Hosea's message grew out of personal heartbreak in his own family, while Joel's message grew out of national calamity.
Joel's book records two plagues--that of the locusts and the terrible drought. The combination of the two brought the land to a place of famine. Joel saw in these calamities the disciplining hand of God upon the people for their sins. But Joel looked far beyond the locusts and saw another army, a literal Gentile army, attacking Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Joel used the immediate judgment of God (the locusts) as an illustration of the ultimate judgment in the Day of the Lord.
The Book of Joel is divided into two parts--the present message about the plague of locusts (chapter 1:1--2:27) and the future message about the Day of the Lord (chapter 2:28--3:21). Joel uses the phrase, "Day of the Lord," five times in these three chapters. This time of tribulation will take place after the Church has been taken to heaven, and during the period known as the Tribulation Period. It is described in more detail in Revelation 6--19. It will end with the Battle of Armageddon, and Jesus Christ returning to the earth to defeat His enemies and establish His Kingdom.
There is a personal application of Joel's message for believers today. God does send natural calamities when nations refuse to obey Him. Wars, poor crops, epidemics, earthquakes, storms, recessions--all or any of these can be used of God to bring people to their knees. God can even use little insects to do His will if man will not obey Him! Our lives can become dry and fruitless if we are out of the will of God. But, praise be to God, He is faithful and true to forgive us and again bless us when we come to Him and experience sincere repentance.
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