Joel means “Yahweh is God,” in Joel 2:23-32. It was a common name among the Hebrews. There are twelve persons of the Old Testament named Joel in history from Samuel to Nehemiah. We can only imagine how many others bore this name. We recognize this Joel readily. He was a prophet from the period in which the glory of Israel as a nation was fading. We remember him by the quote in Acts 2:16, explaining the experience of Pentecost. The scripture we examine today spans the transition from the present to the future. Verses 23-27 concludes Joel’s description of the present. Verse 28-32 are about the future. What is the image of the future that will overtake the people of God? What can it present to us today?
The Spirit will come to everyone, if we will allow our spirit to meet the Holy Spirit. There is such a hope expressed by Moses in Numbers 11:29. Moses assembled seventy elders. God placed his Spirit on them as well. While the Spirit was on them, these seventy prophesied. Their speaking of God ceased. Two were not present at the assembly, but they also began to prophesy. The people asked Moses to censor them. Moses replied that he wished that all of God’s people were prophets and possessed the Spirit of God. Joel believed God will fulfill this hope in his new world. All the people will possess the Spirit of God and will be able to communicate the purpose of God.
There will be signs of God’s coming triumph. The coming of God will be noticed. For Joel, the signs are war and natural disasters. These signs are vivid — blood, death, fire and smoke are signs of battle. The sun and moon will be dimmed. The day of the Lord is great and dreadful. Some describe a present disaster as prelude to the end of the world. That is not Joel’s intent. These signs are not here for dread and fear; they are given as signs of hope and change.
The faithful in Jerusalem will be delivered. The times of testing will pass. The future will be bright, not desolate. Behind each cloud is the ray of sun that brings hope and confidence.
A famous athlete was stricken with a disease that ended his career. When asked his feelings at having lost so much, he told of faith in the midst of tragedy. He said that his task was not to regret the past but to prepare for the future. Joel has a similar message. The future is coming, and with the new day comes God, through the clouds to tomorrow’s destiny. God’s tomorrow is one in which we are delivered and brought to the fullness of God. Jesus said. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Such is our hope; such is our faith; such is our assurance.
What is your faith? Are you prepared to meet your savior?