Judgment and mercy - Hope 103.2

Judgment and mercy

By David ReayTuesday 20 Aug 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes

Transcript:

Read Joel 2:23-27

23 Rejoice,you people of Jerusalem!
         Rejoice in the LORD your God!
      For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness.
         Once more the autumn rains will come,
         as well as the rains of spring.
24 The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain,
         and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

25 The LORD says,”I will give you back what you lost
         to the swarming locusts,the hopping locusts,
      the stripping locusts,and the cutting locusts.
         It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.
26 Once again you will have all the food you want,
         and you will praise the LORD your God,
      who does these miracles for you.
         Never again will my people be disgraced.
27 Then you will know that I am among my people Israel,
         that I am the LORD your God,and there is no other.
         Never again will my people be disgraced. (NLT)

At first glance,this seems like a jolly nice piece of the Bible in which God promises to put everything right. All those terrible things that have gone before can be put in their place. The good times are here. Those nasty locusts who stripped the land bare have gone and now there is renewed fertility and the experience of basking in God’s favour. And of course all that is true. God is the God of the second chance,the one whose last word is mercy and not wrath. God is the God of restored hope just when all is barren.

But let’s not forget that the prophet Joel sees God as being behind the locust plague in the first place. It was a sign of God’s displeasure with his people. So what is God up to? Playing some sort of grotesque game featuring the stick of judgement and the carrot of mercy? Not really. God is simply being God. He is the great restorer of dashed dreams and the one who waters the desert lostness with his gracious love. He is also the one who is impelled to act against human waywardness wherever he finds it.

In this way,the entire book of Joel is a miniature picture of God at work. Dealing justly with wrong,but never letting that wrong be the final reality. We may sometimes be brought very low because we have strayed. We dare not ignore that reality. And yet we dare not be stuck in that locust-ridden place. Instead we look for the green shoots of God’s grace as a reminder that just as the locusts move on,so too do we.

Blessings
David Reay