When natural disasters occur, they provoke many questions, such as,
“Why did God allow this to happen?” “Why have some people lived, while others have died?” “Is there a lesson here that we could learn?” Joel had no doubt that the locust plague could lead to a deeper insight into God’s universal plan. In chapter 1, under divine inspiration, the prophet relates the national crisis to the spiritual situation in the land. The locusts have left nothing that could be offered as sacrifice to the Lord. The grain offering and the drink offering were part of the daily offering in the temple, in accordance with the instructions recorded in Exodus 29:40 and Numbers 28:58. The cutting off of the sacrifices was severe, but it should have served as a warning to the people of their grave condition. The loss of opportunity even to offer the sacrifices symbolized the breaking of the covenant between God and Israel. But, unlike many of the other prophets, Joel did not spend much time making an analysis of people’s failings. He was interested far more in dwelling on the cure as prescribed by Israel’s divine Physician.
Read Joel 1:13-20. What is Joel saying to the people? However unique the circumstances, in what ways is that which is being said here a plea that is commonly seen throughout the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments?
The prophet urges the spiritual leaders to call a nationwide day of prayer and fasting so that the people can search deep within their hearts, renounce their sins, and return to their God. In this way they will come out of the experience with a renewed trust in God’s love and justice. In the end, this disaster might lead the believers into a deeper relationship with their Lord.
Throughout the Scripture, God is described as the Lord of nature, the One who created it, sustains it, and also uses it for His divine purposes. In this natural disaster, instead of rending their garments, the prophet Joel says that the people should rend their hearts and make them open to God’s grace and compassion.
Disasters may strike us in many forms. When they do, regardless of our understanding of them and their causes, what Bible promises can we cling to for hope and the strength to endure? What promises are especially meaningful to you?