Often the Old Testament is overlooked in favour of the gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ. In dialogue with my grandson recently I was thrilled to learn he has become aware of the necessity of grounding ourselves in the teachings of the Old Testament. As well as disregarding the First Covenantal book, we often attempt to distinguish which are the “important” books of scripture, failing to recognize that each book has been written for the express purpose of teaching us to know and understand the heart and mind of our great and glorious God! With this in mind let us review what Joel has to teach us.
The Jews have been chosen as God’s representatives here on earth. Sadly they failed to appreciate the privilege of participating with God in His saving purpose for all humankind. God’s patience was tried from generation to generation until promised judgment finally fell upon His chosen people (Joel 1). Great suffering resulted, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Great witnesses came and went – Elijah, Obadiah and now Joel were sent by God to purify His people. It is worth noting Joel’s description of God. In Chapter 2:11 we find Him coming as the thundering leader of a great army – numberless, mighty forces who obey His commands! His purpose? “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God!” (2:27).
This God is described as jealous (2:18), vigilant over the nation He calls His own. Protective, pitying their weaknesses, God’s great heart of compassion can be seen; He has been slow to express His anger at their folly, demonstrating His love and grace repeatedly throughout centuries of time (2:13, 18).
How blessed we are to live in the age Joel prophesied would come when God pours out His Spirit upon all people – Jew and Gentile alike, whomever responds to His love (2:28). Paul writes about this: “For we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Apostle Peter preached from Joel’s book on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Peter concludes “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Joel reminds us that our God is determined to be our refuge, a stronghold in the day of trouble (3:16). Trouble assuredly will come, but God chooses to restore the years the locusts have eaten (2:25). This is the God we know to have been so merciful to us day by day, as we take three steps forward and two steps back! One day He will judge the nations (3:2), but in the end Sovereign God will dwell in Zion (3:21)….and there will be peace on His Holy hill, in Jerusalem (3:17).
The question Joel raises for you and me today is whether or not we have believed and received God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Will we participate in this peaceful coexistence with God, or have we just been spectators at the game of life?
“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!
May the fire of our devotion light the way.
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,
And the lives, we live inspire them to obey”
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)