Coming Judgment

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
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 in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.

They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.

With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.

The words of Joel 2:1-6 NIV. Words of coming judgment. Words of warning terror.

Can you imagine such a sight? The sound? The foreboding? The devastation to follow? Locust plagues still occur today. One locust, commonly known as a grasshopper, is small thing. An inch or two long. Millions of locusts, however, are a devasting force. For acres and miles.

God loved His people, Judah. Yet His people, enjoying the prosperity of His blessing, had grown away from Him. Worship had become ritual. Life had become selfish.

In His everlasting, covenant love, God needed to capture the attention of His people. By His sovereign power, God brought a locust plague to do it. Inspired by God, Joel prophesied of a greater judgment coming, the Day of the Lord, with the plague of locust as his terrible, unavoidable illustration.

God’s judgment would be swift, thorough, and absolute. Every person—eldest to youngest, richest to poorest, positioned to humbled—would be effected (2:15-17). Every person should return to God (2:12-13). Every person should humble themselves before God in broken confession and genuine repentance. 

Then, in response to the genuine return of His people, God would relent of the judgment Joel warned of (2:18). Then, because of His grace, God would pout out His Spirit on people and everyone who calls on Him will be saved (2:28-32).

The Book of Joel is of uncertain date. With no kings or major events to tie it to. And Joel himself is a bit of a mystery. A common name with little other than his father’s name to describe him by. At three chapters and just 73 verse you can read it in about 10 minutes. Yet Joel still has a message of warning for us today.

When was the last time you endured some calamity, even tragedy, in your life? 

Did you turn your attention to having a right relationship with God in the midst of it?

God loves you enough that He will either allow or cause negative circumstances in order to turn you back toward Him. He is gracious and compassionate (2:13) and He will save (2:32). Return to him. Before judgment comes. 

This post, based on the Old Testament Book of Joel, is the second in a twelve-week survey series, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. To receive future posts automatically, please subscribe to the site via RSS or FeedBurner.