Note: Although the book of Joel will not be in the weekly readings for some of the app readers, we wanted to include it today for those who do have it as their daily app reading. The discrepancy is due to whether or not the prophet Joel was pre-exilic or post-exilic and the difference in the app readings reflect this difference of opinion among Bible scholars.
Text: Joel 1-3
OBSERVE: The prophet Joel prophesied to the people of Judah and Jerusalem about a century before they were taken into captivity in Babylon. The nation was facing a catastrophe that threatened their very existence. It was a massive locust plague that struck the land. The insects consumed every green plant, which resulted in famine. The starving people began to ask, “Has God sent the locust plague to punish us for our failure to live in right relationship to him? Do we have a future?”
God responded to these questions through his prophet Joel, promising to take pity on the people and restore their material lives following the locust plague. But then the prophet spoke of a more distant future when God would restore their spiritual lives. God promised to pour out his Spirit before the “great and terrible day of the Lord” arrives, which will be a day of judgment. “But,” Joel reassured, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2: 31-32).
INTERPRET: In Acts 2: 17-21, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that Joel’s prophecy was bring fulfilled, signaling that “the last days” had arrived. God poured out his Holy Spirit on the people and they began to speak in other languages. “Let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2: 26), Peter declared, making it clear that to call on the name of the Lord as Joel prophesied is to call on Jesus.
APPLICATION: Later in Acts 4:12, Peter went even further: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” We know our own failures all too well to assume that we deserve anything better than to experience the consequences of our rebellion towards God. But on that great and terrible Day of the Lord, we know where to find safety and salvation! We call on the One who has the power and the will to save us. We call on Jesus, the One who saves.
REFLECTION: Is your trust fully in the One who can save?
PRAYER: Jesus – I call out to you to save me! I have no intention of waiting until the last moment to call upon you in desperation. I call on you now and for the rest of my days to save me from myself and from the sin that entangles and entices me. Save me from the judgement that I deserve and that only you can save me from. AMEN.
SONG: Mighty to Save (Hillsong)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.