The Day of the Lord

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Joel

Roy Rohu

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About this book

Joel tells us his father’s name, but he says nothing about himself. Some students think that he wrote his book about 850 years before the birth of Jesus. Other students think that he wrote it about 330 years later than that. The really important thing is that Joel has a message from God.

Nearly all God’s people have forgotten to love God. And they have forgotten to obey him. So God allows bad things to happen. There is no rain. (Look at Joel 1:20.) The plants do not grow well and insects come to eat them (Joel 1:4). And these things are only a beginning.

Joel tells the people to think about these bad things. (Look at Joel 1:2-13, 15-20.) He tells the people to change their attitude to God (Joel 1:14; 2:12-17). He tells them that they should love God again, as they did before. And they should obey him again. If they do this, then God will do good things for them (Joel 2:18-20, 32). God will send his *Holy Spirit to them (Joel 2:28).

Joel then tells the people about a special day that is coming. He calls that day ‘the Day of the *Lord’. (Look at Joel 3:14.) On that day, great things will happen (Joel 2:28-32). God will punish his people’s enemies (Joel 3:1-21). Then God will give peace to his people again (Joel 3:16, 20).

Contents of the Book

1:1-12 *Locusts eat all the plants in *Israel

1:13-20 Joel tells people to *repent

2:1-11 The army of *locusts

2:12-17 Show to the *Lord that you are sorry

2:18-27 The *Lord’s answer

2:28-32 The Day of the *Lord

3:1-15 The *Lord *judges the nations

3:16-21 God will do good things for his people


Joel talks about an army of *locusts. In chapter 1, it seems that the *locusts are real *locusts. Later, Joel talks again about an army of *locusts. Many students think that, this time, he means an army of soldiers. So there is an army that consists of *locusts. And there is also an army that consists of soldiers. Both these armies come to make God’s people think. God’s people need to think about why these armies come. Joel explains it all in this book.

Chapter 1

*Locusts eat all the plants in *Israel

v1 This is the *Lord’s message that came to Joel, Pethuel’s son.

v2 You older men, listen to this! Listen, all people that live in this country.

Nothing like this has happened while you have been alive.

Nothing like this happened while your fathers were alive.

v3 Tell this to your children,

and let them tell it to their children.

And let their children tell it to their own children.

v4 The older *locusts have eaten what the young *locusts left.

The oldest *locusts have eaten what the older *locusts left.

Other *locusts have eaten what the oldest *locusts left.

v5 Wake up, you drunks.

Weep, all people who drink *wine!

Weep, because you will have no new *wine.

Someone has taken it away from you.

Joel wants everyone to think carefully about his message. It is God’s message.

The old people should notice, because this message is new and different. They have not heard it before. Old people should be wiser than young people. Old people should have learnt from their lives how to be wise.

Joel wants the children to give attention to the message.

Even children who are not yet born should hear the message. That shows us that Joel’s message is for everyone. It is not just for the people that Joel is speaking to. Also nowadays, God’s people can give attention to Joel’s message and they should do so. It is always time to give attention to God.

Joel wants people who have drunk too much *wine to wake up. He wants them to listen to the message, too.

Joel wants the farmers to understand why bad things are happening. (Look at verse 11.)

Joel wants the *priests to wake up. And he wants them to call the people back to God. (Look at verses 13 and 14.)

v6 *Locusts have come to fill my country.

They are powerful and they are very many.

They have teeth like strong animals’ teeth.

Their teeth are long and dangerous.

The *Hebrew in verse 6 is ‘A nation has come to fill my country’. But we think that it means an enormous number of *locusts.

The insects called *locusts destroy plants. When there is no food, God’s people will listen to him.

‘My country’ means God’s country. His country is special to him. But he allows *locusts to come and they damage it. He does that because he loves his people very much. So he does not want to let them go away from him.

v7 They have broken my *vines

and they have destroyed my *fig trees.

They bit off all the skin from the stems.

Then they threw the bare stems away.

They have left the branches white.

v8 Weep like a girl that no man ever had sex with.

The man who promised to be her husband is dead. That is why she is weeping.

v9 Nobody can give food or drink for the *Lord’s house.

The *priests, the *Lord’s servants,

are very, very sad.

v10 The fields are no good.

They are all dry.

The new *wine has dried up.

The oil has all gone.

v11 Weep, you farmers! Yes, weep!

You who grow *vines, weep!

Be sad about the seeds that have not become food.

Be sad because the fields are dry. And the plants have died.

v12 The *vine has dried up

and the *fig tree is dead.

The apple trees and the other fruit trees have dried up.

All the trees have dried up.

Men have no more joy.

It has all gone.

Joel tells people to *repent

v13 You *priests and servants of God, wear special clothes to show that you are sad.

Even sleep in those clothes.

Cry, you *priests!

Cry, you who serve God at his *altar.

Cry about the food and drink that came as gifts.

Cry, because they do not come to the house of your God any more.

The *priests should be the first people to act. They are God’s special servants. They should call everyone to God’s house. And they should tell them to come back to God.

The *priests cannot offer the usual meat and *wine to God, because they have none. That is why the ceremonies in God’s house have had to stop. The *priests should be very, very sad about it.

v14 Tell everyone to eat no food.

Instead, call all the people together to hear the *Lord.

Call the older leaders.

And call all the people who live in this country.

They must come to the house of the *Lord, your God.

They must cry out to the *Lord there.

v15 Be afraid of that day,

because the Day of the *Lord is near.

It will be as if the great God wants to destroy all things.

Other *prophets also speak about the Day of the *Lord. Those *prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah. So God wants everyone to think about the special day that he will cause to happen. Joel also talks about that day in Joel 1:15; 2:1-2, 31 and 3:14. Now people should know how important it is.

Many of God’s people have stopped loving God. They are not trying to please him. They do not care about God’s laws or about his promises. And they think that God does not notice. So Joel now warns the people that God is their ruler. The Day of the *Lord is a day with great and awful troubles. God will bring that day if his people do not come back to him. That is the day that Joel is talking about. It is like the day in Revelation 6:16-17.

v16 No food has come to his special house.

We saw this with our own eyes.

So the house of our God cannot make us happy any more.

The animals have no grass to eat. So there can be no meat for the *priests to offer to God. The people will have no meat to eat either.

v17 The seeds under the earth are dry.

The places where people stored seeds have fallen down.

Someone has broken those places up

because the seed does not grow.

The people do not use those places because there is nothing to put in them.

v18 The cows make a sad noise.

They all move about

because they cannot find any grass.

Even groups of sheep are hungry.

v19 I call to you, my *Lord.

Fire has destroyed the grass in the fields

and it has burned up all the trees.

v20 Even the wild animals are *thirsty.

They want you to help them.

The rivers that had water have dried up.

Fire has destroyed the grass, even in the wild places.

Even the animals seem to know that it is a time to be sad. But God’s own people do not know why bad things are happening. They seem not to care.

Chapter 2

The army of *locusts

v1 Blow the *trumpet in *Zion.

Tell the people on the *Lord’s hill to watch for trouble.

All the people who live in this country will be afraid.

They will be afraid because the Day of the *Lord is coming.

It is very near.

v2 That day will be sad and dark.

It will be cloudy and black.

A very big army is coming.

It comes across the sky as light comes in the morning.

A great army like this has never come before.

It will never come again in future.

v3 Fire goes in front of the army.

It burns everything behind them.

The land in front of them is like the garden in Eden.

Behind them, it is like a desert.

They leave nothing behind them.

See Genesis 2:8 for the garden in Eden.

For the Day of the *Lord, see note about Joel 1:15.

v4 They behave like horses.

They run fast to the war.

v5 Their noise is like the noise that many feet make.

They jump over the mountains

as fast as a fire burns dry grass.

They are like a great army that is ready for a fight.

v6 Nations that see them are very afraid.

Every face shows their fear.

Joel speaks about *locusts. But now he may also mean armies of men. These armies may come when the armies of *locusts come. Or they may come after the *locusts come. However, in verse 7, he does say that they are ‘like soldiers’. He does not say that they are soldiers. God is using these armies or these *locusts to make his people think about Joel’s message.

In Chapter 1, Joel tells how dry the country is. Now, the *locusts come to eat up any plants that are left.

v7 *Locusts run together as an army runs into a fight.

They climb up walls like soldiers.

They march forward in a straight line.

They do not turn away.

v8 They do not push each other away.

Each one goes straight ahead.

People can put defences in their path

but they go straight ahead.

v9 They run towards the city.

They run along the wall.

They climb into houses.

They go through the windows like thieves.

v10 The earth in front of them moves.

The sky itself moves.

The sun and moon are dark

and the stars do not shine.

v11 The *Lord shouts aloud

as he leads his army.

We cannot count his soldiers.

Those who obey him are very strong.

The Day of the *Lord is powerful.

It makes us afraid.

Nobody can manage to live through it.

‘The sun and the moon are dark.’ Look also at Joel 3:15. We can read about something similar in Isaiah 13:10, Ezekiel 32:7-8 and Matthew 24:29.

It is very sad that God’s people do not listen to him. But he needs to make his own people think. For this, he must use people that do not love him. That is very sad, too.

Show to the *Lord that you are sorry

v12 ‘Even now’, the *Lord says,

‘return to me and respect me.

Eat no food. Weep and be very sad.

v13 Show to me that you are really sorry.

It does not help if you tear your clothes into pieces. That does not help if you are not really sorry.’

Return to the *Lord, your God.

He is kind and he is full of *grace.

He does not get angry quickly and he is full of love.

He is sad that he had to send troubles to you.

v14 Perhaps he will decide to act differently.

He may send to you food and drink as blessings (good gifts).

Then you can offer gifts to the *Lord, your God.

God’s people sometimes tore their clothes. This showed that they were sorry. If they were really sorry, they would do more than that. They would love God and they would obey him. They would do what is right.

God does not change as human people do. He can send good things like a good harvest, and he can send troubles. He sees if we do good things in our lives. Then he sends what is best for us. Look at Joel 2:15-17.

God never changes. But we change. God knows what we need then. He really loves us. So he does whatever we really need. Perhaps at that time we do not appreciate what he does. But we must believe that he is helping us to be good people.

In verse 13, Joel uses words from Exodus 34:6. With these words, he reminds the people what God is really like.

v15 Blow the *trumpet in *Zion.

Tell the people to eat no food.

Call them to *worship him.

v16 Call the people together.

Make them all ready to serve the *Lord.

Bring the old people together.

Bring the children, even the smallest ones.

Let the new husband leave his wife.

Let the wife leave her room.

v17 There are *priests who go in front of the *Lord.

Let them weep between the porch (doorway with a roof) of the *temple and the *altar.

Let them say to the *Lord, ‘Do not hurt your people.

Do not let people in other nations laugh at your own people.

They will laugh. And they will say that your own people are no good.

They will say, “Your God is no help to you now.” ’

The *Lord’s answer

v18 Then the *Lord will pity his country.

He will be kind to his people.

v19 He will answer them.

‘I am giving to you new *wine and food and oil.

You will have enough to fill you.

I will never again let people from other nations laugh at you.

v20 I will send away the army that comes from the north. I will send it far from you.

I will push it into an empty country where nothing grows.

I will send the front of that army one way.

It will go into the sea on the east.

The back of that army will go the other way. It will go into the sea on the west.

There will be a strong smell from dead bodies.

This will happen because that army has done great things.’

v21 Do not be afraid, you people in this country called *Israel.

Be very happy.

Be sure that the *Lord has done great things.

The *Lord sends their enemies to make his people sorry. Now they are sorry. Joel says that the enemies have done ‘great things’. (Look at verse 20.) Next, God sends the enemies away because his people are ready to listen to him. That is the ‘great thing’ that the *Lord has done. (Look at verse 21.)

Joel mentions ‘the army that comes from the north’. *Locusts do not come from the north. But the armies in Daniel 11 and Revelation 9 do. So students say that real *locusts ate the plants. But real armies from the north came against God’s people.

v22 Do not be afraid, wild animals.

The fields are becoming green.

Fruit is growing on the trees.

The *fig tree and the *vine are producing their riches.

v23 Be happy, people in *Zion!

*Rejoice in the *Lord your God.

He has given to you just enough autumn rain.

He has given to you the winter rain.

The rain has come, as it did before.

v24 He will fill your baskets with bread

and he will fill your jars with *wine and oil.

v25 ‘I will give back to you the years that the *locusts have eaten.

I will give back to you everything that the older *locusts and the young *locusts have eaten.

And I will give back to you everything that the oldest *locusts and their groups have eaten.

I will give to you as much as my great army has eaten.

v26 You will have plenty to eat. You will be full.

You will say good things about the name of the *Lord, your God.

He has done great things for you.

My people will never again be ashamed.

v27 Then you will know that I am in *Israel.

You will know that I am your God.

And you will know that there is no other God.

My people will never again be ashamed.’

Zion was the place where the *Israelites built the *Lord’s *temple. Sometimes the people in Jerusalem called themselves ‘Zion’.

In verse 27, the *Lord is reminding his people that he has been with them all the time. The *Lord’s people have not remembered that. Now they must remember the Covenant (agreement) that the *Lord has with his people. Look at Exodus 19:5-6.

The Day of the *Lord

v28 ‘After that, I will send out my *Holy Spirit onto all people.

Your sons and daughters will be *prophets.

Your old men will dream and

your young men will see pictures in their minds.

v29 Then I will send out my Spirit onto all my servants.’

Joel says that the *Holy Spirit will come ‘after that’. We now call that day ‘Pentecost’. Look at Acts 2, but look especially at Acts 2:17-21. Look also at Acts 3:18-26. There, Peter told the people about ‘great things’ that will come. Peter was thinking about Joel 2:30-32 as he was speaking.

v30 ‘I will do strange things in the sky and on the earth.

I will send blood and fire and clouds of smoke.

v31 The sun will become dark and the moon will become red.

Then the great Day of the *Lord will come. That day will make people very afraid.

v32 Some people will call to the *Lord and they will believe in his name.

Everyone who does those things will be safe.

The *Lord will call people on the mountain called *Zion and in Jerusalem.

Everyone there that the *Lord has called

will be safe.’

He has promised this.

Joel mentions blood and darkness. This seems to mean an unusual time, when the sun and moon will not give their light. It will make people very afraid. (Look also at Joel 3:15.)

Joel has told God’s people about the good things that God intends to do (verses 21-29). So the terrible things in verse 31 will not happen to them. Joel explains about God’s people in verse 32. He says more about those terrible things in Chapter 3.

God’s call here is a call to love him and to obey him. His promise is one that he gives to all his people. God has called them.

Chapter 3

The *Lord *judges the nations

v1 ‘One day, at that time, I will make *Judah and Jerusalem great again.

v2 Then I will bring all the nations together.

I will bring them down to the valley called Jehoshaphat.

There I will *judge against them.

I am angry for my children, my people from *Israel.

Those other people pushed my people out into other countries.

They broke up my country and each took pieces.

v3 They played games against each other.

In that way, they discovered which one would win my people.

(The people who won those games would own God’s people.)

They gave boys to buy women. They bought those women to have sex with them.

They sold girls so that they could get *wine to drink.

v4 Tell me something, you people in Tyre, Sidon and all the country where the *Philistines live. Tell me if I have done anything wrong to you. You want to punish me. If you do that, I will soon do the same to you. v5 You took my *silver and my gold, and you put all my riches in your *temples. v6 You sold the people who were in *Judah and Jerusalem. You sold them to the people from Greece. You wanted to send them a long way from their own country.

v7 Now I will bring them back from the places to which you sold them. I will do to you what you have done to them. v8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people from *Judah. And they will sell them to the people from Sheba, who live far away. I, the *Lord, have spoken.’

The *Philistines and the people in Sidon did not love the true God. And they did not obey him. They also did bad things to God’s people. But now they have to learn that God loves his people. He will punish anyone who fights against his people. Look also at Joel 3:19 and Matthew 25:31-46.

In verses 4 and 5, God speaks like a human person. He wants to help us to understand. But God does not need *silver and gold. He has made all the silver and gold. His silver and gold are not for false gods.

Verse 8: This did happen later. An army from Persia was fighting against the *Philistines then. And an army from Greece was fighting against the people in Tyre.

v9 Tell this news to all the countries.

Get ready for war!

Shout to the soldiers.

Tell all the men that fight. Make them get ready to attack.

v10 Get the tools that you dig with. Make them into sharp knives.

Get the tools that you use on the farm. Make them into long sticks that have points on the end. These sticks are to fight with.

Let the weak man say, ‘I am strong!’

v11 Come quickly, you people who live round *Israel.

Get together in the valley.

*Lord, send your army down to attack them.

v12 Wake up the people in all the countries!

Bring them into the valley called Jehoshaphat.

I will sit there to *judge the people from every country.

v13 Now is the time to cut down the fruits.

They are ready for you to bring them in.

Walk all over the *grapes.

The *winepress is full of them.

The *grapes come out over the top.

The nations have done so many bad things.

v14 Many, many people are in the Valley of Decision.

It is there that the Day of the *Lord will soon come.

v15 The sun and moon will grow dark

and the stars will not shine.

The Valley of Decision (verse 14) is a special name for the valley called Jehoshaphat (verses 2 and 12). In this valley, God will carry out his decision.

Verse 15: Look also at Joel 2:10, 30-31.

God will do good things for his people

v16 The *Lord will shout from *Zion.

He will make a great noise from *Jerusalem.

The earth and the sky will move about.

But the *Lord will keep his people safe.

v17 ‘Then you will know that I am your God.

You will know that I live in *Zion, my *holy hill.

*Jerusalem will be *holy.

Strangers will never again come in to control it.’

God is ready to be kind to his people now because they have changed their attitude. And they have started to obey him again. He will protect *Jerusalem. And he will protect the people who live there.

v18 ‘At that time, new *wine will flow from the mountains

and milk will flow from the hills.

All the valleys in *Judah will have rivers of water.

Water will come from the *Lord’s house.

And it will water the Valley of Acacias (special trees).

There will be many places on the mountains where they grow *grapes. From those *grapes, people will be able to make a lot of *wine. On the hills, there will be cows and goats that produce a lot of milk.

At that time, God will send to his people all that they need. He will send water to make things grow. He will even send water to the Valley of Acacias and other such places. That valley was a dry valley where trees called acacias grew. It was right on the edge of the country called *Judah. In this way, the writer is saying that plants will be able to grow everywhere in *Judah.

v19 Egypt’s people and *Edom’s people hurt people who lived in *Judah.

And they killed innocent people there.

So Egypt will be an empty place and *Edom will become an empty desert.’

*Judah’s people had done nothing wrong to Egypt’s people or *Edom’s people. But people from Egypt and *Edom had killed many people who lived in *Judah.

Joel mentions ‘innocent people’. The people in *Judah had done wrong things against God’s law. But they had not done wrong things against the people in Egypt and *Edom.

v20 ‘My people will always live in *Jerusalem and in *Judah.

v21 I will forgive all the wrong things that they have done.

The *Lord lives in *Zion!’

Word List

altar ~ a place where people burned animals or other things as gifts to God.

Edom ~ a country near *Israel.

fig ~ sweet fruit that grows on a tree.

grace ~ good gifts that God gives to people who believe him. They get these gifts free, not because they are good people!

grape ~ a fruit that people make a drink from.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Israelites spoke.

holy ~ very, very good; only God is really holy; the place where he lives with his people is also holy because he is there.

Holy Spirit ~ God consists of 3 persons. The Holy Spirit is one person of the three persons who are God. The Holy Spirit comes to give power to people. Because of this power, people are able to do what God wants.

Israel ~ the country where the *Israelites (God’s people) live; or, sometimes the north part of that country.

Israelites ~ people who live in *Israel; people who come from Jacob’s family.

Jehovah ~ a special name for God. People say it like that in some languages. But in the original *Hebrew language this name is Yahweh.

Jerusalem ~ the city where God’s *temple was.

Judah ~ after *Israel split into two nations, the south part was called Judah.

judge ~ to say what is good or bad.

locust ~ an insect that moves in big groups. It is always very hungry and it eats all green plants.

Lord ~ a name that we call God when we obey him.

Philistines ~ a group of people who lived to the west of *Israel. Often, they were enemies of the *Israelites.

priest ~ a man who gave gifts and burned animals as gifts to God for the *Israelites; a man whom God chose to serve him and to do special work for him.

prophet ~ a person who tells God’s message to people. That person can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

rejoice ~ to be very happy and to say good things about God.

repent ~ to be sorry about a wrong deed and to try to correct that wrong thing.

silver ~ a shiny white metal with great value.

sin ~ when people do bad things against God.

temple ~ a building where people *worship their god and they say good things about him.

thirsty ~ when a person or animal wants something to drink.

trumpet ~ a bent metal pipe that people blow through to make a loud noise.

vine ~ a plant that climbs. People make *wine from its fruits.

weapon ~ something to fight people with.

wine ~ a drink that people make from *grapes.

winepress ~ a very big basket. People begin to make *wine from *grapes in this basket.

worship ~ to love someone more than anything else; and to say how very good that person is; to work very loyally for someone and to consider that person more important than anything or anyone else.

Zion ~ a hill where the *Israelites built the *Lord’s *temple at *Jerusalem. Sometimes the people in *Jerusalem called themselves ‘Zion’.

Book List

God’s Word Bible ~ World Publishing

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible ~ Banner of Truth

Calvin’s Commentaries ~ Banner of Truth

Henry Froude ~ The Companion Bible, Part 4 ~ Oxford University Press


© 1997-2005 Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

May 2005

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