Warning: Spoiler Alert! Reader may encounter strong warnings in the book of Joel. Be advised spiritual and emotional shifting may occur. Reactions can include anger, fear, or bitterness. Responses may be mitigated through honest reflection and repentance. Holy Spirit is standing by to bring both power and authority if requested. Outcomes may vary according to recognition of current reality.
Can you imagine if the Bible had warnings posted, before you cracked open the book and faced your life? Or are you thankful that the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart? (Heb 4:12 NIV)
Reality checks can be life saving, relationship protecting and brings financial freedom, let alone emotional and spiritual truth. Yet many of us, preferring the heavy of cloak of denial, shield our eyes from truth and then are blindsided when consequences coming crashing through the door.
That’s what happened to Judah. As a chosen prophet, Joel told the truth about the nation’s state of emergency through starvation and destruction, describing fields depleted by seas of locusts, dilapidated barns, a nation of rock hard, with land long slaked by thirst. Even the animals were suffering, moaning from lack of pasture. Priests wailed before the altar, with nothing in hand to worship God. Without wine, oil, or grain, the nation’s joy evaporated. Only cries of hunger remained.
Joel sought God, though aware his nation’s sins had created this brutal reality. The God of constant mercy said to prodigal Judah, “Come on home to Me”:
The LORD said: It isn’t too late. You can still return to me with all your heart. Start crying and mourning! Go without eating. Don’t rip your clothes to show your sorrow. Instead, turn back to me with broken hearts. I am merciful, kind, and caring. I don’t easily lose my temper, and I don’t like to punish. I am the LORD your God. Perhaps I will change my mind and treat you with mercy. Then you will be blessed with enough grain and wine for offering sacrifices to me.( Joel 2:12-14, CEV)
With joy, Joel hastily hit the sirens, (maybe he blew the shofar long and hard) to call the entire nation to fast, pray and seek the Lord’s face. The Lord had requested from babe to elderly to be part of the solution and quickly, open communication with God flowed in prayer by a desperate nation.
The Lord gave his servants, the priests, authority to shift the nation. Joel commissioned the broken priests to intercede with as much passion as God deserved:
Tell my servants, the priests, to cry inside the temple and to offer this prayer near the altar: “Save your people, LORD God! Don’t let foreign nations make jokes about us. Don’t let them laugh and ask, ‘Where is your God?’ ” ( Joel 2: 17, CEV)
The result? Grace upon grace:
The LORD was deeply concerned about his land and had pity on his people. In answer to their prayers he said, “I will give you enough grain, wine, and olive oil to satisfy your needs. No longer will I let you be insulted by the nations. An army attacked from the north, but I will chase it into a scorching desert. There it will rot and stink from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean.” The LORD works wonders and does great things. So tell the soil to celebrate and wild animals to stop being afraid. Grasslands are green again; fruit trees and fig trees are loaded with fruit. Grapevines are covered with grapes. People of Zion, celebrate in honor of the LORD your God! He is generous and has sent the autumn and spring rains in the proper seasons. Grain will cover your threshing places; jars will overflow with wine and olive oil. I, the LORD your God, will make up for the losses caused by those swarms and swarms of locusts I sent to attack you. My people, you will eat until you are satisfied. Then you will praise me for the wonderful things I have done. Never again will you be put to shame. ( Joel 2: 18-26, CEV)
God healed the land and restored His people with mercy. Celebrations were restored. Shame was dealt with. The land was cleansed from the defilement of the people. From that place of desperate despair, Israel now rejoiced in the great goodness of their God.
Not content with just blessing the current generation, like a generous Father who has secret gifts hidden all over the house for His kids, God shifted the landscape with His Even More, Project Holy Spirit for the future of His chosen people:
Israel, you will know that I stand at your side. I am the LORD your God– there are no other gods. Never again will you be put to shame. Later, I will give my Spirit to everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will even give my Spirit to my servants, both men and women. (Joel 2: 27-29, NKJV)
God’s future dream of His people was that they didn’t just seek the Lord, but would actually abide with their God. The Holy Spirit was coming, an incredible gift to everyone in society who would believe in Christ.
God’s plan hasn’t changed. Not age-bound, gender determined, or hierarchy based, the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all who would seek Him. With the Holy Spirit, all evasion of reality can be addressed. In love, the Holy Spirit convicts, abides, empowers, leads, equips, and shapes us into children of Almighty God. After that one national fast by Judah, this glorious plan of God abiding with His people was announced. Once Christ valiantly removed our shame through His blood sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit boldy announced to all who would hear that the long-awaited day had come: Holy Spirit would abide with all who called on the Name of Jesus Christ as their salvation ( see Acts 2).
Let’s pray: Holy Spirit, come fill us to overflow. In mercy, give us dreams, visions, prophecy and lead us forward into the truth of our adoption as children of God. Father, thank you for this incredible gift of Your Spirit. Lord Jesus, thank You that you prepared the way through your brave and selfless sacrifice for us all. How we love you, O God! Search us O God and know our hearts. See if there be any anxious way in us and bring us into all truth by Your Spirit. Amen
This Week’s Reading: Joel and Amos
Next Week’s Reading: Obadiah – Micah 7
- Have you ever seen locusts devour a field? Have you ever experienced sudden loss or tragedy like this? How did you get through?
- Do you know the Holy Spirit? Have you accepted He is reality for all Christians? Do you dream God’s dreams or visions or speak forth prophecy? Why or why not?
- How do you restore relationship with God when disaster strikes? Do you play the Blame Game? How do you step into reality in order to hear truth?
- Does the Word of God bring truth and reality to your life? How does the Holy Spirit assist that experience?
- Amos was a tough book to wade through. Do you see the gift of reality in its chapters?