482. Difficulties Should Lead Us To Repentance. Joel chapter 1

Joel received the word of the Lord and shared it with all the people of Judah. In verses 1:1-4 he addressed the elders and all the people of the land and intimated that the destruction wrought by successive waves of locusts had been allowed to happen by their God. 

He then warned those associated with wine, such as the drunkards and those who drank wine, that they needed to become awake. “Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.” 1:5.

The locusts had come like a hostile nation and had invaded the land and destroyed the vegetation, “For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness. 7  It has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree; it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down; their branches are made white.” 1:6-7.

His advice was for them to be sorrowful “Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth.” 1:8. They were to be filled with a deep sense of loss. 

The priests and the ministers of the LORD were to mourn because no more offerings could be made, “The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the LORD. 10  The fields are destroyed, the ground mourns, because the grain is destroyed, the wine dries up, the oil languishes.”  1:9-10.

The tillers of the soil; and the vinedressers were to be ashamed and to wail, for everything from which they could expect a harvest had dried up and perished. Joel adds, “and gladness dries up from the children of man.” The picture is of utter devastation and the loss of any joy in the situation. 1:11-12. 

A Call to Repentance

Joel went on to explain that God was behind the disasters so the people had to repent. It is interesting though that Joel does not express the nature of their sin.  He just urges the priests and ministers of the altar to put on sackcloth and lament, for grain and drink offerings had been withheld from the house of their God. They were also to consecrate a feast and to call a solemn assembly. The elders and all the inhabitants of the land were to gather to the house of the LORD and cry out to the LORD. 1:14.

There was a need for the nation to repent, for something worse was to happen. Joel expresses it in 1:15  “Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.” The day of the Lord is a major theme in Joel and was seen as a day of destruction. He reminds them of their present plight, “Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17  The seed shrivels under the clods; the storehouses are desolate; the granaries are torn down because the grain has dried up. 18  How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep suffer.” 1:16-18. The devastation affected not only the land, but even the animals used to grazing on the land were distressed because there was no pasture for them. The coming day of the Lord would bring even greater disaster so repentance was needed.

Joel then joins in crying out to the Lord, “To you, O LORD, I call. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has burned all the trees of the field. 20  Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.” There was utter devastation in the land and even the animals panted for God in their thirst. 

The whole of chapter 1 is a description of what God had allowed to happen to the nation and contained warnings to all the people to cry out to the Lord for mercy before the coming day of the Lord arrived. 

What lessons can we learn from Joel chapter 1?

It reminds us that God’s people need to be living in the way He wants them to live and not simply doing their own thing in life. God has placed Himself in a covenant with His people to protect and bless them but they need to remain faithful to Him. If they begin to stray and fail to live up to their commitment to Him and to His will, He may have to bring correction. 

This is not His punishment as such but His concerned discipline. His discipline has a purpose. As the writer to the Hebrews put it, “… but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Hebrews 12:10-11. God’s discipline always has a positive purpose. It is to help His people return to Him to become more like Him by His grace.

WE also learn that God wants all His people to be open to Him and to repent when they stray from His ways. When they are not cognisant that they are living apart from His blessing, He may have to exercise greater discipline to get them to realise their sin and to return to Him in repentance.  

St Paul saw the value of the stories in the Old Testament [such as Joel chapter 1] as being instructive for believers in all ages, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11.

May we learn the lessons from Joel chapter 1 so that we maintain a close relationship with our heavenly Father and not have to endure His discipline. 

Blog No.482 posted on Friday 26 May 2023. 

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, Temptations, TOPICS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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