The Prophet Joel has been called “the prophet of Pentecost”, “the prophet of hopefulness” and the “the prophet of the Spirit”, yet in spite of these nicknames, little is actually known about him as a man. In fact, there is a very great disagreement among scholars as to when his ministry took place, with estimates that range from around 900 BC to as late as 350 BC… and just about everywhere in between. I can only say that I think he belongs somewhere around 835 BC, and leave you to make your own call.
What is clear about Joel is his message, which as is true with most prophets was one of warning and hope. As you might suppose from his nicknames, his writings contain a very strong message of hope; more so than just about any other prophet, major or minor. I suppose that this would be a good place to mention the difference between “major” and “minor” prophets as a reminder… The only difference between the two is the length of their book; minor prophets wrote shorter books than the major prophets. This terminology has nothing whatsoever to do with the importance or relevance of what they wrote.
Joel’s book is divided into three parts: The Day of the Lord (Joel 1), The day of healing (Joel 2:1-27) and the day of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-3:21). If I were to try and sum up the book of Joel, I would say that he tells of the dire circumstances of the present, warning the people of the coming judgment of God, and that he went further to tell them of a new day when their sins would be forgiven and that they would have the opportunity to receive the greatest gift of God; eternal life.
Yes, the people of Joel’s day had some serious problems; they had gone far afield of God’s way of righteousness, and they needed to be concerned for their eternal future. Yes, they needed to stop fighting amongst themselves and deal with their dire situation. Yet in spite of this, there was a great hope if they would only follow God.
Come to think about it, I’d have to say that Joel’s message is just about as fresh today as it was then.