These are words of the prophet Joel, calling for repentance, knowing that God’s judgment was near. It has been difficult to either date or trace the prophecy of Joel to a person or place. “The events described in it are, at one and the same time, unprecedented and timeless. The message of Joel is, therefore, relevant to any situation in any generation. What can it say to us?” (Bible Speaks Today)
Joel (2:11) warns of judgment: “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” The land trembled as does America today. As a nation we have turned from God. Do we hear the warnings? Who can save us? “I don’t see our nation able to go much further unless we repent and call upon the name of Almighty God,” observes Franklin Graham.
Joel saw judgment coming in the form of an invasion of locusts. God was giving warning that conditions were ripe for judgment. “Joel had the courage to talk of God’s direct and personal involvement in current affairs and to assert that he [God] and he alone had the answers to the national crisis” (Bible Speaks Today). For us the question would be, “Where are the locusts today in our technologically brilliant but ethically bankrupt society?” (BST)
Joel alerts the people to prepare, “for the day of the lord is coming” ( 2:1). “He is emphasizing as strongly as he knows how that the great and terrible day is imminent” (BST). It might not be the final judgment, but it will mean present judgment and change. “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” (2:11). The nation needed to wake up and pay heed. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming” (2:1).
Men, I believe the trumpet has been sounding. Darkness is descending on our nation. Outright rebellion against God’s moral standard is being openly flaunted, while politicians on both sides bombard each other in ever despiteful language. I often wonder if there is any hope for the healing of our nation.
Joel’s answer is clear. It is a matter of repentance and returning to God. Men, instead of getting caught up in the heated rhetoric of the dominant narrative of our day, especially during this electoral period, Joel tells us to “cry out to the Lord.” I do that continually throughout the day, knowing that only God can heal what is displayed daily on TV.
God is looking for a change of heart. Are we prepared for what is coming? “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning'” (2:12). “Rend your heart, and not your garments” ( 2:13). This is soulful behavior, not just talk motivated by anger, fear and frustration. God is looking for heartfelt, passionate crying out to him.
Why would God listen to men, when the culture is being stiff-necked? Because God cares about the condition of our nation: “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…” (2:13). Can God be persuaded. “Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse” ( 2:14 – MSG).
It could be that God might, “repay you for the years the locust have eaten” (2:25). God is able to send a mighty “awakening.” “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (2:28).