Saturday, December 9, 2017

December 9: Joel 1 – 3; Psalm 128; Proverbs 29:18; Revelation 1



Overview

            Joel: This is the word of the Lord given to Joel. The elders and all the people of the land need to listen to this and tell what has happened so that all generations will know about it. Locust of all kinds have destroyed the land. There is no wine because if it. They came like a nation and even took the bark off trees. There isn’t anything left so that there can be a grain offering. All the fields are dried up and produce nothing.
            The priests are to mourn, they have nothing to offer. They need to call a fast for the whole land. The day of the Lord is near and destruction is coming from him. The food is gone, the fields are dried up, granaries are empty, and animal have no pasture. In addition to that, fire has burned what’s left and streams are dry.
            Announce in Zion that the Day of the Lord is coming. It will be darkness and gloom that spreads over the land. A people are coming who look like horses. Fire comes before them and after them. People melt with fear before them. They are like warriors that march in line and nothing stops them. They jump into cities, climb walls, go into houses through the windows. Heaven and earth tremble before them. The skies are darkened by them. It is the Lord’s army and they do what he wants. Who can endure it?
            The Lord tells the people to return to him with fasting and mourning over their sins. He is slow to anger and loving. He doesn’t want to send this disaster. Gather everyone for the fast. Let the priests come and ask the Lord to spare the people.
            The Lord had pity and said he would send grain, wine, and oil to satisfy them. He will drive the invaders into the desert and the sea. They are to rejoice because the Lord has taken care of them and the land will produce food again. He will bring back the rain. They will again prosper and have plenty to eat. They will praise the name of God. They will know the Lord is in their midst.
            Then he will send his Spirit on all people. People will have dreams, and visions.
            He will show wonders in the heavens, blood, fire, and smoke before the Day of the Lord. Those who call on the Lod will be saved. Some from Zion and Jerusalem will escape and survive with those the Lord calls.
            In those days, the Lord will restore Judah and Jerusalem. He will gather the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat and judge them for what they have done to his people. They scattered and enslaved the people. Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia took treasures and people from Judah and Jerusalem. The Lord will bring back his people and they will do the same to the nations.
            The nations are to get ready for war turning their faming equipment into weapons. They are to come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat and be judged. He will harvest them and tread on them like grapes. His roar from Jerusalem shakes heaven and earth. But he is a refuge for his people.
            Then all will know the Lord is their God. No strangers will invade again. The land will produce everything they need. A fountain will come from the temple and water the Valley of Shittim. Egypt will be desolate because of what they did to Judah. Judah and Jerusalem will be inhabited forever. The Lord will avenge their blood. The Lord lives in Zion.
            Psalm: When we fear the Lord and walk in his ways, we will be blessed. We’ll get our work done, we’ll have plenty of children. The Psalmist calls on the Lord to bless the people from Zion and see this prosperity in Jerusalem all their lives, see several generations of children, and have peace.
            Proverbs: When God doesn’t speak to people, they do what they want. Those who obey the Lord’s revelations are blessed.
            Revelation: This Book is all about making Jesus known. God gave it so we can know what will take place in John’s future. He gave it by an angel to John and he vouches for what he saw, that it came from God and is about Jesus Christ. Whoever reads or hears, and keeps the words of the prophecy will be blessed.
            This is to the seven churches in Asia. It is from Jesus who was here and will come and the seven Spirits before his throne. He is the faithful witness, first to be raised from the dead and King of kings. All glory belongs to him who loves us and saved us from our sins by his blood. He has made us a kingdom of priest to God. He is coming on the clouds and everyone who sees him will mourn, even those who killed him. He proclaims he is the Alpha and Omega, is now and was, and will come. He is the Almighty.
            John was sharing in the suffering of the saints for the kingdom, exiled on Patmos because of his testimony of Jesus. While praying on Sunday he heard the Lord tell him to write what he was about to see and send it to the seven churches. He turned to see who spoke and saw the glorified Jesus. He gave a detailed description of him, unlike any normal human but still like a human. He held seven stars and stood among seven lampstands.
            John passed out, but Jesus touched him and he heard his reassurance. There is no need to fear, he is the first and last, has conquered death, and controls Death and Hell. He told John to write what he saw, sees, and what he will see. The seven stars are the messengers (angels) of the seven churches and the lampstands are the seven churches.

What Stood Out

            Joel: “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land” (Joel 3:1-2).
            Psalm: “May you see your children's children” (Ps 128:6).
            Proverbs: “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful” (Prov 29:18 NLT).
            Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Rev 1:3).

Insight

            Joel: The Day of the Lord has been described in many books of the Bible. It would be really nice if we could put each account side by side and reconcile all the differences between them. Then we could see it all in sequence and understand it better. The whole book of Joel is about the Day of the Lord, but it is clear that it isn’t just about one day. Chapter 1 appears to be a day when the Lord punished Judah and Jerusalem in the past for their sins. It was a natural disaster caused primarily by locusts, drought, and wild fires.
            Chapter 2 appears to continue it until the Lord pours out his Spirit on all people. Some of this is not the same as the Day of the Lord because it was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as declared by Peter (Acts 2:16). Yet, we don’t know when the last few verses of Joel 2 occurs with the wonders in the heaven and those who call on the Lord are saved. It could have been a past Day of the Lord or a future one.
            Chapter 3 is definitely in our future. It is similar to what Jesus portrayed in Matthew 25:31-46. However, there are many differences between this and other descriptions of the Day of the Lord. One difference is that Egypt and Edom will be desolate (Joel 3:19) but in Isaiah, Egypt is described as a land that knows the Lord and is a blessing in the earth (Isa 19:19-25). Who has ever been able to put them all together and explain every single verse and known the times and seasons of every Day of the Lord? I don’t think anyone has and I don’t think anyone can. The only one who knows it perfectly is the Lord.
            One important thing to remember in Joel is that the promise to Judah and Jerusalem is yet to be fulfilled. This isn’t something that can be applied to the church as it is physical and there is also retribution for what the nations around Judah did to them. It is important to note that when a nation treats Israel horribly, the Lord will repay them for what they did.
            The most important thing is that whoever calls on the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32). This isn’t talking only about the church but also about Zion (Judah) and Jerusalem because they are mentioned to be among the survivors along with others whom the Lord has called (Joel 2:32).
            We know that we can call on the Lord at any time, even before the Day of the Lord and be saved (Rom 10:13).
            Psalm: Not everyone views having an abundance of children or their children as a blessing. However, we can be assured that we will be blessed when we fear the Lord and walk in his ways (Ps 128:1). We may not even have children, but we will have a heavenly family that is as wonderful on earth as it will be in eternity.
            Jesus promised those who leave their earthly possessions and family for his kingdom will be rewarded with more family here and in the age to come (Mark 10:29-30). When we are active to share the gospel with others, support those who are doing so, and build up the family of God, we will have many children of faith.
            Proverbs: I don’t normally quote the New Living Translation because it simplifies the verse and it is possible to miss the nuance of what God is saying. However, for Proverbs 29:18, it makes perfect sense to not try to read too much into this. I’ve heard some preachers use this verse to maintain that we need visions as if the Bible isn’t sufficient to guide us. When we have the Bible, we have God’s prophetic vision (ESV), his revelation (NIV, NLT), his visions (NAS, KJV), divine guidance (NLT). It doesn’t matter what you call it, God has told us what we need to keep from following our own sinful desires.
            Revelation: There is one thing about the book of Revelation that is absolute. It is for all Christians. It is meant to be a blessing to everyone that studies it. It isn’t supposed to be ignored because it is hard to understand. It also isn’t a book that is only about the future and given to satisfy our curiosity. We are supposed to apply it to our lives (Rev 1:3).
            In this first chapter that seems to set the stage for the coming chapters, we find solid theology about Jesus. His blood has saved us and make us his priests. He is sovereign over all. We find that he is coming again and it will be visible to all people. He is the Almighty, the Lord God who is eternal. He is King over all rulers, His appearance lets us know he is a Priest, he is wise, he sees and judges all, his word is mighty and powerful, he holds us in his hands. He also rules over Death and Hell.
            This is all quite awesome, and we should be able to find in him everything we need to keep from being afraid of what will happen in the future. He is sovereign and knows what will happen. He is able to help us through any troubles we face.

Application

             I don’t need to have the Lord speak specific directions to me if I’m doing what he wants as described in the Bible. While I would like to know how every little piece of prophecy fits together, it is more important to be doing what he has told me in the Bible. I don’t need to know the future because I know the one who controls it.

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