He was probably the earliest of the prophetic writers, but he tells us nothing about himself beyond the few words necessary to authenticate his book and give it its Divine authority. ''The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel'' (1:1).
In graphic language, he describes the plague, calling first on the old men to confirm its unparalleled severity. The drunkards feel the effects of it, for the vines have perished. The priests have no meat [ie., meal] offering of corn, nor drink offering of wine to offer. The husbandmen and vine-dressers are ashamed. The cry of the cattle and sheep goes up to God. Joel urges the people to call a fast, and then, in the beginning of the second chapter, he continues his description of the plague.
Before the army of locusts, the land is as the Garden of Eden-- behind them, it is a desolate wilderness (2:3). An army of locusts is incredible to those who have not watched it. They fill the air, and darken the sun like an eclipse (2:2), and spread for miles over the land. The advance columns will attack all that is green and succulent; in half an hour, every leaf and blade is destroyed (1:11,12). Others, coming on in succession, will strip the bark from the trees (1:6,7). A land so devastated takes years to recover (1:17-20). The noise of their wings can be heard for miles, and the noise of their browsing is like a fire (2:5), and the land over which they have passed has the appearance of being fire-swept (2:3). Having stripped the country, they scale the walls of the cities, in serried [ie., compact, close] ranks like mailed [ie., armored] horsemen and chariots, and marching into the houses consume everything which can be consumed in their resistless onslaught (2:4,7-9).
Joel calls on the Lord to spare His people, and, like Moses, urges the plea that the heathen would question ''Where is their God?'' (2:17) [cp. Num 14:13-16]. His call to repentance is enforced by promises. The pity of the Lord, His readiness to bless if the conditions are fulfilled, the removal of the scourge, the plentiful rain and abundant crops, and the outpouring of the Spirit.
Although the third chapter is one of judgment, we may take it also in a spiritual sense, and see the Church prepared by the fulness of the Spirit, ready to fight the battle of the Lord against the hosts of darkness, ready for a great ingathering of souls, and multitudes, multitudes shall be brought into the valley of decision.
[Editor's note: During the present Age of Grace, the harvest of souls to salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church. But the day of salvation is rapidly drawing to a close. Soon the harvest will be past (Jer 8:20; 2Cor 6:2). The harvest foreseen in Joel 3:9-16 is that of Rev 14:14-20, a harvest to judgment. The divisions of this judgment are based on decisions set prior to the swing of the sickle.]