Our Friday devotional is penned by Barry Todd.
A catastrophe of cosmic proportions had befallen God’s people.
An army of locusts had wreaked havoc.
They devoured everything in their path leaving a famine of oil, grain and wine. Hunger threatened. The grain and drink offerings in the Temple were cut off. It was so momentous that it would be talked about for generations to come.
“But we are God’s people…..we have returned to the land of our inheritance which God has restored to us. Why Lord why? What are you telling us?”
Often we just do not know why catastrophes happen. What are we, as God’s people, to make of the current crisis we find ourselves in? Perhaps Joel can give us some clues.
Firstly there is no mention of Judah’s sins here. There appears to be no obvious cause for this affliction. However the people of Jerusalem heard a call from the prophet.
Lament, Pray and Fast.
Worship had been put on hold. There was no food and even the livestock were suffering. Famine had turned to drought.
Secondly as they sought the Lord, God gave clarity. This disaster was a wake-up call. It was a shape of things to come. - the Day of the Lord ( 2:1-11 and 3:1-16)
This will be a day in the future of even greater catastrophe in which the LORD leads his armies out and wickedness will be utterly and completely destroyed. How then were they to respond?
The first clue we get as to why God was not happy with Judah is to be found in 2:12 ff. They were to return to the Lord.They had departed in from Him. God took this seriously as they were to return with fasting, weeping and mourning. The problem was a problem of the heart. They were told to rend their hearts not their garments.
They then had to remember that God was gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Who knows? Maybe He would turn and relent (2:14). After all He had invested in His people. Judah’s reputation was God’s reputation. Why should they say among the peoples, “Where is their God?”(2:17)
Thirdly, the Lord heard their prayer, His jealousy meant restoration for Judah. . He removed the curse (2:20) and gave back so much more than they originally had. The words Abundance, Plenty, Satisfied, Fullness, Joy and Gladness are all there. They were able to worship Him once more because God had sent grain, wine and oil again (2:19).
This too was a shape of things to come. The blessings of the present are a picture of the greater blessings of the future - The promise of an outpouring of the Spirit of God (2:28-32) and a glorious future for His people (3:17-21)
So in this time of crisis let us take stock. In our confusion seek God. Listen to Him. Repent where you need to repent. Walk humbly for the Day of the Lord is coming (2:1) but walk in hope knowing He will restore to us the years the locusts have eaten and that the promise of future Glory will be fulfilled.