This prophecy surveys the history of Israel, from the time it was given, to the second advent of Christ. The book is an illustration of how God makes the future known to man; in fact, it illustrates the way all biblical truth is revealed. It demonstrates that revelation is progressive. Joel unfolds and develops a new concept, ''the day of the Lord,'' as do the prophets that follow him. The three aspects of his vision increase in scope as the book progresses.
The land of Palestine had been a wonderful place. The hills were dotted with fig and olive trees, the slopes were covered with luxuriant vineyards, and the valleys were filled with corn. It had previously been described in metaphor as ''a land that floweth with milk and honey'' (Joshua 5:6). But when Joel was called to prophesy, a terrible judgment had befallen it.
The prophet revealed the cause for the plagues. These scourges had come from God as chastisement upon the people because of their sin. Although the judgment was regional in nature, it was filled with prophetic importance.
The armies will surround Jerusalem. As the locusts had attacked and destroyed the land, and as the nations of Babylon and Assyria would attack and destroy, so the endtime will be characterized by warfare and destruction. Compare Joel 2:1-10 with Zechariah 14:1-3, where the prophet warned, ''Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.'' This is in keeping with our Lord's dire prediction in the Olivet Discourse, ''Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down... And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened'' (Mat 24:2,22).
Joel 2:11 declares that the Lord's ''army'' (the locusts) is already in the land. Men have always failed to take Jehovah into account. Read again the story of Sennacherib and the Assyrians [2Kings 18:13- 19:37], and recall how God intervened to destroy that army. All of this is a picture of what will happen in the future. Joel declared the intent of Jehovah when he wrote, ''I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and will judge them there for My people and for My heritage, Israel...'' (Joel 3:2). This is what John saw in Revelation 19:17-19, and is preceded by the regathering of Judah to Jerusalem (Joel 3:1).
''And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; for He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem'' (Isaiah 2:2,3).