5 June 2017Joel 2:23-27
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (v. 26)
Psalm: Psalm 18
After the locusts, the rain; after death and destruction, renewal and new life. Having described the effects of a plague which devours all vegetation and brings starvation to humans and animals alike that he believes foreshadows the day of the Lord (Joel 1), Joel compares such an infestation to an enemy invasion (Joel 2:1-11) and calls for repentance (Joel 2:12-17). The result of this will be restoration of the land, gifted by God. God's bounteous refreshing will come during the early autumn rainy season, and the late lighter rainfall (verse 23). In this way by soaking the ground in October or November before ploughing and sowing, and then bringing the growing crops to maturity in March and April, God will replenish the grain and wine lost during the locust invasion (verse 24), restoring basic foodstuffs.
Joel sees God's hand in the restoration of abundance to match the restoration of the relationship with Yahweh just as he saw the engulfing disaster as a sign of God's judgement (Joel 2:11). The prophet's description of human flourishing amidst God's wondrous dealings (verse 26) contrasts vividly with his earlier horrific depiction of terror and destruction in the middle of the relentless insect swarm (Joel 2:1-11). The earlier pestilent devouring of the locusts leading to weeping and mourning (Joel 2:12) is replaced with plentiful eating and praises of God for divine abundance. This restoration of fortunes, says the prophet, should renew confidence in God's power and act as reminder of divine omnipotence, omnipresence and faithfulness to Israel (verse 27).
Verse 4 of Charles Wesley's hymn 'See how great a flame aspires' (Singing the Faith 412) puts it like this:
Saw you not the cloud arise,
little as a human hand?
Now it spreads along the skies,
hangs o'er all the thirsty land:
lo, the promise of a shower
drops already from above;
but the Lord will shortly pour
all the spirit of his love!
- Have there been periods in your life that have felt like 'locust years', where more has been laid to waste than nurtured to growth?
- What have you learned about God and yourself through these experiences?