Little is known about the prophet Joel, his name means “the Lord is God,” apart from the name of his father, Pethuel (Joel 1:1), no other details of his personal history or background are recorded. From references in his writings it is presumed that he was living in Jerusalem, and he focused most of his prophecies to Judah.
A major them of Joel’s prophecies is his teaching about the Day of the Lord, when God will severely judge His own people and the rest of the world. The prophet says in 1:15 – “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.” The Say of the Lord is not a time to look forward to! The Bible reveals that it will be a time of unprecedented universal disaster preceding Christ’s return, it will be a time of divine punishment on the nations. Joel’s main focus is Judah. He refers to Jerusalem and the temple that is located there.
Notice the following verses:
1. “The house of the Lord” and the “priest. . .who minister to the Lord” (1:9).
2. “Blow the trumpet in Zion. . .in My holy mountain” (2:1).
3. “Let the priest, who ministers to the Lord, weep between the porch and the alter” (2:17).
4. “For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance” (2:32).
5. “When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem” (3:1).
6. “Then Jerusalem shall be holy” and “Judah shall abide forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (3:17,20).
7. “For the Lord dwells in Zion” (3:21).
The northern kingdom of Israel (2:27; 3:2,16) and other nations (3:9) will not escape the disastrous events surrounding the Day of the Lord (3:1-17). Many of the signs and wonders pronounced against Zion and Judah have never happened before (1:2-3) and are predictions for times yet in the future.
In those troubled times, even the animals will crave a time of peace, “How the animals groan! The herds of cattle are restless, because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep suffer punishment…Fire has devoured the open pasture, and a flame has burned all the trees of the field…The beasts of the fields also cry out to You, for the water brooks are dried up” (1:18-20).
Extreme weather such as severe cold or heat, flood and drought – and the wildfires that often follow drought conditions – can devastate the agricultural production of any nation. I am reminded that just recently that farms and land is being burned due to wildfires and through the grace of God other farmers that have hay are taking truck loads to those in need. Does God control the weather, and can He use this power to punish the nations that have openly rejected Him and His laws? Joel proclaimed this warning: “Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?” (1:16). Christ predicted that at the end times “there will be famines … in various places” (Matthew 27:7).
Joel describes a large cloud of locusts darkening the sky, swarming upon the land and destroying every green thing on their path (Joel 1:1-2:27). The destructive swarm of locusts is used as an analogy of a future invading army, like the Assyrians, which would occupy and devastate the nation. God refers to the locusts as “His army” (2:11), and in Isaiah 10:5 He calls the nation of Assyria “the rod of My anger”. Joel describes a strong invading army that has implications for the future: “For a nation has come up against My land, strong, and without number; his teeth are the teeth of a lion” (Joel 1:6). He also describes a large army with a strong, massive military power: “A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations” (2:2).
Joel 3:12 states: “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.” Some have mistakenly compared the Valley of Jehoshaphat with the name Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16:16. Armageddon is translated from Hebrew name Har Megiddo, which means “Hill of Hegiddo,” located in a large valley. The large, bowl shaped Plain of Jezreel, situated about 55 miles norther of Jerusalem, is the location where the armies will assemble, not where the final battle will take place.
Joel and other biblical authors give the answer. From their gathering place on the Plain of Jezreel, the troops will advance southward toward Jerusalem into the Valley of Jehoshaphat (which means “judgment of the Eternal”. Notice that God “will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem “on the day when He returns, and his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:1-4). Jerusalem will be the focal point of the armies of the “whole world” who gather “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14), and that is the location where Christ at His return will overcome and destroy the opposing forces (Revelation 17:4; Zechariah 14:12-15).
It’s interesting that certain prophecies from Joel have things in common with the Book of Revelation, here are the verses:
Joel 1:4-5 – The locust plague and famine – Revelation 9:11; 6:5-6.
Joel 1:6; 2:1-11 – Unprecedented warfare – Revelation 6:4.
Joel 2:30-31 – Heavenly signs – Revelation 6:12.
Joel 3:9-14 – The battle of the great day of God Almighty – Revelation 16:14.
Joel 3:17,21 – Christ returns to Jerusalem – Revelation 19:11-21.
Joel 2:21-27 – God pours out abundant favors and blessings – Revelation 21:1-7.
Romans 3: 9-18
9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10as it is written:‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.’
13 ‘Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of vipers is under their lips.’
14 ‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’
15 ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery are in their paths,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.’
18 ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’
All men — Jews and Greeks — are under a charge of sin. Not even one man can stand on his own before God and expect to be called righteous, verse 11 – no man even understands his own predicament. Paul refers to Psalms 14 & 53. These two Psalms form a ultimate argument, scripture’s own testimony concerning the reality of man’s unrighteousness. The very nature of men is such that not only so they sin habitually, but they are enslaved to sin. The message of scripture – not just of Paul – is one of man’s hopelessness and heedlessness.
Romans 3: 19-20
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
20 For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
Paul begins to shift back to righteousness and appears to be returning to a discussion of the Jew, since Paul mentions the Law, but not necessarily so. Paul is describing the effects of laws, rules, and standards. Whatever law say, it says it to those who are under the law. Looking at the wording, “Whatever a Law “says” – means its impact or the limit of its reaches. It speaks ti those under or in the law, so that every mouth will be closed and all the world becomes accountable. The idea here is that laws don’t produce righteousness, they only reveal unrighteousness. So God used law to demonstrate our collective unrighteousness. And our efforts to work our way out of the hole we’re in we’ll never accomplish, because our only response to our predicament is to try and perform works in keeping with God’s Law. Paul says by the works of law, no flesh shall be declared righteous before Him, the law merely reveals sin.
Now Paul joins the unrighteousness of man with God’s plan for righteousness.
Romans 3: 21-26
21 But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets,
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,
23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;
26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is perhaps the most elegant statement of God’s plan of salvation ever written.
Consider where Paul has left the Roman church. If they followed his arguments from chapter 1 & 2 to the mid point of 3 they have been on the verge of panic; all men are sinful, there is no hope, and all is lost. Paul then unfolds God’s solution – this is the unique, distinguishing feature of Christianity.
Point 1 – The Disclaimer
Apart from the Law, which means separately from or independent from. Remember we’re talking about law, not necessarily the Law. So point #1 is God’s plan for saving men is a plan that is independent of any law, any rules of human action or behavior, it is not by works.
Point 2 – The Gospel is about God’s Righteousness – Not Our Righteousness
The righteousness of God has been manifested, God solves the problems of our unrighteousness by manifesting His righteousness. The word manifested means disclosed or made visible. So God made His righteousness visible to a world that previously only knew unrighteousness.
Point 3 – The Gospel is a Promised Fulfilled
This righteousness of God was witnessed or testified to by the Law, the Mosaic Law, and the Prophets.
Point 4 – Faith is the Means of Manifesting God’s Righteousness
The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Notice he didn’t say because of our faith in Jesus Christ. God manifested His righteousness through our faith not because of it.
Point 5 – The Recipients
For all who believe, for there is no distinction, all have fallen short. All men are saved the same way – there is no second was to be saved, God has one plan for salvation.
Point 6 – The Result
Being justified as a gift by this grace. The word justified is one of the most important in the Bible, it means to be declared righteous, acquitted, vindicated, and it’s the outcome of a judging process. Believers are justified, God declares the believers righteous, and innocent. Justification is an act, not a process, and it is something God does, not man. God’s decision to bring us to this result was purely a gift, His grace.
Point 7 – The Price
The price, through redemption of Jesus Christ. This redemption is a payment made on our behalf by Jesus Christ, so our justification was made possible because we were ransomed.
Point 8 –
Jesus’ ransom permits God to declare us righteous because it is a propitiation. Paul describes what he means by clarifying that God displayed Jesus publically as an atoning sacrifice, and through a faith in that sacrifice, that ransom, our debt is paid. Paul goes further to explain how God’s own righteousness was demonstrated in the process of ransoming men by His Son’s death. First at the moment of the cross, God demonstrated righteousness by crushing His Son. Paul says because of God’s tolerance, or delaying in dealing with the sin of mankind. Justice was required cause sin had occurred, yet God had not yet brought His wrath against the sin committed among all men. Remember Luke 16 – Sheol, so as God crushes His Son, He remains true to His own righteousness by demanding a price be paid for sin. But having placed His wrath on Jesus, God now can be just and also be justifier of the one who has faith in His Sons blood atonement.
1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?
2 Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
Paul is walking a fine line here, on one hand he must not tolerate a Jewish view of self that was exaggerated – Jews were not saved merely because they were Jew. On the other hand, Paul can’t let the Gentiles think that God had forsaken His chosen people. So in chapters 3 and 4 and we’ll see again in chapter 9-11, Paul will deal with the question of the Jewish nations place and purpose in God’s plan to redemption. For right now Paul will address a question of advantage. First, Jews were entrusted with the Word of God. This was a privilege that the Jewish nation was granted, which led to many Jews knowing God’s mercy. But what about those who didn’t believe and weren’t faithful to God?
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?
4 By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true, as it is written,
‘So that you may be justified in your words, and prevail in your judging.’
Since there are some who turn against Him does it mean that God was unfaithful? Paul says of course not, every man is a liar, but God remains true. Paul is essentially saying the same thing here that he says in 2 Timothy later.
2 Timothy 2:13
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.
God had made promises to the nation of Israel that He would keep. To prove the point Paul quotes from a great case study of unfaithfulness. A man to whom God made great promises of a future kingdom and an eternal throne and yet this man was unfaithful at times to God.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgement.
Paul quotes David’s words to point out that even this great Jew had to acknowledge his unfaithfulness before God. So we can’t claim that God is unfaithful simply because an individual Jew is unbelieving or unfaithful.
Romans 3: 5-6
5 But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?
So there are advantage to being Jew, they have the Word of God. And in that word were promises to the nation of Israel, even though the Jews were unrighteous, His righteousness shines through as He keeps His promises. Like David … we can see God’s mercy and grace and faithfulness all the more because of David’s failings. So shouldn’t we expect God to overlook the sins of all Jews so that God’s righteousness might be magnified all the more? And of course Paul gives us the logical answer. First, he makes sure that no one thinks he agrees with this line of reasoning by making a by the way comment, this is a human argument, not something a godly person would suggest. Then Paul deals with it, if God were to overlook the sins of the Jewish people without cause, how could He judge the world? If He were to ignore the sins of Jewish men, God would be showing partiality. So God will judge the sinning Jew without partiality.
Romans 3: 7-8
7 But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?
8 And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), ‘Let us do evil so that good may come’? Their condemnation is deserved!
So … isn’t the sinning of a Jew actually helping God by giving Him more opportunity to show His glory in mercy? Paul answers their question with a sarcastic question of his own. If you’re going to say that, then why not live according to the motto that some have accused Paul of teaching elsewhere. In other words, if you really believe this kind of absurd logic, then why are you striving to do anything good. And Paul leaves the argument sitting there unaddressed so as not to dignify it. So now the Jewish reader comes to the same point as before; though there are promise made to the Jewish nation, individual Jews must stand the same judgment that all men face.
Book of Romans
1. What does the Bible have to say about “passing judgment” on others? Is there some judging that is commanded? Is there some judging that is prohibited? What is the point of this passage, 2:1ff?
2. In 2:1-11, there are three principles or standards of judgment which God will use in the Judgment. List them.
3. What is meant (in your own words) by “the riches of his goodness” (2:3)? By the “riches of his forbearance”? By the “riches of his long suffering”?
4. Is Salvation something God does for a man, rather than something a man takes an active part in? What does Romans 2 say about God’s part in the salvation of individual men?
5. If a man is justified by faith, how can the final judgment be based on “works” (2:6)
6. What is the difference between “glory,” “honor,” and “in-corruption”?
7. Will there be degrees of punishment on or after the day of Judgment?
8. What view of future punishment does Paul teach in 2:8,9? Does he teach annihilation of the wicked?
9. Explain the principle of judgment on the basis of available light. List some passages that teach this principle.
10. How is 2:13 (“doers of the law shall be justified”) to be harmonized with Romans 3:28 (which says that men have always been justified by faith), and with Romans 3:20 (which says “by works of law shall no flesh be justified”)?
11. What is meant “by nature” (2:14)? With what is “by nature” contrasted?
12. What is meant by “are the law to themselves”? (2:14). How can a Gentile sin? What law or laws does he violate?
13. What is the conscience? What does it do?
14. With what idea in the preceding context is 2:16 connected?
15. What is the idea of the verb “judge” (v. 27)?
16. 2:29. Is Today’s English Version translation, suggesting that “circumcision of the heart” is the work of the Holy Spirit, a justifiable translation? Where do they the word “God’s”? What is the contrast that Paul has in mind when he writes “spirit” and “letter”?
17. How does Paul begin his discussion of the need of the Jew for the righteousness offered in the Gospel? Why does he do it in this way?
18. Make a list of the characteristics of the Jews as given by Paul in 2:17-24. What where one of these qualities that was not true or desirable?
19. What is the difference, if any, between “knowing His will” and “approving the things that are excellent”?
The name Habakkuk means “to embrace”.
In Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Jesus Christ is described as ruling on the earth when all people will share in the peace and abundant life His righteous reign will produce (Isaiah 11: 1-9). Habakkuk doesn’t mention Assyria, but he does refers to the increasing Chaldean (also known as Babylonians) power. So we can assume that he prophesied in Judah, possibly during Jehoiakim reign and shortly before the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar (Habakkuk 1:6).
Habakkuk was instructed to foretell the invasion and destruction of the land by the Chaldeans. The northern kingdom of Israel had already gone into captivity to Assyria, and God was going to punish the southern kingdom of Judah through the Babylonians.
In chapters 1: 1-4 we find Habakkuk’s first question. Was God indifferent to Judah’s sin, which was horrifying and wide spread? The nation was guilty of:
Violence Habakkuk 1:2
Plundering and violence Habakkuk 1:3
Strife and contention Habakkuk 1:3
Disregarding and abusing the law Habakkuk 1:4
Exploiting the righteous Habakkuk 1:4
Corrupting and misusing judgment Habakkuk 1:4
Habakkuk had trouble understanding why it appeared God was unconcerned about Judah’s sin. Even though he understood that God was not detached from the peoples ungodliness, Habakkuk needed answers.
In chapter 1: 5-11 we have God’s answers. God’s answer is that He would not leave the people of Judah unpunished but would raise up the Chaldeans a rod of chastisement and correction. The Chaldeans were a merciless and terrible people, who would reach down and invade the land.
In chapter 1: 12- 2:1 we find Habakkuk’s second question. How could a holy and righteous God punish Judah by using an even more wicked and unrighteous nation? The conqueror was worse than those appointed to be chastised.
Then in chapter 2:2-20 God’s answer is that all will be faithfully judged with righteous judgment. In the final determination only those who trust in God will live. No one will escape the penalty of evil and wickedness. God will punish arrogance, pride and wrongdoing.
The just living by faith is one of the major themes in Habakkuk. The faith that we are to live by is not man’s faith, but the living faith that God gives to those who live in harmony with Him. Habakkuk was told to write down the visions and make it plain so a runner could read it (2:2). Habakkuk was told that the fulfillment was “for an appointed time” yet in the future (2:3). Equipped with God’s response and the certainty that wickedness will be punished, Habakkuk delivered a series of five woes against those who opposed God and His laws. It seems that these woes are directed at the Chaldeans. They cannot escape the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). God’s law of retribution for those who in their minds consider themselves beyond reproach and punishment (Habakkuk 2:5). Habakkuk has recorded five types of wickedness found in the Chaldeans:
1. Aggression, pride, abuse of power and greed – 2:5-8
2. Covetousness – 2:9-11
3. Excessive violence – 2:12-13
4. Inhumanity and heartlessness – 2:15-17
5. Idolatry – 2:18-19
Habakkuk ends the book with a psalm of praise and prayer, chapter 3. When hearing God’s coming judgment, Habakkuk expresses his concern (verse 2), and showed his concern by asking God to exercise mercy when applying His judgment. He then proceeded to make a list of the extraordinary acts of God in the past history of His people.
1. God’s awesome presence at Mount Sinai and His power to intervene for His people – 3: 3-7
2. The division of the Rd Sea and later the Jordan River, enabling the Israelites to enter the Promise Land – 3: 8-10
3. God’s powerful intervention for the Israelites in battle – 3: 11-15.
Habakkuk trembles at the thought of what is yet to happen, but nothing that happens on the earth can remove God’s promises: “ yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.” – 3: 18-18
The book of Habakkuk is quoted several times in the New Testament. In Acts 13: 40-41 the apostle Paul quoted the warning in Habakkuk 1:5 and applied it to the people of Antioch. The warning that the prophet gave under inspiration can also be relevant for us today.
The lesson of Habakkuk is, Man shall live by faith. Faith in God no matter how dark the day is – have faith.
Short Outline of Habakkuk
A. The problem of the apparent triumph of sin – Chapter 1
1. Why does sin go unpunished? – 1-4
2. God says he has used the Chaldeans to punish sin – 5-11
3. Are they confined to evil forever – 12-17
B. The impending punishment of the Chaldeans – Chapter 2
1. Waiting for the vision – 1-3
2. Vision of the five destructive woes, – 4-20
C. An age of confidence in God – Chapter 3
1. Prayer of the disquieted prophet – 1-2
2. Past history has shown God will finally destroy Israel’s enemies – 3-15
3. The prophet must joyously trust God and wait when in perplexity – 16-19
May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You