Making Up For Lost TimeOctober 31-November 4
The Turning Point
Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people. – Joel 2:18 (ESV)
A man who was walking past a farm, and noticed a farmer feeding pigs in a most extraordinary manner. The farmer would lift a pig up to a nearby apple tree, and the pig would eat the apples off the tree directly. The farmer would move the pig from one apple to another until the pig was satisfied, then he would start again with another pig. The city man watched this activity for some time with great astonishment.
Finally, it was more than the city man could take, he walked over to the farmer and asked, “This is the most inefficient method of feeding pigs that I can imagine. Just think of the time that you would save if you simply shook the apples off the tree and let the pigs eat them from the ground!” The farmer looked puzzled and replied, “What’s time to a pig?”
“Then” in Joel 2:18, signified it was time for a change in Israel. The book of Joel, at this point, abruptly moves from crisis and sadness for God’s people to salvation and vindication. So Joel 2:18-3:21 describes the restoration of the nation, moving from the previous descriptions of judgment to the following descriptions of blessing. The Lord is “jealous” refers to God’s zeal for the protection of His Name and His honor. Jealousy here is a deep devotion that leads the Lord to intervene, saving his people for the sake of His own glory.
The Bible has many instances of times of change in people’s lives. God had pity and compassion on His people in Joel. They deserved judgment but at the right time, God extended mercy. When have you felt like you deserved judgment but God gave you mercy instead? When have you sensed God bringing you to a spiritual turning point in your life?
Praise God for those times in your life when He has graciously brought you to a turning point and poured out His mercy on you. Ask God to show you if there are things in your life currently He wants to turn around.
Time to Rejoice
“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! – Joel 2:21 (ESV)
Author Leo Buscaglia tells this story about his mother and their “misery dinner.” It was the night after his father came home and said it looked as if he would have to go into bankruptcy because his partner had absconded with their firm’s funds. His mother went out and sold some jewelry to buy food for a sumptuous feast. Other members of the family scolded her for it. But she told them that “the time for joy is now when we need it most, not next week.” Her courageous act rallied the family. (Christopher News Notes)
Gladness and joy were the very things that had been cut off from the nation of Israel because of their rebellion. These two commands to be glad and rejoice follow Israel’s response to the commands to “Return to Me with all your heart…with fasting, weeping and mourning and rend your heart (Joel 2:12-13). In other words, the instructions assume that repentance has taken place. Joel looks forward to the restoration God promised, and he tells Judah to look forward in faith and to praise God for the restoration He promises—even before they see it with their own eyes.
Sin and rebellion eventually lead to our loss of joy and peace. When do you remember losing your joy because of sinful choices? What are some of the steps you took to get your joy back?
Praise God for some of the great things He has done. Thank God for the gift of joy. Ask God to help you replace any fear in your life with gladness.
A Time of Blessing
Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. – Joel 2:23-24 (ESV)
In 1839, James Espy claimed that rain could easily be produced by heating the air. But his plan to saturate parched farmland by building great log fires across vast stretches of the American West never materialized — for which Espy’s contemporaries were probably grateful! Later in the 19th century, a new theory emerged: loud noises would bring rain. This theory was tested in Texas, where Robert Dyrenforth piled up enough munitions for a small war. He blasted away at the skies, but as one observer wrote, “[Dyrenforth] attacked from the front and rear, by the right and left flank. But the sky remained clear as the complexion of a Saxon maid.” (Today in the Word)
Ancient Israel had no irrigation system and no Nile River like Egypt (which provided for their irrigation), and thus they were totally dependent on the LORD to send rain to water their crops. Obviously, in a time of drought, nothing grew. The basic meaning of Joel 2:23-24 speaks of God sending His provision of rain in the right amount and at the right time in the coming kingdom of the Messiah and explains the green pastures, the tree bearing fruit, the fig tree and the vine yielding a full harvest in the age to come. The return of the seasonal rains signals the return of the nation into divine favor which in turn signifies that they have returned to Jehovah.
All blessings in any of our lives are always from our generous God. Have you given Him thanks and praise today for the blessings He has “rained” down in your life and the life of your family?
Praise God for His perfect timing in bringing blessings into your life. Ask God to help you wait on His blessings and to recognize His work when He sends them
A Time of Restoration
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. – Joel 2:25 (ESV)
A British newspaper reported that a woman had hidden $20,000 worth of jewelry in a plastic bag, hoping to prevent burglars from finding it. Later, having forgotten about it, she accidentally threw the bag out with her garbage. Several workmen searched for 9 hours in a landfill before finding her treasure and restoring it to her.
Some people throw away God’s abundant and gracious blessings in their lives through blatant sin. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t experiencing the blessing of God because of worry and bitterness. When I finally realized that I couldn’t help myself, I turned to God, repentant and broken. Gradually, as He taught me through His Word to rely on Him for all things, I experienced a complete restoration of His hand of blessing. (Joanie Yoder)
Joel illustrates that God is able and willing to retract pronouncements of judgment and reverse their effects on peoples and lands. The very losses sustained through the locust plague will be restored and more. The future blessing of the Lord will make up for the years destroyed by the great army that the Lord sent in judgment. The same God who commissioned the locusts to come, now that His people have repented, will reimburse, with full payment, all the costs involved.
God gave the repentant Jews a little bit of heaven on earth. God does not owe us anything! Everything we get from Him is pure grace, including forgiveness. What comes to mind when you think about the “years the locusts have eaten” in your life? How have you seen God begin to restore those years?
Thank God for the mercy He extended to you for your wasted years and seasons. Praise God for the abundance of blessings He has restored to your life.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. – Joel 2:25 (ESV)
It is a sweltering day in a major desert city. The city bus is crowded. The people are tired and miserable. Suddenly, a young man begins cursing. It’s one cuss word after another. The bus driver looks in the mirror and can tell the people are ashamed for him. When the young man got off the bus, the driver said,”Sir, you’ve left something.” “What?!,” he asked.”A bad impression”, said the driver.
Shame is a bad impression. It’s caused by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which hurts your reputation or hurts others. Israel experienced the shame of their behavior when they rebelled against God. Now in Joel 2:25, God promises to remove that shame. God does promise that after the final day of judgment, his people will never again experience this kind of disaster or shame.
God wanted the nations around Israel to see their restoration and the removal of their shame and to glorify Him. What shame has God removed from your life? How can you glorify God by sharing how He has taken away your shame?
Praise God for the glory He gets from restoring His people and removing their shame. Ask God to give you an opportunity to share with someone how God can deliver them from their shame.