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Joel was probably the earliest of all the prophets whose writings have descended to us. His personal history is unknown further than the bare statement (1:1). His field of labor, however, was presumably Judah rather than Israel, the southern rather than the northern kingdom, because of allusions to the center of public worship which was at Jerusalem, (1:9, 13, 14; 2:15), and because of non-allusions to Israel distinctively. Such places as 2:27, and 3:16, which you may have noticed, are thought by most expositors to mean Israel as inclusive of Judah, i. e., the whole united nation. Although it is assumed, that Joel was the earliest of the prophets, yet the evidence therefore is inferential rather than direct. He is presumably earlier than Amos who is known to have prophesied somewhere about the close of the eighth century B. C., because he seems to be quoted by Amos 5:16-18. He also refers to the same heathen nations as Amos 3:4-6, and to the same physical scourges as prevalent in the land, (1:4, 17, 20). All the foregoing references are to Joel, a comparison of whose marginal notes will show the corresponding passages in Amos.

General Outline of the Book.

As to the book itself we might outline the contents of its chapters thus:

Chapter 1:

Introduction, verses 1-3

Announcement of a coming judgment of locusts, verses 4, 5

Announcement of a coming judgment from the heathen nations, of which that of the locusts is a kind of type, verses 6, 7

A lamentation of sorrow, verses 8-12

A call to repentance, verses 13-20

Chapter 2:

A recurrence to the same judgments, verses 1-3

A description of their executioners in which there is a blending of the idea of the locusts with that of the warriors. The picture is made more vivid by the use of the present tense as seen in the Revised Version, verses 4-11

A call to repentance, verses 12-17

A promise of future blessing, verses 18-32

The enemies overthrown, (vv. 18-20)

The land blessed, (vv. 21-27)

The Holy Spirit poured out, (vv. 28-32)

Chapter 3:

This chapter recurs to the future blessing spoken of in the preceding chapter, for the purpose of amplifying some of its features, a peculiarity of all the prophets, as was indicated in one of our earliest lessons:

The overthrow of the enemy, verses 1-15

The deliverance of Jerusalem, verses 16, 17

The blessing on the land, verse 18

The permanency of the restoration, verses 19, 20

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