Summary: The Day of the Lord is a day to prepare for and this is done by trusting in Jesus.
Clear and present danger. When there’s danger, the alarm usually sounds—more than once. Sydney has a CBD emergency warning system. There are 98 speakers throughout the city and 13 messaging signs at key transport hubs.
The system is designed to manage lots of people needing to be moved in the event of a serious emergency like a terrorist attack. There are also detailed plans in place to transport people home, keep them safe while waiting to return to work, and even plans to temporarily accommodate them.
Whenever there’s the prospect of danger, it’s good to be forewarned and its essential to be prepared. As we move through the Book of Joel the sirens echoing down the streets of Judah. In WWII movies the sirens sound in London and people rushed into air raid shelters and down into the subway.
How frightening when the prophet warns that the day of the Lord is near. The locusts and the agricultural disaster were a foretaste of the bigger destruction to come. “Alas for that day! (Joel 1.15). For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty”.
Clear and present danger. The sirens are blaring but will they fall on deaf ears? And the sirens are booming even today. Are you deaf to their sounds? Do you ignore God acting in history? Do you scoff rather than submit?
“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill” (Joel 2.1).
Now the volume of the trumpet is so loud in Joel 2 we’re at the top of dial. Joel 2:1-11 leaves behind the sounds of tens of thousands of locust wings in exchange for horrid images of human destruction. Then verses 12 to 17 invites us to respond to the warning in the most appropriate way. So there are two parts to verses 1 to 17:
The day of the Lord—a day to be feared (v. 1–11)
The day of the Lord—a day to prepare for (v.12–17)
Warning signs are intended to keep us out of trouble. You go down to the beach and you see the sign which says swim between the flags. So hopefully you swim between the flags. Warning signs are there for our protection. Signs like these: stingers in the water (slide)—the dangers of being too close to a cliff edge (slide). The sign that says there are sharks in the water (slide).
When I see these signs images come to mind. The pain of dangerous stingers. The moments of terror as I free fall over a cliff. I can’t even bring myself to imagine the fear of being mauled by a shark. These signs are intended to change my behaviour.
Joel describes the terror of the coming day of the Lord in a way that’s meant to change behaviour. Look with me at verse 2,
Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand— a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.
“Houston, we have a problem”. Judah have lost God’s favour. They have brought upon themselves the covenant curses. The sounds of Deuteronomy,
“The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him” (Dt 28.26).
“The lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth … they will lay siege to all the cities throughout the land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. The will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord God is giving you” (Dt 28.52).
Do you remember our little African saying from last week? “God is good all the time … all the time God is good”. For many years God has been warning his people. He warns about the dangers of living in his presence. He warns that he is the source of curse as well as the source of blessing. And even now, God sends Joel to warn Judah that the army is coming and judgement is around the corner.
Did you pick up the description in verse 2? Darkness, gloom, clouds and blackness. This is the day of the Lord.
A day not unlike the plagues which brought Pharaoh and the Egyptian people to their knees. In those days a plague of locusts ravished the land before Moses waved his hand and total darkness covered the land for three days (Ex. 10–11). Joel 1—locusts. Joel 2—darkness and blackness. God shows no favouritism. Judah has no right to claim exemption. What’s good for Pharaoh is good for anyone who persists in unrighteousness.