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Lesson 3: A Holy and Just God (Joel) *

Introduction: Assume disaster comes into your life. What is your most important goal? To survive, and if possible, turn it to your advantage. The Bible contains God's promises to help us. This week we look at the prophecies of Joel, a minor prophet, who predicted not simply disaster, but the end of the world. He also prophesied what God would do to help. Let's jump right into Joel to see what God has in mind for us in times of trouble!

  1. Plague


    1. Read Joel 1:1-3. What kind of event is coming? (An unprecedented event. Something worth remembering through succeeding generations.)


    2. Read Joel 1:4 and Joel 1:6-7. What is being described? (A plague of locusts.)


      1. How complete is the destruction of the crop? (All kinds of crops are destroyed.)


    3. Read Joel 1:5. Why should the drunks be concerned? (They have nothing to drink.)


    4. Read Joel 1:9. Why should the priests be concerned? (The temple offerings have been eaten.)


      1. Why would the Bible focus on drunks and priests? (This shows us that calamity falls on all - the good and the bad. Those who waste the wine and those who use it in God's service - both suffer.)


    5. Read Joel 1:12. What other calamity has come? (It appears that there is also a drought.)


      1. What gives you joy? (Eating - it is even in the Bible. The destruction of food and drink is so complete that the people are without joy.)


  2. Plague Relief


    1. Read Joel 1:13-14 and Joel 1:19-20. What is the answer to this disaster? (Fasting and prayer. Coming to the house of God to cry out to God.)


    2. Re-read Joel 1:6. To what does God compare this disaster? (It is like being invaded by a powerful enemy army.)


  3. The Day of the Lord


    1. Read Joel 2:1. What is coming? (The "day of the Lord.")


      1. What does that mean? (It refers to the Second Coming of Jesus.)


    2. Read Joel 2:2. Think about the pattern of Joel's book. What unique reference do we see twice? (The reference to an invasion by a foreign nation - a large and mighty army.)


      1. Were God and Joel just on the topic of "Terrible Things that Can Happen?" Or, do you see some other reason to link a terrible plague and the Second Coming? (The ultimate promise of deliverance from evil that God gives to us is His Second Coming. At that time He will rescue His people and begin the final destruction of evil.)


    3. Read Joel 2:3. How does God's army operate? (It burns what is in its path.)


      1. Read Revelation 18:8-10 and 2 Peter 3:10. Is Joel's prophecy consistent with New Testament prophecies of the end? (Yes, both tell us that the earth will be destroyed by fire.)


    4. Read Joel 2:4-6. We lose a great deal of the impact of this text because of our knowledge of modern warfare. Imagine that the only army you had ever seen consisted of foot soldiers with spears or bows. If you were one of those soldiers, how would you feel about going against an army mounted on horses? What about horses pulling chariots? What if you had never seen a horse before? (The amount of terror and surprise is summarized in "they leap over the mountaintops." God brings fearsome power against the wicked.)


    5. Read Joel 2:10-11. How is the Second Coming both great and dreadful?


      1. What does this text reveal about the power of God? (It extends to the stars!)


      2. What is the answer to the final question: "Who can endure it?" (Read Joel 2:12-13. Those who turn to God can endure it.)


    6. We are not going to study Joel 2:14-27. The confusing part is that these verses seem to describe both the Second Coming and God's rescue of His people in Joel's day. My only explanation for this is that Jesus did something similar in Matthew 24 when He described the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming in a way which intertwined both.


  4. Holy Spirit Power


    1. Read Joel 2:28. "And Afterward." After what? The Second Coming of Jesus? (That cannot be the meaning, because in Acts 2 Peter says what is happening at Pentecost is a fulfillment of these words in Joel 2.)


      1. So, what do you think God means by "and afterward?" (Recall the pattern of the book so far. Calamity followed by God coming with salvation. Jesus came to earth and defeated the calamity of sin - and "afterward" the Holy Spirit came in power.)


      2. Would it be fair to conclude that the gift of the Holy Spirit is an essential part of the victory over calamity? (Yes! It central to a victory over sin.)


    2. How widespread is the gift of the Holy Spirit in Joel 2:28-29? (It is a gift given to all. Gender is irrelevant. Age is irrelevant. Social standing is irrelevant.)


      1. Why do you think that God emphasizes this point of equality through Joel - a man who prophesied at a time when the priesthood consisted only of men? (The Holy Spirit is the power of God. The point is that in the end-time battle to finish God's victory, all of God's people have an equal part to play.)


    3. Read Joel 2:30. What, exactly, should we all be expecting to do through the power of the Holy Spirit? (The earlier verses said prophesy, dreams and visions. This verse says "wonders" and it mentions them being done on earth.)


      1. Let's explore this in Acts. Read Acts 2:1-3. What does this teach us that we should expect? (Wind, noise, fire and speaking in tongues.)


      2. Let's explore this in Acts 5:12-16. What does this teach us that we should expect? (Miraculous signs and healings.)


    4. Read Matthew 24:24. What warning are we given about similar events in the last times? (That Satan will have his agents performing great signs and miracles.)


      1. Let's look more closely at this by examining the context. Read Matthew 24:23-26. In what context do we find these Satanic signs? (They are connected with someone claiming to be Jesus.)


        1. Is this a reliable way to distinguish the work of the Holy Spirit from the work of Satan - that the person also claims to be Jesus?


    5. In Matthew 12 the Pharisees attribute the miracles performed by Jesus to the power of Satan. Read Matthew 12:25-28. What is Jesus' response to those charges?


    6. Read Matthew 12:31-32. What is the unpardonable sin? (Attributing the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan.)


      1. Did our work in discerning end-time signs and wonders just become a lot more difficult?(I think this is a solemn warning for us to be very careful about condemning miracle-working (or any apparent manifestation of the Holy Spirit) by fellow Christians.)


    7. Friend, in this world we face problems and sometimes disaster. God promises that He will make everything right. Part of this promise, is that He will send the Holy Spirit to be with us and empower us to do great things. Is the Holy Spirit in your life? Would you like to ask the Holy Spirit to come in power?


  5. Next week: Lord of All Nations (Amos).
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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