From Devastation to Restoration.
“But Judah will be filled with people forever, and Jerusalem will endure through all generations. I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the Lord, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.” – Joel 3:20-21 NLT
The book of Joel starts with an image of devastating destruction. But it ends with a promise of forgiveness and restoration. As with all the other prophetic books of Scripture, the message of Joel is one of repentance and warning of coming judgment for their sin and rebellion against God. He warns them that they must return to the Lord in humility and turn from their pursuit of other gods. God promises to restore and forgive them if they do. But should they refuse, He will be forced to judge them according to their sin. The sad reality is that the people of Judah never did repent and they ended up in captivity in Babylon. Many of those left in Judah who the Babylonians didn’t bother to take captive – the poor, the weak, and the elderly – ended up being taken captive by the surrounding nations and sold into slavery. The once great nation of Israel and the majestic Temple in Jerusalem would be no longer.
But the real message of Joel and that of the Bible is the redemptive work of God. Despite the unfaithfulness of His chosen people and their unwillingness to return to Him, He would remain faithful to His name and fulfill every promise He had made to them. He is the covenant-keeping God who never goes back on His Word. He can be counted on even when those He has chosen can’t be. The message of the Bible is that God is the one who redeems and restores. He is the one who brings people back to Himself. In our sins, we are incapable of returning to Him. We are dead in our trespasses and sins, unwilling and unable to walk away from our love affair with the world and our addiction to sin. But God calls us to Himself. He redeems us out of slavery to sin and restores us to a right relationship with Him. He does for us what we could never do for ourselves. He extends to us mercy and grace. He graciously saves us. It is the story of His Son, the one who took on human flesh so that He might live the life we were called to live – but without sin and in full obedience to His Father. He then suffered the death we deserved do die – in our place. He became the sin substitute, the spotless lamb who gave His life to satisfy the just demands of a righteous and holy God. Sin required a payment and only the shedding of blood would satisfy the debt. Jesus’ death paid that price in full and made possible the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our souls to God. The story of the Bible is one of restoration. God will one day restore the people of Israel to a perfect relationship with Himself. He will do for them what they could not do for themselves. Because He is faithful. He keeps His promises.
Father, You are the covenant-keeping God. Thank You that in this world where little or nothing can be relied upon, You can be. I can trust You to keep Your promises and to fulfill every one of Your covenant agreements. What a comfort that is in this world of trial and suffering. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men