We read Joel’s prophecy today. Probably you never heard of the name Joel. Joel was a prophet in Israel. He lived near Jerusalem. We don’t know exactly when he lived. But scholars estimate that he lived around 400 BC. Then, you can say he lived around the time Plato lived. Plato was born 427 BC.
At that time, Israel went through the agricultural disaster. Not only they didn’t have much rain but they had locust problems. Locusts are grasshoppers. They can be quite harmful to agriculture. They ate up all the crops.
People starved to death. They were devastated. Their environment was beyond their control. They could do nothing with their own power. They felt powerless and helpless.
That’s when God sent Joel.
Joel – It is a good name.
Joel – You have a good name.
Joel = Jehovah is (my) God.
When we go through devastation, when we feel helpless and hopeless, when we have no power left in us, when we see only darkness ahead of us, often God says, I am your God and you are my people.
And you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Jeremiah 30:22)
I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:7)
Jehovah is my God
St. Paul talked about the whole creation suffering and its existence becoming futile in chapter 8 of Romans. The whole creation was groaning with the desire to be free from the bondage to decay, he said. And St. Paul has reminded us that we are God’s people. More specifically, we are God’s children.
…it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16)
When you go through hardships, when you feel all alone, when you have no confidence left in you, when you feel like you are nobody, don’t forget that you are God’s child. God never forgets you. When Israel saw no hope for their future, God sent Joel to remind them that Jehovah was their God.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.(Joel 2:27)
God reminded them that when they could not do anything, God could do something.
O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. (Joel 2:23)
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. (Joel 2:26)
When you go through hard times, don’t forget this name. Joel. Jehovah is my God. There is nothing for you to worry about.
When Jesus left and his disciples were all alone. They faced uncertain future. They saw threats all around them. They didn’t have any power in them to fight against the oppression and threats. They just prayed. 120 people gathered together and desperately prayed. They were in devastation.
That was when God sent the Spirit and helped them remember the name Joel. The Spirit came down and filled the whole room. Tongues of fire came down from heaven. They started speaking in different languages.
A fantastic phenomena. They all wondered what this was all about. Some people accused them of being drunk.
But Peter saw something different. Peter remembered Joel. Jehovah is my God. Peter remembered Joe’s prophecy. It was the Spirit who reminded him of this passage.
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:17-21)
That was exactly what Joel prophesied. Not Moses, Not Elijah, Not Isaiah but Joel. God reminded Peter of the name, Joel, and his prophecy.
That was exactly what the early Christians needed. When they were terrified with fear, when they felt totally powerless, God told them I am your God. There is nothing for you to worry about.
I will send you the Spirit. And the Spirit will give you the power. And with the power you receive, you can take any challenges in your life.
We all experienced something very strange. The first time in our history, we have locked down everything for so long. I have also become a victim of this virus. Mine wasn’t a mild one. I suffered for many days. I lost smell. My life was interrupted. I had to cancel everything. Tuesday Bible study, Friday morning Bible study, Friday evening Bible study, even Sunday service I had to miss and do it in zoom.
Even preparing for this sermon was not easy because I couldn’t really concentrate. When you cannot concentrate, it was hard to think and focus. And God gave me this name, Joel. I am your God. Jehovah is my God.
When life is tough, remember this name, Joel. When life is unbearable, remember that you are not forgotten. When life is so scary, remember that God is with you. Jehovah is your God. When you cannot do it, God can do it. When you cannot see it, God can see it.