Joel 1:15 Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty* it comes.
16 Is not the food cut off
before our eyes,
joy and gladness
from the house of our God?
Today’s and yesterday’s reading from the minor prophet Joel had me thinking of the election taking place today. I feel as if our country has been ravaged by locusts – by the political ambitions and machinations of a few to deliver this country into their self-righteous hands. Divided beyond repair, lines drawn in the sand too wide to ever bridge.
And though I am sad that my country has devolved into electing emperor’s with no clothes – symbols and icons of this or that, the first this, the first that, the insider, the outsider, the Machiavellian, the rebel….on and on…though sad, not distraught. My allegiance and trust is in the Lord and I believe through every cell of my being that His hand is and will continue to work in the people of this country, despite the collective rebellion against Him that has taken hold in far too many of our children, brothers, and sisters.
Psalm 78 of this morning readings reassured me of my belief – it comforts and reminds me who is the source of all.
1 Hear my teaching, O my people; *
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable; *
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
3 That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us, *
we will not hide from their children.
4 We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord, *
and the wonderful works he has done.
5 He gave his decrees to Jacob
and established a law for Israel, *
which he commanded them to teach their children;
6 That the generations to come might know,
and the children yet unborn; *
that they in their turn might tell it to their children;
7 So that they might put their trust in God, *
and not forget the deeds of God,
but keep his commandments;
The psalm gives me the lens through which to put this particular time, this particular election, into historical perspective. And not this young country’s historical context, but in humanity’s context as revealed in scripture, reminding me of all the rebellious moments in time in which God reigned, never once abandoning his people.
The Joel passage too gives me perspective. Joel prophecizes that the Day of the Lord is at hand citing the locust catastrophe that had devastated both the human community and the natural world. Joel preached that this was God’s judgment on the people, and he called them to repentance.
The dire warning is familiar sounding – certainly in this election year we’ve heard from both sides the doomsday scenario should the opponent be elected.
I’m recalling other times in history, too, when both political and natural disasters have signaled to many the end. As Joel observed the destruction of the locusts, I imagine anyone who witnessed the tsunami in Japan a few years ago might have felt the end was at hand. Or one who survived the earthquakes in Haiti and Italy just recently. Going back further to the citizens of Pompeii when Vesuvius erupted – like Joel, they may have written:
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.
Up close and personal these events, like this election, feel, smell, seem dire, ushering in a kind of despair as one witnesses the end-of-life as they know it. That is just what Satan banks on – our up close and personal assessment of a situation that loses sight of God. A narrowing in of the lens on just what we see before us – the locust ravaged crops, the land laid bare by an ocean wave, the absence of integrity in all political candidates running for office – a view which distorts one’s perspective, causing panic and despair.
This is how Satan works – narrows our lens, holds up mirrors to our own particularity, our individuality, our own way of understanding the world, our egos. By gazing only upon the ravaged land or ravaged political landscape we lose sight – lose sight of the one Holy God of all.
And we lose sight of where we sit – not under the rubble of a crumbled stone house, nor on the parched land of a grapevine orchard, not in a red state or a blue state, but in His hands. We rest, loved ones, in His hands.
Tuesday Daily Lectionary Readings: AM Psalm 78:1-39; PM Psalm 78:40-72
Joel 1:15-2:2(3-11); Rev. 19:1-10; Luke 14:25-35