God Speaks: Joel

God Speaks: Joel

God Speaks: Joel – Saving Love

Salvation; Repentance; Calamity; Adversity; Eschatology: Last Judgment; Humility

Joel; Psalm 51:17; Philippians 2:10–11

 

God has spoken through dream, visions, foreigners, prophets. God has spoken through relationships. We have seen God speak to his people, foreign nations, kings and temple leaders.

Today as we look at the prophet Joel, we will see God use natural events to declare a message to the entire nation of Judah.

To be honest, it was difficult studying this message because it’s Christmas season… our minds are trained to think of the birth of Jesus this time of year and I continually found myself trying to get Joel to Christmas… but it wouldn’t work.

Christmas is a season of happiness and joy. A season when everyone is a Christian…at least till the presents are unwrapped. And that’s the way we normally live… as though everyone is a Christian. Our culture is Christianized, meaning we use the language of the Christian faith, Christmas – Easter -Thanksgiving… But the reality is, our culture is far from being grounded in faith. We can celebrate Jesus’s birthday, but that doesn’t make one a Christian and I think we will see that in Joel

So there is no real “Christmas-sy” message in Joel; but there is an advent message. Advent is the season of preparing – yes for the birth of Jesus – but also for his return. And Joel is all about this, day of the Lord. Only the way Joel describes it doesn’t fit well with our idea of Christmas.

Some background for Joel… we don’t have many specifics, but the message of Joel isn’t restricted. Joel is believed to have been written after the Persian exile of Israel between 500 BC and 350 BC. When Priests and prophets were in place as leadership and the Temple had been reconstructed.

Joel uses a recent calamity as the background for his writing. Judah had recently been invaded by a swarm of locusts. These aren’t he locusts we have, but more like a very aggressive grasshopper.

An experience that led Joel to begin his book:

Joel 1:3–4 NIV
3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.

And after the swarm, a drought had followed.

Joel 1:10–12 NIV
10 The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails. 11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree— all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away.

Joel uses these real events as indicators of a real invasion… a real time of destruction. What Joel refers to as the Day of the Lord

Real Attack is coming

Joel 2:2–11 NIV
2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.  3 Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them.  4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry.  5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.  6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.  7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course.  8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks.  9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.  10 Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.  11 The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

“Yet even now”

Romans 14:10 NIV
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Mark 13:32 NIV
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Galatians 6:7–9 NIV
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Judgement is real…. but no matter how bad things are we can find salvation.

Problems are often God’s way, not to destroy, but to turn us to Him.

We don’t need to be saved from our “problems” we need to be saved from sin.

You see how seriously God takes our sin… it leads to our destruction… but let me ask you, how seriously do we take our sin?

The way to salvation isn’t to admit I’m a sinner…. it’s to repent.

Joel 2:12 ESV
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

Repentence is the way to experience this salvation… not just admitting – well no one is perfect… but owning my sin.

Illustration:

Weekend in prison for a crime he had committed years ago…. but his real prison was for the sin of hate he had for his brothers and sisters who had abandoned him.

He understood his sin and he could see the effects of this sin on his life.

You need to be saved from sin

Psalm 51:17 NIV
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

My friend found freedom last weekend in prison… freedom from the hate he had for his family

But this ability to see and repent comes as a work of God’s grace.

Romans 5:5 NLT
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

This isn’t a New Testament idea; this isn’t a Christmas thing; This is the theme of all of the Bible.

Joel 2:28–32 NIV
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.  29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.  32 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.

That’s how we find this salvation… calling on the name of the Lord.

We have been gifted with the ability to call on God and we are to use it. It’s grace. We can’t do it on our own, but with God’s grace, we can.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we will.

Muslims for they weekend.

Heard it all, experienced his love and acceptance. Treated with respect and compassion…

Their response though was up to them.

Many of us have prayed that prayer, many here today are Christians. I want to give you a different look at the salvation you enjoy.

Look at the last line in verse 32. Who is going to be saved… yes those who call on the name of the Lord… but who will be saved? Those who the Lord calls.

This salvation is a gift and a work of God in you. You didn’t earn it, you don’t keep it. God does for you… that’s saving Love.

What is your response to that sort of Love? That sort of Love changes the way you live. that sort of love moves you to take on the character of Goodness, Kindness, Justice, Peace, Love, Forgiveness, Righteousness. Knowing … rather experiencing Saving Love leads us there.

Joe’s letter… a Nazarite barber… can cut hair to show his gift and to share his love.

How does your salvation transform you living on this side of eternity?

Joel goes on in chapter 3 to tell of God calling out all the nations of the world… taunting the armies to come out and be measured by him. To bring all their weapons, bring all their warriors and see if they have enough.

It’s a joke though, because they will not be enough, they won’t have enough to defeat sin, or death. Eventually we will all be judged and the only way to be spared is as a child of God, one he seeks to save.

It comes down to just like the Muslim guys who attended the weekend, will we be offended by our sin or look to justify our sin… will we come with broken hearts before God and lay down our weapons … weapons of anger, revenge, unforgiveness, or will we come before God prepared to argue our way into heaven because we were good person.

Philippians 2:10–11 NLT
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

No matter where you find yourself today, the season of advent means there is still time.

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