Webster’s Dictionary defines tradition as, “the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another.”
Prior to the nation of Israel crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Moses gave them instructions from God as to how they should live—a tradition they were to pass down to their children and their children’s children. Deuteronomy 27:2–8 describes how the Israelites were to inscribe the words of the law onto stone and build an altar with them. This was a common practice when they wanted something to be remembered. It would be used to tell the generations to come the message inscribed on the stones. God did not want His people to forget about Him once they entered a land filled with false gods.
Deuteronomy 28 goes on to explain the blessings for those who remained faithful to God, and it also explains what awaited those who were unfaithful. Verses 36 and 37 talk about how the unfaithful would be taken into exile and forced to live in a land where false gods were worshipped. This is what happened to the people of Israel’s Northern Kingdom. Verses 38–42 describe locust devouring the land, which was a fate suffered by the Southern Kingdom who also turned away from God.
Somewhere between entering the Promised Land and the generation of Joel, God’s law became lost to the people. The message was not passed down from generation to generation: the tradition was not kept. The result was disaster for the entire nation of Israel.
Last week we learned about the prophet Jonah. The message of Jonah was a little different than the previous prophets, because his message was directed to a Gentile nation instead of to the nation of Israel. Instead of going to Ninevah, where God sent him, Jonah took a boat and headed in the opposite direction. God caused a terrible storm, and when the men threw Jonah overboard, he was swallowed by a fish. After three days inside the fish, Jonah told God he would do as God had commanded him, and the fish spit Jonah out onto the sand. The Ninevites listened to Jonah’s message and cried out to God for forgiveness.
What was God’s response to the Ninevites? “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10)
Talk: The previous prophets were sent to the Northern Kingdom, Israel. Joel is a prophet sent by God to deliver a message to the Southern Kingdom, Judah.
- Joel talks about something that has happened in the land. What were the terrible events that had taken place in Judah?
- Locusts had invaded the land and eaten everything, a severe drought was in the land, and what little vegetation had grown was eaten by the locust.
- In chapter 2, Joel uses the locust plague as an example of “the Day of the Lord,” a term used to describe God’s judgment. How does Joel describe this day in verse 2:2?
- A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Instead of locust, what will come to destroy Judah? A large and mighty army.
- In verses 12–17, what is Judah encouraged to do?
- Return to the Lord their God; declare a holy fast; gather every- one together to repent.
- How does God respond to Judah’s plea for forgiveness? “
- Then the Lord will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people.” God readily forgives when His people sincerely repent. What is your typical reaction when someone has done something wrong against you? Are you willing to forgive that person even if he has wronged you more than once? God was ready to forgive each time His people sincerely repented of their sin. God is ready to forgive us each time we sincerely repent of our sin. If God, who is holy and cannot tolerate sin, lovingly forgives us every single time we sin, we should be more than willing to forgive others.
- Not only does God say He will forgive Judah, but what else will He do for them?
- Send abundant showers, repay them for the years the locust have eaten, give them plenty to eat.
- Why does God say He will do this for His people?
- (v. 27) “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other.” God gives abundant blessing to His people so that they will praise Him. People won’t be able to help recognizing from Whom the blessing came.
- Do you recognize that all your blessings come from God? Take time to name some of them.
- After Judah has been judged and restored, what promise does God give in verse 32?
- “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”This same promise is repeated in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13.
Pray: Use your prayer time to give praise to God by praying Scripture. Psalm 33 is a great example of praise to God: because of who He is, what He has done, and what He will do for those who put their hope in Him. You can choose a couple of verses for each family member to pray, or you can pray it aloud while the family is in an attitude of prayer.
Do: Using the Prophets booklet you cut out last time, answer the following questions and write your answers in the space provided on the Joel page:
- What message did God have for His people?
- What judgment did God say He would send upon His people? 3. How did the people react?
- Was there any good news for the people?
(Vista Dublin Lesson March 15th, Vista Worthington lesson April 12th)