Thursday, September 6, 2012

Joel's Symbolism of Judgment

Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Joel 2:12-13

The book of Joel is one of the great books of prophecy found in the minor prophets. This seer understood that the judgment Israel was facing in his day was directed by God to call the nation to repentance. Three judgments hit the land of Judah in succession. First, they were invaded by locusts that destroyed all of the crops and denuded the trees. After this a severe drought hit them. Finally, it appears that a fire ravaged anything that was left. Joel's message is simple--"If you think it is bad now, wait until the Day of the Lord!"

There is a lot of symbolism in this book that parallels America's current condition spiritually.  Before I go on, please remember that the events Joel described were real and the last day's warnings are just as true and will take place imminently. Yet, the message of this prophet can clearly speak a message to us today! Here is some of that symbolism and what it speaks of our condition.

1. God sent the locusts. He used them in an effort to draw the people back to Him. Compare these judgments with His warnings in Deuteronomy 28. "All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume." Dt. 28:42 God sends all judgment in a redemptive manner to draw us back to Him. Will we heed the warning judgment or shuffle off alone failing to repent and face further reprisals?

2. All that was green was destroyed. Green speaks of life and rest (Ps. 23:2), growth and fruitfulness (Luke 23:31, Ez. 17:24), and maturity (Job 15:31-32). Due to an invasion of spiritual locusts, few churches are seeing true life in Christ, very few are seeing actual growth (Members bouncing from church to church is not growth! It might make a pastor feel good, but it is not growth!), and few believers are pressing on to maturity.

3. The grain and drink offerings were cut off. These speak directly to the gospel. The grain makes bread and the drink offering was from wine. Few churches are actually preaching the true gospel message today. Rather, there is an emphasis on God, the great genii, who poofs blessings our way to make us happier in health, wealth, and prosperity. God isn't your heavenly bell-hop! You are his servant bought with a price you were not worth! All you deserve from Him is destruction, but in mercy and love He saved you by great grace in Christ! Time is short and he wishes you to be a servant He can trust in His field and not a whining baby crying for more milk!

4. The trees were stripped of their bark. Trees speak of the cross according to Acts 5:30 and 1 Peter 2:24. When was the last time you heard a message that proclaimed the importance of the blood of Jesus? Who preaches the cross and the power of a resurrected Savior? Many churches have denuded the cross and preach a message other than the truth. You had better listen to Paul's warning in Galatians for preaching anything other than Christ crucified, resurrected, glorified, and coming again. It is this message that the power of the Holy Ghost endorses.

5. The pomegranates were cut off. Pomegranates are a well known symbol of the law. It is said a pomegranate has 613 seeds which is the same number of OT laws. If you don't believe the laws of God are cut off, bring up divorce or homosexuality, among other topics, the next time you are with a group of people. Also, who walks in the law of love like the NT prescribes? Who always puts God first and their neighbor as themselves?

6. There was no oil. This is an easy one here. Does the Holy Spirit actually direct all of the affairs of the church today? If He did Christ alone would be exalted and not "gifted" speakers and innovative men directed programs. Signs and wonders and the gift of salvation always follow the Dove of Holiness!

7. The other fruit trees were cut off. Who walks in the fruit of the Spirit today? Who operates in Spirit led love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, temperance, and meekness?

8. The sheep and cattle suffer. How many churches are filled today with suffering, hurting members who are starving due to lack of personal commitment to Christ? Also, the ministry was not operating effectively due to the lack of the grain and drink offerings.

We are just where Paul told the Thessalonians we would be. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;..." 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Spiritually, we are where Joel was too. Between a spiritual drought and the Tribulation. Thank God for the second chapter of Joel! Between these two events, God does a sovereign work. However, we need to do our part. What is our part?

Joel was written in a chiastic structure.  The center point of this structure is Joel 2:12-17.  There has to be repentance before moving on to the greater promises of the book.  All know that this book prophesied
 a last days outpouring; however, the entire stress in the book is on turning around.  Just 1 verse from the time of repentance and His blessing is restored and His Holy Spirit is sent.  So what is our part in bringing true renewal?
•Rend your hearts and not your garments
•Sound the shofar for battle
•Fast and pray

No comments:

Post a Comment