Every now and then when I am reading about the Israelites in the Old Testament, I get a little
frustrated with them. Reading story after story of how God showed up and showed out in their lives. Deliverance from slavery in Egypt via the Red Sea! Water from a rock! Food raining down from heaven (no need to grocery shop)! Personal guidance and protection from God Himself! “Come on People, what more do you need?!” “How dumb, (sorry kids) can you be?” I think to myself, “If I had all THAT…all the miracles and power and stuff…I would totally trust in the LORD!”
Generation after generation, they didn’t seem to learn. Page after page it’s more of the
same…rebellion, obstinance, doubt. Even when you get to the book of Joel, nearing the end of
the Old Testament, it seems that they are still in that place of disobedience. This book doesn’t
tell us their exact sin but probably the sins of complacency and compromise.
Because of their sin, God sends devastation to their land in the form of “natural disaster”,
locusts…lots of locusts. This is how Joel 1:4 put it:
“What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.”
Did you know that, “One swarm can contain up to ten billion individual locusts. As many as a
thousand newly hatched hopping locusts can occupy one square foot. A single locust can travel 3,000 miles during its lifetime, stripping vegetation wherever it and its swarm land. A swarm can devour in one day what 40,000 people eat in one year. In a 1958 visitation Ethiopia lost 167,000 metric tons of grain, enough to feed more than a million people for a year”. (Most of these facts are taken from World Vision, Dec. 1986–Jan. 1987.)
There was famine, drought, barrenness; all around devastation. God Himself, called out to His
children to “Wake up!” 1:5; “Lament!” 1:13; “Fast!” 1:14; “Pray, Repent and Assemble!” 2:12-
17. God was beckoning them back to Himself. Look to me! Cry out to me! Turn to me! Was the plea of God the Father.
Allen, L. C. (1994). Joel. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 780). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL:Inter-Varsity Press.
Then the tone changes in chapter 2:18; God has pity on them; He tells them not to fear. In fact, if they repent He would RESTORE all that was lost.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. Joel 2:25
I will restore the years that the swarming locust has eaten…I will restore the years that the
swarming locusts has eaten…I will restore the years that the swarming locusts has eaten. What a promise to God’s people.
As I find my frustration growing with this unruly nation, I realize that it is not a story about a
people but a story about a GOD; A God who is patient and loving. Wrathful and jealous. I realize that the central figure is not a wandering race but a Wonderful Redeemer! One who RESTORES.
This same God who looked upon the Israelites with love, compassion and pity and promises
restoration of wasted years, is the same God who loves you. Has compassion on you and can
even restore your years devastated by sin and destruction. He has the same
requirement…repent…turn back to me…cry out to me. Make me your most precious desire in
all of life!
OK…Yes, I get frustrated with the continual saga of Israel’s lack of trust in God. Why? Because it reminds me of my own journey, with God. You and I, after all Christ has done for us, still find ourselves doubting, complaining, sinning. But our patient Father, is waiting for us to return, knowing that He is also the God of RESTORATION!