I had two people this week send me something in regards to the Bible. One of them was this fabulous illustrated kids map for areas in the Old Testament, but it is under copyright, so sadly I do not think it would be the most responsible thing to post here.
The other was a reflection on Joel 2:25a:
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…
Her reflection (if I understood correctly) was on what seemed like the years she had lost by not studying Scripture earlier in life. But she was comforted by another who shared this verse with her. God can do great things to restore in us what has been lost. Whether it has come due to his discipline or judgment in our lives or some missed opportunity due to our poor choices, God can use even the damaged experiences of this world and work through them to bring about something glorifying to his name.
Like other Minor Prophets, Joel is a book calling for repentance. Just because he is writing to God’s chosen people does not mean that they will necessariliy be spared from judgment. They have sinned against God and have been unfaithful to him. Joel preaches that their restoration will come once they turn from sin, and turn to God.
It’s not always a great job to be a prophet. Joel (and others) have to deliver messages against their people. They are messengers of bad news. They announce the sin of their peers. This is a quick way to make enemies, then and now.
But their message is not a despairing one. Look for the words of hope that are held out for God’s people. In the end, despite their lack of faith, God will renew them and will make his residence among us once more (Joel 3:17).
We’re getting far along in this summer quarter of Year in the Bible. It may be a tough time for many of you to stick with it. We’re not so close to the beginning that its novelty spurs you on, nor are we close enough to the end of our year that the light at the end of the tunnel serves as motivation. On top of that we’re coming to the end of summer when many schedules shift and kick into high gear.
You’re not alone in such difficulties. Find someone else who is reading and be encouragers. We see encouragement as a great caling for Paul in his letters. He writes to teach, to challenge, to inform, and also to encourage. I think we underestimate the value of having others to help us along in the journey, or we underestimate how much our own words can lift someone else up.
But I hope you can keep with it as this is something I believe is of great value. Know that I’m praying for you all.
This week we go through several smaller books, so make sure to keep them straight. It’d be a great idea to pause once you finish each book and write a few sentences about what each book was about.
We continue in the minor prophets with Joel, Amos, and Obadiah. Don’t blink when you read that last once as it is only one chapter long. We then go to 2 Peter in the New Testament, and of course we have some Psalms to read as well. Enjoy!