And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. – Joel 2:32 NIV
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The biblical book of Joel is a book that focuses more on a period of reckoning which the writer refers to using the phrase “day of the Lord”. Supposedly written by Joel to the people of Judah, he attempted to describe the nature of the events of an upcoming season using the imaginary picture of the damage that the invasion of locusts can cause. He described the invasion in four phases with the swarm locusts invasion followed by the great locust invasion which is followed by the young locusts and finally the other locusts all in a bid to cause a complete destruction with the locusts representing the several nations that the Lord will enable to invade Judah in order to destroy it. All these will be because of the transgressions of the people which is why he advised the Israelites in Judah to repent as that is the only way to avoid the coming calamity.
The description of the events indicate a difference from another decision day in the bible called the day of judgement. The decision expected to be made on the day of judgement is based on the assessment of the activity of man on earth and leaves no room for repentance once judgement is pronounced, unlike this day of the Lord decision, which is also based on the activities of man on earth and comes with some form of penalty also but with room for repentance and restoration.
This destruction, which is associated with the day of the Lord and will be enabled by the Almighty God (Joel 1:15) will be characterised by
- Famine, as the seeds become shriveled beneath the clods and the store houses become ruins and the grains dry up (Joel 1: 16a; 17-20). There will be unexplainable hunger and poverty in the land.
- Absence of joy and gladness from the house of the Lord – Joel 1:16b; 1Pet. 4:17. Both will be replaced with sadness and mourning.
With very scary words, used to describe the size and number of the locusts, he attempted to paint the picture of a day which he concluded will be a very dreadful day, wondering if any one will be able to endure it – Joel 2:1-11. However it can be concluded to be warning strikes or dress rehearsals that is supposed to alert the Christian to what the events of the day of judgement will look like, the difference being that the events of the day of judgement will leave no room for repentance or consequent restoration.
As a preventive measure to this very scary picture of a season of destruction, Joel advised as follows:
- That Priests should lead the process of repentance in the following manner;
- They will put on sack cloth – Joel 1:13a. The wearing of sack cloth is a sign of submission (1 Kings 20:31-32), or of grief and self-humiliation (2 Kings 19:1) implying that these attributes have been missing in their relationship with God. It is a clear way of letting this cadre of people drop arrogance and be more submissive and humble to the Will of Lord. As Joel later pointed out, it was not much of an action of rending their clothes rather it more of rending their heart – Joel 2:13.
- They will mourn and wail before the altar of God – Joel 1:13b. It will be expected that if they genuinely acknowledge their errors, they will be sober and weep for their sins. Again, it is not going to be about the physical tears but a very remorseful heart which will reflect in their conduct – 2Cor. 7:10.
- They will spend nights before the Lord in penitence because prosperity and fortune will be withdrawn from the house of the Lord – Joel 1:13c; Joel 2:17. During this period of the Lord’s anger, the house of the Lord will suffer deprivation and experience poverty and lack.
- In a move that will involve the people, the priests are to call a sacred assembly in the house of the Lord that will involve all people, elders and followers alike – Joel 1:14; 2:15-16. This is an assembly that must be called by the priests who themselves would have shown remorse for their sins and taken the decision to be humble in their dealings both before God and men (Heb. 5:1-3) and must be sacred, which means it must be done with utmost veneration of the Lord.
- Both actions must be done with a rendered heart and not rendered garments with the hope that the compassionate God will relent in sending calamity – Joel 2:12-14. They are actions that should be more spiritual than physical as physical acts of piety carry no value.
These acts will mark the beginning of the turn around process from pain to comfort, from sadness to joy and from lack to prosperity – 2Chr. 7:14. May God grant us all a humble and repentant heart to receive forgiveness from the Lord in Jesus name. Amen.