Summary: Judgment and mercy of God.
The Day Of The Lord
This morning we want to take a look at the OT book of Joel. First, we will walk through a summary view and then go back and focus on the main message as it applies to us today.
The book of Joel naturally divides into two sections.
Chapter 1:1 through chapter 2 verse 27 is the first section. In the first section we read about a terrible locust plague that occurred in Israel as a judgment from God. We also read in the first section how the people repented and turned back to God and God restored their land and their prosperity.
Then in chapter 2 verse 28 to the end of the book we read about a future time when God will pour out His Spirit and bless His people and how he is going to gather the nations which have rejected him for judgement.
“The first half of the book describes how God fought against his own people to make them honor him alone as God and the second half of the book describes how he will fight against the nations who refuse to honor him alone as God.”
Joel 1 describes a devastating locust plague.
4 What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;
And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;
And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
There is nothing left – total devastation.
The prophet sees in this catastrophe the judgement of God and so he calls for the people to repent and cry out to the Lord
Gird yourselves with sackcloth
And lament, O priests;
Wail, O ministers of the altar!
Come, spend the night in sackcloth
O ministers of my God,
For the grain offering and the drink offering
Are withheld from the house of your God.
14 Consecrate a fast,
Proclaim 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.
But in verse 15 Joel looks forward to a time somewhere in the future and begins to point to “the day of the Lord” as a warning that there is a great and terrible day of judgment – that the locust plague is like the dawn or the beginning of this “day of the Lord”
In other words he is saying – you haven’t seen nothing yet – this is just the beginning – you about to see even worse devastation come on your nation
1 Blow a trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of the LORD is coming;
Surely it is near,
In describing this time of great judgment:
10 Before them the earth quakes,
The heavens tremble,
The sun and the moon grow dark
And the stars lose their brightness.
11 The LORD utters His voice before His army;
Surely His camp is very great,
For strong is he who carries out His word.
The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome,
And who can endure it?
So you see what is happening here? The nation has experience a devastating
plague of locust – the prophet calls on them to repent – cry out to the Lord
Then he says – the judgment of the locust really points to an ultimate day of judgment from God – some time in the future
So we have this picture – this message of God warring against his people – and if the story ended here it would be a very bleak and awful story
What could be worse than having Almighty God – fighting against you?
But there is more to it than simply judgment of God – there is a purpose
which the prophet begins to get to in verse 12
Joel 2:12 – 14
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
13 And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil.
14 Who knows whether He will not turn and relent
And leave a blessing behind Him,
Even a grain offering and a drink offering
For the LORD your God?
15 Blow a trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,
Then in chapter 2 and verse 18 Joel talks about how God restores and blesses the people after they repent
18 Then the LORD will be zealous for His land
And will have pity on His people.