Summary: The book of Joel reveals the wonderful sovereignty of God.
Woodlawn Baptist Church
January 18, 2004
“The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.”
As I begin a short series of messages from the book of Joel, I want to begin tonight by laying a foundation for the thoughts that will come later in the book. Very often it seems that as we study a book we get lost in the week-to-week analysis of the passages and fail to see the bigger picture, or the central theme of the book. For instance, we spent a lot of time in Hosea and saw many things as God worked in the lives of the Israelites, but if we failed to see the heart of God through it all loving His people, grieving over their sinfulness and repeatedly pleading with them to repent, then we missed the point.
If the prophecy of Hosea revealed the heart of God, then the prophecy of Joel reveals the hand of God, the hand that controls destiny, the hand that moves history. The Bible teaches us that behind the whole course of human history is God. The hinge on which history turns is spiritual – God’s Spirit at work among men, and you cannot rightly understand human events if you don’t first recognize that fact. You see, every one of us bases our thoughts, our decisions, our actions, and our ideas about God and life on a worldview. You may not be able to identify your worldview, and it may lack consistency, but your most basic assumptions about everything, from the origins of life to the way you live the one you’ve been given adheres to some system of thought.
If there is one great tragedy to be found in all our busyness, in our endless pursuit of entertainment and recreation, it has got to be that we spend far too little time thinking and developing a God-centered, or biblical worldview. Let me pause for just a moment and ask you this – what is a God-centered worldview? What is a biblical worldview? Simply put, to have a biblical worldview means that your thoughts and decisions and ideas about all of life are determined by what the Bible teaches. In other words, everything you do, say, or think has been filtered by the unchanging and perfect Word of God.
Now, I am confident that if I were to ask around the room, we would all say that we have biblical worldviews. But do we really? Does the Bible really shape our theology? Does it shape how we view biology? Does the Bible govern our economic decisions? How is it that we say we have a Biblical worldview, but so many believers place their well-being into the hands of secular psychologists? What about politics? Law? Government? All of those things may seem a little too far removed from your lives to really consider, so allow me to come closer to home.
The other night as we had prayer, we mentioned some very personal prayer requests. We prayed for sick relatives and friends. We prayed for our church body. We prayed for job situations and so forth. Does the Bible shape the way we view these situations? Let me see. Answer this for me: Is God sovereign over every area of your life? In other words, does God decree everything that happens in your life? If you say no, then you are saying that there are things that happen in this world that are beyond God’s ability to control, but if you say yes, then you are saying that God decrees even the bad things, the evil that occurs in this world. When we read about a young infant that has contracted some devastating disease, did God ordain that it should happen? When a husband looses his family in an auto accident, did God ordain that it should happen? When the terrorist attacks occurred, did God ordain that they should occur? When the earthquake hit in the Middle East, killing thousands a few weeks ago, did God ordain it?
This is important, because far too many of God’s people are wavering with uncertainty over this problem. Either God is sovereign or He is not, and when evil occurs, we too quickly try to pass the blame somewhere besides God. Allow me to read to you what one pastor has said that I agree with…
“…people who waver with uncertainty over the problem of God’s sovereignty in the matter of evil usually do not have a God-entranced worldview. For them, now God is sovereign, and now He is not. Now He is in control, and now He is not. Now, when things are going well, He is good and reliable, and when they go bad…maybe He’s not. Now He’s the supreme authority of the universe, and now He is in the dock with human prosecutors peppering Him with demands that He give an account of Himself.