Resources on Joel
Commentaries, Sermons, Illustrations, Devotionals
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J N Darby
S R Driver
|Joel 1 Commentary
Joel 2 Commentary
Joel 3 Commentary
|Joel 1 Commentary
Joel 2 Commentary
Joel 3 Commentary
Charles Ellicott for English Readers
|Israelology: Part 1 of 6 Introduction: Definition of Terms
Israelology: Part 2 of 6 Israel Present (Note: Article begins on Page 2) (
Israelology: Part 3 of 6 Israel Present (Continued) (
Israelology: Part 4 of 6 - Israel Future (Part One)
Israelology: Part 5 of 6 - Israel Future (Part Two)
Israelology: Part 6 of 6 Other Relevant Topics - Illustrations of Israel (including marriage)
I. The Plague of Locusts
Joel 1:1-4 The Prophet's Appeal
Joel 1:5-7 The Call to the Drunkards
Joel 1:8-14 The Call to the People and the Priests
Joel 1:15-18 The Day of the Lord; The Suffering Land
Joel 1:19-20 The Prayer of the Prophet
II. The Coming Day of the Lord; The Ruin; The Repentance and the Restoration
Joel 2:1-2 The Alarm Sounded; The Day at Hand
Joel 2:3-11 The Invading Army from the North
Joel 2:12-17 The Repentance of the People and Cry for Help
Joel 2:18 "Then" The Great Change
Joel 2:19-27 Promises of Restoration. The Early and Latter Rain
Joel 2:28-31 The Outpouring of the Spirit Upon All Flesh
Joel 2:32 Deliverance in Mount Zion and Jerusalem
III. The Events of the Day of the Lord; Israel's Enemies Judged; The Kingdom Established.
Joel 3:1-8 The Judgment of the Nations
Joel 3:9-16 The Preceding Warfare of the Nations and How it Ends
Joel 3:17-21 Jehovah in the Midst of His People
A C Gaebelein
Comment on this Commentary: John Gill unfortunately all too often offers a non-literal interpretation in the Old Testament (especially the prophetic books) as shown in the following example from Joel 3:17 where Gill interprets "Jerusalem will be holy" as "not Jerusalem literally...but rather the church of God everywhere consisting of holy persons". Yet there is nothing in the context that allows for the spiritualizing Jerusalem. The interpretation as a literal city is clear from the context. Comments of this ilk can be very misleading and cause one to completely miss God's the intended meaning of the passage being studied! John Calvin, Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke are among a number of older commentators who exhibit a similar propensity to identify OT references to the literal nation of Israel as references to the New Testament church. Jamieson's commentary is generally more literal (see his notes on 3:17) These commentaries have some good material (e.g., Gill does occasionally inject interesting comments by Jewish writers) but clearly must be approached with a Berean mindset (Acts 17:11-note). The best rule to apply in the interpretation of the OT (especially the prophetic) passages is to remember the maxim that if the plain sense of the text (the literal sense) makes good sense in context, seek to make no other sense lest it turn out to be nonsense!
|James Rosscup writes "This 1858 work supplies much help on matters of the text, word meaning, resolving some problems, etc. Some have found it one of the most contributive sources in getting at what a text means." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works)|
Comment on this Commentary: Matthew Henry's comments on the OT like John Gill's (and like Adam Clarke's and John Calvin's) are not always literal (see preceding discussion). For example, his interpretation of "Jerusalem will be holy" (Joel 3:17) is that "The saints are the Israel of God; they are his people; the church is his Jerusalem". To make the beloved literal holy city of God "the church" is nonsense and makes the text almost impossible to comprehend (See Tony Garland's article - Rise of Allegorical Interpretation). So why is Henry even listed? Matthew Henry is included because he often has very practical, poignant devotional thoughts and/or pithy points of application. But "Caveat emptor!" ( See Related Resources : Millennium and the Israel of God)
Joel 1 Critical Notes - Scroll down for Topics Listed Below
Joel 1:1-4 God's Message Demands Earnest Attention
Joel 1:4, 6, 7 National Calamities
Joel 1:5 A Solemn Warning to Drunkards
Joel 1:8-10 National Lamentation
Joel 1:8-9 A Cast Off People
Joel 1:11, 12 Disappointed Husbandmen
Joel 1:13, 14 Ministries of the Sanctuary An Example of Penitence & Piety in the Day of Calamity
Joel 1:15 The Terrible Day
Joel 1:16-18 Great National Calamities
Joel 1:19, 20 Stupidity in National Calamities Reproved by Brutes & Good Men
Joel 1 Illustrations to Chapter 1
Joel 2 Critical Notes - Scroll down for Topics Listed Below
Joel 2:1 Alarm in Zion
Joel 2:2, 11 The Dark Day
Joel 2:4-11 The Army of the LORD
Joel 2:12-14 Space for Personal Repentance
Joel 2:15-17 A Call to Public Repentance
Joel 2:18-20 Restoration of Lost Blessings
Joel 2:21-27 The Great Things of God
Joel 2:28-32 The New Dispensation
Joel 2 Illustrations to Chapter 2
Joel 3 Critical Notes - Scroll down for Topics Listed Below
Joel 3:1-3 Punishment on the Persecutors of God's People
Joel 3:4-8 Righteous Recompense
Joel 3:9-12 The Holy War
Joel 3:13-16 The Terrible Overthrow
Joel 3:17 The Unprofaned City
Joel 3:18-21 The New World
Joel 3:1-21 The Final Scene
Joel 3 Illustrations to Chapter 3
Break, Day of God, Oh Break
The Day of the Lord Is at Hand
Sound the Alarm!
By Precepts Taught of Ages Past
Good It Is to Keep the Fast
Once More the Solemn Season Calls
Rejoice, O Land, in God Thy Might
Don’t Lose the Vision
Holy Ghost, with Light Divine
Joy! Because the Circling Year
Winter Reigns O’er Many a Region
When the Gospel Race Is Run
H A Ironside
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
SEE UNABRIDGED VERSION BELOW
S Lewis Johnson
Keil & Delitzsch
Comment on this Commentary: While Keil and Delitzsch generally (in my opinion) interpret the text literally, unfortunately they also occasionally spiritualize the text as attested by their comments on Joel 3:17, 18, 19...
To the contrary, there is nothing in the text or context of Joel 3:17-19 which warrants spiritualization or typological interpretation because the plain (normative) reading of the name Jerusalem (Zion) dictates that it is most logically (literally) interpreted as a literal city and it is this literal city which will be the future dwelling place of the LORD (Joel 3:17). To be sure, the "hills will drip with sweet wine" is figurative language, but remember that even figurative language has a literal meaning and in this context this description speaks of the extreme fertility of the land that will follow the Lord's return (Joel 3:16). When one begins to spiritualize God's Word, the range of interpretations is limitless as illustrated in the previous paragraph. Literal interpretation is always the safest road to accurate interpretation. Remember that commentaries (even those that are conservative and literal) should be secondary resources. It is always best to first make your own observations of the Scriptures and arrive at your own interpretation (see Inductive Bible Study) before consulting the commentaries. In so doing, you will be better prepared to "comment on the commentaries"! (See Consult Conservative Commentaries)
Arno Gaebelein (who wrote in the early 1900's) is an excellent expositor of the prophetic books because he assiduously adheres to the literal approach to interpretation. Compare his comments on the same passage (Joel 3:17, 18, 19)...
James Rosscup writes that "This (Keil and Delitzsch) is the best older, overall treatment of a critical nature on the Old Testament Hebrew text verse by verse and is a good standard work to buy. The student can buy parts or the whole of this series. Sometimes it is evangelical, at other times liberal ideas enter." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works)
J Vernon McGee
F B Meyer
Net Bible Notes
Our Daily Bread
Joel 1 Commentary - Scroll down for homilies
Joel 2 Commentary - Scroll down for homilies
Joel 3 Commentary - Scroll down for homilies
Edward B Pusey
James Rosscup writes "This work originally appeared in 1860. The present publication is set up in two columns to the page with the text of the Authorized Version reproduced at the top. Scripture references, Hebrew words, and other citations are relegated to the bottom of the page. The work is detailed and analytical in nature. Introduction, background and explanation of the Hebrew are quite helpful. Pusey holds to the grammatical-historical type of interpretation until he gets into sections dealing with the future of Israel, and here Israel becomes the church in the amillennial vein." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works)
C I Scofield
NOTE: If you are not familiar with the great saint Charles Simeon see Dr John Piper's discussion of Simeon's life - you will want to read Simeon's sermons after meeting him! - click Brothers We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering (Mp3 even better)
Charles Simeon lived from 1759-1836 and was an excellent, conservative expositor - notice that he interprets despite preaching in the 1800's, he still interpreted the Millennium as the Millennium!
Read his literal interpretation - "THE return of the Jews to their own land at some future period seems to be predicted so plainly (Ed: What a contrast with many modern commentators who seem to find this interpretation enigmatic and confusing, primarily because they have replaced Israel with the Church! ) and so frequently, that no reasonable doubt can be entertained respecting it. As for their future conversion to the faith of Christ, that is absolutely certain. But previous to their final settlement in their own land, there will be a violent contest with them in Palestine: but their enemies will be defeated with great slaughter: and after that will the long-wished-for period arrive, when all, both Jews and Gentiles, shall turn unto the Lord, and all “become one fold, under one Shepherd.”" (Excerpt from "The Millennium") ( See Related Resources : Millennium and the Israel of God)
|Joel 2:11-14 Repentance Urged
Joel 2:26 Removal of Judgments a Ground of Praise
Joel 2:28-32 Signs of the Messiah's Advent
Joel 3:13 The Final Judgment Represented by the Harvest
Joel 3:18 The Millennium
THE FOLLOWING ARE FULL EXPOSITIONAL MESSAGES
THE FOLLOWING ARE SERMON NOTES IN OUTLINE FORM
George A Smith
James Rosscup writes "Though old this is well-written and often cited, with many good statements on spiritual truths. Users will find much that is worthwhile, and sometimes may disagree, as when he sees the Jonah account as allegorical (Ed: See Tony Garland's article on the Rise of Allegorical Interpretation)." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works)
|Introduction - Date of the Book
Introduction - Interpretation of the Book: Is It Description, Allegory or Apocalypse?
Note: Smith writes "The allegorical interpretation is untenable...the prophet's scenery is apocalyptic...."
Introduction - State of the Text and the Style of the Book
C H Spurgeon
C H Spurgeon
|Joel 2:8 Order is Heaven's First Law
Joel 2:13 Sermon Notes
Joel 2:25 Truth Stranger Than Fiction
Joel 2:26 Wonders
Joel 2:32: One More Cast of the Great Net
Joel 2:32 A Free Grace Promise
Joel 3:21 Perfect Cleansing
|Joel: The Revelation Of God's Hand
Joel - God Persists
The Coming Time of Trouble
Joel (Day of the Lord) The Fate of the Earth
Beware that even though the name is "Third Millennium" this site does not interpret Revelation 20 literally (as the Millennium!) as shown by their note on 1000 in Revelation 20: "One thousand is ten to the third power and denotes fullness. It is therefore more in line with the tone and tenor of Revelation to interpret the term metaphorically." Beloved, I humbly beg to disagree with this supposition of "10 to the third power" interpretative approach, for if we begin to interpret Scripture with such hermeneutical "abandon," we can surely make it say anything we want! No, "one thousand" is one thousand and years is years, so if the plain sense makes good sense, then we should attempt to make no other sense out of it, lest it become "nonsense!" E.g., is it a mere "symbolic" coincidence that Rev 11:2 has "42 months" and Rev 11:3 has "1260 days" which equates to 42 months? It is far easier to interpret those times literally than symbolically. See a well written discussion of Interpreting Symbols by Dr. Tony Garland. So these links are included with the the clear caveat that they do not favor uniform literal interpretation of Scripture (one might say they as many of the resources above, utilize "selective literal" interpretation method.)
Today in the Word
OT Reflections of Christ
Although the book of Joel contains only three chapters and is seldom read, it is one of the most stirring of all the prophetic writings. The date of the book is uncertain because it names no kings. However, many feel that Joel must have prophesied during the reign of Joash (2Chronicles 22-24). If so, he was a contemporary of Elisha. His name means, ''Jehovah is God,'' and he prophesied to a people who had forgotten that.
This prophecy surveys the history of Israel, from the time it was given, to the second advent of Christ. The book is an illustration of how God makes the future known to man; in fact, it illustrates the way all biblical truth is revealed. It demonstrates that revelation is progressive. Joel unfolds and develops a new concept, ''the day of the Lord,'' as do the prophets that follow him. The three aspects of his vision increase in scope as the book progresses.
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK--
A Plague Destroys the Land (Joel 1:1-5)
The Vision of the Invading Army (Joel 1:6-2:27)
Future Judgment and Deliverance (Joel 2:28-3:21)
Every book of the Bible has its own key to its interpretation. Sometimes the key is at the front door of the book; other times at the back door. The key to the prophecy of Joel is found near the front door: ''Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come'' (Joel 1:15).
The land of Palestine had been a wonderful place. The hills were dotted with fig and olive trees, the slopes were covered with luxuriant vineyards, and the valleys were filled with corn. It had previously been described in metaphor as ''a land that floweth with milk and honey'' (Joshua 5:6). But when Joel was called to prophesy, a terrible judgment had befallen it.
THE LOCUST JUDGMENT--
Four plagues had come upon the land: palmer worms, locusts, canker worms, and caterpillars. Some of the best authorities on the locust, as well as Hebrew scholars, maintain that four stages of the development of the locust are described here. The context shows what they did to their fair land. The advance column destroyed every leaf and blade of grass. Those that followed even devoured the bark from the trees. The noise of their wings was heard for miles, and the land looked as though it had been swept by fire.
The prophet revealed the cause for the plagues. These scourges had come from God as chastisement upon the people because of their sin. Although the judgment was regional in nature, it was filled with prophetic importance.
INVASION BY ASSYRIA PROPHESIED--
The Lord said through Joel, ''For a nation is come up upon My land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion'' (1:6). The specific prediction of invasion is recorded in chapter 2. The primary reference is to the impending invasion by Assyria, but the fuller picture is of the day of the Lord. The Assyrian invasion was but a shadow of something far more terrible to come. The devastation by the invading Assyrians fulfills the prophecy, but a complete and greater fulfillment will occur in the day of the Lord. In chapters 2 and 3, Joel spans the centuries and gives to us, by inspiration, a detailed description of the time that will close this age and usher in the next.
The armies will surround Jerusalem. As the locusts had attacked and destroyed the land, and as the nations of Babylon and Assyria would attack and destroy, so the endtime will be characterized by warfare and destruction. Compare Joel 2:1-10 with Zechariah 14:1-3, where the prophet warned, ''Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.'' This is in keeping with our Lord's dire prediction in the Olivet Discourse, ''Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down... And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened'' (Mat 24:2,22).
Joel 2:11 declares that the Lord's ''army'' (the locusts) is already in the land. Men have always failed to take Jehovah into account. Read again the story of Sennacherib and the Assyrians [2Kings 18:13-19:37], and recall how God intervened to destroy that army. All of this is a picture of what will happen in the future. Joel declared the intent of Jehovah when he wrote, ''I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and will judge them there for My people and for My heritage, Israel...'' (Joel 3:2). This is what John saw in Revelation 19:17-19, and is preceded by the regathering of Judah to Jerusalem (Joel 3:11).
THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT--
A plan is revealed in Joel 2:28-32. Note the words, ''And it shall come to pass afterward...'' When Peter quoted this passage on the day of Pentecost, he did not say that the scene they witnessed was the fulfillment of the prophecy, but simply that ''this is that which was spoken through the prophet, Joel'' (Acts 2:16). We know that many of the signs accompanying the prediction were not witnessed on the day of Pentecost. There was no blood or fire or vaporous smoke. The sun was not turned into darkness, nor the moon into blood. These signs did not follow the coming of the Spirit in Peter's day because Israel was not repentant and obedient. But they will appear just before the glorious return of Christ. They will surely be seen in that future day.
THE DAY OF THE LORD--
Chapter 3 of Joel's prophecy gives us the order of events for that period of time known as ''the day of the Lord.'' We list them briefly with accompanying Scriptures for you to study.
The regathering of Judah to Jerusalem (Joel 3:1). Compare Zechariah 10:6.
The gathering of the Gentile powers against Jerusalem (Joel 3:3, 9-15).
Compare Revelation 17:12-15; 19:17-19.
God's controversy with the Gentile powers over their treatment of His people (Joel 3:2-8).
Consult Deuteronomy 30:5-7; Matthew 25:31-45.
The Deliverer who came out of Zion (Joel 3:15,16). See Joel 2:32.
In connection with this tremendous event, the reader will do well to study Obadiah, Romans 11:26-29, and Revelation 19:11-21.
The millenial blessing of Israel with Jehovah dwelling in Zion (Joel 3:17-21).
This will be the time of ingathering, the time of Jewish conversion.
Isaiah spoke of that time as follows:
''And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; for He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem'' (Isaiah 2:2,3).
Joel sets forth the mighty works of Jehovah, our Lord Jesus Christ, both in judgment and blessing upon His covenant people, Israel. He ''shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel'' (Joel 3:16).
TODAY IN THE WORD
Some counselors utilize a concept called “tough love”--a love that is strong enough to be tough when needed. Parents show tough love to a child when they refuse to give in to a temper tantrum. Tough love is strong enough to reprove one who needs correction, and it is willing to allow others to suffer the consequences of their foolish actions in the hope that they will learn from their experiences.
God often expresses tough love in the form of divine discipline. Jesus told the church of Laodicea, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Rev 3:19) (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia). This was also God’s message to His people through the prophet Joel.
We do not know when the book of Joel was written. The lack of any reference to Judah’s king has prompted some scholars to suggest that it was written during the time when Joash, the boy king, ruled Judah (835-739 B.C., see 2Ki 11–12). Other scholars think that the book was written some time after the Babylonian exile. All that is known of the book’s author is that his name was Joel and that he was the son of Pethuel (Joel 1:1).
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Can you think of the events in your life that God has used to get your attention? Perhaps He has used the consequences of your own actions to help you see the folly of making sinful choices. Or He may have used circumstances that are beyond your control to show you your need for His power and grace. Such experiences are not for your benefit alone. Like the tough love experienced by those in Joel’s day, these lessons can benefit others. Ask some trusted friends to share some things God has used to get their attention and the lessons they learned as a result. Share your story and thank God together for His tough love.
Morning and Evening
C H Spurgeon
“Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” — Joel 1:3
In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land—the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the order of the Lord’s arrangements. To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sunday school teachers, or other friendly aids; these can assist us, but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; proxies and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High. Parental teaching is a natural duty—who so fit to look to the child’s well-being as those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots Popery is covertly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is left almost neglected, namely, the instruction of children in the faith. Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents’ prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honour the Lord and receive his smile.
Read: Psalm 78:1-8
We will [tell] to the generation to come the praises of the Lord. —Psalm 78:4
The heritage of Christian workers never ends, though their work sometimes must.
I thought of this recently after hearing of an elderly woman who no longer feels useful. Despite her years of service as a Sunday school teacher (for which she is remembered fondly), as well as the spiritual influence she has already had on her children and grandchildren, she feels as if she isn’t helpful anymore. But it’s not true.
The Bible reminds us that God’s people are to pass along to the next generation the stories of God and His people. In Joel 1, for example, the inhabitants of Judah were told to convey a story about locusts to their children. Because the story had prophetic implications, it was an important part of the heritage of the people and thus it had to be passed on. In our reading for today, Psalm 78, the message is similar. The older Israelites were to tell the young people the story of God’s work in Israel’s past.
Today we have a message of salvation through Jesus and an opportunity to demonstrate a life of devotion to God. If you have passed the gospel to the next generation, your impact lingers. Even when your work is done, it keeps going. Your influence will never die. By Dave Branon
I love to tell the story,
TODAY IN THE WORD
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the British painter and poet, was so desolate when his wife committed suicide after only two years of marriage that he vowed to bury the poems he had written for her. He placed the book in the coffin, wrapped in the tresses of her long hair. But after a few years Rossetti regretted his decision. He believed that the poems were some of the best he had ever written. It seemed senseless to leave them buried. After a lengthy court battle Rossetti won the legal right to open the grave and recover the book.
Rossetti’s change of heart is similar to the way some people approach repentance. They may resolve to make changes or take action. But when the initial discomfort of their guilt dies down, they may have second thoughts and regret their decision. Others would prefer to avoid the discomfort of repentance altogether. They prefer a painless faith without the anguish of repentance. God, however, values repentance. One reason He allowed the people of Joel’s day to experience the devastation of the locust plagues was to bring them to a point of genuine grief over their sins (Joel 1:8). The resulting cessation of grain and drink offerings served as a painful reminder of the way their sins had hindered their fellowship with God (cf. Nu 29:39). These were hard measures designed to shatter their complacency. God intended for His people to feel remorse for their sin. The Hebrew term that is translated “despair” in Joel 1:11 might also be translated “be ashamed.” But this was not His only purpose. He did not merely hope that these experiences would make people feel badly about their sins. He also wanted them to “wail” or lament (Joel 1:11). True repentance expresses sorrow for sin.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Can you think of a time when you felt sorrow for sin? How did you respond to the sense of guilt and shame that you experienced? Not all sorrow for sin is true repentance. Genuine repentance may be painful, but it will enable you to see your need for the forgiveness that only Christ can offer. It is not too late to express your repentance for sin and to ask for God’s help in making the necessary changes in your life. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).
TODAY IN THE WORD
Just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ. - Ro 5:21
When Arthur Andersen auditing firm was indicted for destroying documents related to a Federal investigation of one of its clients, some of the firm’s employees staged a public protest. One employee even wrote to the President of the United States, complaining that the indictment was unfair because of what it implied about the thousands of honest employees who worked for the company. “They are casting doubt on our honesty and our integrity,” he wrote. Some of the people of Joel’s day would identify with this complaint. They too may have wondered whether it was fair for many to suffer for the sins of a few.
The plague of locusts that had so devastated Israel’s crops carried an important lesson. Sin is not just an individual matter--it is a corporate one as well. The proper response was for God’s people to take responsibility for the sins of their nation and seek God’s forgiveness. Speaking through the prophet, the Lord called for Israel’s national and religious leaders to publicly express their grief for their sin in a “holy fast” and a “sacred assembly” (Joel 1:14). The priests were instructed to take the lead and summon both the elders and the people to the sanctuary in order to fast and cry out to God for deliverance.
The Bible supports the idea of corporate guilt. Israel’s defeat at Ai is a good example (see Josh 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Only one man violated God’s command not to take any of the plunder from the defeat of Jericho, yet the Lord spoke in plural terms when He apportioned the blame (Josh 7:1). Only one man had sinned, yet both the guilt and its consequences were shared.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Just as in Joel’s day, one way that God’s people can express their grief over sin is through fasting. Fasting does not remove guilt--only God’s grace could do that for them. But it is a way to express repentance (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia). If your physical health permits, why not skip a meal and spend that time confessing sin to the Father? Pray for yourself, your church, and your nation--God is pleased by our recognition of our corporate responsibility and our heartfelt repentance. When you are finished, thank God for His grace and mercy.
F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily
Joel 1:14 Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders, and cry unto the Lord. (r.v., marg.)
It was a terrible invasion. The locusts had lighted down upon the land of Israel; so that the seeds rotted under the clods; garners were desolate; the barns were broken down. Despair took hold of the husbandman; and the herds and flocks panted out their anguish. At this juncture the prophet called for a national fast.
Whenever our life is visited by special trials and perplexities, we should withdraw ourselves from common pursuits, and lay bare our heart-secrets, so that we may learn the cause of God’s controversy with us. There is a reason and a needs-be; because He does not afflict willingly, or grieve the children of men.
From time to time a call for prayer has issued from the hearts of men closest in touch with heaven. In the middle of the eighteenth century Jonathan Edwards issued such an appeal; and this led to that union of prayer, which played so significant a part in the origination of the great missionary societies. It was notably the effect of that appeal on Sutcliffe, Rylands, Fuller, and Carey, that led to the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society at the close of the eighteenth century.
It may be that a wave of prayer is again about to break over the Church. There are many signs of it. We hear Christian people saying on all hands that they want to get back to God; and surely it would be one of the most significant signs of the unity of the Church and the power of the Holy Spirit, if such a prayer wave were to lift us all on to a new level of intercession for the Church of God and the world around us. We need not wait for the Church to appoint.
TODAY IN THE WORD
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. - Hebrews 12:10b
A mother was working in the kitchen when she heard the sound of whimpering on the back porch. When she opened the door, she saw her small son sitting on the steps nursing a bruised finger and crying. He and a friend had been loading rocks in a basket when one of the rocks had landed on his hand. “Why didn’t you tell me you were hurt?” his mother asked. The boy sheepishly replied that he had been afraid to come to her. “Afraid?” she said in amazement. “Why would you be afraid?” “I thought you might be angry,” the boy explained. The mother bandaged her son’s finger and as she hugged him she said, “You never have to be afraid to come to us when you are hurt.”
The consequences of Israel’s disobedience in Joel’s day had been painful for both man and beast. A combination of locusts and drought had destroyed the crops. Men and animals alike were suffering. What is more, the shortage of food had interrupted the cycle of temple sacrifices and festivals (Joel 1:16). The pitiful lowing of hungry cattle and the bleating of starving sheep mirrored the anguished cries of God’s people (Joel 1:18). As Joel watched wild fires consume land and crops, he added his voice to this chorus of suffering (Joel 1:19). This was God’s intention. His design was that Israel’s suffering would make them aware of their own sin and would instill in them a longing for restoration. These sufferings prompted God’s creation to “pant” or long after God (Joel 1:20). It could only be hoped that His people would be as wise as the animals they tended.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - How have you responded to the difficult circumstances in your life? Would you say that they have drawn you closer to God, or are you in danger of being driven away from Him? Take time to examine the difficulties you face. How has God been using them to teach you more about His faithfulness and forgiveness? While not every problem you meet may be a case of divine discipline, you can have confidence that God is lovingly working through the events that come your way to produce righteousness and peace in your life.
TODAY IN THE WORD
Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand. - Joel 2:1b
When a case is examined in a courtroom, not everyone arrives with the same agenda. The prosecutor hopes to make a case to convict the defendant. The accused, if innocent, looks for vindication. The defendant who is guilty may look for mercy. The judge, on the other hand, should be interested only in seeing that justice is done. Unfortunately, in human affairs this doesn’t describe every judge. The Persian ruler Cambyses II, the son of Cyrus the Great, discovered that a judge in his kingdom was notoriously corrupt. He had the man flayed alive and then ordered that his skin be used to cover the seat upon which his successors would render their decisions. Though not every unjust judge will receive rebuke here on earth--certainly not to the extent exercised by Cambyses II--they will answer to the justice of God.
The Old Testament phrase “Day of the Lord” refers to a time when God will judge the nations. God’s judgment is always just, and for this reason the prophet Joel warned that the Day of the Lord would be “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Joel 2:2). Just as the locust plague in Joel’s day blotted out the light of the sun, the future day of the Lord would be a day of disaster for sinners. Other prophets describe this as a time when men’s hearts will melt with fear and sinners will be judged (Is 13:6, 7, 8, 9). In particular, they predict that it will be a time when the Gentile nations will be called to account (Ezek 30:3; Obadiah 1:15). The devastation and darkness of the locust plague of Joel’s day brought to mind cosmic disturbances that would accompany the coming Day of the Lord. They compelled the prophet to make this observation: “The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” The implied answer: “Nobody!”
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - If the Day of the Lord were to come today, how would you fare? Only those who have been declared righteous by faith in Christ will be able to endure that day.
Morning and Evening
C H Spurgeon
“Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path.” — Joel 2:8
Locusts always keep their rank, and although their number is legion, they do not crowd upon each other, so as to throw their columns into confusion. This remarkable fact in natural history shows how thoroughly the Lord has infused the spirit of order into his universe, since the smallest animate creatures are as much controlled by it as are the rolling spheres or the seraphic messengers. It would be wise for believers to be ruled by the same influence in all their spiritual life. In their Christian graces no one virtue should usurp the sphere of another, or eat out the vitals of the rest for its own support. Affection must not smother honesty, courage must not elbow weakness out of the field, modesty must not jostle energy, and patience must not slaughter resolution. So also with our duties, one must not interfere with another; public usefulness must not injure private piety; church work must not push family worship into a corner. It is ill to offer God one duty stained with the blood of another. Each thing is beautiful in its season, but not otherwise. It was to the Pharisee that Jesus said, “This ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone.” The same rule applies to our personal position, we must take care to know our place, take it, and keep to it. We must minister as the Spirit has given us ability, and not intrude upon our fellow servant’s domain. Our Lord Jesus taught us not to covet the high places, but to be willing to be the least among the brethren. Far from us be an envious, ambitious spirit, let us feel the force of the Master’s command, and do as he bids us, keeping rank with the rest of the host. To-night let us see whether we are keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, and let our prayer be that, in all the churches of the Lord Jesus, peace and order may prevail.
Morning and Evening
C H Spurgeon
“His camp is very great.” — Joel 2:11
Consider, my soul, the mightiness of the Lord who is thy glory and defence. He is a man of war, Jehovah is his name. All the forces of heaven are at his beck, legions wait at his door, cherubim and seraphim;, watchers and holy ones, principalities and powers, are all attentive to his will. If our eyes were not blinded by the ophthalmia of the flesh, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire round about the Lord’s beloved. The powers of nature are all subject to the absolute control of the Creator: stormy wind and tempest, lightning and rain, and snow, and hail, and the soft dews and cheering sunshine, come and go at his decree. The bands of Orion he looseth, and bindeth the sweet influences of the Pleiades. Earth, sea, and air, and the places under the earth, are the barracks for Jehovah’s great armies; space is his camping ground, light is his banner, and flame is his sword. When he goeth forth to war, famine ravages the land, pestilence smites the nations, hurricane sweeps the sea, tornado shakes the mountains, and earthquake makes the solid world to tremble. As for animate creatures, they all own his dominion, and from the great fish which swallowed the prophet, down to “all manner of flies,” which plagued the field of Zoan, all are his servants, and like the palmer-worm, the caterpillar, and the cankerworm, are squadrons of his great army, for his camp is very great. My soul, see to it that thou be at peace with this mighty King, yea, more, be sure to enlist under his banner, for to war against him is madness, and to serve him is glory. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, is ready to receive recruits for the army of the Lord: if I am not already enlisted let me go to him ere I sleep, and beg to be accepted through his merits; and if I be already, as I hope I am, a soldier of the cross, let me be of good courage; for the enemy is powerless compared with my Lord, whose camp is very great.
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” —Joel 2:12
I didn’t think that the hesitation in my car engine and that little yellow “check engine” light on my dashboard really needed my immediate attention. I sang it away, saying that I would get to it tomorrow. However, the next morning when I turned the key to start my car, it wouldn’t start. My first reaction was frustration, knowing that this would mean money, time, and inconvenience. My second thought was more of a resolution: I need to pay attention to warning lights that are trying to get my attention—they can mean something is wrong.
In Joel 2:12-17, we read that God used the prophet Joel to encourage His people to pay attention to the warning light on their spiritual dashboard. Prosperity had caused them to become complacent and negligent in their commitment to the Lord. Their faith had degenerated into empty formalism and their lives into moral bankruptcy. So God sent a locust plague to ruin crops in order to get His people’s attention, causing them to change their behavior and turn to Him with their whole heart.
What warning lights are flashing in your life? What needs to be tuned up or repaired through confession and repentance? By Marvin Williams
God’s love is not some fuzzy thing
Conviction is God’s warning light.
Our Daily Bread
So rend your heart, and not your garments (Joel 2:13).
The Baouli people of West Africa describe repentance this way:
John Calvin said,
According to the record, they heeded his warning and turned from their sin (Joel 3:18, 19).
Sometimes we find ourselves hemmed in by economic or domestic pressures. And sometimes accidents or natural tragedies disrupt our lives. Through these events we recognize our need for God. It's as if He is saying, "Examine your life and conduct. Are you walking with Me, obeying My commands, putting Me first?"
God pleads with us to "rend our heart" when we sin so He can relieve our pain and show Himself as a gracious God, ready to forgive, slow to anger, and full of mercy. —D. J. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Repentance is sorrow for the deed,
TODAY IN THE WORD
Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. - Joel 2:13
A businessman whose unethical practices were widely known once told Mark Twain of the pilgrimage he hoped to make some day. “Before I die,” he said, “I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top.” Twain was not impressed. “I have a better idea” he retorted. “You could stay at home in Boston and keep them.”
Religious observances like fasting can have great value. But they were never meant to serve as a substitute for genuine repentance (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia). In Joel’s day God’s people engaged in religious rituals like fasting and tearing their garments. The problem with these efforts was that they were not performed with a repentant heart (Joel 2:12). As far as God was concerned, the outward form of such rituals was not nearly as important as the attitude of the heart. He challenged them saying, “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). He also reminded them of the description of His compassion that He gave to Moses after Israel had sinned with the golden calf (Ex. 34:6, 7). This description underscored the folly of their mechanical approach to worship.
True repentance is not a matter of perfunctory observance of certain rituals but is grounded in relationship. Those who turn to God in repentance do not base their appeal for forgiveness on their own performance but upon God’s character. In Joel 2:13 the prophet gives them five reasons for “rending their hearts”: God’s grace, compassion, patience, love, and mercy. Based upon this, the prophet called upon the priests to declare a sacred assembly in the hope that sincere repentance would result in restoration. This was to be a universal expression of grief over sin. Although public and formal, it was also to be sincere (Joel 2:12).
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - We are to approach God with the confidence that He sees what is done in secret and knows all that we truly need. As you approach God in prayer today, ask yourself whether you are merely going through the motions. Has your devotional life become too mechanical? Perhaps it is time to make a change. Take a walk and use what you see as a basis for prayer. Find a hymn and let its words guide your devotional time. Whatever you choose to do, be sure that you engage your heart first.
Morning and Evening
C H Spurgeon
“Rend your heart, and not your garments.” — Joel 2:13
Garment-rending and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia) is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations—for such things are pleasing to the flesh—but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.
Heart-rending is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.
The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Saviour’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day of lamentation.
Read: Ezekiel 12:21-28
Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. —Joel 2:13
As a child, I learned to behave properly when adults rewarded my good behavior and punished my bad behavior. This worked pretty well because the reward or punishment generally came quickly after the behavior, making the relationship between the cause and effect unmistakable. When I became an adult, however, life got more complex, and the consequences of my actions were not always immediate. When I behaved badly without getting in trouble for it, I began to think that it didn’t matter to God what I did.
Something similar happened to the children of Israel. When they disobeyed God and didn’t suffer any bad consequences right away, they said, “The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!” (Ezek. 9:9), indicating their belief that God had lost interest in them and didn’t care about their bad behavior. But they were wrong. Weary of their waywardness, God finally said, “None of My words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled” (Ezek 12:28 niv).
When God delays discipline, it’s not due to indifference; it’s due to His very nature—He is gracious and slow to anger. Some see that as permission to sin, but God intends it to be an invitation to repent (Rom. 2:4). By Julie Ackerman Link
A Prayer: Lord, thank You for being slow to anger and filled with compassion. May I not presume upon Your mercy by assuming that there will be no consequences to my sin. Help me instead to confess it. Amen.
The only way to make things right
September 27, 2003
Happy New Year!
READ: Joel 2:12-17
Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful. —Joel 2:13
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is regarded as the anniversary of the day that God created the world. The celebration begins with a blast of the shofar (ram's horn) to announce that the God who created the world is still the One ruling it. The blowing of the horn also begins a 10-day period of self-examination and repentance (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia) leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:23-32; Nu 29:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
The prophet Joel urged people not to just go through the motions of repentance, but to turn from their sins and obey God (Joel 2:13). In his day, tearing garments was a sign of sorrow for sin. It made a good show, but it didn't impress God. He was more concerned with their hearts.
Especially interesting is the basis for Joel's appeal. It wasn't only to avoid God's wrath, but also to enjoy God's grace, compassion, and love. Sometimes we think of God as being heavy-handed with punishment and tight-fisted with mercy. The words of Joel remind us that the opposite is true. The Lord is slow to punish and eager to forgive.
There's no better way to celebrate God's creation than to let Him re-create your heart through faith in Jesus the Messiah and turn your desires toward Him. —Julie Ackerman Link (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
When I tried to cover my sin,
August 23, 2006
God Fights Against Us
READ: Joel 2:12-17
Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him? —Joel 2:14
In Joel’s book of prophecy, God declared: “I am in the midst of Israel . . . . My people shall never be put to shame” (Joel 2:27). But earlier in the chapter God promised to fight against His people. A plague of locusts would descend like a ravenous army on the nation (Joel 2:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
It’s hard to fathom that the Lord would fight against His chosen people. But Israel had given their affections to other gods.
In fact, God had fought against them before. “Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity” (Jdg 2:15).
I have learned that if my own heart wanders away from God, I can count on Him to fight to bring me back. If I become proud and self-assured, if reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer seem like a waste of time, God will step in and deal with me.
God will fight against us for our good. He permits us to experience defeat so that we will listen to Him when He says, “Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Joel 2:13).
Don’t wait for God to fight against you before you seek His face. Return to Him today. —Albert Lee (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Because our Father’s heart is grieved
TODAY IN THE WORD
Never again will my people be shamed. - Joel 2:26b
In the magazine Today’s Christian Woman, Linore Burkhard wrote of the time she went for a walk with her two-year-old daughter. Suddenly the toddler let go of her mother’s hand and began to run ahead, with her frantic mother chasing close behind. The little girl was just about to step into a busy street when she lost her balance and fell. As Burkhard stooped to pick her up, she shuddered to think about what might have happened. She recognized a surprising blessing and a valuable spiritual lesson in her daughter’s bruises that she now attempted to soothe. “What we don’t see while we’re feeling pain is God’s hidden purpose” Burkhard explained. “Sometimes, the very incident we see as hurtful is God’s way of protecting us from worse harm.”
As we have seen, the devastation of the locust plague was intended to move God’s people to genuine repentance (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia). The wonderful promise was that God would respond with zeal for the devastated land and pity for His afflicted people, both objects of God’s jealousy and covenant promises (Joel 2:18). This may seem surprising. The Bible often condemns jealousy in human relationships (Ro 13:13; 1Co 3:3; 2Co 12:20). Yet our God is a jealous God (Ex 34:14; 1Co 10:22). One of the chief differences between divine and human jealousy is that human jealousy is self-centered. God’s jealousy is directed toward the best interests of His people. Some have suggested that it might be easier to understand God’s jealousy as zeal for those He loves. God does not want His people to have anything other than Himself as the object of their worship. He alone is God!
God’s ultimate desire was not to punish His people but to restore them. He promised to send new wine, grain, and oil, He promised never to make them an object of scorn among the nations. In addition, He promised to drive the “army”
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - God may not shield us from the results of our sinful actions, but He will forgive and accept as His children all those who come to Him by faith in Christ.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. —Joel 2:25
None of us can say that we have no regrets. Often we are led down paths of bad choices—some paths longer than others—which can have a lingering effect on the mind, body, and soul.
A friend of mine spent a number of years living a life of alcohol and drug abuse. But God did an amazing work in his life, and he recently celebrated 25 years of being free from substance abuse. He now runs a successful business, has a devoted wife, and his children love Jesus. He has a passion to reach out to others who are in the ditch of life, and he serves as a wise and loving mentor in the rescue operations of their lives.
God never gives up on us! Even if we’ve made poor choices in the past that have left us with regret, we can choose how we will live now. We can choose to continue destructive living, simply wallow in regret, or we can run to Christ believing that He has ways to “restore . . . the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). When we repentantly seek His healing and freeing power, He is merciful.
While some consequences from the past may remain, we can be confident that God has a good and glorious future for those who trust in Him! By Joe Stowell
Lord, it is with humble and grateful hearts that we
God never gives up on making something beautiful out of our lives.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. —Joel 2:25
The beauty of the black lacy design against the pastel purple and orange background grabbed my attention. The intricacy of the fragile pattern led me to assume that it had been created by a skilled artist. As I looked more closely at the photo, however, I saw the artist admiring his work from a corner of the photo. The “artist” was a worm, and its work of art was a partially eaten leaf.
What made the image beautiful was not the destruction of the leaf but the light glowing through the holes. As I gazed at the photo, I began thinking about lives that have been eaten by the “worms” of sin. The effects are ravaging. Sin eats away at us as we suffer the consequences of our own bad choices or those of others. We are all its victims.
But the photo also reminded me of the hope we have in God. Through the prophet Joel, God said to Israel, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). And from Isaiah we learn that the Lord appointed him to “console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes” (Isa. 61:3).
Satan does everything he can to make us ugly, but the Light of the World can make us beautiful—despite Satan’s best efforts.By Julie Ackerman Link
Sin ravages a fruitful life
God doesn’t remove all of our imperfections,
F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily
Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the peace that the locusts hath eaten.
How many years of our life have been consumed by the locust! Self in one form or another has sorely robbed us of our golden sheaves, reducing them to dust. Self-indulgence, frivolity, wanton spend-thriftiness of time, and talent, and opportunity, sloth and lethargy, mixed and evil motives, secret sins—what a crew are there! They have played the part of the caterpillar, the cankerworm, and the palmerworm with the green promise and the yellow produce of our lives.
But God waits to forgive; to put away from his mind the memory of the wasted past; to place the crown of a new hope upon our brow—yea, more, to restore to us the years that the locust hath eaten. There shall be a revenue of glory to Him even from those wasted years. Either in the experience they shall have communicated to us for dealing with other men, or in the penitential and broken-hearted temper they shall have begotten in ourselves; those years shall yet yield crops of praise to God, and of fruitfulness to us. And, also, God is prepared so to add his blessing to us, in the present and future, as to give us in each year not only the years produce, but much more, so that each year will be laden and weighted with the blessing of three or four beside. Where sin abounded, grace shall much more abound. Where we have sown, we shall reap; not thirty-fold only, but a hundred-fold. God is so anxious to give us as large a result as possible to show for our life’s work, though we may have sadly wrecked its earlier portions. Did He not restore to Peter at Pentecost what he wasted in the hall of judgment? Did not Paul win harvests for Christ out of the years which preceded his conversion?
C H Spurgeon
“And l will restore to you the years that the locusthath eaten.”—Joel 2:25
YES, those wasted years over which we sigh shall be restored to us. God can give us such plentiful grace that we shall crowd into the remainder of our days as much of service as will be some recompense for those years of unregeneracy over which we mourn in humble penitence.
The locusts of backsliding, worldliness, and lukewarmness are now viewed by us as a terrible plague. Oh that they had never come near us! The Lord in mercy has now taken them away, and we are full of zeal to serve Him. Blessed be His name, we can raise such harvests of spiritual graces as shall make our former barrenness to disappear. Through rich grace we can turn to account our bitter experience and use it to warn others. We can become the more rooted in humility, childlike dependence, and penitent spirituality by reason of our former shortcomings. If we are the more watchful, zealous, and tender, we shall gain by our lamentable losses. The wasted years, by a miracle of love, can be restored. Does it seem too great a boon? Let us believe for and live for it; and we may yet realize it, even as Peter became all the more useful a man after his presumption was cured by his discovered weakness. Lord, aid us by thy grace.
January 1, 2004
Restoring The Years
READ: Joel 2:12-27
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. — Joel 2:25
How many years have you lost to the locust? Have self-indulgence, sensuality, sinful motives, and personal ambition robbed you of joy, peace, and fruitfulness? Perhaps you feel discouraged when you think of all the time that seems to have been wasted, never to be reclaimed.
If so, consider the words of the Lord through the prophet Joel. God told the people of Israel that even though they had been disobedient to Him and had been disciplined through a plague of locusts, there was still hope. The Lord said that He is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (Joel 2:13). Then He promised, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25).
When we confess our sin to the Lord, He is quick to forgive our past and fill our future with hope. He can bring good out of our wasted years. He does that by teaching us humility through our failures, and by helping us to understand the weaknesses we have in common with others.
Although our previous years may have been blighted by sin, God is eager to restore us and give us much fruit from our labor. What we have learned from the past can now result in productive service for Him and heartfelt praise to Him. The year ahead is filled with hope! —David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Forgive me, O Lord, for all of my sin,
September 27, 1998
READ: Joel 2:12-27
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. --Joel 2:25
A British newspaper reported that a woman had hidden $20,000 worth of jewelry in a plastic bag, hoping to prevent burglars from finding it. Later, having forgotten about it, she accidentally threw the bag out with her garbage. Several workmen searched for 9 hours in a landfill before finding her treasure and restoring it to her.
Some people throw away God's abundant and gracious blessings in their lives through blatant sin. There was a time in my life when I wasn't experiencing the blessing of God because of worry and bitterness. When I finally realized that I couldn't help myself, I turned to God, repentant (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia) and broken. Gradually, as He taught me through His Word to rely on Him for all things, I experienced a full restoration of His hand of blessing.
In Joel 2, an invasion of locusts had stripped God's people of everything. What those swarming locusts did to them, our persistent sins will do to us. Our only hope is to heed God's call: "Turn to Me with all your heart" (Joel 2:12).
To those who turn to the Lord in repentance, regardless of the sins that plague them, He promised, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25).
Do you need to get rid of "locusts" in your life? —Joanie Yoder
Our sinful ways can sap our joy
TODAY IN THE WORD
In his book entitled Keep in Step With the Spirit, J. I. Packer notes, “For most people nowadays Spirit is a vague and colorless word.” More often than not, he explains, they associate it with a mood or attitude.
When some Christians hear the word spirit, they think primarily in terms of power. But when the Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit, it reveals that He is a Person. When we are born again, we do not merely receive power to live the Christian life, we are indwelt by a divine Person--the Holy Spirit. This is the unique privilege of all those who trust in Christ. This privilege was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel.
The material blessings upon the land predicted in the previous verses only foreshadowed a much greater blessing that was to come “afterward” (Joel 2:28). Joel’s use of this term signals a general shift in focus. The coming outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the rest of the events he will discuss in the remainder of this book primarily pertain to a time later in the future than the events predicted in the earlier half of the book.
Although the Holy Spirit had been active in Joel’s day, the prophet foretold that in the age to come His ministry would be characterized by three important features. First, Joel promised that it would be an inclusive ministry. Previously, the Holy Spirit had worked through specific individuals. In the coming age He would be poured out “on all people” (Joel 2:28). Joel speaks of the Spirit being poured out on sons and daughters, as well as on old men and young men. All the people of God, regardless of age or gender, are in view.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - The apostle Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit as the blessing given to everyone who is in Christ (Ro 8:9). He also spoke of the need to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ep 5:18). This is not a contradiction. Once we know that the Holy Spirit lives within us, we need to depend upon His power daily to live a life that brings glory to Christ. Pray and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and to help you rely upon Him today.
Even the Faintest Call
C H Spurgeon
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”—Joel 2:32
WHY do I not call on His name? Why do I run to this neighbor and that, when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I sit down, and devise schemes, and invent plans? Why not at once roll myself and my burden upon the Lord? Straight-forward is the best runner—why do I not run at once to the living God? In vain shall I look for deliverance anywhere else; but with God I shall find it; for here I have His royal shall to make it sure.
I need not ask whether I may call on Him or not, for that word “&whosoever&” is a very wide and comprehensive one. Whosoever means me, for it means anybody and everybody who calls upon God. I will therefore follow the leading of the text, and at once call upon the glorious Lord who has made so large a promise.
My case is urgent, and I do not see how I am to be delivered; but this is no business of mine. He who makes the promise will find out ways and means of keeping it. It is mine to obey His commands; it is not mine to direct His counsels. I am His servant, not His solicitor. I call upon Him, and He will deliver me.
TODAY IN THE WORD
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. - Joel 3:14
Philip Ryken, senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, tells of the time he was leading his family in a study of the books of Kings. He read about the death of wicked king Ahab and how his evil wife Jezebel was thrown to her death from a parapet. As he described how the wild dogs licked up Ahab’s blood and devoured Jezebel’s flesh, his four-year-old son let out a spontaneous cheer. “Frankly, I was shocked,” Ryken writes. “Ahab and Jezebel met such bloody ends, it hardly seemed right to celebrate. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized God’s victory is something to cheer about.”
Joel’s purpose in today’s passage was to give God’s beleaguered people something to cheer about. Although things looked bleak, the prophet promised them that a time was coming when God would judge their enemies. He predicted that this would take place at a time when the Lord would “restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” (Joel 3:1). At that time, all the Gentile nations that had gloated over Judah’s destruction and exile would be gathered together for judgment in “the Valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:2). The name of this valley, which literally means “Jehovah judges” or “Jehovah has judged,” appears to be symbolic. It is also called “the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14).
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Have you been hurt or mistreated by someone who does not know Christ? God will hold them accountable for what they have done
TODAY IN THE WORD
Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. - Joel 3:17a
Several years ago Amos Elon commented in the New Yorker about the unrest that has been a feature of the city of Jerusalem for so long. “Hardly a day passes in the 'holy city’ without a riot or a stoning, without cars being torched or firebombs thrown, without attempted lynchings or the stabbing of an Israeli by a Palestinian (or vice versa),” he noted. “After each incident, municipal cleaning machines, marked 'CITY OF PEACE’ in three languages, appear on the scene to wash the blood from the streets in time for the next group of tourists to pass by.”
This is still true today--Jerusalem is a place of conflict. Yet it will not always be the case. Speaking through the prophet Joel, God promised to make Jerusalem His dwelling place once again (Joel 3:17). (See Multiple OT Passages that describe the future earthly 1000 year Messianic Age)
In the time of David, the Lord chose to reveal Himself in a special way in Jerusalem. In 1Ki 11:36 He called it “the city where I chose to put my Name.” David relocated the tabernacle there, and it was the place where his son Solomon later built the temple. Because of this, the Psalmist described the Lord as “him who dwells in Jerusalem” (Ps 135:21).
Unfortunately, the people of Judah came to view the presence of the temple as a talisman. They believed that it made them exempt from divine judgment. But, in 586 B.C. God allowed the city of Jerusalem to fall to the Babylonians.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Joel’s promises for Jerusalem are also relevant for us. God will dwell with His people in the New Jerusalem, and He promises to wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev. 21:3, 4)
F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily
Joel 3:17 I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain.
This will be the lot of the chosen people in the millennial age. The Holy God will make the city in which He resides a Holy place. But it is true universally. Wherever the Holy God dwells, there you have holiness—for it is the attribute of his nature, as heat is of fire. Holiness is not It, but He. Do you want it? Then you must invite Him to come.
When God comes into a day, it becomes holy unto Him. When his presence is revealed in a bush, it is holy ground. When He descends on a mountain, the fences are erected, that unhallowed feet may not draw nigh. When He fills a building like Solomon’s Temple, the whole is consecrated, and may not be employed for sacrilegious purposes. Best of all, if He dwell in our hearts, they too are rendered holy to Himself.
When the apostle prays that the God of Peace should sanctify us wholly, he goes on to ask that spirit, soul, and body, should be as a temple filled with God. The holy man is he who is God-filled and God-possessed. It is not enough to possess God; we must be possessed by Him. He who has more of God is surely holier than other men; and he is the holiest who has most. Behold, Christ stands at the door and knocks: He longs to come in and abide, never again to depart; He brings with Him the holiness for which He has taught us to yearn.
“Is it true, Ignatius,” said the Roman emperor to the Christian martyr, “that you carry about your God within you?” “It is even so,” replied the bishop, “for it is written, I will dwell in thee, and walk in thee.” And for that answer they cast him to the wild beasts. But what they deemed blasphemy is literally true of the Holy Spirit.
Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord you God. — Joel 2:13
EXPLAIN the oriental custom of rending robes. People were ready enough to use the outward signs of mourning when, as in the present instance, locusts appeared to devour their crops, or when any other judgment threatened them.
They failed in mourning as to the Lord, and in rendering spiritual homage to his chastising rod. Hence the language of the text.
Let us revolve in our minds—
I. THE GENERAL DOCTRINE THAT TRUE RELIGION IS MORE INWARD THAN OUTWARD.
The expression "Rend your heart, and not your garments," casts somewhat of a slur upon the merely outward.
1. This respects forms and ceremonies of men's devising. These are numerous and vain. "Not your garments" may in their case be treated in the most emphatic manner. Will-worship is sin.
2. It bears also upon ordinances of God's own ordaining if practiced without grace, and relied upon as of themselves effectual.
Among good things which may become unprofitable we may mention—
All these good things should have their place in our lives; but they do not prove saint-ship: since a sinner may practice them all, after a sort. The absence of a true heart will make them all vain.
II. THE FURTHER DOCTRINE THAT MAN IS MORE INCLINED TO THE OUTWARD OBSERVANCE THAN TO INWARD MATTERS.
Hence he needs no exhortation to rend his garments, though that act might in certain cases be a fit and proper expression of deep repentance (See in depth word studies on The verb Repent = metanoeo; the noun Repentance = metanoia), and holy horror for sin.
Man is thus partial to externals—
1. Because he is not spiritual, but carnal by nature.
2. Because the inward is more difficult than the outward, and requires thought, diligence, care, humiliation, etc.
3. Because he loves his sin. He will rend his robes, for they are not himself; but to rend off his beloved sins is like tearing out his eyes.
4. Because he cares not to submit to God. Law and gospel are both distasteful to him; he loves nothing which necessitates the obedience of his heart to God.
Many throng the outer courts of religious observance who shun the holy place of repentance, faith, and consecration.
III. THE PARTICULAR DOCTRINE THAT HEART-RENDING IS BETTER THAN ANY EXTERNAL ACT OF PIETY.
1. Heart-rending should be understood. It is—
2. Heart-rending is to be preferred to external observances, for—
3. Heart-rending should be practiced. "Rend your hearts."
An old Hebrew, story tells how a poor creature came one day to the Temple, from a sick bed, on tottering limbs. He was ashamed to come, for he was very poor, and he had no sacrifice to offer; but as he drew near he heard the choir chanting, "Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt-offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Other worshippers came, pressed before him, and offered their sacrifices; but he had none. At length he prostrated himself before the priest, who said, "What wilt thou, my son? Hast thou no offering?" And he replied, "No, my father, for last night a poor widow and her children came to me, and I had nothing to offer them but the two pigeons which were ready for the sacrifice." "Bring, then," said the priest, "an ephah of fine flour." "Nay, but, my father," said the old man, "this day my sickness and poverty have left only enough for my own starving children; I have not even an ephah of flour." "Why, then, art thou come to me?" said the priest. "Because I heard them singing, 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.' Will not God accept my sacrifice if I say, 'Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner'?" Then the priest lifted the old man from the ground, and he said, "Yes, thou art blessed, my son; it is the offering which is better than thousands of rivers of oil." — "The World of Proverb and Parable," by E. Paxton Hood
If this hypocrisy, this resting in outward performances, was so odious to God under the law, a religion full of shadows and ceremonies, certainly it will be much more odious under the gospel, a religion of much more simplicity, and exacting so much the more sincerity of heart, even because it disburdens the outward man of the performances of legal rights and observances. And therefore, if we now, under the gospel, shall think to delude God Almighty, as Michal did Saul, with an idol handsomely dressed instead of the true David, we shall one day find that we have not mocked God, but ourselves; and that our portion among hypocrites shall be greater than theirs. — William Chillingworth
As garments to a body, so are ceremonies to religion. Garments on a living body preserve the natural warmth; put them on a dead body and they will never fetch life. Ceremonies help to increase devotion; but in a dead heart they cannot breed it. These garments of religion upon a holy man are like Christ's garments on his own holy body; but joined with a profane heart, they are like Christ's garments on his crucifying murderers. — Ralph Brownrig
Rending the clothes was a common and very ancient mode of expressing grief, indignation, or concern; and as such is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures .... It is said that the upper garment only was rent for a brother, sister, son, daughter, or wife, but all the garments for a father or mother. Maimonides says that the rents were not stitched up again till after thirty days, and were never sewed up well. There is no law which enjoins the Jews to rend their clothes; yet in general they so far think it requisite to comply with this old custom as to make a slight rent for the sake of form. — Pictorial Bible