God knows it and you know it…all children need some discipline for their own good.
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When I named my firstborn son Nathan Joel, I was too young of a Christian to know who Joel really was in the Bible. I just liked the name.
Joel is known as a minor prophet, but his message was not minor – it was prophetic in nature.
We see how God can and will show up when his children are not acting like the children they have been called to be.
Joel saw firsthand how God always protects the family name and is willing to step into the role of a parent who is forced to exercise tough love.
God knows it, like you know it – if a child doesn’t receive consequences for bad behavior, they will continue down a path of destruction and be left dealing with confusion. The enemy’s plan for the uneasy feelings left behind when we sin is quite different than God’s plan. Satan longs to shame us but God longs to convict us. In His mercy, God will make sure our sin makes us uncomfortable, so we won’t be destroyed by them.
Since the pandemic began, I find myself reading scripture and searching for God’s mercy when His people didn’t deserve it. I am busy owning my part. I feel that we as a nation of created beings have some catching up to do.
Way too many of us have been tempted to live life on our own terms. We have not been willing to stay safe with God. Instead, we have decided to take risks while doing things that dishonor Him, and I am led to believe that we may be paying the consequences as a nation.
Here in the book of Joel, we see God’s hand of discipline being extended to his people. It’s a pattern we see in scripture where God uses outside forces to remind His people that they will end up in bondage and experience devastation if they turn from him and serve the false gods of this world. This time, the outside invaders were sent by God, and they came in the form of locusts coming to feast on the food supply. The very existence of God’s people was threatened.
We read about cutting, swarming, hopping, and striping locusts descending in rank formation to destroy. God’s people were in such sorrow because the desolation was so severe that there was no longer grain or wine to offer at the temple of their God. What do we see happening here? The worship of God was at the center of this destruction, and God’s people were confronted with a new norm – they had a choice to realize what was truly at stake. Would they cry out in worship and repentance like they would cry out for food?
Today, we are not dealing with actual locusts but some Christians in other nations are. Our enemy is an invisible virus and it brought along its twin sister FEAR along for the ride…and it promises to paralyze us and our worship as we have known it.
At the opening of the book of Joel, he speaks for everyone to listen and says, in all your history, has anything like this ever happened before? There are no joyful celebrations in the house of our God. Can you see it? The enemy is working overtime to get us comfortable. We must fight him and trust that God is enough for us. We were made to worship our God in freedom.
We know God sits above COVID-19. Today, I wonder where the church falls on his kingdom calendar. What about the sins of the world on his scales of justice? I’m not sure who could speak on behalf of God, but what I do know is God is a loving God and He longs to show mercy to His children even if it comes through the form of discipline.
In Joel 2:12, we hear the words of our Father
“Turn to me now, while there is time!
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, instead tear your hearts.
Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful.
He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you.”
What does that scripture mean for you and me today? He is for us and there is hope is we choose to act in the right direction. Where is your heart today?
Repent and claim what belongs to you. I pray we will see restoration happen for people everywhere. And, when I say restoration, I’m not just talking about shelves being full of food and stocked with toilet paper…
I am saying that we as a people repent of our wayward ways and truly worship our Lord so that His hand of blessing and protection will be upon us once again.
Verse 28 tells us: Then after I have poured out my rains again, I will pour out my spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. You young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants and men and women alike.
Let’s welcome his instruction and let’s get our families ready to prophesy, dream, and see visions.
The entire book of Joel has end-time prophetic references that are beyond my comprehension but one thing I know is that God keeps a calendar. He schedules kingdom business and world business and we should be paying attention. Let’s continue to appeal to his merciful Father’s heart and learn to live safely under His love.