Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, May 22, 2021

2021.05.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:4–12

Read Joel 1:4–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What four types of locust are mentioned in Joel 1:4? What are they doing?  Whom does He command to awake in Joel 1:5? To do what? Whom does He command to wail? Why? What has happened? How does He refer to the locusts in Joel 1:6? What does He say about their quality and quantity in verse 6b? To what does He compare them in verse 6b–c? What is the point about the threat being posed? What has the enemy done in Joel 1:7? Whose vine? Whose fig tree? How is the destruction to the fig tree described? What does He command them to do in Joel 1:8? Like whom? What has been cut off (Joel 1:9)? From where? Who mourns in verse 9? Who serve Whom? What five things combined to produce this complete judgment (Joel 1:10)? Whom does Joel 1:11 tell to be ashamed? Whom to wail? For what two things that have perished (verse 11c–d)? What has dried up (Joel 1:12)? What has withered (verse 12b)? What other kinds of trees? What has this resulted in withering away from whom?

The disaster being declared here is one that the Lord has brought upon His own people, His own possession, His own worship. 

It’s as if the historians took their cues from the Israelites, who have to be commanded to awake (Joel 1:5a), commanded to wail (verse 5b), commanded to lament (Joel 1:8a), and commanded to be ashamed (Joel 1:11a). We have great difficulty placing the book historically, because as far as we know there is no historical record of this locust plague outside the book of Joel.

Often, we are dull to what is happening and need to be commanded to take it more seriously, to lament. And nothing is more lamentable than the cutting off of the worship of God. “Grain offering and drink offering” cut off from the house of Yahweh is a huge deal (Joel 1:9a–b), but apparently the only ones with the spiritual sensitivity to care were the priests who served actively in the offerings (verse 9c). 

It is Yahweh’s house and Yahweh’s worship. He emphasizes this by pointing out that the land is not Israel’s land so much as Yahweh’s land (Joel 1:6a). It’s not just that Israel has lost vines, but Israel itself is Yahweh’s vine (Joel 1:7a, cf. Isaiah 5). It’s not just that Israel has lost fig trees, but Israel itself is Yahweh’s fig tree (verse 7b, cf. Hosea 9:10).

But we are so dull of heart toward God that damage to the things of God does not properly affect us. So, the Lord is “bringing home the hurt” to all the people. By using locusts to eliminate the drink offerings, it wipes out the pleasure of the drunks and the self-indulgent (Joel 1:5), as well as the livelihood of the vinedressers (Joel 1:11b). By using locusts to eliminate the grain offerings, He wipes out the livelihood of the farmers (verse 11), including not only this basic sustenance for man and beast, but also all cash/trade crops (Joel 1:12), so that God Himself has robbed them of all earthly joy. The Lord is making them to feel that they have not had the spiritual joy needed to care when it is lost.

Do we lament for lost worship like a young bride, whose betrothed is snatched from her just before the wedding (Joel 1:8)? If not, may God the Spirit bless to us this passage so that His heart-sensitizing purposes toward the first recipients in their locust plague would come home to our own hearts as well.

When have you missed worship, and especially public worship? How deeply does it affect you to do so?

Suggested songs: ARP42A “As Pants the Deer” or TPH42C “As Thirsts the Hart for Water Brooks”


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