Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 1 Peter 1:14 (NIV) Peter is not saying that you won’t have evil desires; he is saying, “Don’t conform to them.” Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the new Christian who was baptized. After he came...
To you, O Lord, I call. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has burned all the trees of the field. Joel 1:19
From Joel 1:19 onward, we have a new and different picture. Locusts ate the vegetation; they did not burn it. So Joel is moving beyond the disastrous epidemic that ruined the crops to speak about something else. “The day of the Lord is coming; it is near” (2:1).
Joel describes a vast army moving into the land. Like the plague of locusts, this army sweeps across the land burning everything in its path: “Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them” (2:3).
The effect of this army on the people is sheer terror: “Before them peoples are in anguish; all faces grow pale” (2:6). It’s not just the people who are terrified. On the day of the Lord, the “earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining” (2:10).
The day of the locust disaster led Joel to speak about the day of the Lord: “The Lord utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” (2:11).
Locusts are capable of causing a national disaster, so how would we ever endure it if God were our enemy? In the light of the day of the Lord, God calls his people to repent: “Yet even now… return to me with all your heart” (2:12).
As you consider the day of the Lord, why do you think repentance might be an appropriate response?