Yahweh is God

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Joel Introduction July Devotions – Series on Joel

Joel is one of the minor prophets, who wrote during the days of King Joash. We need a little background: The young king ascended the throne at the age of seven and reigned over Judah (2 Chronicles 24) for nearly 40 years. His reign was marked by the restoration of Solomon’s temple, begun by Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada played a significant role in the young king’s life, making a covenant “that he and the people and the king would be the Lord’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). It is no surprise, therefore, that ”Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (2 Kings 12:2). However, once Jehoiada died, Joash was swayed by the homage of officials in his kingdom. Together they abandoned the temple to worship Asherah poles and idols. The spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah, grandson of Jehoiada, (2 Chronicles 24:20), who then warned the people of their sin against God. How terrible to read that “by order of the King [Joash] they stoned him to death” (:21). One needs to be careful whom we chose as friends; sadly Joash was murdered by the very people he thought he could trust (:25).

It is here that Joel enters the picture. The kingdom was facing severe drought and famine from the invasion of locusts, which Joel recognized was a punishment from the Lord. God sent him as a messenger to the Judeans, summarizing the desolation both physical and spiritual, which He allowed to destroy the land. There are some strong words used in chapter one. God is actually calling the people to Himself (1:14), but first they will weep and wail, mourning for all they had lost (1:8). This event is recorded so that their children would not forget what the wrath of God looks like (1:3). “Surely the joy of mankind has withered away” (1:12).

There is pain in this prophecy. The suffering will be universal – cattle moan! Sheep suffer; is there spiritual symbolism here that God’s sheep [Israelites] will suffer? Joy and gladness have been cut off from the house of God (1:16). Wild animals pant for water. The Lord cries out “Alas!” (1:15). He takes no pleasure in the destruction of His people. The day of the Lord is near, He says. That day is further described throughout Joel’s prophecy. For the moment we must see how it grieves the heart of our Heavenly Father to execute punishment of this magnitude.

There is a lesson to be learned here. God is holding Himself true to His covenant of love. Is His anger an expression of love? When anyone goes down a destructive path, is it loving to let them continue, or should we attempt to help them make changes for the better? Paul instructed the Galatians “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him/her gently” (Galatians 6:1). The key word “restore” interfaces with confrontation of evil.

Joel’s message is to everyone who lives in the land of Judah, first and foremost to the elders, the leaders of the people (1:2). Remember Israel formed the northern kingdom which separated from Judah, made up of Benjamin and Judah. They remained faithful to their God many more years than Israel, but now – Listen up! God snatched the wine from their lips. That which their pleasures centered upon has been taken away. Their drunkenness made God’s land vulnerable to invasion (1:5-6). Therefore God allowed His vines and fig trees to be ruined, laid waste!

The people have forgotten they are stewards of God’s property. Therefore they are not worthy of spiritual privileges. Why should they sacrifice and worship the God their lifestyle has rejected? What is the point of going through the motions?


In order to get their attention God had to do something spectacular, among His people. He asked “Has anything like this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your forefathers?” (1:2). The answer, of course, was ‘No’. This plague was unique in Judah. Would it be fair to ask if God had to repeat this method of getting man’s attention, down through eons of time? What about today? Have we misunderstood the character of God by ignoring His justice, by focusing on Him only as a God of love?

It is hugely important for us to recognize the sacred privileges we have of worshiping the God who is HOLY (1:14). Only when our hearts are right with God, when His purity reigns in our hearts, can we worship Him in spirit and in truth. Therefore Joel is commissioned to “declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly….and cry out to the Lord” (1:14)

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