When fortunes are not found in a cookie- Saturday, 27th week in ordinary time- Joel 3:12-21
The devastation that rained upon the people of Israel was disastrous to say the least. The prophet enumerates not only the damage but the extent of devastation caused by the locust plague. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.
For Joel, this devastation becomes a lever to call the people to repentance. But Yahweh’s anger is also mirrored by His mercy. God had not abandoned his people even though they had turned away from Him. The prophet Joel assures the people that God was still in their midst.
The last word for the Israelites was not to be a word of despair (or for that matter for a Christian) for God is a God of hope. He that had permitted the devastation (not caused it) and now would bring about a reversal of fortune on seeing the repentance of His people. The locust plague or the drought was not going to be the last word; for Yahweh is.
Chapter four of the book of Joel speaks of this reversal of fortune. With the locust and drought now gone, Yahweh will perform even greater wonders for His people. This reversal will include the judgment of the nations who have persecuted God’s chosen people. The offending nations will be summoned to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There is a play on words here as ‘Jehoshaphat’ means God has judged. This valley is also known in New Testament times as the Kidron valley, a place where idols were ritually destroyed.
Now Yahweh will sit as judge and prosecutor and will avenge the sufferings which the nations have inflicted upon Israel. The day of the Lord will now be a day of terrible punishment for the nations of the world while His beloved people, Israel, will experience salivation; with a promise that the mountains shall drip new wine and the hills shall flow with milk.
It is Israel’s traditional enemies who will face God’s wrath. Egypt shall be a waste for it was the archetype of their oppressors and Edom will be a desert waste for they were seen as the archetype of the treacherous brother who when Israel was being attacked by the Babylonians sold their brothers into slavery.
What Joel was communicating to the Israelites in the face of devastation was simply this; don’t tell your God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big you God is. Israel believed in God’s mercy and his magnanimous and forgiving heart. They believed that he could reverse their fortunes and did not seek it in a cookie.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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