Joel 01 (Contemporary English Version)
- I am Joel the son of Pethuel. And this is the message the LORD gave to me.
- Listen, you leaders and everyone else in the land. Has anything like this ever happened before?
- Tell our children! Let it be told to our grandchildren and their children too.
- Swarm after swarm of locusts has attacked our crops, eating everything in sight.
- Sober up, you drunkards! Cry long and loud; your wine supply is gone.
- A powerful nation with countless troops has invaded our land. They have the teeth and jaws of powerful lions.
- Our grapevines and fig trees are stripped bare; only naked branches remain.
- Grieve like a young woman mourning for the man she was to marry.
- Offerings of grain and wine are no longer brought to the LORD's temple. His servants, the priests, are deep in sorrow.
- Barren fields mourn; grain, grapes, and olives are scorched and shriveled.
- Mourn for our farms and our vineyards! There's no wheat or barley growing in our fields.
- Grapevines have dried up and so has every tree-- figs and pomegranates, date palms and apples. All happiness has faded away.
- Mourn, you priests who serve at the altar of my God. Spend your days and nights wearing sackcloth. Offerings of grain and wine are no longer brought to the LORD's temple.
- Tell the leaders and people to come together at the temple. Order them to go without eating and to pray sincerely.
- We are in for trouble! Soon the LORD All-Powerful will bring disaster.
- Our food is already gone; there's no more celebrating at the temple of our God.
- Seeds dry up in the ground; no harvest is possible. Our barns are in bad shape, with no grain to store in them.
- Our cattle wander aimlessly, moaning for lack of pasture, and sheep are suffering.
- I cry out to you, LORD. Grasslands and forests are eaten by the scorching heat.
- Wild animals have no water because of you; rivers and streams are dry, and pastures are parched.
The book opens with a reference to a devastating plague of locusts which leaves nothing in its wake. A call to mourning is made throughout the land. First the drunkards are called to mourn because of the destruction of the vineyards and the resulting lack of wine. Then the land itself is called to mourn as a young woman who grieves the death of her husband. Next, the farmers and vine growers are called to mourn since the fruit of their labor had been destroyed. The farmers are followed by a call to the priests who no longer have ingredients for the daily offerings.
Beginning at verse 15 we are given the meaning of the locust plague which is a foreshadowing of the "day of the Lord." As the locusts had destroyed everything in their path, so the Lord will bring destruction on this coming day. "For the Day of the LORD is near and will come as devastation from the Almighty." (v. 15) When we read prophecy of this nature in scripture we are naturally filled with questions: when will this be? what will it be like? etc. Wherever we care to search in scripture we will find that the Lord does not reveal such details. Much of the description of details related to the "day of the Lord" are given in metaphors and symbolism. We are not intended to know either details or time. But as plainly as this is stated in scripture some insist on spending considerable time trying to figure it out and then convey their finding to others. None of this can be trusted. Why? Because we are not supposed to know these things, and any who claim to have figured them out become suspect.
So if we are not supposed to know what or when about the day of the Lord, what are we supposed to do? We are to prepare and to help others prepare. And how do we do this? We do it by turning to the Lord. Those who are in the Lord are in His care and have nothing to fear. If we don't know when this will take place, how do we know when to prepare? Today is the day to prepare. For all we know this day could come tomorrow. In that case, today is all the preparation time we have. We need to turn to the Lord today.