“The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.” (Joel 1:20)
Disaster strikes the southern kingdom of Judah without warning. An ominous black cloud descends upon the land—the dreaded locusts. In a matter of hours, every living green thing has been stripped bare. The prophet Joel uses this occasion to proclaim God’s message. Although the locust plague has been a terrible judgment for sin, God’s future judgments during the day of the Lord will make the plague pale by comparison. In that day, God will destroy His enemies, but bring unparalleled blessing to those who faithfully obey Him.
Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit after His ascension to the Father. (John 16:7-15) When this was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” (Joel 12:28-32) Joel also portrays Christ as the One who will judge the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat in 3:2,12.
The key theme of Joel is the day of the Lord in retrospect-looking back, and prospect-looking forward. Joel uses the terrible locust plague that has recently occurred in Judah to illustrate the coming day of judgment when God will directly intervene in human history to vindicate His righteousness. This will be a time of unparalleled retribution upon Israel, (2:1-11) and the whole nation (3:1-17), but this time will reach its greatest height in great blessings and salvation for all those who trust in the Lord. (3:18-21) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered. (2:32)
The Lord called on His people to repent, from the priests who minister before the altar, to spend the night in sackcloth. They were to declare a holy fast: call a sacred assembly, summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God. Their storehouses are in ruins and the beasts of the field cry to the Lord and the streams are dried up and fire devours the open pastures. What a terrible picture this is of what can happen when God’s people forsake Him. May we learn a needed lesson from those who forget God.
The people of God ignored their maker,
And the dreaded locust stripped bare their land,
But the worst is yet to come
If the Word of God they refuse to understand.
May we turn to the Lord with penitent hearts,
Beg him to forgive us of our sin,
And our gracious Lord,
Will cleanse us within.
Dear Father, may we learn an important lesson from Judah, and call upon our God to cleanse our hearts and lives. In Jesus holy name we pray. Amen.