Just You Wait
Read Joel 2:28, 30-32 (ESV)
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions…. And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.
Are you looking forward to or dreading “the day of the Lord”? Why?
Has anyone ever said to you, “If you think that’s bad, just you wait”? In a sense, that is what the book of Joel is about. Joel was a prophet to the southern kingdom, Judah. His primary message was that “the day of the Lord” is coming and when it arrives, it will be a time of truly unprecedented calamity, destruction, and eternal judgment. And yet, as today’s passage points out, “everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
Joel starts off his short book using a recent plague of locusts as an object lesson about the coming day of the Lord. God had sent the locusts as judgment for sin and those locusts decimated Judah’s crops. Even worse, there is also a drought. But as bad as things were, Joel’s message was, “You think that’s bad, just you wait!” He warned of a coming enemy army invasion that would sweep throughout the land as judgment for sin if the people do not repent. This army would devour their nation just as the locusts devoured their crops.
In Joel 2:12-14, he pleaded with his people to repent and return to the Lord: “‘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. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and drink offering for the LORD your God?”
In other words, it wasn’t too late. They had every opportunity to turn back to God but we know from history that they did not. They persisted in their sins and the invading army, Babylon, did indeed come.
But as with most Old Testament prophecy, there is both a “near” and “far” fulfillment to Joel’s prophecy. The near judgment was fulfilled when the nation of Judah was completely sacked by Babylon. But the far-off judgment hasn’t been fulfilled yet. You see, when Joel spoke of “the day of the Lord,” he was speaking of the ultimate judgment day. The day of the Lord will bring absolute calamity and chaos, not just upon Israel but upon the entire world. That is, the entire unbelieving world. God’s wrath will be poured out on all who have rejected Him and refused to repent.
But what about those of us who have repented? What about those of us who believe? For us, the day of the Lord will be a day of salvation! We will escape His wrath and enter into His eternal blessing instead. That is our Scarlet Thread of redemption.
But one of Joel’s future prophecies that we read about in today’s verses has already been fulfilled and that is the pouring out of the promised Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, we read about this on the day of Pentecost. The apostle Peter even quoted Joel to acknowledge this prophecy’s fulfillment (Acts 2:16-21). All of us who are believers have His Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
Friend, if you think the suffering in the world right now is bad, just you wait. We know that for those apart from God, the day of the Lord will be beyond devastating. But if you are in Christ and you’ve experienced the blessing of salvation, just you wait. Our world will get better than we can even fathom. For those of us who trust in Christ, the day of the Lord will be beyond a blessing. We will dwell in His presence forever and ever. Amen.
Lord, thank You for the promise of salvation for all who call on You. I am so grateful that when I consider the coming judgment of the world, I have nothing to fear or dread because You are my escape. Instead, I am looking forward to Your return because that means a restored world and eternal life in Your presence. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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