Lesson 149

Joel

“Lesson 149: Joel,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Joel prophesied of impending destruction and counseled the people to gather into the house of the Lord. He further prophesied of latter-day calamities upon the wicked and of the Spirit of the Lord being poured out upon all flesh. Joel foretold of a great battle that will happen in the last days.

Suggestions for Teaching

Joel 1

Joel calls the people to the temple to pray for deliverance from approaching disaster

Invite a student to read aloud the following experience of Sister Patricia T. Holland, the wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and formerly of the Young Women general presidency:

Patricia T. Holland

“Recently we experienced the worst windstorm Bountiful [in Utah] has seen in several decades. … Just as I was hearing news reports of semi trucks—twenty of them—being blown over on the roadside, I looked out my lovely back window down toward our creek and saw one of our large trees go down with a crash. …

“For a moment, I confess, I was truly fearful. It was very early in the morning, and Jeff was just leaving for the office. I said to him, ‘Do you think this is the end? Is it all over—or about to be?’” (A Quiet Heart [2000], 129).

Invite students to discuss the following questions with the person sitting next to them:

  • How do you feel about the signs and events that will accompany the Second Coming?

  • How do you think Elder Holland responded to his wife?

After students have responded, invite a student to read aloud the remainder of Sister Holland’s account:

“My husband, who has deep faith and endless optimism, took me in his arms and said, ‘No, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christ really did come and his children really were ready for him? Wouldn’t it be terrific if evil was finally conquered, once and for all, and the Savior of the world came down in the midst of the New Jerusalem to wipe away every tear from every eye? Yes,’ my husband said, ‘in lots of ways I wish it were the end, but it’s not. It is just a stiff windstorm in Bountiful. We have got more work to do’” (A Quiet Heart, 129–30).

  • What stands out to you about Elder Holland’s thoughts and feelings concerning the Second Coming?

Explain that today students will study the prophecies of the prophet Joel, who prophesied to the people of Judah at a time when they were facing natural disasters and invading armies. Many of Joel’s prophecies relate to the time preceding the Second Coming, which will also be filled with natural disasters and wars. Although some events associated with the Second Coming may cause people to feel afraid, Joel’s prophecies contain principles that can help us prepare for them. Encourage students to look for these principles so they, like Elder Holland, can look forward to the Second Coming of the Savior with joy and confidence.

Summarize Joel 1:1–13 by explaining that Joel recounted the devastation brought on by a plague of locusts. One interpretation of this passage is that it symbolizes the destruction that would come from invading armies if the people did not repent (see Joel 1:4, footnote a).

Invite a student to read Joel 1:14–15 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what Joel counseled his people to do. (Explain that the phrase “day of the Lord” [verse 15] refers to a point in time when the Lord administers rewards and penalties.)

  • What did Joel counsel the people to do?

  • Why do you think Joel wanted the people to gather into the temple when they were faced with danger?

  • What kinds of danger are youth today faced with?

  • How can we be blessed as we gather into the temple? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we gather into the temple, we can receive protection from spiritual danger.)

Consider pointing out that it may be difficult for some people to attend the temple regularly. However, these people can receive protection from spiritual danger by choosing to live worthy to enter the temple.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to listen for ways we can gather to the temple and one of the blessings we can receive for doing so:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life” (“The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 94).

  • How did Elder Scott encourage us to gather into the temple? (Explain that even if students live far from a temple, they can participate in temple work by searching for their ancestors and preparing their names for temple ordinances.)

  • How have you felt blessed and protected from spiritual danger as you have participated in family history and temple work?

Encourage students to ponder what they can do to participate more in family history and temple work.

Joel 2

Joel prophesies of latter-day calamities and of the Spirit of the Lord being poured out upon all flesh

Write the following phrase on the board: Day of the Lord. Explain that in Joel 2 this phrase refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and events preceding it. Invite students to read Joel 2:1–2 silently, looking for how Joel described the day of the Lord. Ask students to report what they find.

Summarize Joel 2:3–10 by explaining that these verses describe the war and destruction that will occur and the gloom that some people will experience before the Savior’s Second Coming.

Invite a student to read Joel 2:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional words that describe the day of the Lord.

  • What words describe the day of the Lord?

  • What question did Joel ask?

Write the following question on the board: Who can abide the day of the Lord? Explain that Joel 2:12–16 contains truths that can help answer this question. Invite a student to read Joel 2:12 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what the Lord pleaded with the people to do.

  • According to this verse, what did the Lord want the people to do? (Turn back to Him, or repent, with all their hearts.)

If possible, display an old piece of clothing or cloth. Begin to tear the clothing, and explain that people in Old Testament times often rent, or tore, their clothing as a symbol of their grief and sorrow.

Invite a student to read Joel 2:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joel taught the people to rend instead of their clothes. Encourage students to look at Joseph Smith Translation, Joel 2:13 (in Joel 2:13, footnote b) and Joseph Smith Translation, Joel 2:14 (in Joel 2:14, footnote a).

  • What do you think Joel was teaching the people when he told them to rend their hearts and not their garments? (To not just outwardly express sorrow but to sincerely experience remorse for what they had done and feel a desire to repent.)

  • What do these verses teach about what the Lord will do for us as we turn to Him by sincerely repenting? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: As we turn to the Lord with all our hearts by sincerely repenting, He will show mercy and kindness to us.)

  • How can we show God that our repentance is sincere?

  • How might knowing that God will show mercy and kindness to those who repent influence your desire to repent?

Invite students to ponder whether there are sins they need to repent of so they can more fully experience the Lord’s mercy and kindness and be better prepared for the Second Coming.

Summarize Joel 2:15–32 by explaining that these verses describe some of the blessings that the righteous will enjoy while preparing for the day of the Lord.

Invite a student to read Joel 2:27–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the kindness the Lord would show in the latter days.

  • What did Joel prophesy the Lord would do in the latter days? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that in the latter days the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. Write this truth on the board.)

To help the class understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“Now, my brethren and sisters, I am not going to confine this prophecy to the members of the Church. The Lord said he would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh. … [This means that] the Lord would pour out his blessings and his Spirit upon all people and use them to accomplish his purposes” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:176).

  • What evidence have you seen that the Lord is pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh?

Explain that signs and wonders will precede and accompany the day of the Lord. Invite a student to read Joel 2:30–31 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for some of these signs. Invite students to report what they find.

Invite students to ponder whether any of these signs or wonders cause them to feel afraid or concerned. You may want to invite a few students to share their thoughts.

Invite students to read Joel 2:32 silently, looking for what Joel taught that can help us when we feel afraid or concerned about signs of the Second Coming.

  • What can we do if we are fearful or concerned about the signs and events of the last days?

  • What can Heavenly Father do for those who call on His name?

Joel 3

Joel prophesies of a great battle that will happen in the last days

Summarize Joel 3 by explaining that Joel prophesied of the battle of Armageddon, which will occur just before the Second Coming. In this battle, all the nations of the earth will fight against the Lord’s people. Invite a student to read Joel 3:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who will help the righteous.

  • Why should the Lord’s people be hopeful during this challenging time?

Conclude the lesson by inviting students to share their feelings about how they can prepare to abide the day of the Lord with joy and optimism.

Commentary and Background Information

Joel 1:14. “Gather … into the house of the Lord”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the protection and other blessings youth receive as they participate in family history and temple work:

“I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. …

“As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. … Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 26–27).

Joel 2:28–32. “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained how the Lord would pour our His Spirit upon all flesh:

“The inspiration which was promised to all flesh by the Lord through the prophecy of Joel, is not the promise of the Holy Ghost, but the promise of the guidance of the Light of Christ, or Spirit of Truth, which is given to every man who comes into the world” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1954–56], 1:53).

“There has never has been a step taken … , in discovery or invention, where the Spirit of the Lord … was not the prevailing force, resting upon the individual, which caused him to make the discovery or the invention” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:178).

This prophecy of Joel may have multiple meanings and fulfillments. On the day of Pentecost in New Testament times, there was a great outpouring of the Spirit on those gathered, which caused Peter to say, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:16–17).

Of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision, President Howard W. Hunter said: “As we think of the promise that young men shall see visions in the latter days, we are reminded of the vision that came to a youth only fourteen years of age which commenced a chain of events resulting in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus [Christ] in its fulness in the preceding century. The will of God was revealed and a youth saw the vision” (“Be Not Disobedient unto the Heavenly Vision” [address at BYU baccalaureate exercises, June 2, 1960]; speeches.byu.edu).

Three years after the First Vision, Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and quoted Joel 2:28–32, explaining that these prophecies would shortly be fulfilled (see Joseph Smith—History 1:41).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. … The vision of Joel has been fulfilled [see Joel 2:28–32]” (“Living in the Fulness of Times,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 4).

Joel 2:2. “A day of darkness and of gloominess”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the cause of the gloominess related to the day of the Lord:

“We must not underestimate, however, the difficulty of the last days. Joel and Zephaniah both speak of the last days as being ‘a day of … gloominess.’ (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:15.) The coming decades will be times of despair. Why? Because, as Moroni said, despair comes of iniquity. (See Moro. 10:22.) The more iniquity, the more despair. And unless there is widespread repentance, despair will both deepen and spread—except among those who have gospel gladness” (“Be of Good Cheer,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 67).