Joel is the prophet of the Day of the Lord. On three occasions, in each of his chapters, he emphasises its nearness, 1.15; 2.1; 3.14. He also discloses its nature. It will be a day of ‘darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness’, 2. 2.
In chapter 1, this day will be a day of destruction, v. 15. In chapter 2, it will be a day of deliverance, vv. 31-32. In chapter 3, it is revealed to be a day of decision and discrimination when the nations which have opposed God and His people will receive their judgement and when God’s people will enter their joy, v. 14.
According to chapter 3 verse 15 that day will be characterised by cosmic change. The stable bodies of the sky will be in a state of convulsion. In one great spasm the ‘heavens and the earth shall shake’, v. 16. When familiar surroundings are in a state of flux and men’s hearts fail for fear, where is security to be found? There is only one shelter. There is only one refuge. In that day ‘the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel’, v. 16. J. N. Darby translates these words as ‘Jehovah will be a shelter for his people, and the refuge of the children of Israel’.
There have been many times in Israel’s changing history when she has experienced a sense of hopelessness and weakness. On many of these occasions she has placed her hope in people and policies that proved disappointing. In that day she will no longer trust in peace treaties, political agreements, military might, international support and secret intelligence. These will be to no avail. Her only hope will be in the Lord Himself and she will not be disappointed.
When Israel trusts in the Lord and enjoys deliverance in that day she will be able to employ the words of Psalm 46 as never before. The word ‘hope’ in our text today is translated ‘refuge’ in that Psalm. She will sing with new meaning, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’, Ps. 46.1. This same God is our strength and stay. May our hope be in Him alone as we embark upon this day. In a world of ever increasing hype, how we value Christ Jesus, our hope, 1 Tim. 1.1.
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