Unless we read the entire first half of this short prophetic book of Joel, realizing how bright and hopeful these two verses are will be difficult. Joel 1:2–2:14 is a lamentation for impending doom. In verse after verse, Joel calls on his listeners to mourn and wail and lament for the doom that is on their doorstep. Darkness imagery is used over and over again: the sun will not shine, the stars will lose their light. After nearly two chapters of doom and gloom, we arrive at this spectacular shift: You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied (v. 26). How far removed this is from “Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar” (1:13).
As a people, we have experienced times of lamentation and of hope. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reactions to the invasion of the Capitol in Washington, DC still lingered. We experienced one of the most heavily-guarded presidential inaugurations in US history—certainly in my lifetime. I hope that as you read this devotion, we are all living in the Joel 2:26 space of plenty and satisfied rather than the place of “surely, joy withers away among the people” (Joel 1:12).
As you read the book of Joel, notice this dramatic shift from darkness to light at 2:13, when the Lord calls the people to “rend your hearts and not your clothing.” Joel bases this shift from wrath to abundance on the collective repentance and the turning around of the people.
What would repentance look like in our country? Could it produce a day in which my people shall never again be put to shame (v. 27)?
In times of despair what helps you live with hope?
God, help us live with your vision and desire for a time in which your people will know your great joy. Move us to work for such a time as this. Amen.