Tuesday 24 January 2017

Bible Book:

“Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” (vv. 12-13)

Joel 2:1-17 Tuesday 24 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm92


Chapter 1 has described a massive locustinvasion of the land, and today's passage describes the same eventin terms of the imagery of an invading army, and also (developingan idea introduced in Joel1:19-20) that of a ravaging fire sweeping through the land.Also notice that the devastation of the farms and orchards in thefirst chapter is now developed with the overrunning of the cities(verse 9). The wingbeats and jaw crunching of millions of locustscreates large volumes of strange noise, not unlike the rumbling ofchariots and crackling of flames referred to in verse 5.

The people's natural response to the locustplague should not merely be fear at being overwhelmed by insectsand losing their crops, but they should recognise this as theLORD executing judgement as he leads this army in theirdestructive mission (verse 11). The invasion is a harbinger of theday of the Lord (verse 1). Belief was widespread that God wouldintervene in world affairs for the blessing of people and for God'sown credibility. But like the prophet Amos (Amos5:18-20) Joel wants God's people to realise that thisapocalyptic day will involve first and foremost judgement on them(verse 2).

Verse 12 marks a change of tone however,with its use (the only one in this book) of the prophetic oracleformula, "says the LORD", where God speaks directly, calling forrepentance which might even result in the avoidance of thejudgement. The tearing of clothing (verse 13) was a commonexpression of grief and often symbolised an attitude of repentance(eg 1 Kings 21:27; Esther4:1).

To Ponder

  • Verse 12 suggests it is never too late to turn back from wrongactions and lifestyles and to return to God. To what extent are youable to accept this for yourself, for others, and for the life ofyour nation?
  • Outward signs of repentance are insufficient by themselves(verse 13). What do you think "rend your heart" might mean inpractice for you?
  • Verse 17 suggests that the worst outcome of God judgingpeople without mercy would be that others poke fun at their God'sapparent powerlessness. What things might cause people to say ofChristians today: "Where is their God?"?
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