“…mighty are those who obey His command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” Joel 2:11 NIV
[Thought questions for A Holy and Just God April 17, 2013]
1. Tragedy can make us sensitive to God. When two horrible explosions blew up at the finish line for the Boston Marathon this week, did your thoughts turn towards God? What did you say to Him? Ask of Him? Hear from Him? Imagine you are a spectator watching the line of locusts turning grass into dust. What are your thoughts at this moment about God? Does Joel see even worse calamities coming to earth? How is it possible that God’s people will be blessed by the outpouring of these dreadful plagues on the earth at the end of time? Are you looking forward to the coming of the final plagues that God will send or allow?
2. Four kinds of locusts. Why do you think the prophet Joel uses four metaphors to describe the destruction of the locust pests: (A) chewing; (B) swarming; (C) crawling; (D) consuming? When a farmer today loses an entire crop of sugar beets, wheat, or some other important products of the land, what are other consequences? Why did enemy forces in those days use crop destruction in their battles? Do you believe we are living in the time of harvest for people’s hearts? Where are the locusts? What strategy do they follow to destroy us spiritually?
3. A national call. What opportunity does Joel sense for soul-winning even during a time of natural disaster? Instead of focusing on the people’s shortcomings, why does Joel choose to zero in on the cure for physical and spiritual problems? Did the locust plague lead God’s people to a better understanding of God’s overriding purpose for His people? How? When Joel writes about the split between the covenant of God and God’s people, what hope does he offer to those who seek a deeper relationship with God?
4. Describing the promise. What powerful event did God provide on the day of Pentecost to illustrate His supernatural intervention? Which comes first; renewal, repentance, or the blessings of God? Why do we need to be annointed to qualify for doing a special end-time work for God? What does annointing consist of? Joel shares a promise that with the Holy Spirit’s blessing, God’s people, young and old, will prophesy and dream dreams. Has this happened yet? If not why not? If so, can you and I join the work of directing people to these manifestations of God’s power? Or to distinguish between true and false prophets?
5. Not natural disasters. Why is it important to recognize that signs of the end of time such as the falling of the stars or the dark day were supernatural and not ordinary manifestations of nature? Can you share today why these events were supernatural? Does God ever use natural disasters in His work of warning people on earth? Do you think that the events we have marked as the dark day and the falling of the stars will happen again before the Lord comes? What should it mean to all of us to “call upon the name of the Lord?” How can we use the name of the Lord to bring people to a fuller understanding of who God is?
6. A refuge in trouble. Can you imagine every person who has ever lived either being punished or vindicated in Jerusalem at the end of time? Can you know your position now? What is the greatest danger of not knowing or of not being sure whether you are on the side of God or not? How will Jesus’ “roar” at the final judgment resemble that of the lion, as Joel describes it in Joel 3:16? In what ways does the river flowing through the New Jerusalem represent God with us through eternity?
7. Robbed of its power. In what ways has the Bible been “robbed of its power,” as Ellen White states it has been in the quote on Friday’s lesson? Can we believe the Bible and read it faithfully and still not experience its power? What can you and I do this week to restore the Word of God to a central place in our lives? In an era when the Bible is mostly just a possession and not a treasure, can we learn to study books like Joel and other prophetic works within the Bible for a more fulfilled life in Jesus?