Prayer Psalm: 80
Prayer Point: ”Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face shine upon us that we might be saved,” cries Asaph on behalf of a broken people. God’s judgment has swept over his people, his vineyard, but there is still hope. Take stock of your life, your family, your community and your world. Where do we need restoration? Lift these areas to God in prayer and pray that he might revive us again.
Jesus turns the practice of throwing a party on its head. What motivates people to invite their friends, relatives and rich neighbors? Why should we invite the poor, crippled, lame, and the blind?
If you invite the A list, you’ve already been _________.
If you invite those society rejects, you will be ________ in the future.
Jesus is not just talking about the feasts we enjoy today (Thanksgiving is just around the corner), he also speaks of the Great Feast that we will enjoy on the day of his return. It is a blessed thing to “eat at the feast of the kingdom of God.” Sadly, not all will enjoy this feast as Jesus’ story illustrates.
Why do so many of the invited guests miss out on the feast? Do these problems exist in our time? Who is invited to replace those who scorned God’s invitation?
The lamb is a personification of Jesus in the book of Revelation. Jesus’ faithful people, true Israel and the church, are described as the bride of the lamb. These images have their evil counterparts. The beast, Satan, is a distortion of Jesus the lamb. The whore of Babylon, Satan’s world system, mocks the bride of the lamb.
The name Babylon is significant in Israel’s history, as it was the kingdom that destroyed Jerusalem, the temple of God, and carried God’s people into exile. Babylon represents the Satanic system that has historically opposed and oppressed God’s people.
Who mourns the demise of the whore of Babylon and why? Who is called to rejoice and why?
Think about this. We live in a time where there is great fear that the world economic system may collapse. Should Christians dread this event as our neighbors do?
The image of the angel throwing the millstone into the sea announces the final and complete demise of the whore of Babylon. What sins has Babylon committed that warrants such complete destruction?
What do we know about Joel? Apparently very little. From The ESV Study Bible p. 1643:
“‘Joel the son of Pethuel,’ whose name means ‘Yahweh is God’, gives the book its title. Little is known of Joel except what is learned from the book itself. His references to Judah (3:1, 6, 8, 18, 19, 20) and Jerusalem (2:32; 3:1, 6, 16, 1, 20), along with his knowledge of the activities of priest and temple (1:9, 13-14, 16; 2:14-17), suggest that he was from Judah or perhaps even Jerusalem. His addresses to priests (1:9, 13;2:17) and elders (1:2, 14; 2:16) likely eliminates him as a member of either group.
“Estimates for dating the book of Joel range from the ninth to the fourth centuries B.C. While no consensus has been reached, most scholars hold to a date after the exile (586 B.C.) for the following reasons: (1) the exile is treated as a past event (3:2-3); (2) the conquest of Jerusalem is mentioned (3:17); (3) no king is mentioned; (4) the temple plays a positive function, while there is no prophetic denunciation against idolatry and syncretism (a blending of true and false religious worship) mentioned in Hosea and Amos; and (5) the anger expressed toward Edom is best explained by its treatment of Judeans during the Babylonian conquest (Joel 3:19; Obadiah 1-21).
“The ‘day of the LORD’ is the dominant theme of the book of Joel. Both the nations (3:2-3) and Israel (1:15; 2:1-2) experience this judgment. However, for the repentant community, the ‘day’ also holds out the hope of restoration (2:12-14). Ultimately, the LORD’s covenant faithfulness is expressed in is promises of abundance and protection (2:23-26;3:1), which evidence his dwelling in the midst of his people (2:27; 3:17, 21). This is epitomized in the great promise of ‘my Spirit that would be poured out on ‘all flesh’ (2:28, 29; cf. Acts 2:17-21).
Purpose, Occasion, and Background
“Joel calls all the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem to lament and return to the LORD during a time of national calamity. This crisis is precipitated in the first instance by a locust plague that has destroyed both wine (1:5, 7, 12) and grain (1:10) and therefore threatens the ability of the people of God to present offerings in the temple (1:9, 13, 16) Given this background, Joel may have served as a lament in the ongoing life of God’s people during other times of national tragedy.”
This book is written completely in verse. A general “guestimate” of fifty to fifty-five per cent of the prophets wrote in poetic verse.
What is the source of the prophecy from Joel? (“This message has a divine source, and the prophet is given the privilege and responsibility of bearing that message to his hearers.” The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1646. Note that Joel, unlike Jonah, is not reluctant to deliver his message to his audience.)
To whom is Joel addressing his words? (Actually Joel is addressing his words to everybody although he singles out the “elders” among the “everybody”. The “elders” were perhaps among the “retired” set (over 60 years of age) who had gained considerable experience throughout their lives. While they are not officials, the “elders” would have been sought out for their wisdom.)
What are the people to do with these words of Joel? (“Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.” (Joel 1:3 ESV) It is important even for us today, to bring the gospel message to our children and to their children, else how will they know?)
How many “kinds” of locusts does Joel describe in verse Joel 1:4? (Joel describes (1) cutting locusts; (2) swarming locusts; (3) hopping locusts; and (4) destroying locusts. We will see later that Joel delivers his message to the Jews after the exile (postexilic). This is important because the advent of locusts are generally harbingers of judgment. It is possible that Joel is not speaking so much of four different locusts as of four different plagues of locusts.)
Why would Joel direct some of his remarks to “drunkards” and “drinkers of wine”? (The psalmist tells us: “He [the LORD] makes grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate — bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face to shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” (Psalm 104:14-15 NIV) This may just be a call to waken the populace to an imminent threat.)
To what are the locusts likened? (“For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness.” (Joel 1:6 ESV) My guess is that this nation invader is Greece under Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.) So Joel is speaking some time before Alexander. The locusts may refer to the invading armies.)
What will the invading army do? (“It has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree…” (Joel 1:7ESV) The significance of grapes (vine) and figs is that they represent prosperity from the LORD.)
What does Joel call on the people to do? (“Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the LORD.” (Joel 1:8-9 ESV) The call for the people to don sackcloth was a signal to them of the seriousness of the message. The use of sackcloth became popular during the Middle Ages for people who wanted to mortify their flesh for the sins of their countrymen. The grain and wine were the elements of sacrifice in the temple as well as the animal sacrifices.)
Why would Joel tell us that the priests mourn? (It would be encouraging if the priests were mourning for the sins of the nation, but it is more likely that they are mourning the loss of the gifts which are brought to them for offerings to the Lord. It was their portion. Vested self-interest!)
What does Joel want the tillers of the soil and the vinedressers to do? (Joel is telling the tillers and vinedressers to “be ashamed”. From The ESV Study Bible: p.1647 “1:11-12 Be ashamed (Hb. hobishu) sounds like dries up (Hb. hobish, used to say the ‘vine dries up’ in v. 10 and ‘gladness dries up’ in v. 12; also Hb. hobishah, used to say ‘the vine dries up’ in v. 12). The loss of harvest means a loss of joy.”)
What is Joel’s message to the priests? (“Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.” (Joel 1:13 ESV))