Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Survivors (Joel 2:32)

In a way, we are all survivors - that is, if we, indeed, survive.

All of us, believers and unbelievers, are beneficiaries of the grace of life. Common grace sheds abroad God’s goodness on us all.

As believers, we have been grabbed hold of by God’s redemptive grace. He graciously takes the initiative and reverses our destiny by replacing our hearts. We are blessed with Holy Spirit insight into God’s Word, and Holy Spirit presence in our hearts and lives.
So in what sense are we survivors?

We are survivors from our sin. Another word used commonly alongside “survivor” in the OT is “escapee.” We are not survivors because of our own fortitude, but escapees because of the daring rescue accomplished by God. But we are survivors nonetheless.

More importantly in Joel’s prophecy, we are survivors of the prosperity that we enjoy.

Surprisingly, not a single sin is mentioned in the Book of Joel. The people were being judged, but all that is mentioned is the loss of God’s blessing in their lives. The text does not identify the one or many sins that brought God to focus His displeasure and withhold (1:13) the basic lubricants (wine and oil) for gladness and joy (1:16).

The problem that occasioned the punishment was a dreadful disconnect between the blessings of God, and ... God. The people were enjoying their good times, but they failed to enjoy their good God. They thought that their pleasurable existence could be savored independently from their Savior. They were wrong. God took it away.

He sent the locusts - gnawing, swarming, creeping, and stripping locusts (1:4). They consumed all that was green. The people lost their blessings. God gained their attention. And the people repented (2:12-14, the pivot point of the book). Now, perhaps God would restore the tools of worship which he had previously been withholding.

The people survived. But they survived not only their sin - they survived their prosperity. And I wonder, will we?

Two phrases surround the reference to “survivor” in 2:32: “whoever calls’ at the beginning of the verse; and “whom the Lord calls” at the end of the verse.

What does it mean to be a survivor? To remember to call on the Lord in the busyness that our prosperity demands, and to hear the Lord’s call above the noise that is the constant by-product of our celebrations.

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