Summary: Joel 1:1-20 teaches us to pay attention to what God is saying to us through contemporary circumstances.
Today I am starting a new sermon series that I am calling, “Lessons from a Minor Prophet: Joel.”
The reason I picked Joel is because it is a relatively short book so that we should finish it this summer. I also picked Joel because I believe that we will find the lessons from Joel helpful to us today.
Joel is one of the Minor Prophets. That does not mean he is a “lesser” prophet. It simply means that the twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zephaniah, and Malachi) had relatively shorter books than the four Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah [who also wrote Lamentations], Ezekiel, and Daniel).
Let’s read Joel 1:1-20:
1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:
2 Hear this, you elders;
give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
or in the days of your fathers?
3 Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children to another generation.
4 What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten.
5 Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine,
for it is cut off from your mouth.
6 For a nation has come up against my land,
powerful and beyond number;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
and it has the fangs of a lioness.
7 It has laid waste my vine
and splintered my fig tree;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
their branches are made white.
8 Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth
for the bridegroom of her youth.
9 The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
from the house of the Lord.
The priests mourn,
the ministers of the Lord.
10 The fields are destroyed,
the ground mourns,
because the grain is destroyed,
the wine dries up,
the oil languishes.
11 Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil;
wail, O vinedressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
because the harvest of the field has perished.
12 The vine dries up;
the fig tree languishes.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
all the trees of the field are dried up,
and gladness dries up
from the children of man.
13 Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
wail, O ministers of the altar.
Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
Because grain offering and drink offering
are withheld from the house of your God.
14 Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
and cry out to the Lord.
15 Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
16 Is not the food cut off
before our eyes,
joy and gladness
from the house of our God?
17 The seed shrivels under the clods;
the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are torn down
because the grain has dried up.
18 How the beasts groan!
The herds of cattle are perplexed
because there is no pasture for them;
even the flocks of sheep suffer.
19 To you, O Lord, I call.
For fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness,
and flame has burned
all the trees of the field.
20 Even the beasts of the field pant for you
because the water brooks are dried up,
and fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness. (Joel 1:1-20)
If you are older than about twenty-five, perhaps the most devastating national event you have experienced is the attack on our nation on September 11, 2001. You probably remember exactly where you were when you heard that the United States was under attack. I was in my study at Oakwood church in State College, PA when I heard the news. I quickly finished a letter that had to go out that day, and then drove half a mile to Walmart to watch on their TV what was going on. I remember with horror watching the towers collapse. Then, we heard that there was a plane in the air over Pennsylvania. I immediately rushed to my son’s school to get him out of the building. I still remember trying to ask the lady at the desk for my son, but I was so overcome with emotion that I could not speak properly.
In the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead this country was involved in the aftermath of that devastating attack. The stock market was closed on Wednesday, the day after 9/11. On Thursday, the market fell 684 points, 7.1% decline, setting a record for the biggest loss in exchange history for one trading day. At the close of the week, the Dow Jones was down over 14%. An estimated $1.4 trillion in value was lost in the first week of trading.