The Day of the Lord
“The day of the Lord is near, the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be!” – Joel 1:15 NLT
Joel is prophesying to the southern kingdom of Judah. And he starts off his message by using a recent natural disaster to get the attention of the people. A devastating plague of locusts had swept through the land, destroying all vegetation. Joel goes out of his way to describe the extent of the destruction by providing a detailed list of plants that were wiped out: grapes, grain, olives, wheat, barley, figs, pomegranates, palms,, apples, and fruit. It was all gone. And this natural event had left the people in mourning. The drunks because they had no more wine. The priets because there was no grain or wine to offer as sacrifices to God. The farmers because they had no produce. The people because they had no joy. And so Joel calls for a day of fasting to the Lord – a time to cry out to Him for help. Only He could resolve this problem.
But then Joel changes gears and uses this natural disaster to warn the people of another event that was coming – the day of the Lord. As bad as the locusts had been, the coming judgment of God was going to be even more devastating. The hand of the Sovereign Lord was going to sweep over them like locusts, leaving devastation and destruction in its wake. If ever there was a time to mourn, it was now. The people needed to understand that a natural disaster was nothing compared to the power of God when it was unleashed as punishment for sin and rebellion.
In our lifetimes we have witnessed the incredible destructive power of tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, hail, and tornadoes. We have seen the power of nature unleashed and the wake of death and destruction it can leave behind. And while it could be easy to say that is the hand of God falling on a wicked world for its sins, it is probably just the evidence of life in a fallen world. But these things should remind us of the awesome power of God, the one who made the winds, the water, and the natural world. His power is even greater than that of a force 10 hurricane. If He did unleash His power in judgment, the results would be devastating. When God acts in judgment, it is with the impact of the original flood that wiped out all mankind. God is a force to be reckoned with. And when He judges, He does so righteously or rightly. He never judges unfairly or with malice. His judgment is well-deserved and completely just. Natural disasters strike haphazardly and without forethought. They just happen. God’s judgment comes after much warning and with perfect knowledge of what He is doing.
To appreciate the unbelievable forgiveness, grace, and mercy of God, we must fully comprehend the holiness and power of God. He hates evil, despises sin, and must deal with it righteously. And He has the power to do so. To understand and fear the righteous judgment of God is key to appreciating the grace and mercy of God provided through His Son Jesus Christ. The people of Judah had to understand that their God was greater than a plague of locusts, and that there was a day of reckoning coming that was going to be far more intense than anything they had experienced – unless they repented and returned to the Lord. God will forgive, but He will not overlook sin. He is a righteous, holy, just God who must deal rightly with wrong.
Father, use the book of Joel to let me see and understand Your awesome sovereignty so that I might better appreciate Your incredible compassion and offer of forgiveness. May more regular and ready repentance be my response to the sin in my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men