Joel’s brief prophetic message portrays the entire process of the nation of Israel’s restoration from beginning to end. It begins with a complete devastation of the land (Joel 1) and concludes with eternal blessing for God’s people (Joel 3:18-21). In between, was a transformation that started with Israel’s invasion by an army that Joel said looked like “the morning spread upon the mountains” (Joel 2:2). Afterwards, there was a call to repentance. Joel instructed God’s people to, “blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth out of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet” (Joel 2:15-16).
Joel portrayed an instantaneous interruption of all activities. His call to repentance was one that could not be delayed, even for a moment. The reason for his urgency may have been an awareness of impending doom, such as a nuclear missile that was about to be launched. Joel’s incredible insight was no doubt the result of his prophetic gift. I’m sure the message he was given was very troubling and it caused him a great deal of distress. Even though Joel may not have understood all the details of what was about to happen, his urgent plea for repentance showed that he believed the end of Israel’s existence was near. Unlike the warnings given by Jeremiah and Ezekiel before the nation of Judah was taken into captivity, it appeared that the people would respond and were ready to repent. Joel stated, “Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people” (Joel 2:18).
Joel’s incredible prediction seems to be associated with the transition from the great tribulation to the millennial reign of Christ. What is clear about his prophecy is that the events he described have not yet taken place. One of the most intriguing aspects of the transformation of God’s people that will occur is recorded in Joel 2:28-29 where the LORD says, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” Some scholars believe God will pour out his spirit before the great tribulation in a last ditch effort to expand his kingdom on earth. What seems to be more likely is that God’s people, the nation of Israel will finally acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and will be restored to their place of prominence in God’s plan of salvation.