Joel – Here is the plan
Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation. Joel 1:3
Not much is known about the prophet Joel. His little book, on the other hand, has been very well known over the centuries. For one reason, the first thing God said was to tell kids about it and pass it down from generation to generation.
This is clear when, on Pentecost, some 700-900 years later, the Apostle Peter instantly recognizes what is happening there in Jerusalem when God, the Holy Spirit, came upon Christ’s followers in a powerful display. He declared to the gathering crowds, “This is what Joel was talking about!” Not only Peter, but that great throng of Israelites from all over the known world were familiar with Joel, they knew the story.
It is the story of God’s plan for the ages, revealing the future of the world.
He begins with the worst natural disaster people of his day could have imagined. A plague of locusts would come and ravage the landscape leaving nothing edible in their wake. And then another swarm would follow the first one, and then another, and then another. Four consecutive hoards would march, unstoppable through the land and literally rape and lay bare the entire landscape leaving people devastated and without hope.
Events like these, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes – you can't plan for them, you have to be ready. And not just physically, you have to be prepared spiritually or you will be left with despair and hopelessness.
Joel calls people to repentance and tells them of the love and mercy of God.
“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. Joel 2:12-13
This has always been God’s call. This is your only life, don’t waste it on vain pursuits. Sin will ultimately leave you empty. Instead, repent, give God your heart, enter the joy of His salvation and know the One True God.
Then Joel cracks open an unexpected window to describe a time when God, the Holy Spirit, would enter the lives of God’s people. People of Joel's day were familiar with God anointing kings, priests and prophets, like Joel with His Spirit, but everyone? Even Kids? Gentiles?
Joel writes, “Then… I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.” Joel 2:28-29
Several hundred years later, Peter and the other Christ-followers experienced this very event on Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection and ascension. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promised Holy Spirit Who would baptize them, empowering them to be Christ’s witnesses to the world.
Subsequently, Joel notes that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Joel 2:32. The victory of Christ’s resurrection and the outpouring of His Spirit on all flesh, brought together Jew and Gentile, repairing the breach and making all one in Christ as Paul writes in Ephesians (2:14-18). Paul also connects some of the other dots in Joel's prophecy as he writes:
“And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” Please see Ephesians 1:10-12
With the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, everything is coming together in Christ. Ultimately, as Paul says, 'at the right time' Christ will return and mankind will be judged on what Joel calls, The Day of the Lord.
This is the day of judgment that will make the multiple plagues of locust look like a walk in the park. An actual day, a point in history, when God would judge the people of the earth which Joel describes in some detail in chapter three and is echoed in Revelation, the final book in the Bible. A time when Christ will return to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1).
Joel ends by saying that on that great and dreadful day, that God will be a refuge and fortress for His people (3:16) and that He will make His home with them (3:21).
And this is our hope, dear one, to be found in Christ, sealed with His Spirit, at home with Him, safe in His arms, dwelling for eternity with the Shepherd of our hearts. Encourage one another with these words. Pray for your loved ones to bow before God while they have a choice in the matter.