The Day of the Lord – in History

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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Topic: “The Day of the Lord – in History”
Service: 8-9.30am and 10-11.45am
Scripture : Joel 1:1-2:17
Speaker: Elder Melville Szto

“The Day of the Lord” is a phrase that the prophet Joel uses repeatedly. What is the day of the Lord? Has it come already, or is it still to come? Is it a day of judgment or a day of salvation? The answers may surprise us. The day of the Lord has both come and is yet to come. It is a day of disaster but also a day of deliverance. This first part of Joel looks at one day in history that could be called the day of the Lord. The second part, Joel 2:18-3:21 tells us that nevertheless this “day” in history was only a precursor to a future, more awful “day of the Lord”.

1. The invasion of locusts – an unprecedented disaster (Joel 1:1-12; 2:1-11)

“What the cutting locusts left, the swarming locust had eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten. What the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.” (1:4 RSV)

The result? “Surely the joy of mankind is withered away” (1:12)

How are we to interpret disasters? Are they sent by God or just random acts of an unpredictable nature? David Prior says, “The day of the Lord is any day God steps into history to do a special work, whether judgment or deliverance.” (The great locust plague in Joel’s day, for example).

Question: Was the Asian earthquake and tsunami in 2004 and the Mar 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami also the day of the Lord? What about man-made disasters? (Chernobyl, 9-11 attack, Fukushima, 2nd World War)

2. What is our response to unprecedented disaster? (Joel 1:13-20; 2:12-17)

“Cry out to the Lord” – 1:13-14

“Return to me with all your heart” – 2:12-13

“Who knows? He may turn and have pity” – 2:14-17

Question: How should we respond when calamity strikes a nation or a region? Is God trying to tell us something? Should we therefore regard all disasters as God’s acts of judgment?

3. Two ways of looking at personal disaster:

a) “this happened that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” See John 9:1-5

b) “But unless you repent, you too will perish.” See Luke 13:1-5

Question: How do you respond to personal disaster? While we would not call a personal disaster “the day of the Lord”, nevertheless the effects upon the individual is quite similar. Maybe we should see them as opportunities for God’s work to bedisplayed or else as wake-up calls.