After finishing reading Revelation I contemplated just where to start reading next. Several years ago I decided to read through the Bible chronologically, starting with the New Testament. My intention was to read straight through, each book of the Bible, and wound up taking a 4 year journey into the Word of God. What I thought would be a quick process turned into a lot of soul searching and spiritual growth that has made me love the word of God even more. So, now that the kids and I are working through Genesis I really wanted to start somewhere else in the Old Testament. The Lord led me to study the Minor Prophets, starting with Joel. Here we go...
The first thing I realized was how much of John's Revelation was being spoken of through Joel, as well. We serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. A God who has this all planned out from the beginning, so it is reassuring to us nearsighted sheep to be reminded of this again. The other thing I realized was that there was no opening to the book. It is as if the urgency of the message was so heavy to Joel that he just delves into the prophesy without much introduction or explanation. I often wonder about how, when, and where these prophecies took place in these men's lives. I wonder if anyone believed them. Or if people just thought "There he goes again", "Why does he think God is talking to him?", "Crazy guy!".
But Joel found this worthy to tell not just his listeners, but the coming generations of the great and mighty deeds of God.The land appears to be under attack by locust. I think of how God uses locust elsewhere in scripture as a judgement after warning his children to repent. I think of the "locust" in our culture that are destroying our land. Joel warns these people to "Wake up, you drunkard, and weep!". It is as if these people are oblivious to what is happening right under their noses. But as they ignore it, God makes it unavoidably obvious to them. Causing the locust to be so great in number that they destroy all that is before them; the crops of wheat and barley, the fruit trees and crops of the field. They are so many in number that they are compared to charging warriors, scaling the walls like soldiers, rushing upon the city, climbing into the houses like thieves through the windows. And it is the Lord that thunders at the head of his army. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?
But what is the Lord's intent with this attack? It is to turn His people, His called and chosen people, back to Him. To rend their hearts, and not their garments. His desire is that they would return to God with all their hearts, with fasting and weeping and mourning over their sins. For God is gracious, and slow to anger and abounding in love for His people. For it is not God's desire to harm His people, but neither will He contend with being made a mockery of. His righteousness and justice go before Him.
When the people do repent, God will once again be jealous for His land and take pity on His people. He will open the floodgates and pour out on them Himself and His blessings. God will make all things right through His judgement. And the people of God will praise His name, for He has worked wonders. He will be a refuge and a stronghold for His people.
Multitudes, multitudes are in the valley of decision! Choose this day whom you will serve. Being indifferent is a choice. Either be hot or cold. For the day of the Lord is near.