Salvation of the Soil
Lord, You said, “Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Please renew our land accordingly.
Read Joel 2:18–32
18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land
and took pity on his people.
19 The Lord replied to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
an object of scorn to the nations.
20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you,
pushing it into a parched and barren land;
its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea
and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea.
And its stench will go up;
its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things!
21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah;
be glad and rejoice.
Surely the Lord has done great things!
22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
23 Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
The Day of the Lord
28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls.
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.
“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love” (Matthias Claudius, 1740–1815).
Today’s passage promises a great restoration: “I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (25, NRSV). Joel paints a picture of the greening of the wilderness and the returning of fruitfulness for fields and crops. The rains fall and the rivers run full. This is often how it is with God: light after darkness, glory after gloom, mercy after judgment, life after death. There are yet to be “wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke” (30), but this seems to accompany God’s judgment on the nations in perhaps a future universal judgment. The weight of the passage rests firmly on the promise of a restoration of the people and city of God.
Joel is interested not only in the flourishing of people. Throughout the book, he also shows great concern for the created world. According to Genesis 2, the first human (ādām) was made from the dust of the ground (ādāmāh) (Gen. 2:7). Here, the prophet addresses that same ground. “Do not be afraid, land [ādāmāh] of Judah; be glad and rejoice” (21). Joel is fully aware that all things are connected. Humans depend on the planet and its web of interconnected relationships. The created world is important because it nurtures and sustains human life and well-being, but it is valuable too because of its intrinsic worth. The earth with its soil, plants and animals is part of
the garden planet God has made. If it suffers under his judgment, it also receives blessing under its renewal by God. God cares about the greening of the wilderness, the fruitfulness of trees and the well-being of animals and plants. It is a pity that too often we do not.
Where does your food come from? Pray for those who produce it. Think about your food buying (or growing) and eating habits; are they helping or hindering the natural world?
O Lord, make us ever mindful of the source of all the good things we enjoy. You water the hills and cause the grass to grow (Psa. 104:13,14). We so depend on You.