I picked up How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens and dared author Michael Williams to show how the Book of Joel focuses on Jesus. This is what I found in Williams’s book. -AF
Give me what I deserve! We all might want to think twice about demanding that, because what we think we deserve might diverge significantly from God’s judgment on the matter.
The prophet Joel ministered during the time when a severe drought and locust plague were crippling the land. God’s people had evidently assumed that divine blessing was their right, no matter how corruptly they lived. But God reminded them by means of these natural disasters that abundant life was realized only in relationship with him. When that relationship was ignored or allowed to fade, then the protective barriers against death and destruction were lowered and the enemies of life could charge in. In Joel, this phenomenon is called “the day of the Lord.” It is a day when the consequences of turning away from God and the need for his salvation are realized.
Joel reminded them that when … they unplugged themselves [from God, the life-generating power source], it wouldn’t take long before things in their lives got awfully dark.
God’s people were looking forward to the day of the Lord as a day when God would judge all those other people who had rejected him and gone their own way. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that God’s judgment could include them as well. They needed to return to him and recommit themselves to their relationship with him in order for there to be any rescue from the dangers that stalked them down the dark alleys they had taken. So Joel called for fasting, prayer, and mourning (2:12). For God’s people the good things of life would not come about because they were somehow better than other people, but because they were plugged into the unfailing, life-generating power source. Joel reminded them that when by their faithlessness they unplugged themselves, it wouldn’t take long before things in their lives got awfully dark.
Joel saw in the immediate disasters of drought and locust plague vivid reminders of the coming day of the Lord when God’s judgment would be amplified to a global scale. Everyone on earth would come to a place called “Jehoshaphat,” which means “the Lord judges” (3:2, 12). The ultimate day of the Lord is coming when comprehensive and final divine judgments will overwhelm mankind like a colossal tsunami and make the devastating drought and locust plague of Joel’s day seem like minor inconveniences. Then, too, the only island of life in a sea of death and destruction will be found in relationship with God.
The prophet Joel, from an 18th-century Russian icon.
[Joel through the Jesus Lens]
The apostle Peter quoted from Joel’s prophecy on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 2:17–21), indicating that Jesus’ death on the cross was our day of the Lord, when God’s judgment for our disobedience was experienced on our behalf by our sinless representative. Joel told God’s people of his day that the disasters they were experiencing were the natural result of abandoning God, and their effect was intended to remind them that their life was found in God alone.
On the coming final day of the Lord, when all nations will gather before the Lord for judgment, the one and only criterion that will hold any sway before the Judge of all the earth will be relationship with him. Those who have such a relationship through faith in Jesus Christ will enjoy the life that flows from that relationship. Those who don’t have such a relationship will experience the dire consequences. Jesus experienced those dire consequences so that all who come to the Father through faith in him can be assured of life. He is the one who will do the judging on the day of the Lord, and he knows the sheep that belong to him [see Matthew 25:31-32].
Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. The day of the Lord is coming. Joel sees “multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision” (3:14). Those who decide to turn to God for life through faith in his Son will have nothing to fear on that day. They will be safe and secure inside the stronghold of his love (3:16). Why would anyone choose plan B?
[What this Means for Us Today]
To experience [a foretaste of the restoration of all things], we have to make sure our chairs are scooted up to the table of God’s grace.
Believers today live between “days of the Lord.” Jesus has already experienced our day of judgment and has enabled us even now to enjoy a foretaste of the restoration of all things that will take place when he returns again on the final day. To experience that foretaste, however, we have to make sure our chairs are scooted up to the table of God’s grace. Only in our relationship with the source of life can we expect to realize true life for ourselves. We can only really live when we live together with him…
We may look forward to the day of Christ’s return with confidence that he has paid the price for our sin. But more than that, we may look to our Lord for life. As long as we are trusting in him, we will never be disappointed and we will never have to fear. Instead of the day of the Lord being a “dreadful” time for us (2:11), it will be a time of rejoicing, of fruitfulness, and of security (2:19–27)…
There are many who are hoping that their lives will have been “good” enough to merit a pass on the day of judgment. Others are waiting for the day to come when they can finally experience life. Some are just trying not to think about the coming day of judgment. How easy it is to resolve all of these concerns about that day through faith in Jesus Christ! Jesus offers us his own righteousness to replace our blameworthiness, unshakable joy to replace our circumstantially determined happiness, and justifiable confidence in him to replace our justifiable doubt in ourselves. The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision (3:14). Let’s decide for life in Christ.
Watch the “Jesus Lens” Web Event
Want to know more about reading the Bible through the Jesus lens? Watch the discussion with author Michael Williams.
Learn more about Dr. Williams’s book, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens.
More Posts You May Like
-Adam Forrest, Zondervan
(Images & some styling above are web-exclusive features not included in the text of How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens. Image attribution: By 18 century icon painter (Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer’s personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)