Thursday, August 2, 2012
Joel and the Day of the Lord
The prophetic Book of Joel in the Christian Old Testament and among the Nebiim (prophets) of the Jewish Bible describes a time—likely, some scholars think, in the 7th century B.C. (Before Christ)(or B.C.E–Before the Christian Era or Before the Common Era) that resembles our own time in 2012 in America as well as globally.
Joel chapter One reads:
1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel. 2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? 3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. 5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. 6 A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. 7 It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white. 8 Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the husband of her youth. 9 Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the LORD. 10 The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails. 11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree-- all the trees of the field--are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away. 13 Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. 15 Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 16 Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes-- joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. 18 How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. 19 To you, O LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the open pastures. NIV
“Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers?” Good question, Joel! In a June 2012 MoneyNews article entitled, “Trump Says The Way President Obama Is Running The Country Is "Stupid", Donald Trump said:
The United States is no longer a rich country. “When you’re not rich, you have to go out and borrow money. We’re borrowing from the Chinese and others. We’re up to $16 trillion in debt.”
It’s clear that Trump holds President Barack Obama responsible for the ballooning debt. Trump stated that the way Obama is running the country is “stupid.”
He goes on to point out that the downgrade of U.S. debt is inevitable.
“We are going up to $16 trillion [in debt] very soon, and it’s going to be a lot higher than that before he gets finished. When you have [debt] in the $21-$22 trillion, you are talking about a downgrade no matter how you cut it.”
Ballooning debt and a credit downgrade aren’t Trump’s only worries for this country. He says that the official unemployment rate of 8.2 percent “isn’t a real number” and that the real figure is closer to 15 percent to 16 percent. He even mentioned that some believe the unemployment rate to be as high as 21 percent.
“Right now, frankly, the country isn’t doing well,” Trump added, “Recession may be a nice word.”
Things don’t look well for America or the world at large. That same MoneyNews article cited another economist, Robert Wiedemer, who accurately predicted in his book, Aftershock, the economic collapse that almost sank the United States.
Wiedemer says, “The data is clear, 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market drop, and 100% annual inflation . . . starting in 2012.”
The prophet Joel goes on to say in v.4, “What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.”
It should be clear to any thinking person that we in America cannot continue the policies that have brought us to the place we now live. Government must be reined in and spending curtailed until we again achieve a balance budget. Currently the United States debt load is at 100% of GDP and therefore unsustainable.
The currently widespread drought is reflected in Joel 1:10-12:
The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails. 11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree-- all the trees of the field--are dried up.
Christian writer Joel Rosenberg in his new book, Implosion, calls upon all believers to repent of their profligate ways and turn to God in earnest prayer, after the pattern suggested in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Rosenberg believes the only hope for America’s survival may lie in a Third Great Awakening, akin to the First and Second Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. People were awakened to their extreme need for a personal relationship with God. Those awakenings are reflected in the formation of a new nation and correction of the proliferation of sinful acts and practices which sapped the energy of the young nation.
In the absence of such a spiritual awakening, Christian believers still have the hope of eternal salvation—promised to those who believe—and the joy of serving Jesus Christ, but also the responsibility to share the good news that Jesus died for all so that others may receive salvation and be disciple in the faith.
America as a nation is unnamed in scripture, even by metaphor. As we continue on in time toward the culmination of what the Bible calls the end times or last days, all must recognize that things are not forecast to get better. Instead, our nation may very well become a casualty of the end times: whether through natural or man-caused catastrophes—economic or otherwise.
Jesus told us with his words recorded in Matthew’s gospel: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV)
To be fully ready, we must all assess our spiritual condition, get right with God if we sense we are not, and look for the signs Jesus cited in Matthew chapters 24 & 25.