God’s promise to Israel had two parts. If you obey, God will shower you with blessing, “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit” (Leviticus 26:3-4). If you disobey, judgment. “But if you will not listen to me… then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache” (Leviticus 26:14, 16). We like the first part. The book of Joel begins with the second.
What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten. ~Joel 1:4
Locust, locust, and more locust follows disobedience, disobedience, and more disobedience. God was patient, but Israel’s disobedience persisted and then came the locust. Israel had tested God’s patience, over and over, until it ran out. Now, God says, test my love.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. ~Joel 2:12-13
Beware, God’s patience has its limit. Be glad, his love does not.
Righteous God, You have given me Your commandments, not as a burden, rather, they are a blessing. They give life and show me the way to live. Even the littlest commandment. Every Word You speak, God, is valuable and true. May I learn Your Word and keep it in my heart, so that it will guide my steps.
You are a gracious and compassionate God. Thank You for so great a salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ.