The opening chapter of Joel finds the people of God in a famine. Most of us have felt the effects of being hungry. You may have even said that you were starved. Do we truely understand what it is like to be facing starvation? I am not talking about being late to lunch, I mean starving.
The palmerworm was bad enough, but then came the locust. The end was not in sight, for after the locust came the cankerworm followed by the caterpillar.
I must admit to never having seen a palmerworm or cankerworm, but they sound like disgusting, ugly buggers. Canker sounds bad enough then stick worm on the end of it...bad, ugly buggars. So these poor starving people are suffering the pangs of their digestive juices eating muscle mass plus a plague of ugly buggars! To top it off the drunkards are having the DTs and seeing even uglier buggars that do not exist. This is no place to book a vacation. While keeping that in mind, I was reading more in Joel when I came to a most peculiar verse:
"Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD," Joel 1:14
This prophet calls the people to a fast! Fast what? Air? Air is all they have left. Leave it to a man who hears from the Spirit to defy the gravity of reason. Joel must have the understanding that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose.
It is like God is saying, "Here is what you do, Joel. Instead of starving to death, fast. You cannot eat anyway. Starving leads to death; fasting leads to blessing with promise." It is true, the knee-jerk reaction would be to cry over your lack, the ugly buggars, and then lay down and die. To fast, pray, and seek God puts the ball back in the Lord's court and He is God enough to handle it.
"Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, mighty force, גּדל גּדולwhich שׁלחspread forth among you.
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed." Joel 2:23-26
Turning the table from curses into blessings was the perfect remedy. It is all in that "God attitude" instead of reacting like one would expect in that situation. Do the opposite of what comes natural. If you are starvingnot eatingfast! To the world this sounds ridiculous, but it is just up God's alley. He loves doing the foolish to confound the human intellect.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:" 1 Cor 1:27-28
More than confounding the wise, Satan cannot figure God out. The devil may want to add a situation into your life to guide a particular outcome, but God can re-route the situation and lose the devil in the process. If you are going to go through all the raised trap doors that lead to the slaughter, how about raising a few unexpected doors yourself and confound the enemy? I call that a much better plan. Do the unexpected. Change the rules of the game on the devil, frustrating the enemy at his own game. Win for a change! If it feels exhilarating just reading about it, imagine doing it.
The problem with humans is that we are so predictable. The enemy leads an attack, and the human responds in the same ol' knee-jerk way. We have allowed ourselves to be sure targets, not even having the good sense to bob and weave, making ourselves sitting ducks. Is this the army God has raised? I should say not. His army is an army of witty inventions and cunning. This army is an unpredictable lot that the enemy cannot calculate. This army knows their target, and it is not them! (Just feel free to shout AMEN. Nobody may hear it, but it'll do a world of good for your own spirit.)
These people in the book of Joel changed the rules of the game to make a sure win out of an expected death. Death turned to life, famine turned to food and lack to plenty. What changed? The situation was the same, but the heart of the people did an about face, which made all the difference.
I have never faced famine, but years ago the Lord showed me this principle using the Scriptures in Joel. The principles are tried and true. I know that it may feel like you are going through the looking glass, Alice, and found everything to be backwards. Left is now right and right is nowonly God knows. Everything that you thought is now opposite. Your equilibrium is off center, and it takes a moment to evaluate the new world you have entered. The old world would never recognize this place.
God knows something about doing the unexpected and unpredictable. He used the shame of the cross and turned it into salvation. Have you ever known anyone to use blood to cleanse a stain? God did. He planted death at Calvary and got the crop of life eternally. The investment of His sacrifice muliplied His return. When we sinned, it was He who took the stripes and not us. God did not repay us with an earned response but took it upon Himself. He did the unexpected turning the tables on Beelzebub causing us all to win. God is always doing the unexpected. The world may consider this place Bazarro Land, but I like it. Yep, I like it a lot!
If you feel as if you have been looking through a glass a bit too darkly; take a leap of faith through the looking glass, a land of all possibilities and un-predictabilities. Sail to the New World, Pilgrim, of religious freedom and breath the unpolluted air!
My name is Rebecca O'Connor. I have been a teacher in elementary education for years, written a few books, and hug my grandkids every chance I get! God has blessed me so much that I love sharing pieces from those blessings in my writing.