The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
Hear this, you elders,
And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land!
Has anything like this happened in your days,
Or even in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children about it,
Let your children tell their children,
And their children another generation.
— Joel 1:1-3.
Men, “the Word of the Lord” has come to Joel. Straight away, we should snap to alert attention. When the Lord of hosts speaks, it is no small matter regardless of who the servant is. Joel exclaims over the people of Judah, “hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land!” Joel wants everyone to hear and take note, but he tells the elders specifically to “hear this.” There is an added expectation upon the elders. Everyone needed to hear, but the elders needed to fully understand the message, what was happening, and what was yet coming, to lead the people in the repentance he would be calling them to.
The Lord has made attempt to get unrepentant Judah’s attention. Judah has been judged by their sin and has recently experienced a devastation that too few have interpreted as an alert from the Lord. Joel has to plainly ask his fellow man, “has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your father?” We often read too fast over such a rhetorical question to see what the judgment of the Lord looked like, but let’s not miss the stunning rebuke here. Since Joel has to ask the people, we may deduce that no one has considered the singularity of this judgement event. No one has paused to question the source, the message, or the intent of the circumstances Judah now faces.
This rebuke is for us as well. We will soon find that the Word Joel speaks is also for our time, and our children’s time. When calamity strikes our personal lives, when our nation is in turmoil, while the world seems upended in confusion, corruption, conflict and more, at what point do you and I pause to humble ourselves before God and ask where we have sinned against Him? Like Israel, we are quick to point fingers and too blind to see our own sin as an ingredient in the collective circumstances.
Move forward men, pausing this day to ask the Lord “search me O God”, and evaluate our circumstances. Is the Lord not seeking our attention today? Will we hear Him?