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Joel: The Day of the Lord 1217-17

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INTRODUCTION
Unlike many of the prophets, we really do not know when the book of Joel was written. We are not given anything in chapter 1 to tell us what king reigned and nothing within the book to give us specifics about who the LORD was going to judge His people. Dates are given that range from the 800sBC all the way to the 300s.
Unlike many of the prophets, we really do not know when the book of Joel was written. We are not given anything in chapter 1 to tell us what king reigned and nothing within the book to give us specifics about who the LORD was going to judge His people. Dates are given that range from the 800sBC all the way to the 300s.
There are references to offerings being taken away because of a famine, so this may imply that the temple was still standing. This is really the only clue that we have.
There are references to offerings being taken away because of a famine, so this may imply that the temple was still standing. This is really the only clue that we have.
But thankfully, this information is not really necessary to understand the message of the book.
There are three themes that come up in this book - three main topics, that I would like to discuss today.
1. The Day of the LORD is Coming
Joel does not begin by talking about the Day of the Lord that is coming though. He talks about a judgment of God that had already come upon the land.
Joel does not begin by talking about the Day of the Lord that is coming though. He talks about a judgment of God that had already come upon the land.
Joel begins by asking those he is writing to whether anything like this has ever happened in the land before, whether in their days or in past generations. They had a terrible plague of locusts come upon the land. It was so amazing of an event, it was worth sharing the news for generations.
Joel describes this locust plague in chapter one. Swarm upon swarm came and ate what the previous swarm did not. All were affected by this judgment. The drunkards lost their wine. The farmers and vinedressers have no income. Grain and drink offerings are unable to be given at the temple because there is no grain and wine. God cut off the ingredients of the sacrifices, making it impossible to maintain the covenant relationship through the sacrificial system.
This locust plague has devastated the land. It is terrible.
But then, Joel says in 2:1-2:
1 Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is near— 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and total darkness, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people appears, such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come. (, CSB)
The Day of the LORD is coming. It is near. Anyone who had been enduring the locust swarms may have asked at this point, “what? The locust plague was not the day of the LORD?” God’s answer is, “no, this locust plague is not the day of the LORD. This plague is just a warning of something else that is coming.” The day of the LORD that is coming will make this judgment seem minuscule in comparison.
tells them that this plague is nothing compared to what will come… The day of the LORD that is coming will make this judgment seem miniscule in comparison.
The description of this judgment in chapter 2 is terrifying. As you read through verses 3-11, it seems like Joel is talking about a nation like Assyria or Babylon coming to destroy the nation, but he pictures this great judgment in a way that it sounds like a great plague of super locusts. Their description has some similarities to the terrible locust plague that is mentioned in .
Listen to how this army of locusts is described in verses 4-9.
They have a fire that they use to devour the land.
They look like and run like war horses.
They leap on the tops of the mountains (5).
They climb walls (7).
They can dodge arrows (8)
They run on the walls (9). They will climb into windows.
They are relentless and unstoppable.
Nothing you look at as a good defense against the enemy will be helpful. These super locusts will overcome any obstacle. The land will be completely devoured, and just the sight of these locusts cause nations to tremble and faces to turn pale.
The question that Joel asks in verse 11 about this great plague is, “Who can endure the terrible and dreadful day of the LORD?”
2. Repentance Is Urgently Needed
The answer is “Those who truly repent.”
There is a lot of mourning in chapter one, but it isn’t true repentance. There was mourning over the loss of physical things - worldly sorrow. The drunks wept because they lost their alcohol. The farmers were ashamed because they had no crops. The priests mourned because they could not do their work and they lost their food - the portions that they received from the offerings.
After being told about all of the mourning, the LORD still calls the priests to lament and to put on sackcloth in . He tells the priests to proclaim an assembly - to gather all of the people for a time of afflicting themselves by fasting (which is ironic because the LORD’s judgment has already caused a fasting of crops). The mourning so far was not enough - they needed true godly sorrow and repentance. They needed to see that the LORD is the One who brought this plague about and they needed to cry out to Him at the temple.
But after describing the great and terrible day of the LORD, he calls them to true repentance again in .
12 Even now— this is the Lord’s declaration— turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind him, so you can offer grain and wine to the Lord your God. 15 Blow the horn in Zion! Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly. 16 Gather the people; sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the infants, even babies nursing at the breast. Let the groom leave his bedroom, and the bride her honeymoon chamber. 17 Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say: “Have pity on your people, Lord, and do not make your inheritance a disgrace, an object of scorn among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”(, CSB)
The LORD doesn’t want sorrow over things lost. He wants sorrow over the fact that His people have sinned against Him. He wants their hearts torn over the idea that they rejected the LORD. This needs to be the motivation for the outward sorrow shown and the fasting of God’s people.
And the LORD shows here that the need for repentance is urgent. NO matter what the people were doing, they needed to stop and come to this assembly before the LORD. At the end of verse 16, He says, let the groom leave his bedroom, and the bride her chamber. Joel is saying, “call off the honeymoon. This is more important. Don’t delay it.”
If they would repent like this, then Joel says, “Who knows, perhaps God may show mercy and restore the covenant relationship that was lost.” You see an attitude here that shows that they understand that they don’t deserve God’s mercy. They don’t presume that they can even earn it through their repentance. They don’t presume upon God’s grace. Mercy is only going to be given if God desires to graciously give it.
3. The LORD Desires to Bless
But thankfully, God is a gracious God. He desires to bless those who come to repentance. We see this starting in . God is jealous for His people. He wants their devotion and love, and He greatly desires to reverse all of the judgments He brought upon them in response to their repentance and prayers to Him.
He wants to bless them with crops again. He wants to drive their enemies out of the land. He wants to bring peace & rejoicing to His people.
But thankfully, God is a gracious God. He desires to bless those who come to repentance. We see God’s desire for His people starting in 2:18. Assuming that they do repent, the LORD says:
But then, He shows that all of these physical things that He desires to do for His people really pale in comparison to a great blessing He is going to bring in the future. In verses 28-32, He promises that He is going to pour out His Spirit without partiality on His people. Whether they are rich or poor, slave or free, male or female, He is going to bless His people with evidence of His presence among them through amazing signs and by bringing salvation to those who call upon the name of the LORD.
But these blessings are nothing compared to another blessing that God plans to bring:
We see that this passage begins to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit is poured out, the Apostles speak in tongues, thousands of people are brought to repentance and salvation by calling on the name of the LORD Jesus in baptism, and God’s Spirit is given to people of all nations, no matter their economic status or gender.
The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
The Judgment of the Nations
The blessings that God wanted to bring at the time of the Messiah’s rule through the Spirit make any physical blessing on may receive seem insignificant in comparison.
APPLICATION & CONCLUSION
There are two lessons that I would like to talk about before we close in prayer:
Only True Repentance Brings Mercy
True repentance is not just feeling guilty about your sin or answering an invitation or asking for forgiveness. It is about having your heart that is broken over ones sin - a brokenness of spirit that leads one to change.
We tend to focus on the outward things and not talk enough about the inward things that are necessary to receive God’s mercy. We assume that when someone comes back to the worship assemblies after being gone for awhile that they have repented. Or we assume because they came forward in response to an invitation that they have really repented. This may or may not be the case. Someone can come forward at the invitation and ask for forgiveness and prayers and still not receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Someone can feel guilty about their sin but still not receive God’s forgiveness. It depends on why that guilt is there. It depends on whether someone has shown godly sorrow - if their hearts have been torn over their sin and they truly desire to return to fellowship with the LORD. The outward things are not good enough, in and of themselves. The LORD desires that we turn to Him in godly sorrow and repentance and that we desire our relationship with Him to be restored.
God Still Pours Out His Spirit Abundantly
Usually whenever we think of the abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we tend to think only of the miraculous gifts that people received. But there is so much more that the LORD promised in the prophets regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. is only one of many passages that promise the Holy Spirit being given to/poured upon God’s people.
& promise an outpouring of the Spirit that gives new life to that which is dead and makes it so that we can say that we belong to the LORD.
talks about God giving His people a new heart and placing His spirit within His people so that they can live ()
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. (, CSB)
14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live...(, CSB)
25 “ ‘They will live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They will live in it forever with their children and grandchildren, and my servant David will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be a permanent covenant with them. I will establish and multiply them and will set my sanctuary among them forever.” (, CSB)
The Spirit Himself was promised in the Old Testament prophets to God’s people, not just to a select few who at one time in history had miraculous abilities, but to all who are given new life in Christ. This is one area where I believe Christians overreact to false teaching. You and I may not have miraculous abilities today or be able to give new revelation from God, but if you and I have obeyed the Gospel, then God’s Spirit has been poured out upon us abundantly. Look at Titus 3:4-7.
Yes, the Spirit uses His word to convict people and to work within us, but
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. (, CSB)
Isaiah; Ezekiel
This is the fulfillment of the Old Testament passages in the prophets that talk about new life being given to that which is dead.
The Spirit is abundantly poured out on all who obey the Gospel. The Spirit cleanses us and gives us rebirth through the sacrifice of Christ. He sanctifies us (). He is given to us as a seal showing the LORD owns us (). The Holy Spirit is given to us as a down-payment of our inheritance (), and He strengthens us in the inward man ().
Even in , in talking about the promised Holy Spirit, Peter does not limit his being poured out to only one or two generations of people who called upon the name of the LORD Jesus. Regarding the ability to receive the forgiveness of sins and the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter says, 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (, CSB)
Even though we may not experience the signs and miracles that brought the New Testament into existence and confirmed it’s truths does not mean that the Spirit went back into Heaven after the word was completed or that the Spirit is not still poured out on God’s people today in some way. We cannot be God’s people or receive His mercy without His Spirit being poured out on us abundantly by the LORD Jesus. We don’t belong to Christ if we have not been given the Spirit.
The Spirit is still at work today among and in the people of God. Our God dwells among us through the Spirit. This is a great blessing that we have today as His people.
Our God dwells among us through the Spirit. This is a great blessing that we have today as His people.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit brings all of God’s people spiritual refreshment and rebirth. The Spirit is the one Who cleanses us and makes us God’s holy people ().
We have God’s Spirit within us. Our bodies are temples of God’s Spirit. The Spirit is a great blessing the LORD gives us today as His people.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit began being poured out onto the Jews and the Gentiles in & 10, and these two amazing events in our spiritual history were accompanied by certain manifestations of the Spirit’s outpouring. The ability to speak in tongues was a physical way to see that God had poured out His Spirit.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit began being poured out onto the Jews and the Gentiles in & 10, and these two amazing events in our spiritual history were accompanied by certain manifestations of the Spirit’s outpouring. The ability to speak in tongues was a physical way to see that God had poured out His Spirit.
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