Our Saviors Lutheran Church
We continue our monthly look at the Old Testament Minor Prophets with Joel. His name is a fitting one for a prophet of the Lord, as it means “Yahweh is God”. Martin Luther’s words on Joel and his book:
Joel does not specify the time at which he lived and preached, but the ancients say it was in the days of Hosea and Amos. We are satisfied with that and have no better suggestion. Joel was a kindly and gentle man. He does not denounce and rebuke as do the other prophets but pleads and laments; he tried with kind and friendly words to make the people righteous and to protect them from harm and misfortune. But it happened to him as to the other prophets: the people did not believe his words and held him to be a fool.
Joel’s message is one of repentance and warning: the day of the Lord is near. In fact, it is Joel we hear on Ash Wednesday each year: “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.” The Law and the Gospel are evident in his message (as that passage shows) and so Joel points us both to our sin AND our Savior from that sin: the coming Christ. That message is one that all people, of all time (including us) need to hear.
Perhaps the most familiar words of Joel’s prophecy are found in his third chapter, where he writes:
And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My servants — both men and women — I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved….
Those words formed the basis for Peter’s Pentecost sermon (recorded in Acts 2) and showed that the faith of the Christians was the same as that of the Old Testament saints. The Spirit HAS been poured out. On you. For it is only by the working of that Spirit within you that you can believe and confess Christ. And it is only by calling on His name that we are saved. Joel’s message, then, is a timeless one that bears hearing today, just as much as centuries ago.