03.06.2022 Joel 1 – How Should the Church Respond to Disaster after Disaster?

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20220306
Go back to Christmas of 2019 – the last normal holiday – could any of us have imagined where this pandemic would take us? Welcome to the book of Joel! We will be sharing from here until Easter. As I read this, it was like reading my newsfeed.
Joel 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: 2 Hear this, O elders, And listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days Or in your fathers’ days? 3 Tell your sons about it, And let your sons tell their sons, And their sons the next generation.
First thing we see – Joel’s prophetic word is for everyone – leaders of the community (elders) and ALL the inhabitants of the land. No one is excluded – what is happening is affecting everyone. And not just those who were there, but those yet to be born! EVERYONE! He lays out 4 generations – fathers, sons, grandchildren, greats… has anything happened like this in your day?
What is happening – something has gone terribly wrong. No one could imagine what was taking place They never thought this could happen. For them, it is taking place in the natural cycle of a locust invasion – but it has supernatural results or consequences.
4 What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
For us – pandemic. Racial tension. Political/cultural divisive world – and now a war.
I think of Ukraine – this is what is happening to the people of Ukraine. This is what has happened to all of us in the past 2 years. You lose a job, what happens next? Your car breaks down. What happens next? You need a new refrigerator… that is what is happening in Joel.
Walter Brueggemann
“In our modern experience,… it is believed that enough power and knowledge can tame the terror and eliminate the darkness. But our honest experience, both personal and public, attests to the resilience of the darkness.”
I love that phrase – the darkness is resilient – it continually comes!
Cindy’s sister and I were talking earlier this week – “I thought we had made a lot of progress – that humanity was changing! What happened?” Her husband said – “I think it has just been hiding under the surface, waiting to come out.”
Darkness is part of this world. We may go through times where we think it was not so bad.
Go back to Christmas of last year – everyone was getting COVID – and now we are concerned about nuclear war. Just a few months later – some unbelievable stuff that could take place.
I was talking with Henry – “Russia has taken over Ukraine multiple times” – I googled wars in Europe – it goes back about 2500 years – guess how many of the 2500 years there were wars in Europe? About 1200 years. It wasn’t always world war – but it is the reality of humanity. Our political and cultural divide is not new – it has existed since this country began.
Racial tensions are not new – they have occurred since slavery and before.
What are God’s people to do?
Joel 1: 5 Awake – WAKE UP! The first thing to do is to wake up to what is happening. There is a spiritual issue happening in our world spiritual darkness – drunkards, and weep; And wail, all you wine drinkers, On account of the sweet wine That is cut off from your mouth.
He is calling for sobriety – and he is not just calling to those who drink too much alcohol. They symbolize the apathy of the community to the crisis. They need spiritual sobriety to understand what is happening.
Two problems that I think are going on – as to how the church is responding to things – it has been divided and conflicted in its response. For some, there has been no response. Let’s just ignore it. We are so wrapped up in our own (many) problems, that we have been unable to respond. As a church. The Church. Second – we have become too self-focused – unable to look outward.
The other problem – we are responding – unbiblically – in inappropriate ways. This is a response of anger. We have allowed the actions of others to legitimize our anger.
Willard -the true test of discipleship – controlling one’s anger. The other response – is to try to control. As everything is out of control, they are trying to control things themselves.
6 For a nation has invaded my land, Mighty and without number; Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, And it has the fangs of a lioness. 7 It has made my vine a waste And my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast them away; Their branches have become white.
What he is doing – what God is doing – He acts on His own behalf. Look – this is about Me – My reputation is on the line. I think what a lot of us have done – the reputation of the Church is not so great right now – in the world – and that is putting it nicely – and God is saying – it is My reputation that is being hurt here – by the way His people are responding to all of this.

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