Joel 2:16-24: God always comes through!

October 6, 2016

 

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! You think this locust invasion is bad, hang on for an even greater plague, another judgment of God is coming. It may be literally applied to the Assyrian army, whom the Jews generally spoke of as dwelling in the north. Whatever the coming judgment, it was likened to the army of locusts in chapter one.

 

Verse 16: “Gather the people.” Here is the Lord calling on His people to return to Him in true repentance. And during that great tribulation there will be a truly penitent portion of the people who turn to Him in the manner described in this chapter.

 

Sometimes it takes a crisis in our lives for God to get our attention!  

 

As we have already studied in Joel 1:14, the prophet is calling for all the people to meet together to humble themselves before God, confessing their sins, begging for His mercy, and seeking his face to remove His judgments. He is calling for the elders, most likely older people, children, even infants still nursing, newlyweds, and priests. Jerusalem is in such great danger that even those normally excused from these assemblies are called upon to participate in prayer to deal with the imminent catastrophe.

 

Verse 17a: “Let the priests, who minister to the Lord…” The position of the priests between the porch of the temple and the brazen altar outside was the proper place for the priests to stand while they addressed their prayers and intercessions to God in behalf of the people. This is significant in that it speaks of our approach to God through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name, and because of His finished work on Calvary do we have access to God’s altar. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1,2). Once the priests have made their way to the altar, they are to plead with Yahweh to spare the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 

 

Verse 17b: “Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them.”

 

The hatred of the pagan nations against the Jews was an enmity against God. John MacArthur talked about death threats he had received after speaking at a local college campus on the deity of Jesus Christ. He said, “They don’t hate me, they hate Jesus.” God had declared that Israel was His chosen people and His property. Their land was a heritage from God. God had separated them from the pagan nations, and revealed Himself to them, He had made them His special heritage.

 

Verse 17c: “Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

 

If God allows His covenant people to be destroyed, the Gentile nations around them will say, "Where is their God?"  They will assume that God is not able to protect His people. That would bring disgrace on the holy name of Yahweh. This is one of the strongest arguments which believers may use in presenting their requests before the Lord, namely, that the glory of His own name requires His looking upon His children in mercy, so that they may not be abandoned to the wiles of the enemy.

 

Verses 18-20: God always comes through!

 

Beginning in Joel 2:18, Israel ceases to be the object of God's judgment and becomes instead the object of His blessing. Up to this point we have seen nothing but calamity and judgments. The land has been destroyed, depictive of the nations which would invade and destroy the land. If the God’s people truly repent, He will be zealous to protect them from foreign invaders and have pity on His chosen people

 

Verse 18: “Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people.”

 

“Zealous” or “jealous?” Either is correct, because it is the same word in Hebrew, qinah is “ardor, zeal, to be jealous or zealous.”

 

“Pity,” in Greek is chus: “to pity, look upon with compassion.”

 

Verse 19: “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them. I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.”

 

God will care for His people, He waits to be gracious when they humble themselves and pray, and seek his face. He immediately shows them His favor. If you sincerely humble yourselves before God, confess your sins, and repent of them, turning to God, then the Lord will be concerned for your honor and welfare and He will bless that land in which He has chosen for His people to dwell. They prayed that God would spare them, and He answered them. God's promises are real answers to the prayers of faith!

 

Philippians 4:18-20 MSG,  “And now I have it all—and keep getting more…You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.”

 

Verse 20: “But I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; his stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise, because he has done monstrous things.”

 

The prophet now revealed that this invader would come from the North. Both Assyria and Babylon, as well as all other eastern invaders, entered Israel from the north because of the impassability of the Arabian Desert to Israel's east. So this is not speaking of the locusts who always invaded form the south or southeast.

This description fits the battle of Armageddon, “[I] will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea” The Sea of Galilee is on one side and the Mediterranean is on the other side of the Valley of Esdraelon, where Armageddon will take place.

 

Verse 21: “Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things!”

 

The following verses describe the coming Millennium, (Latin, meaning one-thousand), also known as the “Kingdom age,” which is the future thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, which is described in Isaiah 35; Revelation 20, and elsewhere. It will be a time of wonderful peace, joy, and blessing.

 

Isaiah 11:10, “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, (Jesus Christ) Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”

 

After the seven years of tribulation, Jesus will come with His saints…(the Revelation). At the rapture, Jesus comes for His saints, at the Revelation, seven years later, he comes with His saints, after which comes the Battle of Armageddon, followed by the Millennium, where Jerusalem will be the capital of the world.

 

Jeremiah 3:17, “At that time (the Millennium) they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.”

 

The Bible says that all those who were resurrected and raised to meet Jesus at His Second Coming will be very blessed during the Millennium…

 

Revelation 20:6,7, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection (Rapture). Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years!”

 

During the entire one-thousand years of the Millennium, the Devil will be chained up as a prisoner and held in God's prison, the bottomless pit! For a thousand years he will no longer be able to bother us and no longer be able to lead the other fallen angels and evil spirits across the Earth to bother Mankind! (Revelation 20:1-3).

 

Verse 22,23: “Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength.  Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”

 

Today the land of Israel is still desolate, but during the Millennium, “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice. (Isaiah 35:1,2).

 

Isaiah 35:6,7:  “For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”

 

The Millennium will provide perfect weather and the earth will be a tropical paradise. There won’t be any extreme shifts in the weather, nor will there be storms, hurricanes or floods, for God will maintain proper climate control year round. It is generally believed that the mist of the ground as before the flood will irrigate the earth.

 

Isaiah 51:3, “For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”

 

Verse 24: “The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.”

 

Isaiah 34:27, “And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.”

 

For the purpose of this message I will reverse these last verse3:

 

Verses 26,27: “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”

 

Isaiah 35:9,10, “No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

 

I conclude with Verse 25: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”

 

This is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture, many sermons have been preached on this subject, although we must take it out of context, but  it is truly a great spiritual principle! “I will restore the years…” Revelation 21:5, says, “Behold, I make all things new.” That’s the same principle!  Please allow me to sermonize a bit.

 

Life is short: Psalm 90:10 NLT, “Seventy years are given to us! Some may even reach eighty. But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear and we are gone.”

 

We have only a limited number of years in this world, use them well, use them for the Lord! “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven” (Matthew 6:20). So many times we look at our lives and grieve over all of the wasted time and opportunities. So many discover too late in life that they have nothing to show in eternal fruit for the years that have passed. But God tells us, “I will restore to you the years that the…locusts have eaten.” So we can confidently say, God's not through with me yet!

 

Those of us who have some wasted years in your life you’re in good company.

 

The children of Israel wasted forty years wandering in the wilderness before they finally reached God's place for them, when they finally enter the Promised Land. If they had only believed Caleb and Joshua at Paran, they could have saved themselves forty years of misery.

 

Moses wasted years after Kadesh, where he, in anger sinned against God. He eventually was allowed to view the Promised Land, but was not allowed to go in.

 

Joshua may have seen all those years of following Moses as wasted, but God chose him to lead the nation into the Promised Land.

 

Jacob failed to trust God, instead he put his trust in his Uncle Laban, wasted years of his life, before God began to restore him.

 

Joseph, left for dead, then sold by his brothers, ending up in prison for a crime he did not commit, found that God can restore the years.

 

David, after a devastating fall, lost his song, and his joy, Psalm 51:12: “Lord, restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” And he lost his kingdom. God told him “The sword will never depart from your house” (2 Samuel 12:10). He lost his life-long dream, to build a house for the Lord. But he laid up treasures for the building, and God restored him.

 

Solomon, a man who had everything to live with and nothing to live for, tried labor, wisdom, pleasure, wine, houses, lands, vineyards, orchards, gardens, servant, stables, the finest horses, singers, musicians, cattle, sheep, silver, gold, and treasures, plus seven-hundred wives and three-hundred concubines (mistresses). He says “Whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them” [Ecclesiastes 2:10]. Then he tells us about life without God . “I hated life…all was vanity [emptiness] and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). But in the end God restored his wasted years. “And moreover…he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs” (Ecclesiastes 12:9).

 

Job, in one sweeping moment of time lost everything he owned, sheep, cattle, houses, lands, seven sons and three daughters. He is left with a wife who nagged him to curse God and die, friends who were not friends, but critics. He verbalized his misery through chapter after chapter, then comes to the point where God is so far from him that he can't find Him, “Oh that I might know where to find Him…” (Job 23:3). After all of this God restores making him the wealthiest man in his country. And God restored the years that the locust had eaten. God always comes through!

 

When Elijah was running from Jezebel, hiding in a cave, God came to him twice asking, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9;13). Still, Elijah went on to a great life of victory, and was ultimately transported to Heaven in a fiery chariot. God restored him from a fleeing coward to a national hero.

 

The Prodigal Son made some bad decisions, but his father welcomed him back, put a robe on his back and a ring on his finger, honoring him with a feast, saying “This my son was dead, and is alive again” (Luke 15:24). Back from a life of degradation and sin, back from spending his inheritance in a life of wild living. But God “restored the years that the locust had eaten.”

 

Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat" (Luke 23:31). But Peter who denied our Lord three times, God restored from denial to Pentecost power.

 

So in the eternal continuum I can say with confidence, “God is not through with me yet!” He will “restore the years that the locusts have eaten,” all my wasted years. God says to Joshua, what He says to each of us, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you…”(Joshua 3:7). God always comes through!

 

The Lord will restore all of the years that have been ravaged by the enemy of our souls. He will heal every wound, repair every torn area that has been ravaged by the vicissitudes of life. He will restore the battered areas that have been damaged by the winds of adversity. Every damaged memory, and we have many, every stronghold that has held us captive will be restored. He promises to ”Make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).  Every area of our lives that we are willing to submit to the Lord, He will make fruitful. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

 

Clarence Darrow, infamous lawyer, an atheist, was asked to evaluate his life. He picked up a Bible, strange for a man who fought the Bible all his life, he turned to Luke 5:5 and read, “Master, I have toiled all the night and have taken nothing.” In other words, “I wasted my life.”

 

When comedian Jack Benny heard the old saying, “You can't take it with you,” he replied: “Then I'm not going!” But he went, and he didn't take anything with him. There are no luggage racks or trailer hitches on a hearse! It's a cinch we won't take anything with us! We will leave it all behind! “I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 NLT).

 

One day, sooner than we think, we will sit on the edge of our grave and look back over our life, and we will marvel at all the wasted time and missed opportunities.

 

Only one life, it will soon  be past.

Only what's done for Christ will last.

–C.T. Studd–

 

**Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English  bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).**

 

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