T appears that Joel wrote this prophecy in response to a great plague of locusts (Joel 1:2 & 4), which was accompanied by a drought and by wildfires (Joel 1:19-20). It was a time of famine in Palestine. It should have been no surprise. Moses had forewarned the Jews about such things (Deuteronomy 28:15, 16, 37-39). Their disobedience was sure to remove God's blessings and to bring many curses instead. And, the curse which Joel lived through was bad enough that he felt the need to write about it. Yet, as he wrote concerning the happenings of his own day, God lifted his eyes deep into the future to see the great and final day of God's judgment (Joel 1:15). For example, the actual locusts in Joel 1:6-7 must surely be a harbinger of the demonic locusts of Revelation 9:1-11.
The exact when and where of Joel's prophecies is not clear, but in a way, it doesn't really matter. His experience points not only to a day that we must all consider, but also to principles that are universal. As I've already mentioned, Joel spoke of the Day of the Lord, or of Judgment Day. But we are not there yet. However, the things we think, say and do now are related to the coming judgment of God. Notice that Joel claimed that the agricultural troubles of his day were a result of the lack of joy in the population (Joel 1:12). This is a very deep observation. The people were without joy for the same reason that any man lacks joy. The absence of joy is an indication of an absence of two crucial life ingredients: humility and gratitude.