Summary: God provides help and grace and deliverance and justice and power and comfort in the sorrow to the other side of the disaster where His joy awaits.



Joel 2:20-32


INTRODUCTION… What are our feelings about COVID-19? (p)

* Stress because of changes to routines, school schedules, and life in general.

* Hostility that some people take distancing seriously and others do not.

* Worry over jobs and bills and worry about what is essential and what is not.

* Unnecessary racism towards Chinese folks.

* Fear of the unknown.

* Fear of getting the virus and then bringing that virus home to people we love.

* Guilt over being fine while others are struggling.

* Anger that some people are fine and we are struggling.

* Worry over how life will be different after all this is over.

* Disappointment that sports, events, and even graduations might be canceled.

* Tiredness of being at home for extended periods of time and guilt for feeling that way.

This past month or so has been upside-down for almost everyone! There are so many emotions that we have during this time. There are positive emotions and positive situations that happen during a crisis like the one we are in, but I wanted to focus today on the negative side. We are all doing our best during this COVID-19 quarantine, social distancing, and shut-down time. It is real. Our feelings are real.

I’d like to read from the minor prophets today and bring us a message that will strengthen our hearts in these times. The Minor Prophets are those books at the end of the Old Testament. The Minor Prophets are not “minor” because they were junior prophets or prophet interns, but it is a term that just refers to their length. They are just shorter books than the Major Prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah or Daniel.

Today I would like us to look in the Book of Joel. Joel can be found after Daniel. Daniel –Hosea – Joel – Amos. By the way, we will be in Amos next week. Make your way to Joel chapter 2. In the days of Joel, God used nature to try and grab the attention of His people who had turned away from Him. Joel saw plagues of locusts come to the land, much like has been in the news recently in East Africa. “The locusts present “an extremely alarming and unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods, according to the UN. A swarm of just more than a third of a square mile can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people” (

The prophet Joel interpreted the disaster as an effort to move Israel to repentance. Joel brought messages to the people of God in the midst of their disaster and sorrow. Joel promised joy after the sorrow. Joel promised the hand of God working amidst their sorrow. The people were also feeling hostility, worry, fear, guilt, anger, disappointment, and tiredness.

Let’s read from God’s word this morning.

READ JOEL 2:20-32

“I will drive the northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.' Surely He has done great things. 21 Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things. 22 Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. 23 Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm --my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the Name of the LORD your God, Who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will My people be shamed. 28 'And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”


Let’s take stock of what the people were going through. It was a tough time for them. It was an upside-down time for them. There was a lot going on in Israel that was hard. Some of it seems like a domino effect where when one thing happens that led to something else.

Verses 20-21 share with us that an army has been oppressing the people. There was destruction, loss of freedom, fear, and loss of life. Barriers and borders had been breached and the people were under attack. Violence was common.

There were also brown pastures and the wild animals are hiding (verse 22). Imagine how bad things had to be for wild animals to run away and migrate away. We find that there are barren trees everywhere (verse 22) all because there is a great drought going on (verse 23). Nature was bone dry. Animals were scarce for hunting. It was like nature was holding its breath and people were suffering. Nothing growing. Nothing to eat.

Verse 24 shares with us that not only is the drought affecting wild growing things, but the storage places of farmers are empty of food (verse 24). Nothing has been growing. Nothing is stored up. There would be such hunger and thirst. People were in need and there was no way to help and no way to provide because no one had anything to give.

Swarms of locusts are mentioned in verse 25. I find it interesting that Joel does not mention how much they ate, but he mentions how many YEARS they ate. Did you notice that in verse 25? These locusts ate years of people’s lives and livelihoods. Something must be devastating when you have to count the loss in terms of years.

Verses 26-27 each mention shame. We mind find that odd, but for the People of Israel, this was not odd. Joel is letting them know that these disasters came upon them because they left God behind and turned away from Him. The end result was shame because of their sin. Let me be very clear, I am NOT saying that the coronavirus is a judgment of God or anything of that nature, but in Joel’s context, it is very clear that God judged His people and there was much sorrow as a result. Our situations are similar in that we are feeling some of the same things they felt because we are in a hard upside-down time.

So, the people of God are dealing with occupying armies, brown pastures, scarce game for hunting, barren trees, empty fields, and food storage, drought, swarms of locusts, and shame. That is a lot to deal with.


What does God do?

Who is God in the midst of this suffering?

What promises does God make in these hard times?

These are key questions for people of faith. As people of faith, we base our lives on God, His precepts, faith in Jesus Christ, and hope that is rooted in the Almighty God. As I was reading through Joel, I saw the sorrow of the people of God, but I also saw the joy after the sorrow.


What does God do?

Who is God in the midst of this suffering?

What promises does God make in these hard times?


In verse 20, promises to God drive out the army and destroys them. The mental picture we get is God will drown the armies oppressing Israel and their floating corpses stink up the place. Not a nice picture, but the enemies are gone because the Hand of the Lord was against them.

God commands them not to be afraid because He is making pastures green (verse 22) and trees are bearing fruit (verse 22) at His command and the rains come each season (verse 23) to relieve the drought. Do you believe God is that kind of God? Does our God have command over nature to do as He wills? I do! Our God has the whole world in His hands and He can do as He wills in His Creation. God says do not be afraid because I will cause good things to happen. “I will bless you,” God says and we are to rejoice. We are to give praise that God sends His blessings.

Verse 24 tells us the end result of all the blessings flowing from the goodness of God is that the food storage is filled. And it’s not just filled, but verse 24 tells us that God sends overflowing. He does that. God sends blessings.

God also restores. Verse 25 tells us that God will restore and repay what the locusts have destroyed. God is about restoration. I imagine God telling them that He will restore their fields, their livelihood, their land, their streams, their homes, and everything that is required for living. Disaster happens and it is wonderful to know that God is for our restoration.

God also removes shame (verses 26-27). Twice in these verses, God says He will remove shame. In this particular situation, the People of Israel brought this down on their own heads and God promises to remove the shame and the guilt. Forgiveness happens. Grace happens. Mercy happens.

Then there is a whole section starting in verse 28 that is prophecy on Joel’s part which the Apostle Peter points out happens directly on the Day of Pentecost when the Church is born. These are still promises that the Lord gives.

God promises to pour out the Holy Spirit (verse 28) on all people who follow Him and not just a few. This will be a new age. This will be a time when God will give dreams and visions (verse 28-29) and is a time when a personal relationship with God is established as a reality. We know that reality is possible because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus changes so much for us. Joel describes a display of God’s power in verses 30-31. He describes salvation in verse 32 and deliverance in verse 32. Power. Salvation. Deliverance. Joel is describing a God Who is for us and not against us. He describes a God of ultimate power and endless love. Joel sees a God of justice and might and in control… and honestly… that is what we want. We want God to be power, salvation, deliverance, love, just, and in control. In the midst of sorrow, we want Him to be all those things and so much more.

APPLICATION… What are our feelings about COVID-19? (p)










Please understand that God is offering joy after sorrow. God does not always prevent bad things from happening in the world or in our lives. He doesn’t because God allows us to have free will and make mistakes. He allows sin to happen. He allows disasters. That is simply the truth of life on Earth. God does not prevent all evil or bad things from happening. Bad things happen to all people. He does always, however, give us the means to get through the hard times. God provides help and grace and deliverance and justice and power and comfort in the sorrow to the other side of the disaster where His joy awaits. Let me say that again because it is important: God provides help and grace and deliverance and justice and power and comfort in the sorrow to the other side of the disaster where His joy awaits.



Before we go this morning, I would like to point out an important part of Joel 2. This part is important for you if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Maybe you don’t know much about God. Joel 2:32 says, “And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.”

Note the word: “everyone.” This means anyone can come to God. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. God wants everyone to come to Him. God desires that no one is separated from Him.

Note the word: “calls on the Name of the Lord.” This is an act of faith. This is confessing “Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.” Calling on the Name of the Lord means placing faith in Jesus, turning away from past sin, and moving forward according to God’s way of life.

Note the word: “saved.” Salvation means we are forgiven of our sins and given a clean slate with God and have no need to feel guilt or bogged down by our mistakes. God gives grace and mercy in place of sinfulness and death.

Joel 2:32 says, “And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.”