The Book of Joel furnished one of the texts for the first sermon after Pentecost (Acts 2:16–21), but preachers have not frequently followed Peter’s lead since. The absence of some of the great prophetic themes—indictment of specific sins, sensitive social consciousness, etc.—coupled with the difficulty of interpretation has caused some preachers to shy away from the message of our prophet. However, the description of God’s swift and awful judgment by means of the locust plague, the heralding of the day of the Lord, the call to repentance because of the gracious nature of God, the outpouring of the Spirit, the picture of security and prosperity in Judah and Jerusalem after the nations are threshed in the Valley of Jehoshaphat—these themes, and many more, may provide nourishing food for sermonic thought.

Authorship And Date

We know nothing of the personal history of Joel except the name of his father, Pethuel. It is improbable that our prophet can be identified with any of the several Joels (“Jehovah is God”) mentioned in the Bible. The prophet does not tell us where or when he lived. The answer to the former question may be inferred from the many references to Judah and especially Jerusalem and from the constant concern over the Temple sacrifices; but the question of the date of Joel is not to be answered so readily.

This problem has traditionally been solved in one of two ways: 1) by attributing Joel to the period of the minority of Jehoash (Joash) toward the end of the ninth century B.C., or 2) by dating the prophet after the return, near the end of the fifth century B.C. The statement of G. A. Smith is characteristic of the attitude of most scholars toward this problem: “In the history of prophecy the Book of Joel must ...

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