20 May 2014Joel 2:21-27
“You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (v. 27)
The book of Joel arises out of a crisis: the people are suffering a plague of locusts and a drought. It is unclear when and why these events came about, although it seems to have some moral significance. Some failure on the part of the people has led to this experience.
These verses form part of Joel's vision in which God begins the process of restoration. Joel promises the people that the rain will fall and that they shall experience an abundant harvest. This is a bold promise, and one in which the people can only hope. Yet Joel's words encourage confidence in God: the God who acts in the context of a relationship with Israel to bring about restoration.
The plague also has a greater meaning: it is understood as the realisation of the Day of Yahweh. The experience of God's judgement or of God's blessing would have been understood as an experience of God's final judgement and God's ultimate purpose being realised within human experience. If the plague is God's judgement, then the restoration on the Day of Yahweh described in Joel's vision is the consummation of God's love.
In Joel's vision the Day of Yahweh has three aspects:
- God is concerned with the whole of creation and restoration of the body as well as the spirit, and so there will be plenty to eat
- the people will know that God is in their midst
- it will be a day of glory when the shame the people have been experiencing shall be no more.
God's promise echoes that made to Noah after the flood (Genesis 9): the people shall never have to go through the shame they have experienced again.
- How have you experienced God's restoring spirit in your life?
- Does Joel's vision of the Day of Yahweh have any relevance for you? If so, how?
- What gives you confidence that God is with you?