Joel’s Message to Judah
JUNE 13 - Nº 164 [Joel 1 – 3]
Edom wasn’t the only nation that was at fault in the centuries-old feud that constantly simmered between the Edomites and the people of Judah. Shortly after Obadiah confronted the people of Edom about their arrogance, God sent a prophet named Joel to pronounce His judgment on Judah as well. Judah also needed to repent and re-align itself with God’s plans. Joel’s message was filled with tragedy, but also with hope. The message started by reminding them of a series of disasters that had taken place in the past. Swarms of hungry insects had devoured all of Judah’s crops and completely devastated the countryside. This had resulted in a time of great famine and anguish that caused the entire nation to go into mourning. Everyone had suffered! This included the priests—who no longer had the grain they needed to make the offerings that God required; the farmers and shepherds—who didn’t have enough crops to feed their families or their animals; even the lazy drunkards—who had no wine to drink since the grape vines had been destroyed! As if the locust invasion was not enough, it had been followed by a drought and wildfires! This plague was so disastrous that stories were told about it for generations. God had allowed this tragedy to take place in order to get Judah’s attention. He wanted the nation—that would someday welcome the Messiah—to seek forgiveness and return to Him. Joel instructed the religious leaders to lead the nation in a time of national mourning and repentance so this would not take place again. He advised the elders and the people of Judah to gather at the Temple in Jerusalem. There they were to fast and cry out to God for mercy. Joel joined them in pleading for God’s forgiveness. But Joel’s prophecy was far more than a history lesson about a horrible event from the past. It predicted a future time when an even more devastating judgment would occur if Judah kept on sinning. There would be another invasion. But this time, instead of insects, the assault would come from a mighty army—so mighty that their horses and chariots would shake the earth. And the devastation would be far worse! (This prophecy could have been referring to the invasion of the Babylonian army that took place nearly 225 years later—see #184, #185, #186.) Once again, God’s purpose for bringing judgment was to draw His people back to Himself. But God wanted their repentance to be sincere. He wanted them to do more than just fast, rip their clothes, and wail. He wanted them to look inside their hearts and get rid of their sin. Joel explained that God is gracious and compassionate and full of love. He doesn’t want to send disaster. He wants to have fellowship with His people. God promised to defeat the invaders, restore the land, and return to live with His people if Judah truly repented. Joel also prophesied about a future time when there will be no more evil, therefore there will be no need for judgment or invasions. The earth will be completely restored, and everyone will live in peace. He reminded the people of God’s promise that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32)!
Repentance involves before God can turning to God. But it also requires turning away from sin. God loves us and wants to fix the things that have been messed up in our lives. But we must be sincere when we ask for His forgiveness and help. Are there things in your life that you need to turn away from to fix the problems they have caused?