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Bible Study: Joel & Jonah

by PastorMinton on March 28th, 2012


 Prophet: Joel son of Pethuel (1:1)

Date: 850-700 BC (Dating is difficult because no king or historical situation is mentioned. Most commentators place him somewhere in this time frame. There are some who place him in the sixth century BC, even after Zechariah and Haggai.)

Theme: The Day of the LORD

Joel pictures a massive locust invasion in 1:4-12 as a foretaste of “the day of the LORD” with its “destruction from the Almighty” (1:15). The four stages of the locust are discussed: cutting locust (KJV: palmer worm), swarming locust (KJV: locust), hopping locust (KJV: cankerworm), destroying locust (KJV: caterpillar). Everything gets destroyed. This invasion is most likely Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem in 586 BC. 1:13-20 serves as God’s call for repentance.

2:1-11 serves as a second warning about an invasion. If Joel is the first of the OT Prophets chronologically, this is the first mention of the “day of the LORD” as “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (2:2). The devastation wreaked by this invasion was vast: comparing before to the Garden of Eden and after to a desert like the Sahara (2:3). This invading army is called the LORD’s since He is at the head of it (2:11).

2:12-17 is God’s specific call for repentance. He calls for hearts to be rent in repentance instead of hearts. External repentance is not enough. Internal repentance is held by God to be most important.

2:18-27 provides God’s answer for those who truly repent. God will continue to give His great blessings to the penitent. The northern armies of Assyria and Babylon would be driven away from troubling them (2:20). The “eastern sea” is the Dead Sea. The “western sea” is the Mediterranean Sea. Not only will God’s previous blessings be enough to sustain the penitent, they will be abundant (2:23-25).

2:28-32 contains the only portion of Joel’s prophecy quoted in the New Testament. The section is quoted most notably by Peter in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:17-21) but also by Paul in Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Joel turns the “day of the LORD” from a terrifying day to a day to look forward to.

3:1-21 illustrates the final day in Joel’s vision. When the “day of the LORD” comes in its fullness, all the nations will be gathered together in the Valley of Jehoshaphat for judgment. Judgment would be announced concerning each nation’s deeds. The biggest problem for the nations would be their scattering of the Israelites throughout the world. The Israelites would return from their dispersion and make war against those who had previously sold them into slavery.

This is continued in the Great Commission where Jesus tells the Apostles to go to “all nations” baptizing and teaching. On Pentecost, Israelites and God-fearing Gentiles from all over the Roman Empire heard the Apostles’ sermon.


Prophet: Jonah son of Amittai (1:1)

Date: 782-753 BC (Jeroboam II’s reign)

Theme: God’s mercy

Jonah came from Gath Hepher in Zebulun (north of Nazareth) during the reigns of Jeroboam II in Israel and Amaziah in Judah (2 Kings 14:25). Jonah was sent to Nineveh to proclaim its destruction. Nineveh was about 500 miles away from Gath Hepher. Jonah runs away the opposite direction. He boards a ship in Joppa (about sixty miles southwest) headed for Tarshish.

The exact whereabouts of Tarshish are disputed. It is the opposite direction from Nineveh. The traditional placement for Tarshish is Tartessus in southwestern Spain. This was a Phoenician mining colony near Gibraltar.

After Jonah is thrown into the sea and swallowed by the great fish, he prayed his great prayer. It is one of the primary prayers during the service of readings during the Easter Vigil service. It is one of the most personal prayers of repentance we have recorded in the Bible.

The second time God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh he listens. The city of Nineveh took three days to cross. Jonah cried out, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (3:4). The entire city of Nineveh repented in sackcloth and ashes (3:5-9).

When Nineveh repented, Jonah became displeased. He told God that His gracious mercy was why Jonah fled to Tarshish in the first place (4:2). Despite the Ninevites’ repentance, Jonah set himself up on a hill overlooking the city to watch the fireworks as God rained down brimstone and fire on the Gentiles. In fact, Jonah winds up showing his true sinfulness as he is more concerned about the vine God provided for him and not for the 120,000 Ninevites (4:10-11).

From → Thru the Bible

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