As every generation ages they begin to tell the next generation of their hard times. These statements often start with, "When I was a kid, we had to………" and then fill in the blank. These tales include life under stricter rules, the kind of food they ate, the walk to school, climate – including walking to school in four feet of snow). If all this were true, ever generation would have it easier and easier. Yet we don't find that true.
The prophet Joel reverses this idea. He, in effect says, "It's bad now, but its nothing compared to what's coming!" Joel acknowledges that what these folks are going through is a judgment. It is in fact a Day of the Lord they were experiencing. Joel then transitions to the vision of another Day of the Lord. The vision is very graphic; and a picture of what we might call apocalyptic. Then there is another transition where it becomes clear; this picture that is painted is a prediction of The Day of the Lord that will then usher in a material, spiritual and national restoration. Warren Wiersbe describes these three phases as the immediate Day of the Lord, immenent Day of the Lord and ultimate Day of the Lord.
While we don't know too much about Joel, we know he prophecied to the southern Kingdom some time around 835 B.C. which is before the Northern kingdom had fallen. This makes the book of Joel one of the earliest written prophetic words. The southern Kingdom of Judah was in extreme spiritual turmoil; the pagan prophets said, "All is well" while the prophets of God called for repentance because judgment was coming!
Ahaziah, the king of Judah, was in the northern kingdom with Joram, king of Israel, when God began to bring judgment against the northern Kingdom by the hand of Jehu. After Joram was killed Ahaziah made a run for it but was also killed by Jehu's men (2 Kings 8:26).
At Ahaziah's death, the Queen Mother Athaliah, saw this as an opportnity to grab the throne. She was the granddaughter of Omri; whichh makes her daughter of Ahab or neice to Ahab. She was a wicked women resembling Jezebel more than anyone. She raised her son Amaziah in wickedness. The first thing she did after his death was to kill all those who had a rightful claim to the throne. This would have been her grandsons. This evil act was an assault on the Davidic line and it was almost successful ……almost. God preserved the young child Joash by the loving protection of Joram's sister and the priest Jehoida.
While Athaliah reigned for six years this child began to grow up. Meanwhile, Athaliah unleashed her sons to do evil in the land including desecrating the temple and its sacred things (2 Chronicles 24:7). Her six-year reign ended in 835 B.C. when Jehoida overthrew her and set Joash on the throne of Judah as a seven-year old.
If this date is accurate and the estimation of Joel's ministry is acurate, then we can see this immediate Day of the Lord had come by the wickedness of Athaliah. In this day we are about to study, people were living their lives while wickedness on the throne had become normal. They were very spiritual people, worshiping God in the wrong way as well as worshiping other gods. Economically they were somewhat prosperous. Militarily they were plagued by Syria.