And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” — Joel 2:25
Years ago, after the “locust and cankerworm” of sin had all but destroyed his life, a man named Joel heard a Gospel meeting on a street corner in Portland, Oregon. Calloused by sin, he listened with a pipe in his mouth and a sneer on his face.
Joel was the father of four children. He and his wife had been married over twenty years, and he’d had a good and steady job at the General Electric plant in Boston, Massachusetts. However, a few social drinks had led to misery. Alcohol got a hold on his life, and he lost his job and then left his family. He spent years on skid roads, staying in flophouses and working in railroad camps, selling the clothes off his back and even his blood to get liquor.
In spite of the pipe and the sneer, God spoke to Joel’s heart, telling him that the Gospel story he heard that day was as real as the sin he was in. He followed the people to their church, and he said he stepped “out of Hell into Heaven.” He prayed after the service, and then continued to pray when he got back to his cheap hotel room.
That night, God came down and changed Joel’s heart, saving his soul and delivering him from his sinful habits in an instant of time. He got a job, and he wrote to his wife. She had been so hurt that she did not respond immediately, but Joel began to send money and clothes for the children to her. Eventually, she came to Portland, and their home was reunited. God restored what sin had taken away. For many years after that, Joel testified of a victorious life, and then the day came when he went to be with the Lord.
Our focus verse today speaks of restoration. Even though the circumstances of our lives may not be as deplorable as Joel’s were, sin separates every person from God. However, that rift can be bridged. In His love, God wants to heal and restore what sin has destroyed in our lives. When we repent of our sins and give our lives to Him, God forgives and makes us fit for Heaven. Has that restoration taken place in your life? If not, let God do His work in you today.
The prophet Joel is thought to have prophesied in Judah during the reign of King Joash. The accounts of King Joash can be found in 2 Kings 11-12 and 2 Chronicles 22-24.
Joel described three “day(s) of the Lord” throughout this book. The first was an immediate plague of locusts; the second, an army of destruction; the third, the ultimate and final day of judgment.
The second chapter of Joel tells of an army that would destroy the land. It would cause utter destruction as a part of God’s plan to bring the people of Israel back to Him. Joel tried to let the people know that this day was imminent and also gave an illustration of the grace and mercy of God.
This chapter provides a prophetic look at the redemption available to all. The army represents the destruction awaiting the unrepentant soul. Verses 12 and 13 sound a call for repentance. Jewish people customarily showed deep grief by tearing their outer garments, but God was not looking for these outward actions — He wanted their hearts to be broken in contrition. The purpose of the plague was to cause the people to recognize their sin and repent of it.
Joel is known as the Prophet of Pentecost. His prophecy concerning the dispensation of the Holy Spirit was quoted by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew Bible, the five verses of Joel 2:28-32 are a separate chapter in themselves. This seems to indicate an understanding on the part of the Jews of the importance and necessity for the Spirit of God to be working in every heart prior to the “great and the terrible day of the Lord.” It is in these verses that the remnant of Israel is prophetically called back to the salvation offered to them.
Verses 28-32 are of great significance to the Christian today. Joel said that God’s Spirit would come “upon all flesh.” Young and old, men and women, servants and handmaids — all were included in this prophecy. In Old Testament times, God’s Spirit came upon individual people, often for a specific task. However, Joel was inspired to tell of a time when every person could have the Spirit abiding within.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The day of the Lord in the latter time
A. The invasion from the north (2:1-11)
1. The announcement of distress (2:1)
2. The analysis of the “day” (2:2-3)
a. The darkness and the destroyers (2:2)
b. The destruction (2:3)
3. The adversaries described (2:4-9)
a. Their swiftness (2:4-6)
b. Their precision (2:7-8)
c. Their conduct (2:9)
4. The awfulness of the “day” (2:10-11)
B. The challenge to the people (2:12-17)
1. To turn to Jehovah (2:12-14)
a. The plea and the reason (2:12-13)
b. The result (2:14)
2. To call upon Jehovah (2:15-17)
a. The participants (2:15-16)
b. The result (2:17)
C. The restoration of Israel (2:18-32)
1. The healing of the land (2:18-27)
a. The renewal of natural resources (2:18-19)
b. The removal of the enemy (2:20)
c. The renewal of God’s blessing (2:21-25)
(1) On animal and plant life (2:21-22)
(2) On mankind (2:23-25)
d. The results of the renewal (2:26-27)
2. The outpouring of the Spirit (2:28-32)
a. The time and extent (2:28-29)
b. The evidence (2:30-31)
c. The work (2:32)
God wants to provide restoration and blessing for us. He wants us to be filled with His Spirit. Are we willing to allow Him to work in our lives?