Sermons

Summary: The prophet Joel used locusts to illustrate that the people needed to repent...but it’s not about the locusts.

1) INTRODUCTION

a) When I was a young child, my grandparents had a farm in central NY. This farm was way up on a hill and even though my grandfather didn’t do a whole lot of farming, I remember that the fields at the farm seemed endless in the scope of my childhood world.

b) The high grass that surrounded the farm house was a favorite place for us to run and play and roll in the grass.

c) One of the things that we loved to do while playing in the fields was to catch grasshoppers…they would jump and fly around, but if you were quick enough, you could catch one or two and hold them in your hand.

d) I remember looking very carefully at the grasshoppers I caught, studying their eyes and legs and wings and heads…and I remember that they were REALLY UGLY!

e) It wasn’t long before we would release them and run after another one…it seemed to me like they were everywhere!

f) In the Bible, there are lots of stories about grasshoppers…usually called locusts (which are just a subcategory of grasshoppers)…maybe the most famous is the plague of locusts that God sent to Egypt in Exodus 10 when Pharaoh refused to allow the Jewish people to leave…in that story, the locusts did immense damage to the country, the crops, the food supply…the point of God sending the locusts was not necessarily to punish the people, but to punish Pharaoh for his disobedience. For the Jewish people, it wasn’t about the locusts at all…it was about freedom…

g) Another story of a plague of locusts is told in the book of Joel. Joel was a prophet of Yahweh…a prophet to the Jewish people…

h) Now, the first part of the book of Joel, tells us about a plague of locusts...and the destruction that overtakes everything…

i) Joel then uses the imagery of the plague to warn the people of God’s judgment coming in the form of foreign invaders. The plague of locusts is a metaphor for the foreign invaders…something that the people would remember and fear.

j) And God sometimes used foreign invaders to pass judgment on his unfaithful and unrepentant people…(2:1-11)

k) This sets the stage for Joel to call the people of Israel to repentance…(2:12-17)

l) And then in our scripture for this Thanksgiving Worship…Joel tells the people about a dialogue he had with God…a message for the people…a message of salvation.

m) Even in this story…it’s not about the locusts…

2) SCRIPTURE – Joel 2:21-27

a) Through all of the locusts and all of the destruction, God had mercy once again on his people…

b) In verse 18 of chapter 2, Joel tells us that God became jealous for his land, and took pity on his people…and then he sends in the Red Cross, with food and wine and oil, and promises to never again make them the object of scorn for the nations that are attacking them…

c) And at the end of verse 20, Joel says these words…”Surely he (God) has done great things.”

d) Let’s pick up our reading in vs. 21…Read Joel 2:21-27

e) Joel tells us that God said that the land should not be afraid…God said the animals should not be afraid…and he said that the people of Zion should not be afraid…rejoice in the Lord your God…

f) But why?

g) Look in verse 23…for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness

h) ‘In righteousness’ here means in fulfillment of the covenant God made with the people. God is doing this because he said he would…he is righteous…

i) What else? Those showers will be abundant…and not just in the fall but in the spring too.

j) And the threshing floors will be filled with grain and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil…the cupboards will be filled and you will have enough!

k) Not only that, but God will give you more to make up for the years the locusts ate all your food…and you will have plenty to eat…

l) And you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you. Never again will my people be shamed.

m) Yeah God! Yeah Israel!

3) It’s Not About the Locusts

a) But wait! The whole beginning of the book of Joel is about the destruction that God is calling down from locusts and foreign invaders…and then we quickly shift from that to God pouring out his blessings on the people and promising that he would never again shame them…

b) What’s the deal? What happened that change God’s mind…

c) Well, we get a clue in verse 2:12 when God asks the people, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning…”

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