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Joel 1:2-4

2 Hear this, you elders;
listen, all you inhabitants of the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your ancestors?
3 Tell your children about it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children the next generation.
4 What the devouring locust has left,
the swarming locust has eaten;
what the swarming locust has left,
the young locust has eaten;
and what the young locust has left,
the destroying locust has eaten.

The book of Joel starts with the prophet Joel pointing out the severity of a locust swarm. Although a locust swarm was not abnormal in this area and at this time, apparently this one was bad and it was God’s judgment on Israel for the way they had turned their back on Him. You might be saying at this point, “Yes, I know, the children of Israel have turned their backs on God so God sent judgment to them. I have heard this before.” You would be correct, but you need to understand the timing of this to understand the total face-palm moment. This is after Israel had been in captivity. This is after God had released them and brought them back to their land. So even after God did exactly what He had promised, from captivity to blessing, the people of Israel once again forget God.

The locust swarm was so bad at this point that animals and people were dying because the locusts had eaten all the plants. There was no food for the animals and very little food for the people. That is why you see Joel point out, “Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors?” This is Joel’s way of saying, “Look around Israel! This is a judgment from God. Evaluate yourself. Look with in and see where you have turned from God.” Later he tells all of Israel to repent from their sins and turn back to God. 

This does not mean every natural disaster is a wake-up call from God. In fact, God says that the earth will groan and natural disasters will intensify as His return draws near. It’s the earth's way of reminding us of Jesus coming back again. So with that in mind, use the natural disasters and the craziness of this world to remind you to keep your focus on God. Check yourself for sin and repent from it. That is what Joel is trying to communicate to Israel.

Joel 2:1-2

1 Blow the horn in Zion;
sound the alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the residents of the land tremble,
for the Day of the Lord is coming;
in fact, it is near—
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and dense overcast,
like the dawn spreading over the mountains;
a great and strong people appears,
such as never existed in ages past
and never will again
in all the generations to come.

The Day of the Lord is a common phrase in prophecy. So what does it mean? It is talking about future events. Normally in reference to the rapture, second coming and millennial reign of Jesus Christ. This is important to know so that we can see what is to come. Not so that we can flaunt our knowledge and guess exactly what the future event will be, but so we are prepared and remember to keep our eyes on Jesus. Prophecy should lead us to the foot of the cross not a high and mighty pedestal.

So what does this future event look like from Joel? Joel is given a charge from God to tell Israel of what is to come. He has to tell them that one day, all evil will be judged. In chapter one and the beginning of two, describe this day in very dark terms. It’s a day where all evil is judged. It’s dark, gloomy, destructive, scary and difficult. But then in Joel 2:21 he says, “Don’t be afraid, land; rejoice and be glad, for the Lord has done great things.” Joel goes on to tell the children of Israel about all the blessings that are coming on this day. 

This may sound confusing but what is happening is, Joel is telling Israel about this particular time from two sides. The side that is against God, the evil in this world, it is their day of reckoning. The side that is for God, those who follow Jesus, it is their day of blessing. So He is warning Israel to be on the right side in the coming Day of the Lord.

This is also meant as a warning to us. The coming Day of the Lord is near. It is growing nearer and nearer with every passing day. The earth is groaning for the coming of Jesus. Are you prepared for that day? When we look at evil we can’t just say evil is Hitler, or Stalin, or ISIS, or the Taliban. Evil is sin…Well that changes things right. We just went from being ok to not being on the right side. “4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Our sin has been paid for by Jesus. If you have accepted Him as Savior, you are on the right side. Don’t hold that in, share it. Tell everyone you know, so that, on the Day of the Lord you will all be on the side of blessing and not wrath. If you don’t know Jesus as Savior, trust in Him today!

Joel 2:13-14

13 Tear your hearts,
not just your clothes,
and return to the Lord your God.
For He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, rich in faithful love,
and He relents from sending disaster.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave a blessing behind Him,
so you can offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God.

Joel uses his messages to Israel to call them to repentance. To change their ways. He must have seen a lot of action over the years but is noticing very little change. He looks at the past history of Israel and sees there words and actions of repentance, but he keeps seeing Israel go back to the same problems and failures again and again.

This is why God makes this declaration in our verses today. Tear your hearts not just your cloths. A good Hebrew would tear there clothes as a sign of distress and mourning. This was their outward way of telling the world around them. I am humbling myself before God. After everything Israel had done and the way they would constantly repeat their sins against God, God is telling them, don’t just show it on the outside for the world to see. Do it on the inside to be changed. Repentance is a 180 degree turn away from your sin and back to God. Not just a religious gesture.

The power of a religious gesture without the change of heart is equal to giving someone an empty box for a birthday present. The action/gesture is there but there is nothing in the box. When there is no change of heart you will fail and fall over and over. God does not want our religion, He wants our heart. He does not want our perfection, He wants our heart. He does not want our words, He wants our heart. When He has our heart, the rest will follow. Stop with the empty words and prayers. Stop with the gestures of worship and repentance and give God your heart. Hand it over to Him and let Him lead you into a relationship with Him.

Joel 2:15-17

15 Blow the horn in Zion! Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly.

16 Gather the people; sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged; gather the children,
even those nursing at the breast.
Let the groom leave his bedroom,
and the bride her honeymoon chamber.

17 Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say: “Have pity on Your people, Lord,
and do not make Your inheritance a disgrace,
an object of scorn among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Webster's dictionary defines the word repent as, “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.” I like the way that is written. It is the action of turning away from the particular sin and then working daily to amend or repair oneself. This emphasizes the fact that it takes work every day to continue on the right path. But there is one thing we have to realize about the repair process. The repairing is something that we can’t do on our own. We have to lean on Jesus for Him to do the repairing.

Joel focused this section of his writing to call everyone to repentance. That's why in the previous verses he calls the people to tear their heart and not just their clothes. But notice the way he calls on each individual group in todays verses. The congregation - those older to new born, the groom and bride and the priests. He is calling on everyone to say, “Have pity on Your people, Lord, and do not make Your inheritance a disgrace, an object of scorn among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” The purpose of this is for the whole nation to turn back to God. Joel lead the way with a repentant heart and called out to the all the congregation of Israel to do the same.

We need this in our nation today. With the division and hostility that is happening everywhere, repentance is necessary. We need to forgive one another and repent of our sins to God, the only one that can fix our current state. That seems like a big task, right? It is! It was a big task for Joel, but it started with Him. In the same way it starts with you! Repent, turn from your sin, walk daily in God's Word and call others to repentance. It all starts with you. Be the follower of Jesus He has called you to be and bring others along with you. Let’s change our nation!

Joel 2:19

19 The Lord answered His people: Look, I am about to send you
grain, new wine, and olive oil. You will be satiated with them,
and I will no longer make you a disgrace among the nations.

The nation sought God. They called out to Him and God responded. We shouldn’t be surprised about this. This is what God does. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” When you call on God to do His will, He does it and you get to be in the middle of it. 

In today's verse, we see God’s response to the people's plea for God to not forget the people of Israel. He promises new things and promises that they would no longer be a disgrace among the nations. Remember this is future promise for the people of Israel. This is on the day of the Lord. Those who are against God, will be judged. All of evil will face the wrath of God. Those who are followers of God and are seeking Him will be given something new. 

There is a lot of new that happens on the Day of the Lord. This time period brings in a new heaven and a new earth. It brings a fresh, pure, and new relationship with our creator with evil and sin removed. There is a purity to this time. Read through Joel 2:21 to 24 and see how this is true, not only for those who follow God, but even for the animals, the land and plants. It’s almost like a return to the Garden of Eden. It will be a beautiful time for those who follow Christ.

Think about the idea of making things new. God is in the business of restoration and making things new. He is the creator of all things and can mend a repair anything to make it new. That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” We are made new in Christ. Put away the old and put on the new. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, He made us new. We don’t have to be held down by our past. He even makes every day new. A fresh start every morning. Remember that today. Put your sinful past behind you and take the fresh start Jesus gives you every morning. Say to Him, “I will live this day in the newness you have given me. I will put my sins behind me and serve You today.”

Joel 2:28-32

28 After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions.
29 I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days.
30 I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth:
blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood
before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the Lord comes.
32 Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved,
for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
as the Lord promised, among the survivors the Lord calls.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted from this section of scripture. He pointed out that, the filling of the Holy Spirit on the day of pentecost was a taste of what is to come on this incredible day of the Lord. The Holy Spirit consumed and moved throughout the crowd as thousands of people committed their lives to Jesus. It was a celebration and an amazing time of worship as people were filled with the Holy Spirit. This was only a taste of what is to come on the day of the Lord.

The seven-year tribulation period is a time where there will be plenty of bad things that happen. It will be complete chaos everywhere. Joel 2:1-11 gives a good picture of what it will be like but after this, as todays verses say, God will pour out His Spirit on all humanity. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Those who experience the tribulation period will be going through what we would call, hell on earth. But the day of the Lord will bring a pouring out of the Holy Spirit like the world has never seen. It will be amazing.

This same Holy Spirit is who lives inside of you if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. This day that Joel is talking about is for the Jews and those who accept Jesus as their savior during the tribulation. For us we have the same Holy Spirit inside us right now. The same spirit that parted the red sea for Moses and the Children of Israel. The same Spirit that rushed into the day of Pentecost and caused people to hear the Gospel message in their native language so they too could accept Jesus as their Savior. The same spirit that rose Jesus from the tomb. The Spirit lives inside of us. You may wonder why you haven’t witnessed this same power in your life. Who’s controlling the driver's seat of your life. If it’s you, the Holy Spirit won’t do the work. You have to give Him control. When you do, you will see Him move and work like you never have before. Give Him control today. Surrender completely to Him today and every day. 

Joel 3:1-2

1 Yes, in those days and at that time,
when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 I will gather all the nations
and take them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
I will enter into judgment with them there
because of My people, My inheritance Israel.
The nations have scattered the Israelites
in foreign countries and divided up My land.

This prophecy is for the children of Israel. God’s chosen people. They are called out as God’s children all the way back to when Abraham was called out by God to leave Ur to go to a place where God would show him. The promises of God started then and have continued all throughout the Old Testament. You see time and time again that God holds to His covenants and promises. You see His unconditional love and forgiveness. Of course we also see His wrath and judgment but it is always preceded with patience, mercy, and love and followed with love, compassion, mercy and grace. That is who God is. 

Todays verses are some of the final fulfillments that are yet to come for the people of Israel. It’s the prophecies of old, telling Israel that they are God’s chosen people and they always will be. Nations come and go, but the children of Israel will be there until the end. That is God's promise. Look at how these verses show how even when Israel is scattered among the nations. They are all over the world but Israel will be restored and those who scattered Israel will be judged for their actions against Israel.

This goes back to when God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God is holding to his promise with Abraham. Those who scattered Israel and divided their land will receive the punishment that God had promised Abraham.

So what can we learn from this? We can trust God. He keeps His promises. In John 14:1-4 Jesus says,”1 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” Jesus also says, “Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.” So Jesus promised that those who believe in Him, He is going to prepare a room for them in heaven. He also promised that anyone who comes to Him, He will not cast out. We can be secure in those promises. Take these prophecies and allow them to point you to Christ, knowing that you can fully trust Him at His word.