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by Editor - Joseph S. Exell
The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic
ON THE BOOKS OF THE
By the REV. JAMES WOLFENDALE
Author of the Commentaries on Deuteronomy and Chronicles
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
The Person. Joel (Jehovah is God), is distinguished from others of that name as “the son of Pethuel.” This is the only direct notice of him; all other incidents must be gathered from his prophecy. He was commissioned to Judah, probably lived in Jerusalem, for he was familiar with the temple, priests, and ordinances of worship.
The Time. Nowhere expressly stated and cannot be fixed with certainty. He makes no allusion to idolatry. The temple service seems to be flourishing, and the only enemies mentioned are the Phœnicians and Philistines, the Edomites and Egyptians. Amos alludes to the words of Joel, which must have therefore been written and known before that time. He was probably the earliest of the prophets, and delivered his predictions in the early days of Joash, king of Judah, B. C. 870–865. His style belongs to an early date, and the time agrees with the state of things under Jehoiada, the high priest who placed Joash on the throne (2 Kings 11:17-12.11.18; 2 Kings 12:2-12.12.16; 2 Chronicles 24:4-14.24.14).
The Book. The order of O. T. books not arranged according to date, but for convenience. Joel is free from local circumstances, political and geographical allusions. Its style is animated and finished, proves the prophet to be an accomplished man. “He has no abrupt transitions, is everywhere connected, and finishes whatever he takes up. In description he is graphic and perspicuous, in arrangement lucid, in imagery original, copious, and varied.” He was accustomed to think clearly and speak logically. Ewald says that “he was in early times the highest model, so that his successors all followed his elevated precedent.” He had an eye for the beautiful in nature, and in love with its wondrous scenes. He watched the ways of insects and read the lessons of the stars. Like Christ, he saw the image of the invisible God in creation, and taught us ever to reveal it in our ministry. Its contents most easily and naturally divided into two parts. Part First. Lessons of Providence; devastation by locusts; general drought and summons to repentance (chap. 1–2:18). The description was held to be too terrible for locusts. But naturalists and travellers have confirmed its truth, and we have no need to imagine armies or invasions to account for the destruction. “Where they swarm and descend, all vegetation instantly vanishes; they spare neither bark nor root, much less leaf and flower. They darken the air, so that the sun and even men at a little distance become invisible. They advance in a close military array, which yields to no obstacle of stream or fire. As they advance a peculiar roaring noise is heard, like that of a torrent or waterfall.” No sooner do they settle to eat, than, as Volney puts it, the grating sound of their mandibles reminds one of the foraging of an invisible army. In these calamities the prophet saw the providence of God, and a reason for national humiliation. Hence the moral lessons from these natural events. Part Second. Lessons for the future; deliverance from judgment and promise of fertile seasons to Israel; the day of the Lord introduced by the outpouring of the Spirit; a day of destruction to all enemies, but to the Church a day of salvation (chap. Joel 2:19-29.2.23). Joel is the prophet of judgment, the prophet of repentance, and the prophet of hope. His truths are spiritual, relate to all times, and belong to all individuals. There is a dreadful judgment before men; but they need not despair. God will save them if they repent and believe. But how is repentance possible? The Holy Spirit will bestow it and aid us to live to God. This relation deepens our responsibility before our Judge. Grace is offered, a renewed life is possible, and if we use our privileges aright, the day of judgment will be to us a day of deliverance and blessedness. Thus these doctrines form an inseparable whole; revealing God in nature and grace, predicting the Saviour, giving the Holy Spirit, and offering eternal glory to all.
the Second Week of Advent