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.
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:
“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 , 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:
“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.
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:
“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?
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.