READ: Joel (It’s 3 chapters)
BACKGROUND: Joel wrote during the days of King Jehoash (835-796BC) who became king of Judah at the age of seven. Joel’s prophecy came about because of a severe drought and an invasion of locusts. Joel saw these as punishment for Israel’s sins and called out the nation. He used the imagery of the locusts as an invading army to depict a future military campaign in the day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord – Judgment Day – is a major theme of this book of prophecy. Joel describes both God’s current involvement in human affairs and also his future involvement in judging everyone at the end of all things.
THINK: Read Joel 2:12-14 from The Message translation aloud, trying to repeat God’s words in verse 12 in the tone you think he would have said them:
“But there’s also this, it’s not too late—
God’s personal Message!—
“Come back to me and really mean it!
Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!”
Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll do it now,
maybe he’ll turn around and show pity.
Maybe, when all’s said and done,
there’ll be blessings full and robust for your God!”
God says the phrase “come back to me” many times through the prophets. God really does want his people, and he wants them back!
1. What does this passage tell you about what God is like?
2. How surprised are you that God wants his people (including you) back?
– Very surprised: You thought God would scold people who wander away or ignore him.
– Somewhat surprised: You figured God wouldn’t turn away someone who returns, but he would never plead with them.
– Not surprised: You frequently sense God calling you back and know that he loves you deeply.
PRAY: Tell God how you feel about being (or becoming) someone who always comes back to him. Do you always want to? Would you like to always want to? Talk to God about the “blessings full and robust” that come to you when you turn back to him.
LIVE: Picture this: If God had a body, how would he stand before people and plead for them to come back to him? What would he do with his hands? His arms? What would his face look like?
Adapted from Eugene Peterson in Solo