Saturday, June 05, 2021

2021.06.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:1–11

Read Joel 2:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Joel 2:1 tell them to blow and sound, where? Who else should do what? Why? What five characteristics describe this day (Joel 2:2)? What kind of people come on this day? What goes before them (Joel 2:3)? What change does it make as they go? What escapes? What do they look like (Joel 2:4a, Joel 2:5d)? How fast are they (verse 4b)? What do they sound like (verse 5a, c)? How high do they jump (verse 5b)? What is happening to the people in front of them (Joel 2:6)? What is the movement of this army like (Joel 2:7-9)? With what effect on creation (Joel 2:10)? Whose army is it (Joel 2:11)? What is He doing in front of them? What is strength doing? What does verse 11d call the day? And what question does verse 11e ask? With what expected response?

The Lord sounds the alarm (Joel 2:1), but it turns out that the invading army is led by the Lord Himself (Joel 2:11). This is surprising, but it is intended to prevent a worse surprise: those who are expecting the day of Yahweh to be a day of joy, but are headed for it as a day of devastation.

Elsewhere in the prophets, there are preachers who say “peace, peace” where there is no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:10). And there are those who assume that they may continue tolerating all sorts of sin or false worship, because after all they live in Jerusalem and attend worship at the temple (cf. Jeremiah 7:8; Micah 3:11). 

When we are church members who feel little of God’s holiness or our sin’s wickedness, we are in a similar danger, and there are plenty of preachers who will gladly keep us comfortable. Not so our Lord. He gives His people a little foretaste of His day in this locust plague.

Look at how these little insects and their day are described! The sights (darkness, gloominess, clouds, thick darkness; from Eden-like to scorched earth; fearless invaders and petrified victims)! The sounds (noise like chariots, noise like raging fire)! The sensation (earthquakes and heaven-quakes)! And the insects themselves are presented as a most strong, speedy, skilled, disciplined, selfless, organized, persistent army.

Why would the Lord invade His own city with such an army in history? Because He is coming with a frightfully more fearsome army at the end of history. Each of these locusts in the ten thousands of ten thousands will be replaced by a mighty angel. If Joel 2 is what it is like when the army is hundreds of millions of locusts, what will it be like, when the army is hundreds of millions of mighty angels?! And yet, there is One at the head of that army (cf. Revelation 19:19) Who is by Himself more mighty and more deadly than all of the rest of the army together (cf. Revelation 19:11–14Revelation 19:21).

So in Joel, and for us as we read and hear it by the Spirit’s help, the Lord raises the alarm ahead of time, calling us to repentance. He disabuses us of any false sense of security in our church membership or in anything else, and sends us flying to Christ alone. In chapter 1, He wakes us up; and here, in chapter 2, He shakes us up.

Who can endure the great and very terrible day of Yahweh? No one. And so when He comes, you had better be part of the armies of heaven and led by the One on the white horse; for, you cannot endure being His enemy.

When do you tend to lose the sense of your neediness of Christ and desperation for Him? How can you make good use of passages like this one, and what they talk about, to stir it back up?

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”

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