Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Have Hope"

Joel 2.3 NLT

“Fire burns in front of them, and flames follow after them. Ahead of them the land lies as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Behind them is nothing but desolation; not one thing escapes.”

This morning I read the short book of Joel. What a glorious piece of work! The prophet describes a plague of “gnawing”, “swarming”, “creeping”, and “stripping” locusts. They swarm Palestine in such numbers the sky turns black on the “day of darkness and gloom” (Joel 2.2). The devastation of this devouring army of insects is nearly indescribable. The wind carries them to fertile lands of lush, green vegetation. They leave behind only barrenness and desolation.[1]

The words of the prophet offer hope to those who suffer from a painful and disappointing past. Like the locust, “behind them is nothing but desolation”. This may be good news for the sad of heart. Their worst days are truly “behind them”. Things will get better because “ahead of them the land lies as beautiful as the Garden of Eden”.

There’s hope from the pages of Joel this morning... a bright “Garden of Eden” lies at the end of your long, dark tunnel of “desolation”; a silver lining “as beautiful as the Garden of Eden” lies behind your temporary cloud of “desolation”. Jesus will “prepare a table before” you and your “cup overflows” (Psalm 23.5) with “rivers of living water” (John 7.38) in the “beautiful” land of “Eden”.

God loves you. Forget the nothingness of “desolation” all too visible in the “behind” part of your life. Ignore the rear view mirror of loss and barrenness. Look instead to “the land” which “lies ahead as beautiful as the Garden of Eden”.

Today, have hope.
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[1] This plague, which probably occurred about 800 B.C., likely foreshadowed at least three historical events which were to come:
  1. The Babylonian and Assyrian invasions suffered by Israel and Judah in the middle of the millennium preceding the first coming of Jesus Christ.
  2. The birthday of the Church when, on the day of Pentecost, Peter identified Joel’s prophecy with a unique visitation of the Holy Spirit causing a handful of believers “to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2. 4, 14-21).
  3. The great tribulation preceding the second coming of Christ sometime in the future when, as seen in the vision of John’s revelation, “the sun became black… and the whole moon became like blood” (Revelation 6.12).

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