Are we without prophets in our time? Are preachers out of touch with the ways and purposes of God or too timid to tell us that these misfortunes may truly be acts of God? As the proverbial locusts have chewed their way through billions of dollars and as companies are failing and hundreds of thousands of people are becoming jobless, I haven’t heard anyone asserting the connection between God and what is happening nationally and globally. Why is that? Have we amputated God from our understanding of the times and conditions? Are there any nationally recognized preachers calling for the nations to repent?
The Old Testament book of Joel is highlighted by two major events. One is the invasion of locusts and the other the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Joel’s countrymen were experiencing the effects of a recent infestation of locusts. There were successive swarms of locusts, first chewing, then swarming, then crawling, and finally consuming everything. The land was devastated by them so now there followed drought, famine and fires. The economy was shattered. This was a national disaster. The economy of the land was ruined. Even religious life was being threatened because of the shortage of offerings.
Joel, the prophet of God, saw a connection between this national disaster and God’s judgment, and more significantly, an approaching time of greater judgment by the Lord God. He called this judgment ‘the Day of the Lord.’ That is why the book of Joel is insightful because it demonstrates a grasp of the relationship between historical events and the involvement of God. God is sovereignly operative in all that comes to pass. In Joel’s day, the people of Judah were people who had known the blessing of God but now the blessing had ended. And there is an explanation. Judah had neglected, even rejected God. Joel’s purpose in writing was to tell the people that the national crisis was to be considered a warning for them to repent.
It is in the warning that hope emerges. The recovery package doesn’t come out of Ottawa or Washington or London. If the people repent, Joel says, then God will pardon and God promises restoration.
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, my great army, which I sent to you.” Joel 2:25
Now that is an Act of God.