Jesus In Joel:
Breaking the power of sin
Joel lived during a time when Israel was in big trouble. Their disobedience had produced terrible consequences. If you make enough bad decisions in your life you don’t even need a devil. My father-in-law (Gene), brother-in-law and I spent a Saturday doing some “guy things” around the house out in the country while our wives were out shopping.
One thing led to another and before we knew it my Gene’s advanced degrees in science led us to making a the detonation system for a potato launcher. This led to more extreme explosions until finally we accidentally blew ourselves up. It was a terrible night and not long afterward Gene was having skin graft surgeries to restore his hearing, etc. It was a bad decision that led to consequences.
Jesus is revealed on Joel as the gracious redeemer who would come to rescue all humanity no matter what anybody had done or who their forefathers were. This was quite a change from the total focus on the preserved bloodline of the Jews.
Sinful and disobedient Israel was now suffering the consequences of their decisions. Joel is sounding the alarm to wake them up from their sin so these amazing plans of restoration to our world could unfold.
Joel 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! NIV
The honest truth about sin: It's attractive. It's addictive. It's binding. It's blinding. The problem with sin is when you get what you want you don’t want what you have.
A few times over the years I’ve had to stop in at a 7/11 when needing a few grocery items. You never go grocery shopping there it’s only a matter of convenience as they are conveniently located everywhere. The problem is that you pay ridiculous prices for the convenience. One day I realized the 7/11 idea is revealed in Scripture. Romans 7:11 reveals how the convenient pursuit of sin is expensive.
Rom 7:11 For sin...deceived me and killed me. ESV
You’d never sell your future for any price but you will exchange it for cheap pleasures if you’re not careful.
Joel 1:9-12 Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the LORD. Those who minister before the Lord are mourning…the people’s joy is withered away. NIV
Interesting choice of words here, “withered away”. Obviously this isn’t something that suddenly takes place but rather is a gradual progression. I think of a sinkhole where these cars and sometimes even houses that seemingly suddenly fall in. It had been a long process of slow deterioration before the great crash took place.
Every believer runs through dozens of roadblocks before they crash morally.
Heb 11:25 speaks of the pleasures of sin for season followed by the payment plan of pain and regret.
The greatest tragedy of any person’s sin is the life they never lived and the difference they never made in the lives of others. This is why we must not wallow in our mistakes. Maturity is lessening the distance between sin and confession. If you’re struggling with sin it’s a sure sign you’re not yet defeated. Get back up!
Joel 2:23-24 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. NIV
Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. NIV
God is having an amazing conversation and he invites is to participate by being sensitive to the promptings and “directings” of the Holy Spirit.
Joel 3:9-10 …Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong!” NIV
Stop speaking about your natural limitations and start declaring God’s supernatural abilities! You’re more sinful and flawed than you care to believe yet you are more accepted and loved than you can possibly imagine! God has chosen you! Go for it!
Joel 3:12-13 = Armageddon referenced more meticulously in Rev 14 and this is where the idea of grapes of wrath comes from.
Introduction to Joel from The Message Bible:
When disaster strikes, understanding of God is at risk. Unexpected illness or death, national catastrophe, social disruption, personal loss, plague or epidemic, devastation by flood or drought, turn men and women who haven’t given God a thought in years into instant theologians. Rumors fly: “God is absent”... “God is angry”... “God is playing favorites, and I am not the favorite”... “God is ineffectual” ... “God is holding a grudge from a long time ago, and now were paying for it”...
It is the task of the prophet to stand up at such moments of catastrophe and clarify who God is and how he acts. If the prophet is good–that is, accurate and true–the disaster becomes a lever for prying people’s lives loose from their sins and setting them free for God. Joel is one of the good ones: he used a current event in Israel as a text to call his people to an immediate awareness that there wasn’t a day that went by that they weren’t dealing with God. We are always dealing with God.
The event that Joel used as his text was a terrible locust plague that was devastating the crops of Israel, creating an agricultural disaster of major proportions. He compared it to a massive military invasion. But any catastrophe would have served him as well. He projected it onto a big screen and used it to focus the reality of God in the lives of his people. Then he expanded the focus to include everything and everyone everywhere–the whole world crowded into Decision Valley for God’s verdict. This powerful picture has kept God’s people alert to the eternal consequences of their decisions for many centuries.
There is a sense in which catastrophe doesn’t introduce anything new into our lives. It simply exposes the moral or spiritual reality that already exist but was hidden beneath an overlay of routine, self-preoccupation, and business
Joel - A Teacher’s Guide - page 1 of 6
as usual. Then suddenly, there it is before us: a moral universe in which our accumulated decisions–on what we say and do, on how we treat others, on whether or not we will obey God’s commands–are set in the stark light of God’s judgment.
In our everyday experience, right and wrong and the decisions we make about them seldom come to us neatly packaged and precisely defined. Joel’s prophetic words continue to reverberate down through the generations, making the ultimate connection between anything, small or large, that disrupts our daily routine, and God, giving us fresh opportunity to reorient our lives in faithful obedience. Joel gives us opportunity for “deathbed repentance” before we die, while there is still time and space for a lot of good living to the glory of God.