Today is Day 68 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
We are 3 weeks away from finishing THE WHOLE BIBLE…and we haven’t even started the New Testament yet!
Joel is short and sweet (not the man, but his book) – only 3 [hard-hitting, in-your-face] chapters.
One thing I’ve talked about in previous blogs is about how the books of the Bible are not all chronologically in order. For the most part, they chronological within their genre, but the genres are not chronological. For instance, Hosea and Joel as well as the next few minor prophets take us back in time before the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel). They refer back to a time when Israel and Judah, although divided, were still living in their own land.
Hopefully that jogs your memory enough to help you picture the setting – Israel serving other gods, turning their back on the Lord, and storing up for themselves God’s wrath. No wonder, through the prophet Hosea, God refers to His people as a cheating wife!
The book of Joel is mainly focused on a future event (still future for us, as well) that he calls “the day of the Lord.” You’ll find that phrase 5 times in just 3 chapters. Joel gives a powerful presentation about how world history will eventually culminate in Christ – it’s ALL about Him and His coming day.
Joel is believed to have lived during the reign of King Joash, which means that his book is one of the earliest of the writing prophets. Right before he wrote the book, severe plagues of locusts had come through Judah and left them completely devastated. That’s why he says things like…
Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. – Joel 1:2-4
Judah was completely devastated. No one had seen anything like it in their day. It was a perfect way to describe the coming devastation of “the day of the Lord” when God’s judgment is poured out on the earth.
Not only did Joel tell people that judgment was coming, but he called them to repentance…
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. – Joel 2:12-13
Joel’s call to repentance is a good picture of how the Lord works. He takes no pleasure in punishing or afflicting pain on His people, but He does is because His love for us demands it. God’s best for us is repentance and obedience, and like Joel 2:13 said, God wants us to rend our hearts, not our garments. He doesn’t want just the outward signs of mourning and repentance, but He wants the internal change because that’s what really matters.
The day of the Lord is still a future event for us as well, so we need to be ready. Do you recognize that all of world history will one day culminate in Jesus Christ? Have you rent your heart in repentance and preparation for that day? Today is the day to get back to where you need to be with the Lord and prepare people for what lies ahead!