Adult Sunday School Lesson Plan


Lesson Date: July 10, 2016

Focal Scripture Passage: Joel 1:1-20

AIM: 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.


Before class: 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 picture of a locust and of the destruction caused by locusts.


INTRODUCTION (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 required.[1]  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.



1.      Review and Introduction to the Book of Joel.

a.       Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (how our behavior impacts the way God treats us).

b.      Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (Hosea 14:4).

c.       Read Joel 1:1.

d.      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 ministered.

·         Scholars believe Joel lived and prophesied in the Southern Kingdom of Judah (locate on the map).

·         We believe Joel ministered about 835-796 b.c.

2.      A Terrible Plague of Locusts.

a.       Ask a volunteer to read Joel 1:2-3

b.      Ask: “What did Joel ask in verse 2?” (has anything like this ever happened before?). 

c.       Ask: “What did he tell them to do in verse 3?” (tell their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about this unprecedented event). 

d.      Ask: “What do you think this terrible event was?” 

e.       Tell the class Joel 1:4, 6-7 describe the disaster.  Read those verses.

f.       Explain that locust swarms had come through the land and destroyed all the crops. 

g.      Show the class the picture of a locust.

h.      Tell them locusts sometimes swarm in tremendous numbers, eating all the vegetation in sight. 

i.        Show the picture of a field of crops destroyed by locusts.

j.        Tell the class as the locusts devour the vegetation the females lay millions of eggs. 

k.      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. 

l.        Stress the fact that a locust plague can be utterly devastating.

3.      The Impact of the Locust Plague.

a.       Ask: “How do you think such a plague would affect ancient people?” (they could literally starve to death). 

b.      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. 

c.       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.

d.      Tell the class the next verses describe some of the specific ways the locust plague impacted the people. 

e.       Read Joel 1:5

f.       Ask: “Why were the wine drinkers sad?” (there were no grapes so there would be no new wine). 

g.      Read Joel 1:8

h.      Tell the class the word lament means to weep, wail, and mourn. 

i.        Ask: “How serious was their mourning?” (like a woman whose fiancé died just before their wedding). 

j.        Ask the class to listen for ways the locust plague impacted different groups of people, as you read Joel 1:9-13

k.      Ask: “How did it affect those who wanted to worship the Lord (verse 9)?” (they could no longer bring their grain and drink offerings). 

l.        Ask: “How did it affect the farmers (verse 11)?” (they were ashamed and saddened that they could not provide for the people). 

m.    Ask: “How did it affect the priests (verse 13)?” (they couldn’t fulfill their duties – they were useless to the people).

4.      Joel’s Instructions to the People.

a.       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.

b.      Ask: “How do you think the people of Joel’s day might have reacted to this terrible natural disaster?” (with despair or anger). 

c.       Explain that the next verse tells what Joel told the people to do. 

d.      Ask a volunteer to read Joel 1:14

e.       Joel told them to do four specific things. 

f.       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. 

g.      Tell the class when we experience tragedy we often complain and/or cry out to the government for help. 

h.      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.

5.      Joel’s Prayer to God.

a.       Tell the class Joel 1:15-20 contain the prayer Joel prayed on behalf of the people. 

b.      Ask the class to listen for the things he prayed as you read those verses. 

c.       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 being unfair.

·         He did not seek help from other men.  Joel knew that in light of the recent disaster they were utterly dependent upon Almighty God.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: 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:

1.      Sanctify a fast.

2.      Call a solemn assembly.

3.      Gather the leaders and people to God’s house.

4.      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 closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: 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. 


[1] Unabridged (v 1.1), Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.



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