Joel – Beat Your Plowshares into Swords
by John C. Westervelt
The Lord spoke to His people through the prophet Joel during the days of young King Joash (835-796 B.C.). As a result of the sins of the people, the Lord sent an invasion of locusts across Judah.
Joel described the attack with: “What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.” Joel detailed the condition of forsaken fig trees, “The locusts have stripped the fig trees bare and cast the bark aside; their branches have become white.”
Joel told the people to mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the bridegroom of her youth. He said, “Despair you farmers, wail you vine growers. Grieve for the wheat and barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. The vine dries up, and the fig tree fails; the pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, all the trees of the field dry up. Indeed, rejoicing dries up from the sons of men.
“The farmer sees his seeds shrivel under their clods, and his cattle wander aimlessly in search of pasture. Even the flocks of sheep suffer. The beasts of the field pant for the Lord, for the creeks are dried up.”
Consistent with His character, God offered His people an alternative. “‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart; and rend your heart and not your garments.’” Joel continued, “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness.”
At Pentecost, 850 years after Joel, the mocking crowds in Jerusalem were claiming that the Christians were drunk, even though it was only nine o’clock in the morning. Peter responded to their accusations by saying, “What you see is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. ‘And it will come about that I will pour out My Holy Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.’”
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Joel prophesied, “Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”
A hundred years after Joel, the Lord called for a reversal of these words through His prophet Isaiah. “They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” These are words describing a time of peace that has not yet been reached. Until then, we can count on God to restore the years that the locusts may have eaten, when we return to Him with all our hearts.
Joel Acts 2:16 Ecclesiastes 3:8 Isaiah 2:4
Copyright 2003 by John C. Westervelt
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