Thursday, October 27, 2016

Joel 1: First World Problems

People today joke about the modern-day annoyances and aggravations we face in life.  These are called "first world problems": things like not having enough storage space for all our stuff or the time it takes for our web pages to load.  But if we go back to the experiences of people who lived thousands of years ago, we might get a whole new appreciation for how devastating real "first world" problems could be.

Joel describes a disaster of (not surprisingly) biblical proportions.  The immediate cause of the destruction is swarming locusts.  They completely devastate the land.  Can you imagine what it would be like for everything to be devoured like this?

Chapter 1 describes a few of the effects:

  • Vines and trees destroyed (vs. 7).
  • No grain or drink offerings left for the temple (vs. 9).
  • All the crops are ruined (vs. 10-12).
  • The granaries and storehouses are emptied (vs. 17).
  • Starving livestock are in great distress (vs. 18).
  • Fire and drought has gripped the land (vs. 19 and 20).

The only recourse the people have is to turn to God.  The prophet advises: "Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.  Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord" (vs. 14).  The Lord is the only One who can help them now.

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