The Message of Joel
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Ever wonder when God is going to confront all the evil in our world? It’s not hard to see that the world we live in is full of evil, hatred, and brokenness. If we’re being honest though, we must also acknowledge the reality that each and every person on earth also struggles with evil, hatred, and brokenness within their own hearts. What is the remedy to all of this?
Enter the book of Joel.
Joel was a prophet of God whose writings appear in the minor prophetic books of the Bible. Joel’s message, while short, is incredibly important in our understanding of evil, repentance, God’s mercy, and a future hope.
Joel spends a majority of his time writing about the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is a very common theme throughout the minor prophets and is a declaration of God’s judgment of evil to both the past and the future. This judgment is for the nation of Judah, Jerusalem, as well as the people of God, Israel. This judgment is horrific and will completely devastate all crops, livestock, and well-being in the land (Joel 1:8-10). In light of this judgment, Joel calls the people to repent from their sin, turn back to God, and cry out to God for deliverance (Joel 1:13-14).
It’s important to notice that while Joel is calling the nations and Israel to repentance, he’s not simply encouraging them to repent with lofty religious words; he’s calling them to repent by changing their actions. Notice what the Lord says through the prophet Joel:
“return to me with all your heart...and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster — Joel 2:12-13
What a beautiful picture of how genuine heart change (repentance), from the inside out, leads to God being eager to demonstrate His love and mercy despite the obvious reality that none deserve it. Now that’s good news! This leads us to the last part of Joel as he elaborates on what a future hope can look like for those who repent, turn to the Lord, and fully embrace His ways.
In the future Day of the Lord God will confront all evil, there will be a renewal of all creation, and God’s spirit will fill all His people. This future is one of blessing, abundance, favor with the Lord, and a restoration of things once lost or destroyed (Joel 2:25). Once again, this is not because we deserve it but because God has chosen to show love, mercy, and kindness to those who fear Him and obey Him.
The prophetic book of Joel has many timeless principles that apply to you and me today. While there are multiple timeless principles we could reflect on, I’d like to encourage you to begin pondering on the following this week:
- Sin is serious. Do you sin lightly? Do you take your own sin seriously? Do you see your sin as rebellion against God? Why or why not?
- How often do you repent from your rebellion against God? What sins do you need to confess to Him and repent of right now?
- While sin is strong, God’s love and mercy are stronger. Do you believe that? When you sin, do you come to God with confidence He’ll forgive you?
I'd also highly encourage you to check out overview video for Joel below by The Bible Project. It's incredibly helpful!
For the Kingdom,