Turn in your Bible to Joel 2:18; The last two weeks we have established that trials remind us of God, and that in these trials we must turn from our wayward paths that lead to destruction and turn to God for help. Today we see How God helps us in times of struggle and trial.
In one of the darkest days for England, a time when Nazi regime in Germany had expanded throughout Europe and had began to bomb the British in their homes, a voice rang out, a voice that had strength and commitment that essentially strengthened the British people to endure the hardship of night bombings and rationing. That voice came from a man named Churchill.
Hear his words:
“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.
At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.
The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
Did you notice what Churchill said at the end.
(the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.)
He was hoping for the New World, that is the United States, to enter in and rescue the Old.
In Joel, once hope had dried up, once God had ravaged Israel with invaders, with Locusts and the people finally had turned back to God, this outside hope, Israels only rescue, and our only rescue only then does He respond.
God responds to those who turn to Him.
Turn to God in your time of trouble, because He offers shelter and His Spirit.
God offers shelter to those who turn to Him. (2:18-27)
The Lord has pity on His people. (18)
God’s compassion is part of His character, in fact God is love and His love manifests itself in many ways.
His love hates sin because of the corruption of humankind.
His love disciplines his wayward children, and
His love gathers the downcast and lifts up the discouraged.
The term jealous. Often translated “zealous.” Unlike human jealousy (so often a vice rather than a virtue), God’s jealousy always expresses genuine love and informed concern for his exclusive rights, so he zealously protects his interests.
D. A. Carson, ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 141.
The Lord protects His people. (19-20)
-He protects His people by removing the enemy army. When you make peace with God, your enemies lose their grip on you.
-When an affliction has done its work it shall be removed in mercy, like the locusts were destroyed.
The Lord provides for His people. (21-27)
Like the enemy has done great (or astonishing) things against Jerusalem so also will God do great thing for them. Look at the contrast only the smell of the enemy’s rotting corpses remained. Where God’s great tings are acts of salvation, which is why they should not fear.
-VS 23, This conditional promise was given to the Israelites.
Deut 11:13–14 (CSB)
13“If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship him with all your heart and all your soul,
14I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and fresh oil.
-VS 25 all your losses shall be repaired, your years restored.
-VS 26 God is not just a magician pulling rabbits out of the hats, He presents His work as a witness to His power, leading those who see them to revere and obey Him.
-Vs 27 Something foolish I do and you probably do too is when circumstances go south, when some hardship happens, my mind begins to question if I am being punished for something.
Some of us have this crooked thinking that if God is on our side we won’t struggle, face hardship, this has led many from the faith.
I read a story of Captain Matt Myer who served as Company Commander over “Chosen Company” during the battle of Wanat, one of the worst days of combat in U.S. Army history. To give you some context, Jason Hovater was a strong Christian who encouraged the faith of his fellow soldiers and kept his entire unit laughing with antics and impersonations. His life was cut short a month from his twenty-fifth birthday when an enemy round deflected off the night vision mount on his helmet and into the center of his face.
Matt Myer saw the foundations of his belief in God and Christianity shaken to the core after the horrors of Wanat. He had been raised with the faith that Jesus died for everyone’s sins and believing in Him was an avenue to paradise. There was a contract with God which held that a good person doing good deeds would see blessing and favor. But he knew that Jason Hovater lived this kind of life, and Myer could not forget the image of that young soldier’s destruction. It would be years of thought and contemplation, part of that time spent working with an Army chaplain, before Myer began to reconcile those religious contradictions. He found solace in the book When God Weeps, by Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman confined for decades to a wheelchair who discusses how a loving God allows suffering and the opportunity to appreciate unexpected blessings.
APP: Everywhere we look we see the tragic consequences of sin on our lives and in our world. Take a second to think about the consequences of sin in your life. Think also we are going to face hardship in our lives even as Christians.
For the Christian the promise is not so much the physical things, but something better. Better than physical blessings is God’s Spiritual blessings.
We reap the benefits of knowing, loving, and delighting in Jesus. The Father gives us peace that surpasses understanding and provides for all our needs according to his riches. No good thing is withheld from us and all things work together for our good. Living in light of these truths proclaims to a discontent world that Jesus is better than anything the world has to offer. As we look to Jesus to make us truly happy, we also proclaim to a world in need that only Christ can truly satisfy.
Maybe you feel like you sinned too much and too long God could never use you. But look at God’s promise to restore! Grace abounds, to the chief of sinners of whom I am foremost! (Rom 5:20). He can restore you to usefulness.
Consider ways that God has worked in your life? What are some ways that He can use your current struggles for good of others?
God offers His Spirit to those who turn to Him. (2:28-32)
- We have this future event now, based on the grammar. Not only does God restore what has been lost, but He is bringing about a new thing, not just for Judah, but for all creation. Part of which involves bestowing His spirit on humanity.
A future event, now established (28-29)
-The beauty of this means we do not face trouble alone. The oracle speaks of a new era of perfect relationship between God and his people. Jeremiah had described this era in terms of the law written on their hearts (Je. 31:31–34; cf. Ps. 40:8) and Ezekiel in terms of the gift of new hearts (Ezk. 36:26–27), in order to convey the notion of a people perfectly obedient to God’s will. The language of prophetic inspiration is used to the same end: the Spirit is here a medium of prophecy (cf. Nu. 12:6; 2 Ch. 20:14).
-Jesus, calls the Spirit the comforter. The language of being poured out like water onto people, cleansing and refreshing. Isa 44:3-5. This pouring out involves a covenant relationship. Not only crying out for help, but also pledging allegiance to God alone, to declaring your loyalty to the One who Saves. Remind you of Baptism?
Miraculous events taking place. (30-32)
-VS 30-31 shows that there will be struggle even for those with His Spirit. The faithful are still going to be exposed to troubles in this life.
What good is it to be a Christian? you may ask. Much in every way, see how God is caring for His people.
-These miraculous events are less amazing than the miracle of new birth, of salvation. In times of trouble we must respond to God. Vs 32 answers vs 11. Who can survive? Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.
- The miracle is God is the one doing the rescuing. Look at the end of 32, The Lord calls on those who must call out. (Rom 10:13)
It is a mystery throughout Scripture we see God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility.
APP: Acts 2:16 What Pentecost started and continues, every Christian has the power of the Spirit available.
This new covenant power gave the disciples more effectiveness in their witness and their ministry (Acts 1:8; Eph. 4:8, 11 – 13), much greater power for victory over the influence of sin in the lives of all believers (note the emphasis on the power of Christ’s resurrection at work within us in Rom. 6:11 – 14; 8:13 – 14; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:10), and power for victory over Satan and demonic forces that would attack believers (2 Cor. 10:3 – 4; Eph. 1:19 – 21; 6:10 – 18; 1 John 4:4). This new covenant power of the Holy Spirit also resulted in a wide and hitherto unknown distribution of gifts for ministry to all believers (Acts 2:16 – 18; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11; 1 Peter 4:10; cf. Num. 11:17, 24 – 29).
God helps His people in times of trouble. He offers shelter to those who turn to Him, and He pours out His Spirit. Both of which are needed more than ever. Today turn to Him. This is for the Believer and unbeliever. We all are required to turn to Him.
God also promises to spare His people, to comfort His people, to restore His people. We can rest on these promises. Even though this world full of sin has taken Days, weeks months or years from us, though sorrow upon sorrow has been added, we can rejoice and be glad because God says he will repay us for the years that we lost, God will turn our sorrow to Joy, our weeping to joy, this world with all its pain and shame will fade and God will never let his people be put to shame again. Thats the hope we long for, that’s the hope we lean into.