March 26, 2023
The reading this week was Joel, Amos, and Obadiah. These are 3 of the 12 minor prophets and remember they are called minor prophets because their book is short.
These prophets, along with the other minor and major prophets, warn the people of Israel about God’s judgement because of their sin. They talk about the type of sin and the type of judgement God has for them as well as a call to repentance because God does not want to punish them. They end with a promise of deliverance.
The sin: The only sin that Joel mentions in his book is drunkenness. According to the commentaries, this implies a time of indulgence. Chapter 1:5 says, “Wake up you drunkards, and weep! Wail all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lip.”
The judgement: Joel sees in his vision great destruction in the land from locusts. Joel 1:4 says, “What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locust have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.” These locusts have brought about devastation to the land. Joel 1:7 says, “It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.” Joel 1: 10 and 12 say, “The fields are ruined, the ground dried up, the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails…grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree-all the trees of the field are dried up.”
As in other prophecy such as Isaiah, the prophecy is about something that will happen soon, and about something that will be fulfilled in the future. Here, Joel sees the destruction of Israel by Assyria, and sees in the far distant future and talks about the judgement at the end of time. He talks about the “day of the LORD.” Joel 2:1 says, “Bow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.”
The call to repentance (meaning sincere regret or remorse): Joel 1:13-14 says, “Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the leaders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”
Returning to the LORD: Joel says in 2:12-13, “Even now, declares the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD you God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” In Joel 3:14, God says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” This decision is the one God will make about us at the end of time.
The deliverance or restoration: After we return to the LORD, we are restored. Joel 2:25-26 says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.” Then in Joel 2:28-32, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”
How does all of this relate to us today?
Joel and the other prophets were talking to Israel about repenting from their sin and returning to the LORD. Since that time, Jesus has come and the way we come to the LORD looks different but has the same principles.
Like the Israelites, we have all messed up in some way or another and sinned against God. Romans 3:23 says, “For we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Because of that sin, there is judgement. Romans 6:23 says, “…For the wages of sin is death;” This is not only physical death, but spiritual death too. In order to prevent this eternal death, God calls us to repentance. Mark 1:15 says, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The deliverance comes once we repent or our sins and accept Jesus as our LORD and Savior. Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” God did something amazing when he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. “
Are you ready to be delivered? I posted a prayer last week if you want the salvation that only the Lord can give. Follow the steps above, pray and ask forgiveness of your sins, ask the Lord into your life and you will be saved.
Next week we will read Jonah, Micah, and Nahum. Have a blessed week.