Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Day

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Joel 2:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "For the Lord gives voice before His army,
for His camp is very great;
For strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
Who can endure it?" Joel 2:11

Have you noticed how, in the Bible, writers see all aspects of life through the lens of God at work? Not only plentiful rain and good crops are seen to come from Him, but also natural disasters and plagues? In our reading today Joel predicts one of these: a plague of locusts. It is sent to discipline and punish the wayward Israelites with the purpose of turning them back to God.

In poetic language Joel paints a picture of this army and then, in verse 11, merges the prediction of the imminent plague with a future "day of the Lord." A footnote in my Bible explains it as "...that future day when the Lord Himself shall lead His armies against the nations and accomplish His judgments; a day when even the natural universe recoils" Jerry Cook, notes on Joel,  New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1164.

The "day of the Lord" or "the last day" or "the great day" appears often in the Bible. It is:
  • A day when God will execute kings (Psalm 110:5).
  • A day when the proud will be humbled (Isaiah 2:12).
  • A day when heaven and earth will shake (Isaiah 13:13).
  • Called a "day of Jacob's trouble" — meaning persecution of the Jews? — "But he (Jacob) will be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7).
  • A day when the normal means of escape (like paying money) won't work (Ezekiel 7:19).
  • A day when even the cycles of day and night are overcome by disaster (Joel 2:31).
  • A day that is near (Zephaniah 1:14).
  • A day that is hot (Malachi 4:1).
  • A day of judgment that is earned (Romans 2:5).
  • A day that we live to avoid. Joel advises:

"'Now therefore,' says the Lord,
'Turn to me with all your heart
....rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God
For He is gracious and merciful
Slow to anger and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm" - vs. 12-13.

We don't need to fear the "day of the Lord." We can believe in Jesus and trust Him and His blood to plead our case before God. We can commit ourselves to Him, knowing that He will keep what we have entrusted to Him (our very lives) until that Day. As Paul puts it: "...for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" - 2 Timothy 1:12.

PRAYER: Dear God, Your judgments are fearful. Thank You for sending Jesus who took the blow of Your wrath toward sin for me. Help me to never lose sight that You are a God of judgment as well as a God of love. Amen.

MORE: Locust plagues.

Footnotes in my Bible explain some of the natural phenomenon that accompany a plague of locusts (All info from the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, pages 1163 and 1164).

Joel 2:2: "like morning clouds spread over the mountains" refers to the bright reflection of the sun on the wings of the swarming locusts. Bright glimmers of light dancing off the wings of the myriad of locusts literally turn the sky to a yellow, fog-like texture...a day or more before the creatures actually arrive.

2:2: "a day of darkness" - swarms so thick the sky is turned black as night.

2:3: "a fire devours" - describes a literal fire which often accompanies locust swarms.

2:4: "like the appearance of horses" - The head of a locust looks a lot like a horse.

2:5: "Noise like chariots...noise of a flaming fire" - Locusts when running and flying have a clicking rattling sound. When they eat they can sound like a stubble field on fire.

More on locusts:
"An Insect's Alter Ego"
"The Reach of the Desert Locust" - all from the Nasa Earth Observatory Site


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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