Book of Joel
God, the author of the universe, often speaks to his people through his prophets. Such words are initially given orally and since God continues to speak to subsequent generation in words that were written many centuries ago, we can gleam some understanding of God’s focus by looking at the original circumstance of delivery.
Evidently little is known about Joel, apart from the name of his father Pethuel. The name “Joel” means Yahweh is God. From a historical perspective, the book of Joel is difficult to date. Joel’s prophecies focus on the “word of the Lord” that comes as a warning, the day of the Lord which comes with the promise of restoration and finally the fulfillment of God’s promise to Judah and Jerusalem and judgment for the world.
Notice that Chapter 1 begins with an invasion of locusts. Although Joel offers several names for locust including swarm, great locusts, young locusts and other locusts, the real focus is on the volume of locusts. This invasion leads to a disaster that takes wine, grain, fig trees, and other living things down. This inevitably leads to misery and is a sign of a coming judgment, in which the Lord will devastate his people. This promise of devastation and darkness prompts a question: why? Evidently this disaster is intended to move a complacent people to repentance. The Lord’s calls his people, to declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly and summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord (1: 13-14).
The Lord puts the people on notice that this oncoming disaster is his doing. The question becomes, how should the people respond? Perhaps God is providing Judah with an opportunity to reexamine the source of both prosperity and downfall. Perhaps it is time for the people to discover their provider and shake off their dependence on comfort.
“Alas for that Day! For the Day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.” ~ Joel 1:15
Questions to ponder:
- Are you ever tempted to trust in your current circumstances?
- Were your ever tempted to trust in your past circumstances as the source of your strength and your future?
- In a world that appears to be filled with increasing levels of uncertainty reinforced by the possibility of natural and man-made disasters, is it difficult for you to trust in God’s provision despite the circumstances you and the entire world face?