Joel in 21st century speak: “Listen up, dog. Stuff like nobody has ever seen is happening right now. Got it?”
Got it, right? That’s a pretty good attention-getter. It’s necessary because Joel is going to spend the rest of this chapter slapping people around, telling them to wake up out of their complacency. Crazy things were happening in ancient Israel. Locusts had shown up to devastate their crops. Here in America, people don’t worry much about locusts. There are so few farmers left in the country (who grow all the country’s food and more. THAT ought to be an attention-getter) so most of the population doesn’t worry about when bugs arrive to eat the crops. Besides, pesticides can kill them off when they do appear.
Not so in ancient lands. If locusts showed up, they were a life-threatening pestilence. They could eat all the green leaves and crops in the space of a few days. Then, they’d leave and move on to the next food source. What they left behind, however, was starvation. There was no global food supply network in the ancient Levant. If bugs ate all your food, unless you had some stored up, you starved. You died. It was the end of your world.
Tell me: what happens if locusts attack your soul and you don’t know Jesus? In a world of amazing events, good and bad, what happens when disaster strikes and you don’t have the reassuring peace of Jesus to fall back on? “Oh, I don’t go for all that religion stuff.” Or, “Christians are such hypocrites and I don’t want anything to do with that.” Or, “if God really loved me, he wouldn’t let this happen to me.” Sorry, my friend: those are all cheap excuses. They’re brush-off’s, designed to avoid the tough truth that we need Jesus in a fallen and sometimes terrifying world. They’re dangerous because locusts may be feeding on your soul.
Evil is a locust and it’s real. Devastating floods. Political upheavals becoming tyranny Widespread crime. Spreading poverty. 100-year heat waves. Broken supply chains and broken food supplies. It’s almost like we’re being attacked by invisible locusts. Solomon would say that there’s nothing new under the sun, that this has all happened before, and that’s true. But it hasn’t happened to us, or even like this.
Cue the locusts. Cue Joel standing up and saying, “listen up, folks. Big things are in motion. You’d better go to God.” He first said it to people many centuries ago. He might as well be saying it to us. Do I have your attention now?
For more reading: Hosea 4:1, Hosea 5:1, Joel 1:3
Father, You have my attention. Have mercy on Your people!
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