (3:9-21).


  1. We know very little about the prophet Joel. His name was common. There were twelve other men in the Old Testament with that name.
  2. His name means, "Jehovah is God."
  3. The book of Joel is a small book with only three chapters. J. Vernon McGee said, "This little book is like an atom bomb — it is not very big, but it sure is potent and powerful."
  4. Many believe Joel was the first of the writing prophets.
  5. "It is remarkable that Joel, coming at the very beginning of written prophecy (B.C. 836), gives the fullest view of the consummation of all written prophecy" (Scofield Bible, p. 930).
  6. The theme of Joel's prophecy is "the day of the LORD" (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14). This is not a 24-hour day.
  7. "The day of the LORD" is referred to often by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Obadiah, Zechariah, Zephaniah, and others.
  8. It is a technical term referring to judgment and blessing. First comes the judgment (tribulation), and then comes the blessing (millennium). The Jews begin their day at sunset, not sunrise (cf. Genesis 1:5).
  9. The prophet Obadiah is the first to introduce the theme of the "Day of the LORD" (Obadiah 15) in 887 BC (according to Scofield), but Joel is the prophet who develops this great theme.
  10. The invasion of locusts (1:4) was used by the prophet Joel as an illustration of a future judgment — the Day of the LORD (1:15; 2:25; cf. Scofield note above 1:15 and Introduction).


  1. Judah had been invaded by a terrible swarm of locusts (1:4).
  2. The locusts number in the billions, and have been known to fly 17 hours at a time, covering over 1,500 miles.
  3. They blot out the sun, cover every inch of ground, and fill the sky in every direction.
  4. Their appetite is never satisfied; they devour all vegetation in their path.
  5. They can tear down a tree (1:12), and quickly move through a field, leaving it completely bare (1:6, 7).
  6. Joel's message was that there would be coming an invasion far worse than a mere locust plague. The locusts are referred to as "a nation" in Joel 1:6 and "a great people" in Joel 2:2. The locust plague represented an invasion of a fierce army from the north (Joel 2:20).
  7. Locusts would normally invade from the Arabian Desert in the south.
  8. This northern army refers to Assyria (cf. Isa. 10:5, 6; Zeph. 2:13).
  9. However, in Bible prophecy, Assyria prefigures Russia and her allies, who will invade Israel during the tribulation (Ezek. 38 & 39; Daniel 11:40-45).
  10. The defeat of Russia described in Joel 2:20 is very similar to Ezekiel's prophecy (cf. Ezek. 39:11).
  11. "Because he hath done great things" (Joel 2:20b) refers to this northern army's pride and arrogance.
  12. When the Russians invade Israel, they will come down from the north through Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria, and then into Israel.
  13. Russia has major energy interests in Iran, an implacable enemy of Israel and all Jews.


  1. The Day of the LORD is an important term found often in Bible prophecy. It is not a 24-hour day.
  2. The "day of Christ" refers to the rapture. First Corinthians 1:7, 8 says we are "waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
  3. Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
  4. Philippians 1:10 says, "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ."
  5. Philippians 2:16 says, "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ."
  6. Second Thessalonians 2:2 says, "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."
  7. After the day of Christ comes "the day of the LORD" with "destruction from the Almighty" (Joel 1:15). This refers to the coming tribulation period.
  8. Many of the Old Testament prophets refer to the coming Day of the LORD (cf. Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2, 11, 31; 3:14, 18).
  9. The locust plague was a foreshadowing of the future Day of the LORD.
  10. The prophet Joel used the locust plague of his day to illustrate the future judgment of Israel and the nations (cf. Joel 2:31; 3:14ff).
  11. The day of the LORD "represents the full fruition and acme of man's rebellion under Antichrist" (Merrill Unger, Unger's Commentary on the OT).
  12. The Day of the LORD is pictured as a day of judgment (tribulation), followed by a time of great blessing (millennial kingdom). To the Jew, the day began at evening.
  13. Genesis 1:5 says, "And the evening and the morning were the first day."


  1. In Joel 2:28, the prophet Joel says, "And it shall come to pass afterward..." "Afterward" refers to the last days.
  2. Peter quotes this Scripture on the Day of Pentecost, indicating that these "last days" began at Pentecost (Acts 2:17; cf. Scofield notes, p. 932 and p. 1151).
  3. Peter said, "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel..." (Acts 2:16).
  4. We know from history and from Scripture that the last half of Joel's prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  5. Ezekiel 39:29 teaches God will pour out His Spirit upon Israel. "Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezek. 39:29).
  6. Zechariah 12:10 also teaches that God will pour out His Spirit upon Israel ("And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem...").
  7. These Scriptures both refer to the second coming of Christ. In this context, "Israel" refers to the remnant of believing Jews.
  8. But Joel 2:28 says, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." If "all flesh" is to be taken literally (rather than meaning, "all believers," etc.), this prophecy can only be completely fulfilled when Christ returns to establish His kingdom (cf. Matthew 25:31-46).
  9. Joel 2:30 and 31 refer to events surrounding the second coming of Christ (cf. Matthew 24:29, 30; Rev. 6:12-17).
  10. The theme of the book of Joel is the day of the LORD. The day of the LORD is a time of judgment for the wicked, and blessings for the godly (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2, 31, 32).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —