Day 130 – Thru the Bible
Today we read Joel and continue Psalms. Here is the overview video for Joel.
Video – Read Scripture: Joel
How does this video help you understand Joel better?
Joel 1 – The first chapter describes the destruction brought by a plague of locusts. Joel opens with an urgent call to his listeners to recognize what has just happened. The leaders (elders) are told to pay attention and to teach their children.
We too get to tell the next generation of the mighty deeds of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here is a vivid picture of the destruction brought by the locusts. The descriptions are reminiscent of the locust plagues brought upon the Egyptians at the time of Israel’s exodus. The difference here is that the plague comes as judgment not upon some foreign oppressor but upon the people of God themselves.
This might seem strange, but the Scriptures are clear that “the Lord disciplines the one He loves” (Hebrews 12:6). While we should be careful not to interpret every hardship or trial as discipline from the Lord—the mistake of the Pharisees in John 9—we should not forget that God will correct/teach us as He knows is best for the sake of our souls. Through the revelation that comes through His prophet Joel, it is clear that this plague comes as judgment upon God’s people (we will see this in the next chapter). Yet the fact that God wants everyone (elders and children, rulers and workers, drunkards and priests) to know of this judgment makes it clear that He is also wanting to claim the attention and reclaim the hearts of His people.
We can always be sure that the sovereign Lord is accomplishing His good purposes, not only in the world at large but in our life—as He was ultimately doing for Israel here (Romans 8:28).
The proper response to God’s judgment is contrite repentance. Yet the Lord is not mainly concerned with outward evidences of penitence but rather with genuine repentance from the heart. The fact that God is more desirous of fasts from the contrite than rich offerings from the wayward signifies His priority on genuine repentance and authentic relationship. Such priorities compel us to discern whether we are more sorry about the consequences of our sin (in this case, the destroyed crops and flocks) or about the fact that we have offended our holy God (2 Corinthians 7:9–10). The latter is the evidence of true repentance.
How do we know that the good news is God does not give up on His people but is determined to be faithful to His promises and to finish what He started in their lives? Hint: Philippians 1:6.
Joel 2 – Here Joel reminds his listeners that the plague of locusts is not the worst thing that could happen. Another cataclysm is coming that should be of greater concern. The “day of the Lord” points us to the ultimate judgment spoken of in many other biblical texts. Joel’s language might seem to suggest another plague of locusts or even the attack of a human army, but he is describing the army of the Lord of hosts coming with our messianic King at the final judgment. God’s people have proven faithless. God’s people must reap the consequences.
The cosmic imagery of Joel 2:10 reminds us of the words of Jesus as He describes the same event (Matthew 24:29–31). He describes everything from the last trumpet to signs in the heavens to the army of angels who will accompany Him at His return. It is the prospect of this final judgment day that should cause people to tremble.
Jesus makes it clear, however, that for His people the final day is a day of deliverance—because He has already taken their judgment upon Himself on the cross (Mark 13:26–27).
Not only on the final day of history, but also on the final day of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the sun and sky were darkened (Mark 15:33). He died in the middle of history amid darkened skies so that we can know that our own personal darkened skies are not meant to punish us. Rather, such trials are preparing us for that final day when Jesus will come in glory to receive and finally release His people into light and joy (Revelation 1:5–8).
Once again, in light of the coming of the day of the Lord, the call is to repent. Joel says “return” to the Lord. The Hebrew word means “turn.” True repentance is not only sorrow that we sinned against the Lord but a determination to change direction in our lives—turning from the sin to God, in love and dependence. You can tell that you have truly repented if you are determined to turn your back on sin and walk with the Lord, through the power He provides.
Our motive for heartfelt “returning” to the Lord is His own character: “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (quoting Exodus 34:6). The apostle Paul will later echo these truths, saying, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Joel 2:18–27 mark not only the halfway point of the book but also its turning point as Joel announces the covenant faithfulness of the Lord. Despite the sins of His people, the Lord’s purpose will not be frustrated as He promises provision and protection.
What is at stake is not merely the well-being of God’s people but the glory of His own holy name. The foundation of God’s grace shines through in His promises despite the sins of His people. In Jesus we see the fulfillment of God’s promise of both protection and provision. He protects us from the greatest of all dangers: condemnation for our sin (Romans 8:1). And He promises to provide “every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When the Lord is your God, you have nothing to fear. When the Lord is your God, you have every reason to be glad (vv. 21-23).
The Lord promises not only provision and protection but the pervasive power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament narratives, the Spirit was primarily depicted as an instrument or expression of God’s power that visited only certain people at specific times to accomplish certain divine purposes. Moses longed for the day when there would be a pervasive presence of this Spirit among all the Lord’s people (Numbers 11:29). These verses in Joel speak of the day when that longing will be fulfilled as a result of the great work of redemption of the coming Lord.
The fulfillment of this prophecy was made apparent on the day of Pentecost, as God made plain His eternal Trinitarian nature and the blessing of His Spirit upon all who believe in Jesus (Acts 2:14–28). On that day and for the sake of the expanding church, God revealed fully the Spirit of God that indwells everyone who believes in Jesus—men and women, young and old, insider and outsider.
Because the role of the Spirit is to testify of Jesus and minister Him to our hearts (John 14:16–20; 16:7–15), Jesus is always present with Believers through His Spirit—to comfort (John 14:25–27), transform (Galatians 5:22–23), teach (John 14:26), assure (Romans 8:16–17), and intercede (Romans 8:26). Joel 2:32 assures us that this grace and these gifts are available to all who will call on the Lord in faith and repentance.
How do you see these gifts that you’ve received in your everyday life?
Joel 3 – In this final chapter Joel reveals the Lord not only as the deliverer of His people but also as the judge of the nations who have harassed His people. “Jehoshaphat” means “the Lord is judge.” Sometime we forget that the grace of God includes the defeat and judgment of the spiritual enemies of His people. Despite the efforts of these enemies of God to disrupt His plan and to destroy His people, they are the ones who will be judged. What they have sown they will reap. As the sovereign ruler of the universe, God’s plans for His people cannot be disrupted. In verse 10 the imagery found elsewhere (Isaiah 2:4) is turned around. “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears.” The nations are challenged to bring everything they’ve got—but it still won’t be enough to frustrate God’s purpose.
The Lord is the guarantor of His plan and the champion of His people. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). All this is secured through Jesus, the ultimate “refuge to His people.”
The final verses of the book show the glorious result of God’s gracious provision for His people in terms that would be paradise for an ancient people, including a dwelling place with Him, a never-ending supply of wine, milk, and flowing water, and eternal security as well. All of these blessings find their fulfillment in Jesus, who is always present with His people (Hebrews 13:5), a never-ending spring of spiritual refreshment (John 4:14), and the Giver of eternal life (John 3:16). In brief, Jesus restores Eden. In Him, the new creation has dawned, even as the old age of sin and death continues. One day, He will come again and bring even this old age to a close, and Eden will be restored perfectly, forever, for His people.
Here again, we see the “now” and “not yet” of our current condition. How does this book give you confidence in the final outcome that God will bring about?
Psalm 125 – In Jesus, we have strong reason for confidence. For those who trust in Yahweh—the Lord, the covenant God of Israel—are like Mount Zion (Jerusalem), which cannot be moved. As Jerusalem is surrounded by protecting mountains, so God’s people are surrounded by the presence of the Lord Himself. God will not—indeed, He cannot—renounce His commitment to His own people. And so as Jerusalem is founded upon God’s promise, His people likewise bask in the strength and confidence of His promise and covenant commitment to preserve them.
But we must recall that God’s covenant promise is for those who truly are His people. And what marks those who are His? They are, by God’s rich grace, good and upright in heart, whereas those who have falsely professed their faith in God turn aside to crooked ways. Peace, then, is promised and pledged to those who comprise the true Israel, the true people of God.
How do we understand, by God’s further revelation, that the true Believers are those who have been united to Jesus by faith? Hint: Romans 9:5; Galatians 3:7, 14.
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
All links you need to be a part of this are here – Thru the Bible in 2018.