July 10, 2016
Focal Scripture Passage:
To lead students to describe the actions prescribed by Joel in light of the
terrible plague of locusts, and to decide on actions they should take in
response to natural disasters and acts of war or terrorism.
Read the notes on Joel 1 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.
Write the word “Need” on
the marker board or chalkboard. Locate a
of a locust and of the destruction caused by locusts.
(Create Learning Readiness):
Direct the class’ attention to the word “Need”
written on the board. Ask them to suggest definitions for that word. Ask:
“What are our basic needs in life?” (food, water, clothing,
shelter). Tell the class one definition of need is the lack of something
We require food, water, clothing, and shelter to live, but as long as we
have them we are not in a state of need. If we lack those
things we are in need.
Ask: “Have you ever really been in need?”
(probably not). Most of us have always had the basic necessities of life,
so we usually take them for granted. As a matter of fact, in our modern
“rights oriented” society we feel we have a right to food, water, clothing,
and shelter. If a natural disaster or a terrible terrorist attack occurred
we would expect the government and private aid organizations to rush to our
assistance. If they didn’t we would probably complain very loudly.
Ask the class to name some places and
circumstances in which people lack the basic necessities of life (some
examples include some third world countries and survivors of terrible floods
and earthquakes in under developed regions).
Tell the class in today’s lesson we are
going to learn about some people who were in need of some of the basic
necessities of life. We will see how God’s prophet told them to react to
their need, and decide how we should react to needs in our lives.
HEART OF THE LESSON
Review and Introduction to
the Book of Joel.
Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (how our behavior
impacts the way God treats us).
Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory
verse (Hosea 14:4).
Read Joel 1:1.
Briefly introduce the book of Joel using the following outline:
Unlike most of the prophets of
the Bible, Joel did not clearly identify himself or the time in which he
Scholars believe Joel lived
and prophesied in the Southern Kingdom of Judah (locate on the
We believe Joel ministered
about 835-796 b.c.
A Terrible Plague of
Ask a volunteer to read Joel 1:2-3.
Ask: “What did Joel ask in verse 2?” (has anything like this
ever happened before?).
Ask: “What did he tell them to do in verse 3?” (tell their
children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about this unprecedented
Ask: “What do you think this terrible event was?”
Tell the class Joel 1:4, 6-7 describe the disaster. Read
Explain that locust swarms had come through the land and destroyed
all the crops.
Show the class the
of a locust.
Tell them locusts sometimes swarm in tremendous numbers, eating all
the vegetation in sight.
Show the picture of a field of crops destroyed by locusts.
Tell the class as the locusts devour the vegetation the females lay
millions of eggs.
About the time new vegetation begins to appear the worms and
caterpillars hatch out and eat it all. They then mature into full-grown
locusts and eat anything that’s left.
Stress the fact that a locust plague can be utterly devastating.
The Impact of the Locust
Ask: “How do you think such a plague would affect ancient people?”
(they could literally starve to death).
Tell the class if such an event took place today the government would
bring in food from unaffected areas. Grocery suppliers would buy produce
from other countries to make up for the loss.
This was not the case in ancient times when the lives and livelihoods
of the people depended upon raising a crop. A locust plague could mean
terrible suffering or even starvation.
Tell the class the next verses describe some of the specific ways the
locust plague impacted the people.
Read Joel 1:5.
Ask: “Why were the wine drinkers sad?” (there were no grapes
so there would be no new wine).
Read Joel 1:8.
Tell the class the word lament means to weep, wail, and
Ask: “How serious was their mourning?” (like a woman whose
fiancé died just before their wedding).
Ask the class to listen for ways the locust plague impacted different
groups of people, as you read Joel 1:9-13.
Ask: “How did it affect those who wanted to worship the Lord
(verse 9)?” (they could no longer bring their grain and drink
Ask: “How did it affect the farmers (verse 11)?” (they were
ashamed and saddened that they could not provide for the people).
Ask: “How did it affect the priests (verse 13)?” (they
couldn’t fulfill their duties – they were useless to the people).
Joel’s Instructions to the
Tell the class the locust plague in Judah curtailed the peoples’
pleasure (verse 5), their plans for the future (verse 8), and their worship
(verses 9 & 13). There was no state or federal agency to come to their
rescue and the Red Cross was not coming to serve meals.
Ask: “How do you think the people of Joel’s day might have reacted
to this terrible natural disaster?” (with despair or anger).
Explain that the next verse tells what Joel told the people to do.
Ask a volunteer to read Joel 1:14.
Joel told them to do four specific things.
Ask: “What were those four specific instructions?” They
should name the following:
Sanctify a fast,
Call a solemn assembly,
Gather the elders and all the
people to the Lord’s house, and
Cry out to the Lord.
Tell the class when we experience tragedy we often complain and/or
cry out to the government for help.
Joel wisely told the people to humble themselves and cry out to God
for help. He knew that their only hope was in the Lord.
Joel’s Prayer to God.
Tell the class Joel 1:15-20 contain the prayer Joel prayed on
behalf of the people.
Ask the class to listen for the things he prayed as you read those
Explain the following to the class:
Joel recognized God’s hand in
sending the destruction (verse 15).
He described the desperation
of the situation (verses 16-18).
He cried out to God,
acknowledging their utter dependence upon Him (verses 19-20).
Note that he did not brag on
their strength or accomplishments.
Joel never accused God of
He did not seek help from
other men. Joel knew that in light of the recent disaster they were utterly
dependent upon Almighty God.
Read Revelation 3:17 to the class. Ask: “Are we ever guilty of
feeling like we have everything we need, when in reality we are poor and
helpless?” Tell the class proud humans usually feel self-sufficient
until they find themselves in a position of real need. After the terrible
tragedies of September 11, 2001 hundreds of congressmen gathered on the
steps of the U.S. Capital building and sang “God Bless America.” Now some
of those same congressmen would vote against the use of God’s name in any
public setting. Tragedies cause us to think about God and eternity.
Tell the class the prophet Joel wisely
realized that the terrible locust plague was God’s way of bringing the proud
people of Judah to their knees so they would repent of their sins and look
to the Lord for help. When Joel’s people were in desperation he told them
to do four things:
Sanctify a fast.
Call a solemn assembly.
Gather the leaders and
people to God’s house.
Cry out to God.
Ask: “Do you think such a course of
action would have any value in the face of natural disasters or acts of
terrorism today? Why or why not? Is our nation in need of prayer?”
Allow a few moments for the students to
discuss the value of seeking God in times of need, rather than only seeking
help from the government or insurance companies.
Encourage everyone to look for God’s hand in
their life circumstances and to seek Him in times of genuine need. Lead a
Ask everyone to memorize Acts 17:30. Urge them to repent of all
known sin, read their Bible and pray every day, and come to church regularly
to worship God.
The 31st annual South Georgia
Bible Conference begins next Sunday. We will not have Sunday School next
Sunday. Instead, we will go directly to the Worship Center for the
first Bible Conference session at 9:00 a.m. Similarly, we will not have any
4:30 p.m. activities. The Sunday evening session of the Bible Conference
will begin at 5:00 p.m. The remaining sessions of the Bible Conference will
be Monday through Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.