Understanding The Word
A key factor in understanding the truth of God’s written Word, the Bible, is the perspective of the original writer or conveyor of the described events. We also must reconcile the perspective and the understanding of the translator. The following passage in Joel 2:21-32 is a message of great hope and restoration. These are wonderful verses of deliverance, provision, abundant prosperity and spiritual insight.
However, in the midst of these very positive and uplifting encouragements, God is once again given the attribution of creating the problem in the first place as written in verse 25.
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
God is given the blame for sending “his great army,” the locusts, cankerworms, caterpillars, and palmerworms, to wreak havoc on the people and their food supply.
The clear implication in verse 25 in the middle of this passage is that God is saying, “I am glad that you finally got your act together. I spent years destroying your crops and stores of food so that I could punish you, break you down, beat you into submission and even kill many of you. Yes, I sent all of that destruction upon all of you, but don’t worry about the fact that I have beaten you up and killed some of your family and friends, just call on my name, worship Me and I will fix it!”
The Hebrew word, Strong’s OT:7971, jl^v*, shalach (shaw-lakh’) is used in the latter half of verse 25 and is translated “I sent.” The definition shows that the use of the personal pronoun “I” is not specified in the Hebrew word, but is implied by the writer/translator. The construction of the verse from the Hebrew Interlinear Bible helps us to better understand the meaning of the verse.
“my army” - Strong’s OT:2426, lyj@, cheyl (khale); or (shortened) chel (khale) a collateral form of OT:2428; an army; also (by analogy,) an intrenchment: KJV - army, bulwark, host, + poor, rampart, trench, wall.
“I sent” - Strong’s OT:7971, jl^v*, shalach (shaw-lakh’) a primitive root; to send away, for, or out (in a great variety of applica- tions): KJV - any wise, appoint, bring (on the way), cast (away, out), con- duct, earnestly, forsake, give (up), grow long, lay, leave, let depart (down, go, loose), push away, put (away, forth, in, out), reach forth, send (away, forth, out), set, shoot (forth, out), sow, spread, stretch forth (out).
Both of the words translated as my army and I sent are personally attributed to God. This makes it look like He is the one that sent the curse. The restoration does come later in the following verses, but God is being accused of causing the destruction in the first place. This is like beating and starving your sons or daughters and maybe even killing one of their sisters or brothers because they have been disobedient. Then, after the ones that are still alive are sufficiently terrorized, you promise to feed them and maybe even give them a new car!
What an absurd thought! Unfortunately, this is the prism of religion and tradition through which many people view God. It’s no wonder that many people turn away from the God of the religious! In reality, the sins of the people brought the destructive penalty upon themselves. The sins opened up the avenues for the curses to come.
It is clear from the entire passage that God is in the business of restoring and delivering people from the error of their ways and bestowing great blessings upon them. Mankind faces problems that are self-inflicted due to rebelliousness, selfishness, greed, and all forms of sin. The results of man’s actions are already programmed, like a cause and effect relationship. This is expertly facilitated by the true enemy of man, Satan. The great army spoken of in Joel 2:25 is not an Army of the Lord, and He did not send the destruction. It was the army of destruction that was activated by the sins of the people.
Jesus will set you free if you let Him !
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
To learn more about this subject read,
Chapter 10, “REASON, REMEMBRANCE AND RESTORATION"
In Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem, The Character and Nature of God, now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders.
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