Wednesday, September 24. Hosea 14 – Joel 2

Joel 2 may be one of the best known chapters in all the minor prophets. We may know it best from Peter’s citation of it in his sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2). The locust plague devastating Judah is but a symbol of the suffering to come, an army whose ranks cannot be broken and whose soldiers come over the city wall, climbing through windows. The army is coming and the Lord is leading it against His own people because of their sins.

In Joel, however, there is still hope. His people are urged to return to the Lord with penitence and repentance. God will bless them and destroy their enemies (chapter 3).

Then, in verse 28, God makes a promise. The promise would not likely stand out to the first readers. It is a consequence of their repentance.

It does, however, stand out to us because we know they didn’t repent.

God knew they wouldn’t of course. So beginning with 2:28 He speaks of a time Israel would never know. But we know it. A time after the armies of judgment came against Israel and destroyed her. A time when God acted not because His people were evil or good, but just because He decided “it’s time.” He sent His Holy Spirit and the result was that all, Jew and Gentile, who would turn to the Lord would be saved. We live today in anticipation of what is to follow: the judgment. It is as sure as the army of locusts that invaded Israel so very long ago.

Monday, June 24. Joel 3; Jonah 1 – 2

In chapters one and two of Joel, all the difficulties that come upon God’s people are the result of their own sins. In other words, they have only themselves to blame. Their punishment is earthly and temporary, and it is brought about by the enemies of God. Though they are enemies and attacking God’s people, they are just doing God’s bidding.

But in chapter three, God brings these evil nations into the Valley of “Decision” (compare 3:2,14) where He judges them for doing His will.

How can that be fair?

The passage speaks to the absolute sovereignty of God. We might reply: “God didn’t actually tell Judah’s enemies to carry them away and enslave them. They did it, and God used that to punish His people.”

And we’d be right, but the text does not exactly say that. The entirety of the situation is pictured as being run by God and this speaks to His absolute sovereignty. God knew what the nations were going to do. He used their predisposition against His own people to discipline them. And then, God punished Judah’s enemies for the actions of their predisposition.

You should not fail to see one other point: God loves His people more than He loves those who are not His people. All the nations are disciplined according to God’s will, but God is only a refuge for Judah.

Saturday, June 23. Joel 1 – 3

Traditionally, the book of Joel has been regarded as one of the earliest of the writing prophets.  The fact is, however, there is little in this book to help us know when it was written.  A locust plague serves as the backdrop for the prophecy, along with oppression from enemies such as the Phoenicians (Tyre) and Philistines.  There are references to these things in Amos, whose book occurs about this time period.  The book is written to Judah.

The spiritual circumstances recounted in the book are those which could have been common to any period of the minor prophets (called “minor” because their books are so short).  As if foreign oppression wasn’t enough, Judah is suffering from a devastating locust plague that has brought famine on the land, but this is not a “natural disaster.”  This plague has been brought on by the Lord Himself because of Judah’s sins.

If His people will repent, God promises a level of blessing not seen at any other time in history: He will place His Spirit on His people.  The Spirit is God’s empowering presence to enable God’s people to do and be what God has decreed for them, and Joel’s promise inaugurates a new hope for His people.

But it will not happen, because God’s people, for all the reform of Joash, still have not returned to God.  The “form” of Israel’s religion may be restored, but the function of it in the heart of God’s people will not happen.

When God’s spirit does come, it is during the Feast of Weeks after the Passover of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and it christens a new age in which the people of God will be composed not just of descendants of Jacob, but of all people who “call on the name of the Lord.”

Saturday, June 23. Joel 1 – 3

    Traditionally, the book of Joel has been regarded as one of the earliest of the writing prophets.  The fact is, however, there is little in this book to help us know when it was written.  A locust plague serves as the backdrop for the prophecy, along with oppression from enemies such as the Phoenicians (Tyre) and Philistines.  There are references to these things in Amos, whose book occurs about this time period.  The book is written to Judah.

    The spiritual circumstances recounted in the book are those which could have been common to any period of the minor prophets (called “minor” because their books are so short).  As if foreign oppression wasn’t enough, Judah is suffering from a devastating locust plague that has brought famine on the land, but this is not a “natural disaster.”  This plague has been brought on by the Lord Himself because of Judah’s sins.

    If His people will repent, God promises a level of blessing not seen at any other time in history: He will place His Spirit on His people.  The Spirit is God’s empowering presence to enable God’s people to do and be what God has decreed for them, and Joel’s promise inaugurates a new hope for His people.

    But it will not happen, because God’s people, for all the reform of Joash, still have not returned to God.  The “form” of Israel’s religion may be restored, but the function of it in the heart of God’s people will not happen.

    When God’s spirit does come, it is during the Feast of Weeks after the Passover of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and it christens a new age in which the people of God will be composed not just of descendants of Jacob, but of all people who “call on the name of the Lord.”