Saturday, June 22, 2024

Morning Message: It's Happening Again

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "It's Happening Again"
Written by:
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Our nation has much in common with the nation of Israel. As we listen to the media, we realize that we are being “invaded” by foreigners, sort of. The Watchmen that we elected have abandoned their sworn duty to protect our borders and have actually invited the invaders to come!

It was 1948 when Jews were resettling their newly independent State of Israel, and Kubutzes sprang up, developing agriculture and other businesses. A land of virtual wilderness with an arid climate, the fledgling government invited Arabs to come in order to build their farms into a self-sustaining agricultural program for the Jewish nation. The Jews came; the Arabs came; and all needed to be fed.

Now, both Israel and our own country are realizing our mistake and paying the price. This is an oversimplification of the problems both our countries face, but the similarities are clear. There is that old saying that reminds us about not learning from past mistakes and being doomed to repeat them.

But we are not alone, it has happened repeatedly around the globe. As we embark on a study of the Prophet Joel, we find Israel going through this same trial about 800 B.C. Joel analogizes the invaders to be insects, eating up one grain after another. Like the plagues of Egypt, each one follows the pattern. They destroy what they want, and leave the populace in ruin, hungry and starving all across the countryside.

While the Watchmen were looking for distant invaders, they completely missed the marauders nearby that would bring ruin from within their borders. Seeing no one coming from outside, the Watchmen lived high-on-the-hog, enjoying the wine and the oil. But the Word of the Lord declared that they were on the brink of disaster. There will be a high price to pay for the Watchmen abdicating their duties and not sounding the alarm loud and clear!

In the days of Jeremiah, the false prophets of Jerusalem kept saying, “All is well, we have the Temple. Everything will be OK.” This they did even as the Babylonian Army was at their door to take the people away into captivity for 70 years! OH! For faithful Prophets and watching Watchmen!

Jeremiah 6:17 - “Also I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Hearken to the sound of the trumpet.’ But they would not listen.”

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message
Joel 1:1-15 - "It's Happening Again

Summary/Additional Commentary & Definitions:

The Book of Joel was likely written between 835 and 800 B.C. The author identified himself only as "Joel the Son of Pethuel" (1:1). The prophet provides little else about his identity.

Tyre, Sidon and Philistia had made frequent military incursions into Israel (3:2). Judah, the setting for the book, is devastated by an extended drought and massive invasion of locusts that had stripped every green thing from the land bringing severe economic devastation (1:7-20), leaving the southern kingdom weak. Joel uses these happenings as the catalyst to send words of warning to Judah. Unless the people repent quickly and completely, enemy armies will devour the land as did the natural elements. Joel appeals to all the people and the priests of the land to fast and humble themselves as they seek God’s forgiveness. If they will respond, there will be renewed material and spiritual blessings for the nation. But the Day of the Lord is coming.

Joel symbolically describes the locusts as a marching human army and views all of this as divine judgment coming against the nation for her sins. As the locusts were a judgment on sin, God's future judgments during the Day of the Lord will far exceed them. At this time the dreaded locusts will seem as gnats in comparison, as all nations receive His judgment. In that day, God will judge His enemies and bless the faithful.

The overriding theme of the Book of Joel is the Day of the Lord, a day of God’s wrath and judgment. It's importance to the canon of Scripture stems from its being the first to develop this oft-mentioned biblical theme. While Obadiah mentioned the terrifying event first (Obadiah 15), Joel’s book gives some of the most striking and specific details in all of Scripture about the day of the Lord—days cloaked in darkness, armies that conquer like consuming fire, and the moon turning to blood. Rooted in such vibrant and physical imagery, this time of ultimate judgment, still future for us today (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10), makes clear the seriousness of God’s judgment on sin.

This is the Day in which God reveals His attributes of wrath, power, and holiness, and it is a terrifying day to His enemies. In the first chapter, the Day of the Lord is experienced historically by the plague of locusts upon the land. Chapter 2:1-17 is a transitional chapter in which Joel uses the metaphor of the locust plague and drought to renew a call to repentance. Chapters 2:18-3:21 describes the Day of the Lord in eschatological terms and answers the call to repentance with prophecies of physical restoration (2:21-27), spiritual restoration (2:28-32), and national restoration (3:1-21).

In Joel chapter 1, The prophet Joel delivers a message about a horrific locust infestation that has descended upon Judah, stripping the land bare and causing widespread famine. He describes the complete destruction of crops and vineyards, leaving the people with nothing to harvest or offer as sacrifices.

The chapter progresses into a call for mourning and lament, urging the priests, farmers, and drunkards alike to acknowledge the severity of the situation and plead for God’s mercy.  Joel concludes by calling for a solemn assembly and a time of fasting to appease God’s wrath.

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

The Word of the LORD (1:1) - The prophets use this introductory phrase to indicate that the message is divinely commissioned.  (See Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1; Zephaniah 1:1)

Joel (1:1) - His name means "The LORD is God."

Pethuel (1:1) - This is the name of Joel's father.  His name means "openheartedness of/toward God."  It is the only occurrence of this name in the Bible. 

Hear... Give Ear (1:2) - The gravity of the situation demands the undivided attention of the readers senses, emphasizing the need to make a conscious, purposeful decision in the matter.  The terminology was commonly used in "lawsuit" passages Isaiah 1:2; Hosea 4:1).  

Old Men (Elders)...All Ye Inhabitants (1:2) - Old men revers to the civil and religious leaders, who, in light of their position, were exhorted to lead by example the entire population (inhabitants) toward repentance. 

Tell Ye Your Children (1:3) - The importance of reciting the Lord's mighty acts to subsequent generations is heavily underscored by the threefold injunction.  (See also Exodus 10:1-6; Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:6, 7; 11:19; 32:7; Psalm 78:5-7; 145:4-7; Proverbs 4:1). 

Palmerworm (1:4) - from the Hebrew word "gazam." Literally means to gnaw off.

The Locust (1:4) - from the Hebrew word "arbeh." Literally means to be many; migratory. The four kinds of locusts refer to their different species or their stages of development (2:25), where the writer mentions them in different order. The total destruction caused by their voracious appetites demands repentance to avoid future, repeat occurrences (Deuteronomy 28:38; Isaiah 33:4; Amos 7:1). Locusts are compared to an invading army.

Cankerworm (1:4) - from the Hebrew word "yeleq." Literally means to lick off.

Caterpillar (1:4) - from the Hebrew word "chasil." Literally means to devour; consume.

Drunkards (1:5) - Drunkenness is the national sin that prophets condemn (especially Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos). The drunkards delighted in the abundance of the vine, and are addressed because the locusts had destroyed the vine that produces the grapes from which the wine is made.  

The Lord calls ten times upon different segments of the population to mourn and repent:
  • Drunkards - are to mourn like a young bride for a departed husband (v. 8).  
  • Farmers - vs. 11 - are to be ashamed.  They are a public disgrace, a physical state to which the guilty party has been forcibly brought.
  • Vinedressers - vs. 12
  • Priests - The priests are to mourn because no longer will there be meal and wine for the offerings (v. 9 & 13).
  • Ministers of the Altar (v. 13) called to mourn and to lie all night in sackcloth.
My Land (1:6) - The Lord reminds them that the land is His.  He is the owner (Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:2; Ezekiel 38:16).

My Vine...My Fig Tree
(1:6, 7) - The Lord again claims ownership. The vine and the fig tree are symbols for prosperity and peace (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10), yet they had become visual reminders of divine judgment.  

A Nation (1:6) - A literal invasion of locusts pictured the kind of destruction and judgment inflicted by human armies

Teeth of a Lion (1:6) - They are described as hostile, countless in numbers, and able to devour anything in their path.  

Meat Offering...Drink Offering (1:9) - Sacrificial offerings each morning and evening have been cut off (Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 23:13).  

All the Trees... Are Withered (1:12) - Even the deep roots of the trees could not withstand the torturous treatment administered by the locusts, especially when accompanied by an extended drought (v. 20). 

Joy Has Withered (1:12) - Human joy and delight had departed from ALL segments of society; none had escaped the devastation.  The joy that the harvest brings had been replaced by despair, and mourning.

Sanctify a Fast (1:13) - The prophet calls the priests to take action, first by example and then by proclamation (vs. 14). 

Cry Unto the Lord (1:13) -The plague had been sent by God as a warning of a much more severe judgment yet to come, and was used by Joel as an incentive to repent, both then and now.

Day of the LORD is at Hand (1:15) - A warning of a coming time of judgment.  The Lord pronounces severe judgment, after a long time of patient forbearance.  This will be followed by cleansing and blessing.  Such prophecies often refer to a current situation, such as the plague of locusts, then leap over the centuries to future end time judgments. Unless sinners repent, dire consequences await them.  

Destruction From the Almighty (1:15) - The Hebrew term destruction forms a powerful play on words with the "Almighty."  The notion of invincible strength is foremost; destruction at the hand of omnipotent God is coming.  Their calamity was not from some freak turn of nature, but rather from the purposeful, punishment of their Creator. 

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