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The Day of the LORD and the Book of Joel
The day of the Lord and the Book of Joel

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10

Scripture reading: Matthew 24:1-30

Today we are going to do a one Sunday study of the Book of Joel.

-We don't know much about Joel the person other than this: He was probably located in Jerusalem and his name means "Jehovah is God" (meaning: There is one true God)
-When it comes to dating the Book of Joel, dates range from around 800 BC to 400 B.C

The big theme of the Book of Joel is the Day of the Lord.

Like Ezekiel, Daniel, Zachariah, and many other of the prophets of the O.T, the end of the world is in view, the day of the Lord's coming to judge those in rebellion against Him and reward those who are faithfully following Him

I find it very interesting the ancient prophets spoke much of the last days- calling people to get right with God in anticipation of its sure coming. This contrasts with the lack of preaching today on the subject

Note: I find Joel 3 in terms of its scale to the last days very reminiscent of Daniel 12 and Zechariah 14

Key feature of the Book of Joel: It features an environmental disaster of EPIC PROPORTIONS

You and I are familiar with environmental and "natural disasters" --- The Hurricane Katrinna, the tsunami of December 2004 that killed 250000 people, and the earthquake that measured 8.9 in Japan this past Friday, last years earthquake in Haiti.

In the Book of Joel the disaster that befalls the people is a grasshopper plague

Actually a 3 fold disaster: grasshoppers, drought, wild fires***

In and of itself a grasshopper is a tiny and inconsequential thing, but like snowflakes, when you bring billions of them together, you've got a problem.

In Joel 1-2, Joel describes a vast and unstoppable horde of grasshoppers that had overrun the land- leaving nothing edible behind.

To get an understanding of how devastating grasshoppers swarms can be, I read some commentaries that describe what they can do and how they operate.

-They have teeth that are like saws. First they attack the grass, leaves, fruit, foliage. Then they attack the young branches of the trees, then the hard bark of the trunks. They eat the corn, the vines, the willows, pomegranates, palm trees.
-They eat all kinds of hay, straw, linen, woolen clothes, leather goods
-The sound they make has been described as a heavy shower, a hail storm, a crackling brush fire
-They fly in ranks and whole air is filled with them up to 12 to 18 feet above the ground
-In effect, they block out the sun and the moon when they pass through

READ JOEL 1-2:11

LESSONS AND OBSERVATIONS OF THE TEXT

1. The locust swarm the Israelites experienced was without precedence v.2-3
2. The locust swarm left the people starving, fearful of another swarm, destitute, and wondering "Why?"
3. One good effect of the locust swarm was that it decimated the grape crop-- leaving no supplies for further wine production v.5

Issue: Drunkenness was a problem of the day

While the Bible doesn't rule out drinking alcohol per se it speaks critically of being drunk- calling it a sin and also warns us that causing someone else to stumble as it regards alcohol is a sin that we will be held accountable for

4. The people had no clue as to why they had experienced the grasshopper plague nor why another one threatened them-- hence the call of v.5 to wake up

Similarly, the people of our day have no understanding what an earthquake, hurricane, volcano, flood, tsunami, blizzard, ice storm, wildfires, etc means

Every time one of the above happens weather specialists pop out of the work trying to explain the supposed causes and science behind them, all the while ignoring the answers that the Bible provides for why such things happen

5. The locust army was God's doing 2:11,25b

While many of the "disasters" that befall us is our doing. i.e the oil spill in the Gulf, landslides caused by deforestation, deserts caused by mismanagement of the land-- the fact remains that at times God is the only answer for the rest.

Special note: Locust swarms in the Bible tend to be acts of judgment by God (Exodus 10, Deuteronomy 28:42)

A good question to ask is "Why does God send these things?"

6. God's purpose in sending the locusts, drought, and wildfires was this: To get His people's attention, to shake them out of their sin, to turn their hearts back to Him, to get them to repent of their sins.

Note the call of Joel to the people who are wondering why: Joel 1:13-15 and Joel 2:12-13

What is Joel's call? It's a call of repentance.

Point for us: When disasters of epic proportion occur: It's a warning from God. Embedded in this warning is a call to repent.

7. The call to repent came with a special promise: Restoration and blessing for those who heed the call

Rather than trying to explain away dramatic and disastrous events the Bible says "Repent"

Joel 2:13-14 says; 'Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before.

Joel 2:25 says; "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm- my great army that I sent among you."

Joel 2:32 "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Note: Verse 32 specifically relates to the last days.

This promise is also for all who would repent and put their faith in Christ as Savior and Lord: Forgiveness. Peace with God. Eternal life. The presence of God.

8. The locust army of Joel is a sign which foreshadows the Great Day of the Lord that is to come

In Matthew 24, the Book of Revelation and other books of the Bible we are told of the signs that will mark the run up to the end of the age and the return and reign of Christ. --- wars, plagues, famine, the love of most growing cold, earthquakes, rumors of war,

Joel's clear message to the Israelites was this: The locust army is a sign of the Great Day of the Lord that is to come: In light of it's coming: REPENT. GET RIGHT RIGHT WITH GOD WHILE YOU CAN-- WHILE HIS MERCY IS AVAILABLE-for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

CONCLUSION

How is a Christian to respond when a "natural disaster" happens?

Compassion. Care. Prayer. Helpfulness -- all the while praying and hoping that people would realize that life is short and that there is nothing more important that getting right with God while one can.

Are you right with God on His terms-- terms spelled out in the Scriptures and having everything to do with Jesus?

Let us pray

-for Japan
-that we might not have stubborn hearts