Monday 13 January 2014

Bible Book:

"Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord." (v. 14)

Joel 1:1-14 Monday 13 January 2014


It is not clear exactly when the prophet Joel lived and preachedhis message. It was probably about the 5th or 4th century beforeJesus, and it might have been at a time when God's people had beentaken away from their homes and scattered far and wide (Joel3:2).

There was a terrible plague of locusts (verse 4) which seems tohave prompted Joel to think that God was calling him to warn thepeople. Plagues of locusts were not uncommon, and they weredevastating. They were sometimes seen as an act of God, for examplewhen the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and God was persuadingPharaoh to let them go (Exodus10).

For Joel, it was a time to tell the people to repent, which meansto turn round from the way they had been living. Sackcloth was asign of repentance, and the priests were called to spend wholenights facing up to the situation. The locusts had probablyprevented any offerings being offered to God. Everything was verygloomy and everyone was called together for a special holy meeting.People thought the "day of the Lord" was going to be a good time,when God would rescue them and punish their enemies. But they arewarned that they will also be judged. It was going to be a terribletime, worse than what had ever happened and ever would happen. The"blackness spread upon the mountains" (Joel 2:2) was areminder of the blackness of the plague of locusts.

It was certainly a blunt threat. It is not certain what the nameJoel means, but it is something like "God is God". That could beboth a reassurance and a warning.

To Ponder

  • Are there events which should cause us to "put on sackcloth"(v. 13) today? What are they?
  • If you hadn't got any sackcloth available, what would you doinstead?
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