God created people and a garden paradise. They were to live there according to their obedience. Now the world is marked by turmoil. God loves relationships with people and entered into a covenant with Abraham and his people in Israel. See Deuteronomy 6. Israel was never able to fulfil its part in the covenant.
Creation. Rebellion. Expulsion. Covenant with Israel. New covenant with those who have faith in Jesus. Rescued. Paradise regained.
Everything that gave joy to mankind had gone. Joel cries out to God in prayer. God is cursing these people as he is faithful to his covenant. God is calling the people to return to him. God doesn’t need to tell us the issue he has against them. He won’t allow them to go on in a lukewarm state.
There will be days of deliverance. Paul makes it clear in Romans 10 that Moses under the old covenant lived by faith. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
There is a day coming when all the nations will be gathered before God in the valley of decision. All the world’s might will be judged. There is no call for repentance as the opportunity has passed.
What have we been saved from? God. He’s the one who will rule from Zion. What are we saved to? God. He’s the only refuge. What is the cost? God, the Son who died and rose and bore the wrath we deserve. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. You’re not a good or a bad Christian. You’re a perfect Christian.
The awesome day of the Lord is coming. The day is coming of complete restoration. God dwelling with his people forever. God delights to save. He won’t see his people return half-heatedly to him. The day will come when he will close down the opportunity for repentance.
God is organising the world so that we can know him if we want to.
Two events in the future:
Anyone can know God (2:28-32)
Joel looks forward to a time in the future when all people can know God. Joel says that the experience of knowing God will be open to all. God is pouring out his spirit on this group of people. He has poured out his personal spirit so that anyone at all can know him. The job of the people who know God is to encourage others to call on God. If we don’t we’re sleeping through all God’s warnings.
Everyone will know God (3:1-16)
There’s a countdown to the second event. Joel sees nations being judged by God. We participate in evil systems that take advantage of the weak for personal pleasure. We get angry at God for causing the problem. We’ll lose.
Jesus stood in our place to take God’s fury for us so we can be safe in him.
Everyone will know him some day, either as a refuge now or a judge later.
There is nothing left
Whatever has happened is serious and Joel thinks it needs to be repeated. There have been four plagues in a row, feels like they’ve been beaten in a war.
A series of clues
Even the ground is sad (v10). The people viewed their ground as a gift from God. There’s nothing left to give, no way left to relate to God.
Still no one cares
The people were self absorbed, they were lying drunk in the street. The farmers are told to despair. God is endlessly committed to self giving love. The fields in our society are dry. We’re self righteous about being tolerant but at the same time being selfish.
Christians are just as bad sometimes. We often make bad decisions on what we want. The church is miles away from the fruit that will last.
This isn’t how people were meant to be, the problem is between us and God. We don’t have anything to offer to make it better. Joel commands us to turn back to God and admit that we need his help (v14).
God doesn’t want our stuff, he wants us to come to him. God is saying that the problem is that we ignore him. We can return to him and cry out to him and we know that he will give it.
Why humble myself when it’s difficult?
There is a sign that something much worse is to come. Joel is saying that judgment is coming, a warning. Is it far fetched to believe that the world is like that as we have rejected God? Joel says that hell will be worse than we can imagine. We have an illusion of safety if we don’t turn to God for mercy. Looking at the world now, could it be that Joel’s interpretation of the world is right? If there is a lack of fruit now in our Christian life, we need to wake up, we are stupid to think that everything between us and God is fine.
Is it worth the risk?
People living in this land experiencing the grain and wine is a picture of what Jesus gives us spiritually. The stuff that we need is spiritual, we don’t need more material stuff. The real problem is in our hearts. Jesus promises to give us blessings, such as a sure hope for the future and the effect of these blessings is to change the people. Jesus says when we turn to him there is no fear of punishment or rejection. We’ll be satisfied. If we have every spiritual blessing we are loved and fear has been taken away.
What does God want from me?
Tear up our inner person. We can’t add repentance to the attitude of sleeping through the mess. It’s our heart he wants, not garments. We should want God to get the glory. There’s a chance we’re resting on past glories. Joel is calling us to go to God and to rip up our old way of living, tear up our heart.