A Land Laid Waste
Lord, our world is so racked with misfortune that we might despair of living if not for You.
Read Joel 1:1–12
The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel.
An Invasion of Locusts
2 Hear this, you elders;
listen, all who live in the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your ancestors?
3 Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.
4 What the locust swarm has left
the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left
the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left
other locusts have eaten.
5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep!
Wail, all you drinkers of wine;
wail because of the new wine,
for it has been snatched from your lips.
6 A nation has invaded my land,
a mighty army without number;
it has the teeth of a lion,
the fangs of a lioness.
7 It has laid waste my vines
and ruined my fig trees.
It has stripped off their bark
and thrown it away,
leaving their branches white.
8 Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth
grieving for the betrothed of her youth.
9 Grain offerings and drink offerings
are cut off from the house of the Lord.
The priests are in mourning,
those who minister before the Lord.
10 The fields are ruined,
the ground is dried up;
the grain is destroyed,
the new wine is dried up,
the olive oil fails.
11 Despair, you farmers,
wail, you vine growers;
grieve for the wheat and the barley,
because the harvest of the field is destroyed.
12 The vine is dried up
and the fig tree is withered;
the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—
all the trees of the field—are dried up.
Surely the people’s joy
is withered away.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psa. 42:7).
describe a problem or depict a scene. Sometimes the Bible waits before offering a threat of judgment, an oracle of salvation or a message of hope. Today’s reading is a
case in point. It invites us to pay attention to a scene of outright devastation. Here is a land laid waste; a land ruined by an invading army, whether human or animal. All we can do is read about it and lament.
We do not like to pause over such scenes of devastation. We want to know immediately why something has happened and what might be the word of the Lord about it, or what, if anything, we should do in response. However, when we read the newspaper or watch a TV news report, we expect to learn about the problem or situation before we hear of potential solutions.
When we read a novel or a poem, we expect plenty of description and imagery. When we turn to the Bible, perhaps we would prefer literal language and easily understood solutions to our problems, but the prophets speak in verse; they use rich and imaginative language to set the scene and show us the world. They invite us to engage with their great literature, use our imagination and listen to their message.
Today, let us pay attention to the world around us. Perhaps we, or people we know, are
experiencing terrible situations. Certainly, there are places all over the world that are ravaged by war, deprivation, oppression or violence. Drought and famine stalk much of the world; war and humanly created disasters threaten somebody somewhere every day. Today let us become more aware of the pain of our world and simply take notice.
Think about devastated places or suffering people known to you. Hold them in your heart before God.
God of Mercy and Love, we pray for Your personal intervention to help us fix what we have broken here on earth and to remember that we are accountable to You for our actions.