To you, Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. Joel 1:19
One of the verses associated with Joel 1:19 is Psalm 50:15: a very famous verse that says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me.” Keep that in mind for a few minutes because Joel 1:19 seems to actually be about fiery severe drought.
This summer, most of Texas suffered under a very severe drought. We went for six weeks without rain. Then, in five days in August, we got so much rain that all the existing water level shortages were made up all at once. Now, six weeks after that, we’re back in the drought again. Things are drying out, plants are withering, soil is cracking. There’s a chance for rain next week, but not much of one.
Know what that means? Keeping in time with this week’s themes, we’re in the days of the Lord. Dry earth and agricultural drought are simply a taste of the fire and destruction that are held in store for judgment. When God finally pours His wrath on this earth, it’ll be consumed in fire…
…Unless, in a way, that’s also happening now. In a way, the burning Gospel of Jesus is cleansing out the fields of the world. Wherever Jesus is preached, sin recedes and wilts. Wherever Jesus is proclaimed, fresh fire scorches away the wounds and stains of our brokenness, leaving healing and new soil in which to grow a better crop. Wherever Jesus lives, lives grow in new ways like new branches off an old tree.
In a way, we’re living in the day of the Lord right now. No, it isn’t yet the Judgment Day that will one day come. That’s inevitable and unavoidable. But, right now, today, in our lives, the Lord’s fire is burning away the hopelessness and defeat of sin. Our fallen lives of dishonor and shame are being replaced by eternal lives of Jesus’ peace and joy. We call on Him during these days of trouble. He then delivers us, and our natural reaction should be to honor Him. Sometimes it is, sometimes not.
Most times it is natural. In north-central Texas, we often drive the back roads. These days, it’s common to see people burning old branches, leaves, papers, and refuse. It’s what you do when you live in the country. What’s left is ash that then becomes useful for gardens, for helping food, flowers, fields, and trees to grow lush next year. Our lives are very much like this. They couldn’t become lush again if God’s fire didn’t first devour the trash in our days of trouble.
For more reading: Psalm 50:15, Psalm 97:3, Jeremiah 9:10, Amos 7:4, Joel 1:20
Lord Jesus, burn away the sinful trash I’ve cluttered into my life.
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