What a year…is right. 2020 will go down in world history as one of the worst from many standpoints. Early on, a coronavirus emanating from China swept across the world and COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Millions have died, and it is still ravaging countries, families, economies. America was enjoying a robust economy headed into the year. Employment was high for all sectors. Then everything turned upside down. It is amazing how fragile economies are, most having been brought to a standstill by one single virus.
As I was reflecting on this I was drawn to the Book of Joel. In Chapter 2, we see a call to the people of Israel to return to the Lord. They are being ravaged. Everything seemed to be against them. God calls them to repentance through the prophet Joel. Food is one of our very basic needs. Apparently, locusts had been sent to their lands and were devouring everything. During Moses encounter with Pharaoh in Egypt, God had used the locusts as one of the plagues to force him to let the Israelites go. The food supply was consumed or destroyed.
God calls for action
Look what God says to Joel and the people. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber” (vss.15,16). This is serious and it calls for serious action on the part of God’s people. We play a vital role in God’s plans and actions here on earth.
Later in verse 18 we see that the Lord had pity on his people. And he answered them and said “Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations” Would that not be good news today? People are starving all over the world due to shutdowns and unemployment. Israel was experiencing real suffering, and so is the world today. Maybe it has not touched you and me directly, but it is no less a pandemic and real people are suffering real consequences.
“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” (vs. 25). Are we not desirous of hearing this from our Lord today? Restoration is such a hopeful and joyous circumstance. This pandemic is so large in scale, it will take an Omnipotent God to bring it under control and restore our hopes and dreams, and lives. We, the church, the visible Body of Christ, must pray, fast, serve, encourage. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7.14).
Everything that God allows or sends works for our good and his glory. He knows what nations and families and individuals need. He wants our worship, and he will go to the ends of the earth to accomplish his will for his people. This pandemic was no surprise to the Almighty God. But he is always merciful. Hear this good news. Embrace it, believe it! “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wonderfully with you” (vs. 26).
And in the midst of this dire circumstance in Israel’s history, God prophesies through Joel one of the most significant prophecies ever. Pentecost! (vss. 28-32) Rejoice, God is today still very much in control!!