Joel 1 & 2
The picture is not a pretty one. “A nation has come up against My land…strong and without number…it has laid waste to My vine and ruined My fig tree” (Joel 1:6-7). This is the word of the Lord God Almighty. Why did He not stop this attack? Why would He allow something that grieved Him at His very heart? Worship had ceased – actually all those things necessary for sacrifice had been “cut off”. Priests mourned, and joy had withered away from the hearts of the people (1:9 & 12).
There is an explanation. This is destruction brought about by God Himself. Isn’t it interesting to note that the great heart of our God grieves, as does any parent’s heart when discipline has to be applied? This didn’t happen without warning. The chewing locust had come. Little by little their faith had been whittled away. Now “Rend your heart and not your garments” (2:13) cries the heart of God. Do not bring destruction upon yourselves.
What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. Apparently Judah was having trouble reading the results of Israel’s apostasy. You may remember that the nation of Israel was split in two when Solomon died (1 Kings 12). Israel’s leadership had been corrupt for years, so judgment fell on them first. Was it possible that evil was infiltrating from this brother nation into Judah? Now years of disobedience and rebellious leadership threatened the peace of their land, actually God’s land (1:6). They would be held accountable for what they did with that land.
What the swarming locust left the crawling locust attacked. What was left at this point? For one thing the people needed to turn to God with fasting, weeping and mourning over their sins. At this early stage in the history of prophecy, what exactly were those sins? Twice God called the people to consecrate a fast. Had they not been fasting? Had they only been going through the motions? Was consecration required as a testimony to the meaning fasting held? God calls the priests to lament and wail (1:13); all the elders are to come together (1:14), to cry out for mercy from the Lord. Might we assume there was spiritual disease among the leaders? First their hearts must be in tune with God before they were ready for “The Day of the Lord (which is near)” (1:15).
With the consuming locusts waiting for what the crawling locusts had left, God warns of an invading army. That army will destroy everything, with strength such as has never been seen before (2:2). Thick darkness and gloom; flaming fire will leave the land desolate and the people trembling, writhing in fear. Even the earth will quake and the cosmos will grow dark. Chapter 2 describes the terrors of the Day of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be cut off from the house of God (1:16).
Considering the fears rampant in our world today, can we relate to this picture of global distress? Do we grieve?
What do we read about the character of our God in these two chapters that might bring us hope?
Are we brave enough to blow the trumpet in our world today – to sound a warning? (2:1)
by Marilyn Daniel (MarilynDaniels.net)