What are you longing for? To come off furlough and get back to work? A meal with friends or wider family? Seeing everyone on a Sunday morning? A haircut? Some of those are coming soon, some require a little more waiting! The Lord longs for a people who love Him fully. He’s working in history to bring a people from every tribe, tongue and nation to Him.
1) God works in history
From swarms of locusts, to judgement, and to the sun and moon darkened, God is at work to show people He is the LORD and that people would know that the LORD is God and there is none else (v27).
2) God fights to get us to turn to Him
Ch1:1-2:11 are there showing us what God will do to wake us up to Him. John Piper puts it better than me “I have seen it in my own life: if I begin to become proud and self-confident and prayer starts to feel unnecessary, God clogs my way. He brings me down. Things will go sour at home. Tensions arise at work. Sleep is not sweet. Depression builds. Everywhere I turn, there is no joy. He boxes me in and clogs my way. He fights against me in my pride. For he is a jealous God and will have our heart’s trust 100%. When he says in 2:12, “Return to me with all your heart,” it is clear, isn’t it, what he is fighting for: all our heart, not a piece on Sunday and a piece at mealtime and a piece at bedtime. If you are his, he will fight you until you give him all your heart all the time.”
3) When you turn to him rend your hearts not your garments
Religion is often an outward show – the religious leaders pompously putting their notes in the offering box in view of Jesus, lavish sacrifices, dressing in sackcloth and ashes and so on. God is not looking at the outward, he is looking at our hearts. He is looking for a heart turning to God – because He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
4) God restores the years the locusts have taken
Lots of things can be restored – relationships, classic cars, even old rusty tools. But once time has gone, it has gone. But in v25 Joel promises that the Lord will restore the years the locusts have eaten. The immediate meaning and fulfilment of that is that although the people of God had lost their harvest numerous times to locusts, God was now promising grain, wine and oil (v19) and abundance to make up for the loss v24-25. There’s a spiritual fulfilment too of the Lord restoring years that were lost. Fruitless years, painful years, selfish years, rebellious years and Christ-less years.
God will restore them –
- He is in the midst v27 with deepening fellowship and intimacy – return to Him for it.
- He can multiply fruitfulness, restoring the past with bumper harvest – like Jesus spoke of 30x,60x,100x time fruit.
- Long term gain from short term loss – trials test us but result in praise, glory and honour (1 Peter 1:7)
Jesus is the model – cut off from the living at the prime of life for our sin, our grief, our sorrows. But raised to life he give us what no-one else can – restoring the years the locusts have eaten.
5 Outpouring of the Spirit
It’s tempting when you look at Joel 2 to jump to the bits Peter quotes at Pentecost about the outpouring of the Spirit. Rightly so! Pentecost was the early rains (v23). The expectation physically in the middle East was for early rains at the time of planting the seed and then latter rains just before harvest to ready the crops. The outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was the early rain – 3000 saved, the church birthed, gifts poured out. We need showers, deluges of latter rains – so we do indeed see every son and daughter receiving the Spirit, prophecying, with dreams and visions And many, many, many calling on the name of the Lord to be saved.
That should get you crying out to God in your devotions!