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Like many of the Minor Prophets the book of Joel is a story of both impending destruction and restoration. There is this legion of locust set to come upon the people. What remains is destruction. That destruction is financial in nature. As the Bible often does, Joel relates the destruction to the relationship with God. After speaking of this terrible turmoil Joel calls the people back to repentance. Joel proclaims:
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12-13 NIV)
If the people repent, God promises restoration. The restoration is spiritual – their relationship with God will be restored. The restoration is also physical – God will replenish their wealth.
The Lord will reply to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. (Joel 2:19 NIV)
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. (Joel 2:26 NIV)
“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” (Joel 3:1 NIV)
If I were a health and wealth gospel preacher I could sure work some magic with the lucrative phrases. Nevertheless, there is a reminder here that God wants people to enjoy the blessings of life. Unfortunately, issues of severe poverty make that impossible for many in the world.
The final message here is one of restoration. When God destroys, he ultimately seeks to restore, but restoration cannot happen until the root causes of destruction are addressed. Furthermore, we can never guarantee that the full restoration will happen during our time on this earth.
I mentioned I am not a health and wealth gospel preacher. I’ll tell you something else I am not – a prophetic preacher (in the sense that I do not predict the events of the future). I am blissfully unaware of the future. However, any time we experience a form of ‘destruction’ it is worth asking the question – what is God trying to teach? The economic downturn that began in 2008 offered us spiritual lessons. You can review those lessons in Spiritual Implications from the Current Economic Conditions Part I, Part II, and Part III. We can also ask ourselves the question when we suffer loss on an individual level. Perhaps there will be a cause in our lives and perhaps we are innocent sufferers. Regardless, if you are broken and torn down, remember God desires your restoration. However, he may also be seeking your repentance.