Words of Warning – Series from Joel
“Judgment Is Coming”
* One of the forgotten, if not dismissed, truths from God’s word is that this world is on a collision course with Almighty God (Elohim). While it is true that God is a god of love, grace, and even mercy, what people of today may well need is a reminder of the truth that God is a God of justice & judgment.
* Today we begin a walk through the prophecy of Joel. Not a great deal is known about Joel, but we would do well to know a great deal about what Joel wrote. Why? Because of the first verse in this prophecy, “The word of the Lord that came to Joel son Pethuel.” Even though we have little knowledge of Joel & less of Pethuel, it is in our best interest to hear from the one whose words Joel is recording. The 63 verses in this prophetic book serve to caution and to call all people to have a clear view of God’s coming judgment. At the end of every message in this book is an invitation to miss the judgment of God but it takes ACTION.
* The prophet Amos echoes this message in the sixth chapter he writes, “WOE to those who are at ease in Zion & to those who feel secure on the hill of Samaria.” Considering God’s impending judgment in 4 thoughts:
1. The Coming of Judgment – Notice the first two words of verse 2, “Hear this.” Almost every translation and paraphrase says the same thing. However, this phrase is more like a “listen up” or “pay attention” as it carries with it the idea and the message is important. Judgment is coming & you want to know it so that you can be prepared. He identifies both the leaders and the people to say, “Listen up.” If it were today, there might have been a ‘tone’ (like the emergency broadcast system) to get out attention.
a. The discernment – Of the many ways there are to discern things, asking rhetorical questions is very effective. Can you hear the inference in the tone of the question of “Has anything like this every happened?” Considering whom it is asking this question, our minds and souls should be stirred to understand exactly what it is that Jehovah/Yahweh has in mind. But here is the startling truth; Obviously God has something in mind which is unlike anything seen by this generation. When we are reminded of some of the atrocities which this generation has witnessed and then think that God will top all of these, we should discern that judgment is on the way.
b. The disclosure – To read verse 3 is to understand that, as holders of the truth, we should disclose the truth. Truth is not truth simply when we ‘like it’, but it is truth-no matter what! Part of the sad situation of the 21st century “Americanize church” is that we have discarded the truth of God in relation to His judgment. His right judgment is based on justice.
Judgment is Coming – Pg 2
* Amos 5:24 says, “Let justice roll like water and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.” Not only has we better know (discern) and tell (disclose) that God’s judgment is coming, but we might want to know what it will be like! Look at the;
c. The devastation – God compares His judgment to four types of locust. Let me say that the picture of the locusts is a picture of total destruction. The HCSB uses the terms, devouring-swarming-young-destroying to describe these insects. Some think these insects are illustrating armies of humans going across the land, while others think the prophet is speaking of the 4 stages of a locust’s life, and others think its four different types of bugs. Such are the arguments which make for meaningless talk and a great deal of debate, but let’s not miss the truth; the land will be destroyed and it will be the judgment of God on the wicked land & the wickedness of the land.
2. The Contents of Judgment – What is it that we see in this judgment? What is it that makes up this judgment? Just like we pick up a package of food and read the ingredients, it is desirable that we looks at the elements of this:
a. The absence of a godly embrace – At first blush verse 5 appears to have a practical side to it as it refers to ‘wine drinkers’, ‘drunkards,” and ‘wine drinkers.” Obviously, there is a message to those who lean on the bottle instead of the blood for strength. However, I find precursor to the theology of the New Testament right here with reference to ‘wine’ and ‘sweet wine.’ Generally, sweet wine is this year’s wine or new wine. Jesus’ described His ministry as one of ‘new wine’ which meant ‘spirit-powered’. Thus, to have the sweet wine taken from your mouth is to have a void of the Holy Spirit. When the “Day of the Lord” comes and the “Redeemed of the Lord” are taken away, the Holy Spirit will exit with them. One facet of God’s judgment will be no godly embrace which will unleash;
b. The aggressiveness of a godless enemy - With the Holy Spirit absent, evil has a new freedom to invade and devour. Look at verse 6 and give some thought to this picture. For a person who is under the judgment of God we see several frightening word pictures; invaded, powerful, without number, teeth, and even fangs. Every one of these pictures paints a portrait of an enemy which is unrelenting, vicious, and evil. We can see the beginnings of this picture today in America. Now that God has been removed from daily life, many others are stepping to the fore front to attack this land in numerous and ungodly ways. We can talk of the radical Muslims who killed 3000 people just because they were Americans, we can name Al-Qaeda as one who preys on Americans, and we can even name social and political groups in this land who pervert justice to have their way. However, the great attack is occurring on a local scale by people who know better. It is getting more pervasive every day.
Judgment is Coming – Pg 3
c. The affects of a great engagement – There is no way to do ‘battle’ without casualties and costs. When a country goes to war, a couple goes through divorce, or a church has a fight, the total costs and the casualties are not known for a long time. When God sends His judgment the battle which will be waged will be directed at anything which is perceived to be good. Read Verse 7. This gives me a picture of the total annihilation of everything which God has designed to be good. The grapevine, fig tree, branches and bark are all laid waste. Because I am not giving a timeline of the end of time (I.E. the Rapture of Believers and Revelation of Jesus) we have not spoken of these end time events. Just don’t miss the fact that judgment is coming from God. His judgment will be based on justice, truth & right.
3. The Consequences of Judgment – For those who are under God’s judgment, let’s see how all of this impacts them. Verses 10-12 give us this picture.
a. It destroys their provisions – Verse 10 tells us that everything mankind depends on for life will be destroyed. Frustration will be at an all time high because nothing man can do will make the land produce. All will be dried up and laid bare. We are big on ‘having plenty’, but God’s judgment will bring about a lack of everything man needs to survive. The rat race of today will turn into a rat killing of global proportions as the human race wars over things which are believed to be important.
b. It disrupts their plans – Verse 11 – 12 gives us a picture of a drought which perplexes the farmers. They plan for a big harvest and for things to go on as normal while God’s judgment brings other plans. There will be a food shortage which makes the food shortage of today pale in comparison. God removes His hand of blessings and when HIS hand of blessing is removed nothing will bloom or blossom, so all plans will be laid waste. Perhaps this picture is why Jesus told us to not make plans that we couldn’t make good.
c. It dries up their personal joy – The last line of verse 12 is staggering. To think that laughter will be gone as will peace, hope, happiness, and love. Contextualize it this way; today in America more people have more ‘things’ than ever before. We are basically a wealthy people. Yet, we are a miserable people. Deep friendships are at a premium, lasting relationships are all but non-existent, and the culprit is that in our search for happiness we have abandoned true inner ‘joy.’ Joy is a fruit of the Spirit! And since more time has been placed on the “I” in this culture, the Holy Spirit has been summarily dismissed. In principle, this is what happens with God’s judgment; joy is removed along with the Holy Spirit of God.
4. The Call of Judgment – Let’s read again verses 13-15. To read this is to understand that the coming judgment requires a response from us. As I read these words, four calls come to mind.
a. Remember – We must remember who God is and who we are.
Judgment is Coming – Pg 4
* We are God’s creation, His crown creation. If we have a relationship with Him through His Son, we have cause to remember much more. Psalm 137 has a picture of remembrance. (READ vs 1) If you are a believer today, give thought not to the place but to the concept of ZION. For years we have sung, “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful Zion. We’re marching UPWARD to ZION, that beautiful city of God.” Zion is the place where we see, know, and fellowship with the Lord. As a believer can you remember the time you were closest to Him? Is it today? Or is it in the past? Remember when your heart was hottest, when you fellowship was the closest, and faith was the strongest. Revelation 2:5 says, “ First, remember how far you have fallen,”
b. Reflect – This is a step that, many times, is overlooked today. Why is it that I have fallen away from sweet fellowship with my Heavenly Father? Is it because what someone else has done to me? Is it because God loves me less, pursues me less, or am I simply less valuable to Him today than when we first met? Please do not miss this truth: God went nowhere; He hasn’t moved away one step. Lee Turner wrote these words 25 years ago, “When you say, God seems so far away, who moved?” What caused it and when was it that you moved away? This requires an honest self-examination & self examinations can be painful particularly if done under the watchful eye of the Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
c. Repent – The promise of judgment on this world calls us to remember, reflect, and then (as is stated in Revelation 2 and displayed in Joel 1) repent. Look at all the words which display the need and action of repentance; sackcloth, lament, the altar, and offerings. The people were being called to become broken enough to have a change of mind, direction, and heart. If I am not as close to God today as I was yesterday, then it is my fault and I need to come before God and repent. The initial call of John the Baptist, Jesus, and even Peter at Pentecost was “Repent.” Without repentance there is no renewal, refreshing, &/or regeneration. There is no heaven on the horizon, there is no Zion to look for, & there is no hope for tomorrow. Repentance is an essential ingredient & is a call of judgment.
d. Return – Let’s read verse 14. Just like the Father in Luke 15 was praying, “Boy, come home” so the Heavenly Father invites us home. In verse 15 we read that the “Day of the Lord” is near (the next message), and we need to be close to the Father at home. Judgment is coming, like it or not. Every unconfessed sin will be judged. Judgment is calling, like it or not. It is calling sinners to come home, it is calling the lukewarm to get close to the fire of the Holy Spirit, and it is calling the carnal to return before it’s too late. What will you do
(PowerPoint presentations are always available for free...email@example.com