What you know ’bout me?

Ever had that thought? Ever had someone accuse you of something very personal even though that person may know you very little?

I bet you did not respond nicely. However, what if that person claimed to be given a message from the God who does know you pretty well? In the Rooted class, we discussed the prophet Joel. This prophet was faced with delivering a difficult message to Israel that probably left some Israelites wondering the same thing.

Locust Plague
Can you see the tent in the background? The cloud of a locust swarm is no joke.

Israel was facing a crisis – a plague of locusts had come through and destroyed all the people’s crops (Joel 1:4). Then, God sent Joel in to interpret this catastrophe. Joel leveled an accusation of sin against Israel for lacking a repentant heart (Joel 2:12-14). Israel had wandered from the Lord and would face a worse scenario than economic suffering if they did not have a relationship with their God. This message would be hard to take. Joel had to deliver difficult news to people in a time of difficulty, in a time when bad news surrounded them. He told of a coming day when the Lord would gather the nations and bring judgment upon all those who did not repent (Joel 3:12-16).

The locust plague was just a taste of the coming destruction. God was using a disaster to speak to the greater reality of a relationship with Him. He wanted His people to know that if they turned back to him then He might leave a blessing in his wake (Joel 2:14). God was not asking for noise – empty prayers, hypocritical tears and fake fasting – he wanted a heart devoted to His ways. He wanted people to care about what He cares about. He wanted people to call upon His name in response to tragedy.

Some ask the question, “Why?” in the midst of disaster. Joel does seem to connect the people’s disobedience to the Lord with the tragedy that has come upon them. However, we need to be careful in making that link every time something difficult comes our way. James 1:2 has the opposite message. He says to respond to suffering with joy, not repentance. So, it is not a simple equation. It is right to examine your heart when difficulty strikes. Ask a friend to help look at your life to see if it aligns with God’s Word. If it does, and there is no clear sin that would link to the problem, then don’t blame yourself.

Even then, realize that closeness to the Father through the Son by the Spirit is always God’s desire. For you, for your neighbor, for your family. Whatever happens occurs so that people may come to know that God is true, worth following and worth praising.

-Pastor Sean