Teaching the Minor Prophets: Joel
Have you ever felt intimidated or confused by the Minor Prophets? I know I have. The Minor Prophets are a section of the Old Testament I conveniently skipped over for years. How do the Minor Prophets fit into the big picture of the Bible? What were those guys talking about? And what do they have to do with Jesus?
Rather than avoiding the Minor Prophets, The Gospel Project for Kids equips leaders to teach the messages of Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Joel, and others as part of its three-year chronological study through the Bible. A Bible story script provided in the leader guide presents each Bible story in a way kids can easily understand. Let’s take a look at the story “Joel, Prophet to Judah.”
The Big Picture Question and Answer reinforces a Bible truth during the session. For Joel, kids will walk away with this: What is God’s desire for people? God wants all people to repent and be saved.
How does Joel fit into the big picture of the Bible?
Joel was a prophet to God’s people in Judah. At this time, the nation of Israel had split after King Solomon’s death into two kingdoms—Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was led by a series of evil kings. God sent prophets to warn Israel of its wrongdoing, but the people did not listen. After years of disobedience, God allowed the Assyrians to deport the people of Israel, and the Northern Kingdom was destroyed.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah was led by several kings; some of them were good, and some of them were evil. The people struggled to be faithful to God. God sent prophets to warn Judah of God’s coming judgment. The prophets called the people to repent and gave hope to those who would turn back to God.
What was Joel talking about?
Joel was one of the prophets God sent to talk to the people of Judah. Joel’s message had two purposes: to warn and to give hope. The nation of Judah faced a crisis: locusts had invaded the land, and Judah was affected by a drought. Joel told the people that these natural disasters were from God; He was judging them for their sin. But these disasters were only the beginning. Joel called the people to repent and turn back to God. He also gave hope to the people, telling them that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
What does Joel have to do with Jesus?
God is holy, and sin against Him deserves to be punished. God is also just. He will punish sin. Like the people of Judah, our sin deserves to be punished, and the just punishment is much worse than locusts or drought. The penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23)—eternal separation from God. But God would rather forgive people than punish them. He loves us, and He sent His Son, Jesus, to take our punishment for sin by dying on the cross. The Bible calls us to turn from our sin and turn to God, looking to Jesus for our salvation. This truth still stands: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32; Rom. 10:13).