Summary: Our nation is walking the same road that Israel took centuries ago and lost all their blessings. Therefore it is imperative that the church rises up and takes hold of their responsibility to lead the people in a godly way so that we are renewed.
Opening illustration: A British newspaper reported that a woman had hidden $20,000 worth of jewelry in a plastic bag, hoping to prevent burglars from finding it. Later, having forgotten about it, she accidentally threw the bag out with her garbage. Several workmen searched for 9 hours in a landfill before finding her treasure and restoring it to her.
Some people throw away God's abundant and gracious blessings in their lives through blatant sin. There was a time in my life when I wasn't experiencing the blessing of God because of anger and bitterness. When I finally realized that I couldn't help myself, I turned to God, repentant and broken. Gradually, as He taught me through His Word to rely on Him for all things, I experienced a full restoration of His hand of blessing.
In Joel 2, an invasion of locusts had stripped God's people of everything. What those swarming locusts did to them, our persistent sins will do to us. Our only hope is to heed God's call: "Turn to Me with all your heart" (Joel 2:12). To those who turn to the Lord in repentance, regardless of the sins that plague them, He promised, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25). Do you need “renewal” in your life? (Joanie Yoder)
Shall we turn to Joel 2 in God’s Word and catch up with the renewal process of Israel …?
Introduction: The land that suffered under God's judgment would be blessed. There is a "now, but not yet" flavor to this passage. Ultimately, in the new heavens and the new earth, in the consummation of all things, the Church will see the total fulfillment of God's promises here. Restoration is the work of the Lord alone; "Surely the LORD has done great things." Joel maintains a “prophetic liturgy” forming part of the New Year festival ritual.
How will God renew us in 2015?
1. No Fear (vs. 21-22)
Fear is an immediate and intense internal alarm system that alerts us to the presence of danger. It prepares us either to flee from or fight against the perceived danger. The Bible uses words like fear, afraid, terror, dread, anxious, tremble, shake and quake over 850 times to portray this core human emotion. For our purposes we use fears and anxiety interchangeably.
We are fragile mortals, given to fears of every sort. We have a built-in insecurity that no amount of whistling in the dark can mollify. We seek assurance concerning the things that frighten us the most. What are you afraid of? Fears attack the most precious parts of our life and keep us from living the life meant for us. God wants to help us overcome our darkest fears as we learn to Fear Not. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
With everything that is going on in the world today, the spirit of fear seems to be working overtime. We have every reason to fear, but the spirit of fear does not come from God. It can be crippling to anyone who holds on to it. Satan wants us to be so overwhelmed that we cannot accomplish the things we need to do. Remember, if God is for us, no one can be against us. We are to hold fast to God and stand strong.
The prophet Joel individualizes the earth, the beasts of the field, and the sons of Zion. The land had suffered severely from the drought connected with the locusts; but is now summoned to joy and gladness. The prophet assigns for this an appropriate reason: the locusts had done great things in damaging it; Jehovah now does great things in their destruction. When the earth clothes itself with verdure, and brings forth its fruits and flowers and various products, it is said, by a bold but beautiful personification, to rejoice and even exult. Things are now reversed. Instead of mourning, is exultation; instead of mourning and its visible emblem in girding with sadness, there is joy and gladness; instead of the day of the Lord: very great and terrible or fearful, is "Fear not."
We can conquer our fears. To admit that we are afraid is to admit that we are human. But to admit being afraid and then trusting the Lord and going forward will take the fear out of fear.
2. First month of Former/Latter Rain (vs. 23-24)
Israel has low rainfall and its soil is mainly composed of limestone and sandstone, so it is not easy to even find water underground. This is why the historical sites of Israel include many reservoirs which were used to collect rainwater for drinking, and Bible history also shows that the patriarchs like Abraham had to dig wells wherever they went and there were quarrels over water. Thus, rain was directly correlated with the livelihood of the people in Israel; their survival was threatened when it did not rain.