Joel, Micah, & Zephaniah Study – Spreading the Faith
List as much as you can, about the issues implied or expressed in the following biblical passages, as you write out answers to the following questions. These questions are designed to guide you into an increased awareness of the message of the prophet being studied. Be precise. Seek to avoid using overworked words like share and relationship.
In the opinion of this author, the more effort you put into finding the answers on your own, before you consult the answers section of this booklet, the greater will be the blessing you realize from these studies.
Most of the answers will not require more information than is supplied in the Biblical passage being studied; but word dictionaries, dictionaries of theology, and commentaries will at times be a source of enlightenment with which to surround the precise answer.
Using a King James Version of the Bible, if you don’t have an interlinear, will give you theological consistency to a good extent. Where a literal reading of the text is required to answer the questions, the New American Standard Bible is the one being used as the basis for the question because of its reasonable fidelity to the Hebrew text. Be sure to note its marginal readings.
Such popular editions of the Bible as The New English and New International will make the questions almost impossible to answer because of the interpretive element incorporated into the translation process used by such versions.
Be prepared to support your answers by showing the relationship between the various portions of a text or passage.
You should also be prepared to support your answers from Ellen White’s materials.
As a student you should always seek to be able to show from the Scripture being studied the Biblical accuracy of the Spirit of Prophecy material you cite.
To always ask, “Is it true?” of the Ellen White material makes a good Bible Student. Such as question does not need to be irreverent; it does not even need to imply a doubt as to the reliability of the Spirit of Prophecy. To be able to defend one’s faith is to be able to share it. We may even gain a great respect for the theological keenness of the Spirit of Prophecy works as we seek to define the relation between various theological statements and Biblical passages.
Perhaps we need to be reminded again that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians, not because they believed their instructor (the Apostle Paul) but because they studied to see if what Paul said was true (of Acts 17:11).
Throughout the course of this study be prepared in class to disprove this author’s positions by showing from EGW that the Spirit of Prophecy quotes used in this lesson booklet in support are misapplied, or that the quotations presented are properly presented, by using other Spirit of Prophecy material you have read; be prepared to do the same with the Biblical texts cited.
“Allow no one to be brains for you, allow no one to do your thinking, your investigating, and your praying. . . . You know that no earthly treasure is attainable without painstaking effort. Why should you expect to understand the treasures of the word of God without diligently searching the Scriptures?” Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 307.
The effort to understand the Scriptures is worthwhile for Scripture says, “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Ps. 107:20.
“If you rest your faith only on the minister’s word, you will be lost.” Ellen G. White, Present Truth and Review & Herald Articles, vol. 2, p. 335.
“Wycliffe was one of the greatest of the Reformers. In breadth of intellect, in clearness of thought, in firmness to maintain the truth, and in boldness to defend it, he was equaled by few who came after him. Purity of life, unwearying diligence in study and in labor, incorruptible integrity, and Christlike love and faithfulness in his ministry, characterized the first of the Reformers. And this notwithstanding the intellectual darkness and moral corruption of the age from which he emerged.
“The character of Wycliffe is a testimony to the educating, transforming power of the Holy Scriptures. It was the Bible that made him what he was. The effort to grasp the great truths of revelation imparts freshness and vigor to all the faculties. It expands the mind, sharpens the perceptions, and ripens the judgment. The study of the Bible will ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration as no other study can. It gives stability of purpose, patience, courage, and fortitude; it refines the character and sanctifies the soul. An earnest, reverent study of the scripture, bringing the mind of the student in direct contact with the infinite mind, would give to the world men of stronger and more active intellect, as well as of nobler principles. . . . “The entrance of Thy words,’ says the Psalmist, ‘giveth light; it giveth understanding.’ Psalm 119:130.” Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 94.
INTRODUCTION TO JOEL
All we know of Joel, the man for whom this biblical book is named, is that he is the son of a man named Pethual. The book bearing his name tells us nothing more about him, or about his father.
Ellen White, as far as I have found, is also silent about the man Joel, though she often quotes from the book of Joel.
This means we know almost nothing about the time Joel does his writing, or even the time when he lived. We do not even know to which period, or periods, of history he understood his prophecies were intended to apply. He was obviously an Old Testament personality, and, if the minor prophets are arranged in the Scriptures chronologically, he may have worked with Hosea and Amos.
There is no agreement among scholars as to the answers to the questions raised by Joel’s silences; however, it is clear that the message of Joel concerns Judah and Jerusalem, and the day of the Lord.
The basic issue that confronts us, as we seek to study the message Joel’s book presents us, is whether the three chapters of the book (four in the Hebrew Bible) are to be considered as a prophecy, or whether chapters one and two are to be considered as a description of events which have already occurred, with only chapter three being a prophecy.
While either choice is apparently open to us, we side with those scholars who have expressed the opinion that all the chapters in Joel are prophecies.
However, as is often noted, “whichever interpretation is adopted, the eschatological teachings of the book remain the same. Joel is focusing on the great day of the Lord. . . .“ Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p.940.
The difference in the historical-prophetic and the completely-prophetic viewpoints that is seen is that the primary application of Joel’s message about the certainty of coming judgment and the necessity of proper preparation if one is not to suffer great loss in the day of the Lord, this primary application is made to a time and events other than the time of Joel in the completely-prophetic viewpoint.
To put it concisely, if Joel’s book is a prophecy, it was not for this time – as Daniel’s book was not for his time.
The viewpoint we are going to follow here, that the book of Joel is completely a prophecy, means that for this study we will look at the Old Testament messages which appear in Joel’s book first; then we will look at their New Testament eschatology application, as found in the Spirit of Prophecy works. That is we will seek the eschatology of Joel that Ellen White sets forth by the contexts in which she sets her quotations from the book of Joel.
Perhaps we should note that this methodology is different than what we will be doing as we study Micah and Zephaniah, for among the Old Testament books, the book of Joel is unique.
(Note: A brief study to provide clarification of the concepts “Old Testament Eschatology” versus “New Testament Eschatology,” referred to above, appears in this booklet under Micah 4, “Introduction.” You may read that material at this time if you desire.)