Chapter 2 opens with a vivid and terrifying description of a fearsome army. Greater than any army that has come before or will come after. They lay waste everything in their path. Their appearance and strength are beyond human. They are the perfect army, moving in unison and with unwavering obedience to their mission. To top it all off, it seems that even the earth, sun, moon and stars are afraid of them. Then the twist:
The Lord utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great (Joel 2:11a ESV)
This fearsome army is God’s army! A great misrepresentation of God is that He is a pushover – weak and without teeth. Well, it’s wrong. We forget that God almost wiped out the human race save for Noah and his family. He brought about terrible plagues in Egypt. He even commanded the Israelites to completely destroy nations.
It’s a difficult truth to accept for me because I have never experienced this side of God. I was in sin, and would have/should have been a recipient of God’s wrath — if not for Jesus. God is both of great power and great love.
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (Joel 2:13b ESV)
God, being holy and just, needs to uphold his character. God does not want people to perish, that is why He gave a way – THE Way. But we have to make the decision ourselves to return to God.
(crosspost at medium.com)