Just after midnight, the day after Christmas 2004, an undersea earthquake hit off the coast of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean. Measuring 9.1 on the Richter Scale, the quake triggered a massive tsunami wave, which devastated the entire region and killed over 250,000 people.
Joel writes to the people of Judah following another natural disaster. While locust invasions are not unusual in the Middle East, Joel wrote that their grandchildren would be telling their children about this one – the locust storm of the century.
He then springboards from this catastrophe into an almost apocalyptic portrayal of another coming disaster he terms the day of the Lord. In this day an army likened to giant locusts will invade from the north. In other words: If you think the last locust invasion was rough, just wait. Something even worse is on its way.
But then Joel offers a word of hope: Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity… (2:13,14).
Joel says real repentance happens in the heart. The truly repentant don’t have to fear the coming Day of the Lord, whether that day is a natural disaster, a military invasion, or judgment itself.
Have you offered God the sacrifice of a broken spirit? Or just torn your clothes?