These past three weeks we have been delving into the book of Joel. Today we take one last look at the ancient words of this prophet and linger a little longer this week on the power of our God. On Sunday Pastor Keith highlighted the point that “there is no grace without justice” (listen to Pastor Keith’s sermon here). And we were reminded that we need to see the wrath of God to fully understand the grace and forgiveness of God. Verse 16 of Joel 3 says,
“The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and heaven will tremble.
But the LORD will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
Here once more we are reminded of the terrifying power that God wields and in that terrifying power we find a sure and solid strength in which to take refuge.
As Christians we are justified by Christ’s blood and saved from God’s wrath1, our faith in him is counted to us as righteousness2, we have been made right with God and have been adopted into God’s people3; therefore, we can stand with bold trust that God will be our refuge and our stronghold. Let this bring you peace wherever you are. Take a deep breath and let the stress of the world fall off of you like scales, and trust in your God who is full of power and abounding in steadfast love, your God who is slow to anger and eager to embrace the estranged and rebellious son. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.” 4
This study in the book of Joel was entitled Judgement and Deliverance. And as I focus in on the final words of Joel, I am amazed at the extravagance of God’s deliverance. The people do not just get delivered by the skin of their teeth, they get delivered into extravagance and purpose. God does not merely save, he blesses. He does not stop at redemption, but pursues us further into restoration. Oh what generosity! What lavish love!
Let us see exactly what Joel has to say about the blessings of God that followed his judgement and deliverance:
“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.5
Just as Pastor Keith concluded with a look at God’s restoration of earth in the new creation6 let us dwell on the imagery Joel uses to signify restoration for Israel: mountains dripping with wine, ravines flowing with water, fountains to water the valley. So much beauty breathed back into a land that was destroyed. Remember that part in chapter 2 that said the land before them was like Eden and the land behind them a desert wasteland7… how beautiful to know that that was not the end of the story, but that such Eden-like beauty would be restored to the land. God is true to his promise, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”8 and he can be trusted. Sin and brokenness is not the end of our story, He does and he will restore.
1 Romans 5:9
2 Romans 4:22-25
3 Galatians 3:29
4 Isaiah 30:15
5 Joel 3:18
6 Revelation 22:1-5
7 Joel 2:3
8 Joel 2:25