Is a natural disaster an act of God? When earthquakes strike, or famines continue, are these the acts of God or are they just the result of life on planet earth? This Theist verses Deist argument has been around for 2500 years. Plato and his school discussed this ad infinitum. The prophet Joel had no hesitation. He boldly proclaimed this was God working among men. 

The book of Joel is about a locust invasion. A swarm of locusts that covered the land and destroyed everything in sight. Joel’s vision was God leading these locusts into battle like a General leads his troops (2.11). Joel encouraged the priests to call a national day of prayer and fasting to lead the people back to God. He promised if the people would return to God they would eat in plenty (2.26). Joel proposed this disaster could bring a backslidden nation back to God.

It was an uphill task for God’s prophet. Joel’s vision was that God’s people would love God all the time, not just in times of disaster. It is human nature to turn to God in times of great tragedy. This book is an eternal appeal to all mankind to love God in the times of prosperity, and in the times of dearth.

It begins with the plague of locusts, and moves to the call for repentance. The day of the Lord is coming and the prophet is calling for men to turn back to God. One of the greatest promises of the Bible is in this small book. It is the promise of the coming Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh. This would happen centuries in the future on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The prophecy then moves on to the judgment of Judah’s enemies and the future eternal blessings on God’s people.

This small book of three chapters covers some of the most profound questions mankind has asked throughout history. The conclusion is succinct and powerful. Whether it’s is a swarm of locusts, or nuclear war, God is in control. Turn to God and your future will be blessed and secure.

Chapter 1

1.1-3 the prophet gives his ancestry as the son of Pethuel, which means enlarged of God. He calls to the aged among the people to see if anyone remembers such a plague as they now experience? He encourages them to not let this moment be forgotten in the generations to come.

1.4-12 the devastation is documented. The terms of four destroying insects are offered. These are the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm and the caterpillar. These also represent the stages of the plague and the results. First there was a worm, then a grown locust that left behind eggs that would hatch again and bring yet another plague of young locusts. This vivid imagery was poignant to farmers for all future crops were in jeopardy. They would no sooner get one crop grown before the eggs gave birth to new young hordes of locusts and the cycle repeated itself again. The cycle would never end. This was the story of the people of God over the last six hundred years of Israel’s history. The image of revolving failure was stark for the people to see. The total loss of meats, fig trees, corn, wine, wheat and barley, and pomegranates reflect the loss of joy in the hearts of the populace. They were facing a hopeless future.

1.13-20 the prophet starts with the answer; the priests. Joel calls the ministry to lament and howl and fast. The hunger is a result of the spiritual famine and leaving God. The natural disaster is a mirror of what has happened to the nation spiritually. The seed is rotten, the barns are broken down, and the beasts have no pasture. The future is bleak unless the people turn back to their God.

Thanks for reading today……