The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

After King Solomon died, Israel fell into chaos. Solomon’s son took the throne and tried to rule with an iron fist, prompting one of King Solomon’s army officers to revolt that resulted in a country divided. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel formed the northern partition, referred to as ‘Israel;’ and the remaining two tribes formed the southern kingdom of Judah.

Both Israel and Judah reverted to paganism. Israel suffers through eight corrupt and pagan kings and Judah is having their own problems as well. Despite having a few good kings, their own corrupt kings lead Judah to pagan worship as well.

God made a promise to King David that the Messiah would be a descendant of his lineage and that His kingdom would last forever. Well, that lineage was part of the kingdom of Judah. To keep His promise, God was going to have to intervene in a big way, to keep Judah from self-destruction.

So, in approximately 835 B.C., God decides to get their attention by sending a plague of locusts that decimates Judah’s crops. Famine and drought follow. Is God being cruel? No! He’s keeping the promise that He made to His children 600 years prior:

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes…that all these curses will come upon you…Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.” Dt. 28:15 & 42. NKJV

Thankfully, God never runs out of love. He sends His prophet (‘one who speaks for God’) Joel to wayward Judah, to try to convince the people to return to Him. Joel begins by telling Judah to remember God’s discipline (the plague of locusts) and tell it to their children as well. Then, he reveals God’s instructions for returning to Him:

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14 NASB

In other words, the answer to their (and everyone else’s) problems lies in returning to God. Next, Joel presses home the dire seriousness of their present situation:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess… Joel 2:1, 2. NKJV

Joel has delivered a two-fold prophecy: the immediate warning regards a future invasion by the Babylonians, should the people of Judah persist in their disobedience; the second part describes the ‘day of the LORD,’ which occurs at the end of time.

The disobedience God is referring to here is not about the sin traps we fall into throughout life, those that through His mercies, are forgiven (through the blood of Jesus) when we confess and repent. No, God is referring to purposeful, unrepentant sin, which always leads to death.

God (Love) is eternal. However, the time for making the decision to connect or re-connect with God is finite. We must reach out for God before we die. Seeing as how we cannot know exactly when that time will come, we can’t put off for another minute establishing or re-establishing our connection.

For that day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? Joel 2:11 NKJV

Great and terrible. The day of the LORD will be great for those who love God, but terrible for those who don’t. This is not an exercise of divine capricious cruelty. God laid out these rules to us over three thousand years ago. Yet because of God’s great love for all the people, He continues to reach out for them, even if they have walked away from Him:

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12, 13. ESV

The Hebrews used to tear their clothes in times of anguish and sorrow because it symbolized having a broken heart. Here, God is asking them to get into a real experience of sorrowful repentance so that He can lavish His love and mercy upon them. To motivate them, He paints a picture of their potential restoration:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…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.” Joel 2:25, 26. NKJV

God wants to ensure that His children are covered with HIs love, grace and mercy – now and forever. And even though it is we who bring the locusts into our lives, God wants to help us clean them out of it, to deliver us into His love:

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 NASB

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Joel 2:31, 32. NKJV

“…the heavens and the earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people…” Joel 3:16. NKJV

Wow! When we approach the end of time, every child of God will be filled with the Holy Spirit. This process actually began to happen shortly after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, on the Day of Pentecost. The exciting thing to see, is that it is still progressing – empowering the recipients to both enter the kingdom of God and to advance it.

We also see that God is going to reshape the earth and the universe it sits in into something so wondrous that we cannot yet comprehend it.

It will be a chaotic time, frightening and final for those who turned their backs on God; but for those whose hearts are bent towards Him, it will be the beginning of heaven…

Goodnight and God bless.

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