Joel (Part 2) - The Day of the Lord - 9th May
- Please take the time out to read again Joel 2:1-27.
In the first of this series we looked at how Joel used a significant, known calamity to position what may happen in the future, using the analogy of a swarm of locust reaping destruction that would impact everything. He sounds the alarm (v1). It talks about how it looks (v4) sounds (v5) and approaches (v7-9). We talked together about what it may take for God to get our attention and understand what we need to do. It was a get ready call. He raised the ‘threat level’. He sounded the alarm (v1&12).
We have just reminded ourselves of the nature of the problem (1-11). He then moves to what needs to be done (12-14). It is not unusual at all that the message is one of repentance.
- Please reread v12-14. What are the key elements of the repentance that Joel is calling for? (c.f. also Hosea 14:1-2 (a couple of pages back) for a great description of repentance)
- Do outward signs of repentance actually mean anything?
- How specific should repentance be? Can we just be ‘sorry’?
- How do we know that repentance is genuine? What signs should we look for?
God wants us ‘heart-broken’ (cf also Ps 51.17). These verses speak of the ‘totality’ of the heart (v12), its tearing (v13a), and its turning (v13b). He then goes on to give the reasons why we should and this will be familiar following the series at the end of last year – He is Gracious and Compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and (interestingly) he relents from sending calamity.
- Does this imply that God changes his mind? As He is immutable and sovereign how is this possible?
It is more that God is able to deal appropriately with the changes in the behaviour of His people. There is a great quote from Chuck Swindoll which is helpful here. “God’s judgment is a waiting, wise judgment. It is never at the mercy of an irrational temper, impulsiveness or misinformation. It always responds at exactly the right time and in exactly the right measure; and when his people repent, God’s judgment steps aside to let His mercy and grace flow”.
The action requested by Joel is, however, not just individual, but corporate. Again the trumpet sounds (v15) (an action which always mixed sounding a warning with gathering to hear what to do about the warning) calling the people together to seek God and fast. This includes everyone and it must take priority whatever their circumstances (v16), with even the gladness caused by marriage and childbirth being replaced with a sincere sadness about the plight of the nation. The priests then do their job, united totally with those in their charge, calling on God for the sake of His name.
Then comes the next transition in this book; the transition from fear to faith. Joel makes a great statement of faith – quite short so it is easy to miss! ‘The Lord will reply...’ (v19 c.f. Hebrews 11:6)
- How can Joel be sure? Take a little time to think through the extent we operate in faith when we come to God. Are we able to say that ‘the Lord will reply’?
- What are the components of the Lord’s answer? (v21-27)
Please note, if you hadn’t picked it up that there is a redemption of all that had been taken away, with the impact of the four stages/phases of the locusts’ impact reversed (v25).
- Evidently God cannot give the lost time back. V25a implies there is a way he will ‘repay’ what has been lost. Are there any examples that you can think of that illustrate this in your own experience or of those you know?
The language of v25b does imply that God takes responsibility for sending the trouble. ‘My great army I sent...’ see also Hosea 6:1.
- (Please don’t get too caught in this one but...) Do we have difficulty with this? Do we not regularly sing the same thing – ‘you give and take away, my heart will gladly say, blessed be Your name’?
- Discuss why God is going to do all this (v27) – please note that this is one of the strongest statements of monotheism in scripture c.f. Exodus 20:2-3)
It is for the sake of his name (c.f. Ezekiel 36: for use of similar language) and there is an apparent permanence to the state that his people will be in. ‘Never again will my people be ashamed’.
The question must be ‘how is He going to make this permanent state of being possible?’ Of course, He is the God who delights in doing the impossible (c.f. Jer 33.27 & Luke 1:37; 18:27).
What happens next is headed in the NIV as the ‘Day of the Lord’ and the next section is indeed a separate section in the Hebrew Scriptures. It describes something that will happen in the future and is a wild and exciting concept. The Holy Spirit is going to be given to everyone with amazing effect on people (v28-29) and creation (v30-31). (c.f. Ezekiel 36:24-32 for a similar description of how the new covenant would be effected through the ‘Promise of the Father’)
There do appear to be two separate parts to the Day of the Lord, (which is clearly more than one 24 hour period). We have the benefit of several thousand years of experience and the first part of this prophecy at least being fulfilled (and explained by Peter) on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21 & ff). It is also helpful to go at Isaiah 61:1-2, the verses quoted by Jesus as he launched his ministry in Luke 4:18-19).
- Please take careful note of what Jesus does with these verses. Where does Jesus stop? What follows in Isaiah 61:2 that Jesus does not quote?
- What do you think the significance of this is?
Jesus seems to separate two parts of this prophecy. The part he fulfils through his ministry – the year of the Lord’s favour. As will be clarified a little more in the final instalment, this separation is in part right. For now:
- How does our experience match the notion of the Holy Spirit being poured out? How is this revealed in our lives?
- Spend some time thanking God for being able to be part of the blessings that have come receiving the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost
- Pray that we will begin/continue to live more in the reality of the outpoured Spirit