Summary: Undealt with sin can destroy us, but God offers us a way out.
It's A Bug's Life
Text: Joel 1:1-20
1. Illustration: When we were pastoring a church in Yellville, AR, there were some structural problems with the building that concerned me. There was a dip in the floor of about 2 or 3 inches that ran across the sanctuary. So I contacted the insurance company and so they sent out an insurance adjuster to assess the situation. He crawled under the church and discovered the problem. There were several support pillars that held up the floor joists that had collapsed causing the floor to drop. The cause, the pillars were wooden and had been eaten through by termites. These bugs had not only eaten through the wooden pillars but had eaten a large percentage of the underneath of the church building, and no one knew it because no one bothered to look. Later I emailed one of my professors from Bible college and told him about the situation. His response was, "Did you ever imagine bugs would have so much to do with your ministry?"
2. There is a spiritual lesson for all of us to learn from this story. Like termites, sin can eat away at our spiritual life and cause us to collapse even though no one can see it from the outside.
3. The spiritual truth of this story is...
A. Sin Destroys
B. A Call To Repentance
C. A Call To Prayer
4. Let's stand together as we read Joel 1:1-20.
Proposition: Undealt with sin can destroy us, but God offers us a way out.
Transition: We must all come to grips with the truth that...
I. Sin Destroys (1-7).
A. Army Of Locust
1. This opening chapter to the Book of Joel shows us the danger of not allowing God to deal with the sin in our lives.
2. The book begins with, "The LORD gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel."
A. We know very little about Joel the prophet or his father Pethuel, other than Joel prophesied to the Southern kingdom of Judah during the reign of Joash (New Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible, 1078).
B. Joel began his prophecy, as did his contemporary Hosea and his later contemporary Micah (and as did Zephaniah in the seventh century), by identifying himself and his lineage.
C. More important, he clearly declared the divine source of his prophecy and therefore the need for readers to heed his utterance.
D. Since the message was God's, not man's, it was to be followed implicitly (Patterson, The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 7: Daniel and the Minor Prophets, 237).
3. He prophecy begins with, "Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before? 3 Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation."
A. Joel therefore commanded his people—from the eldest citizen downward—to give careful attention to what he had to say.
B. None could recall such an intense and devastating calamity as the locust plague that had fallen on them.
C. For this reason Joel's message and instructions based on the locust plague deserved to be handed down successively to the generations that followed (Patterson, 237).
4. Then Joel talks about the devastating effects of the locust attack. He says, "After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too!"
A. Several theories have tried to account for the four different Hebrew words for locusts that appear in v.4.
B. Probably the point is that the various Hebrew words are used to indicate the intensity of the locust plague.
C. There had been a successive series of locusts that had made a thorough devastation of the land, a destruction indicated rhetorically by four distinct names.
D. That there were four successive invasions may bear some relationship to the concept of thorough judgment.
E. Amos, Joel's contemporary, mentioned the utter destruction left behind by a locust plague (Amos 4:9); but he noted that there had been no turning to God by the people of the northern kingdom.
F. Joel recognized the seriousness of the situation. The locusts were God's army in judgment on Judah (Patterson, 237).
5. Now Joel issues a call for the people to wake up from their spiritual slumber when he says, "Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine-drinkers! All the grapes are ruined, and all your sweet wine is gone. A vast army of locusts has invaded my land, a terrible army too numerous to count. Its teeth are like lions’ teeth, its fangs like those of a lioness. 7 It has destroyed my grapevines and ruined my fig trees, stripping their bark and destroying it, leaving the branches white and bare."