The author was Joel, “the son of Pethuel” (1:1), who some think was a priest because of his repeated references to the priesthood of his day. However, such reasoning is by no means conclusive.
It was apparently written during the days of young King Joash, who was under the surveillance of priests when he ascended to the throne of Judah at the age of seven (II Kings 11:21).
Joel prophesied primarily to the two southern tribes, the kingdom of Judah.
The prophecy was given because of a severe drought and an invasion of locusts, which Joel saw as a punishment for the sins of the people.
The terrible locust plague that had recently occurred in Judah was used by Joel to illustrate the coming Day of Judgment when God will directly intervene to vindicate righteousness.
Although Obadiah was the first prophet to mention the Day of the Lord (Obadiah 15), Joel was the first to develop this important biblical theme.
This brief book of Joel develops the crucial theme of the coming Day of the Lord. It is a time of awesome judgment upon the people and the nations that have rebelled against God. However, it is also a time of future blessing upon those who have trusted in Him.
Joel was written as a warning to the people of Judah of their need to humbly turn to the Lord with repentant hearts (2:12-17) so that God could bless rather than buffet them.
The prophet dwells upon God’s dealing in history, past and future, as a summons to sinners to abandon their iniquity and walk in righteousness.
This description of a literal plague of locusts and its comparison with future judgments is a dramatic and literary gem.
The purpose of Joel’s prophecy is to turn the nation back to God in preparation for the coming great Day of the Lord.
A suggested outline for the book:
The Day of the Lord in retrospect: Past judgment on Judah (chapter 1).
The Day of the Lord in prospect: Future judgment and restoration of Judah (chapters 2-3).