I’ve been exploring the Bible “free style” recently, stumbling across Hosea and now Joel, two of the minor prophets.
How do you like that? Their prophesy garners a place in the world’s best-selling book, yet they’re relegated to minor prophets. But they’re not to be missed as they show us how true it is that from tiny acorns spring mighty oaks.
What I realize in reading Joel is how different our perspective is from the resurrection side of the cross. Joel reminds me what life was like before Jesus. It’s not a pretty picture. Sin is ugly. Joel tells it like this:
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand–
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.Joel 2: 1-2
Can you imagine the carnage, the streams blood flowing through the streets of Jerusalem as God’s people sacrificed animals in an infinite cycle of sin and repentance? It’s a painful reminder of the carnage in our own pasts, the hurts inflicted on ourselves and others, the inevitable death caused by living for self.
It’s why the Old Testament is so rich and so important; it’s only from this vantage point that can we remain mindful of the unmerited grace of our Savior. Even as Joel prophesies God’s just wrath, we also see God’s overwhelming love making a way back to him. While the Israelites of Joel’s day would not live to see this promise fulfilled, Joel writes a powerful promise of the coming Pentecost.
His words grabbed me not only for their eloquence, but for how they reveal God’s beauty and goodness to share this vision of hope with a people hopeless in their sin. And they grab me because of the power of prophesy; hundreds of years before it happened, Joel writes about the pinnacle of Pentecost, surely not even grasping the full promise himself:
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.Joel 2: 28-29
I’m grateful this morning for Joel. Even in his minor role, he fortifies my faith by reminding me that God’s plan was known from the beginning and “not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:45). As true then as it is now, and will be until he comes again.
And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.Joel 2:32
A final lesson from Joel this day: Whatever minor role God is calling you to in his story, go live into it as fully as you know how. You won’t know its full significance this side of heaven.