First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
This week on the Ministerial Alliance program weíre going thru the minor prophets of the Old Testament. Yesterday, I looked at the message of grace and mercy shown in the book of Hosea. Today, weíll look Joel and see what God has for us there. May God give us ears to hear and a heart receptive to his message and may the truth and light that is Jesus Christ shine brightly into our hearts- Amen!
Joel is a short book, just 3 chapters long. It starts out by describing a locust plague thatís come against the land. It might be difficult for some to worry about a locust plague, but here in Union County weíre still pretty agricultural based and I think we can identify with a natural plague- be it locusts, drought, prairie dogs, lack of water, or whatever. Our livelihoods are tied up with the land and when the land suffers, weíll suffer, too. So it was in Israel in the days of Joel. Letís look at the text:
The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders, And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, Or even in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation. What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; And wail, all you drinkers of wine, Because of the new wine, For it has been cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against My land, Strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white. Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth For the husband of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering Have been cut off from the house of the LORD; The priests mourn, who minister to the LORD. The field is wasted, The land mourns; For the grain is ruined, The new wine is dried up, The oil fails. Be ashamed, you farmers, Wail, you vinedressers, For the wheat and the barley; Because the harvest of the field has perished. The vine has dried up, And the fig tree has withered; The pomegranate tree, The palm tree also, And the apple tree All the trees of the field are withered; Surely joy has withered away from the sons of men. Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail, you who minister before the altar; Come, lie all night in sackcloth, You who minister to my God; For the grain offering and the drink offering Are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land Into the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty. Is not the food cut off before our eyes, Joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seed shrivels under the clods, Storehouses are in shambles; Barns are broken down, For the grain has withered. How the animals groan! The herds of cattle are restless, Because they have no pasture; Even the flocks of sheep suffer punishment. O LORD, to You I cry out; For fire has devoured the open pastures, And a flame has burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field also cry out to You, For the water brooks are dried up, And fire has devoured the open pastures. (Joel 1:1-20 NKJV)
I think this certainly gives a picture of desolation! "What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; what the swarming locust has left, the consuming locust has eaten". This is plague upon plague upon plague. Joelís attitude is not one of complacency either. He calls for people to mourn, naming groups as diverse as farmers, drunkards, priests, and elders of the church. Joel understands that there is a reason for this plague and he said as much in:
Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty. (Joel 1:15 NKJV)
The reason, therefore, for the plague of locusts is because Israel has drifted from the Lord and been sent a chastisement. Fortunately, the Lord is also full of grace and mercy, as we saw yesterday in the study of Hosea and Joel also records the cure for this plague.
"Now, therefore," says the LORD, "Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." So 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; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him A grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, "Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?' " Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, And pity His people. (Joel 2:12-18 NKJV)
The relief from the plague will come in the form of repentance. Joel says "rend your heart and not your garments". This is not by any means a call unique to the book Joel either but a call that echoes throughout the entire Bible. Godís people stray, He chastises them, and if they repent, He has mercy.
Not only does simply have mercy and call back the armies, whether human or locust, but He frequently restores blessings to a greater degree than there was before. As Joel records:
The LORD will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations. "But I will remove far from you the northern army, And will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, With his face toward the eastern sea And his back toward the western sea; His stench will come up, And his foul odor will rise, Because he has done monstrous things." Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. (Joel 2:19-27 NKJV)
After this restoration, we have a very significant passage:
"And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:28-32 NKJV)
In Acts, Peter is recorded as quoting this passage during his sermon at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit had come upon the early believers and they were accused of being drunk by non-believing witnesses. Peter spoke up and said "No, butÖ.", and then referenced Joel, showing that it was prophesized that the Holy Sprit would come upon all men. Peter then went on to show that this prophecy referred to the act of Jesus Christ upon the cross, saying:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36 NKJV)
The result of Peterís sermon was this:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37 NKJV)
Joel called the people to repent of their sins, and what do you think Peter also did?
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." (Acts 2:38-40 NKJV)
And the result of Peterís urging was:
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41 NKJV)
In Joel, repentance from sin leads to relief from the plague of locusts and a greater blessing from God. In Acts, Peterís urging and the peopleís repentance also leads to relief from sin and to a greater blessing- salvation thru the blood of Jesus Christ. Far from being a new thing, unrelated to the Old Testament, the New Testament, then, is a continuation of Godís grace and mercy, but on a higher plane. The New Testament shows not just relief from worldly locust plagues, but relief from the other worldly plague of sin and death because of sin. The author of Hebrews, perhaps the most important book in the Bible for showing the link between old and new, calls Jesus "a new and living way" in chapter 10:20.
What do you think? Do you have locusts in your life that are consuming the things you need for life? Are they the result of your sins against God? If so, do as the Israelites and the men at Pentecost were urged to do- repent. Place yourself at the mercy of God through Jesus Christ and "be saved from this perverse generation."
Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. Join us again tomorrow at 9:45 here on KLMX.
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