A Retelling of God's Promised Spirit
A locust plague of unprecedented proportion has hit the land. Lands that once seemed like the Garden of Eden now seem like death.Nothing has been left untouched. Life is so bad that locusts have even stripped bark from the years, damaging fruitfulness for years to come. Everyone from the drunkard to the priest is weeping. The people don't even have personal fig trees to sit under anymore. It's the worst case of Locust devastation that anyone has ever seen.
The plague has affected everyone from drunkards to priests. Drunkards have no more wine to drink their sorrows away. Priests have no grain and wine to make offerings up to God. And in the midst of this, God calls a new prophet to deliver a message of repentance and hope to the people. Joel is called upon to paint an image of resurrection for the people, to reveal who God really is in this time of death.
With absolutely nothing left to give, or anything to rely on, God calls the people to rend their hearts, not their garments because God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. God is the God of abundance and life in the midst of chaos. God is the one who will send and mark his people with his Spirit because ultimately, one day, God will make everything new again.
Storyline Commentary on Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Setting A locust plague of unprecedented proportion has hit the land. The people don't even have personal fig trees to sit under anymore. Lands that once seemed like the Garden of Eden now seem like death. Nothing has been left untouched. Life is so bad that locusts have even stripped bark from the years, damaging fruitfulness for years to come. Everyone from the drunkard to the priest is weeping.
- Joel - His name means Yahweh is God, the son of Pethuel, called by God as a prophet to deliver a message of heart repentance to the people of Israel.
- God, who calls on the people to rend their hearts instead of their garments.
- Everyone from the drunkard to the priest is suffering. The drunkard because there is no wine to drink from and the priests because there's no wine or grain to make offerings.
The Tension The land has been utterly devastated by locusts and the people have none of their normal offerings to offer up to God.
The Resolution God calls on the people to rend their hearts instead of their garments. Their true offering to God doesn't come from the land, it comes from within.
The Through Line God is the one who can bring wine and grain again in the face of death. God is the one who marks his people by pouring out his Spirit on them and this happens when we move from rending our garments, to rendering our hearts. God is the one who is merciful and filled with compassion, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
Reflections on God's Promised Spirit
Why has this story endured? For those that seek repentance in life, this passage speaks to a God that is filled with mercy and compassion, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. It's a passage that reveals the nature of God to us in a memorable way.
What is true for them then that is still true for us today? Offering ourselves to God is a matter of rendering our hearts, not our garments. God still pours our Spirit, and after the Father sent the Son, the Holy Spirit was sent into the world, to not just be poured out on us, but to dwell inside of us.
How does this story help us love God? We can lean on God's unfailing love. We should constantly remind ourselves that God is filled with mercy and compassion.
How does this story help us love others? We should attempt to see people create in the image of God like God seems them. If God is filled mercy and compassion and slow to anger, that means we are created in that image and should try to live that image of God out towards others.