“The God Who Restores Us” (Joel 2:25-27)

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Today, I would like to share with you about the God who restores. Especially, we will focus on the message from Joel 2:25, which says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm…” Through this passage, let’s explore how God restores the years we have ruined by our sins, disobedience, and idolatry.

First of all, in Joel 1:1, we see that the prophet Joel only mentions his father’s name without giving any details about himself. We don’t know where or when Joel lived. But, the crucial point is that the word of God came to Joel. I pray that the word of God which came to Joel will come to you today. Amen! It is because “Men shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)

During the time of Joel’s ministry, almost all of God’s people had forgotten how to love God. They lost their obedience to God. And they got actively engaged in sin and idolatry. As a result, God decided to bring disaster upon them. There was no rain. So, plants did not grow well, and locusts came and devoured the few leaves and fruits that were left. But this was only the beginning. When unprecedented disasters struck the promised land, God spoke through Joel.

“Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors?” (Joel 1:2) It was such a serious event that people were to tell their children, grandchildren, and even unborn descendants. This is similar to the “Coronavirus” pandemic we faced worldwide a few years ago.

In Joel 1:4, we can clearly notice the nature of the disaster: “What the locust swarm has left, the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left, the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left, other locusts have eaten.”

Locusts are insects sort of like grasshoppers. When they come in swarms, they bring disaster, much like a plague. Imagine vast swarms of locusts covering fields and hills. These locusts lay hundreds of thousands of eggs, which hatch into larvae. These larvae soon begin to fly and devour all the plants in their path.

Imagine a lush cornfield full of green leaves and ears of corn. An endless swarm of locusts sweeps through it. Nothing is left on the corn stalks, only dead stems lying on the ground. Locusts move so quickly that the land becomes desolate right before our eyes. The next day, these locusts attack the next field.

Joel describes these locusts in four stages: the great locust, the young locust, the other locust, and the locust swarm(Joel 2:25). Joel describes how the crops were destroyed over four years in four stages. Over four years, everything was consumed. What should we do when such a disaster strikes us?

The answer is written in Joel 1:13. It says, “Put on sackcloth, you priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God.”

When such disasters come, the first thing we must do is… Weep and mourn. Then, we must declare a fast and call for a sacred assembly. Gather the people of God in the temple. Cry out to God, and repent.

It is time to fast and weep. It is time to rend our hearts and repent. It is not too late to turn to God, who is the solution to all our problems. Then “He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13), says the prophet Joel.

Joel assures us that God will not only withhold disaster but also bless us. If we fast, weep, rend our hearts, repent, and return to God, He promises to repay us for the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

I first encountered this amazing promise of God when I was 26 years old. At this poinit, I would like to share my testimony in relation to the God who restores. When I was a young boy, I attended church for 4 years from 4th grade to 7th grade. I was very active in church. I even experienced the Holy Spirit in my first year of middle school. But unfortunately, from ages 14 to 23, I did not go to church. In fact, for ten years, I experienced a spiritual drought. Since I did not go to God’s house, the rain of the Holy Spirit did not fall on my heart, and my heart became dry. There were no holy and good fruits in my life, and my life was filled with sin.

For the first two and a half years, the locust swarm came and devoured my life. For the next two and a half years, the great locusts came and ate up my life. Then, for another two and a half years, the young locusts came and ate up my life. And finally, for the last two and a half years, the other locusts came and ate up my life. For ten years, my talents, health, and life were being gradually consumed by worries, concerns, anxieties, and fear. No hope, no dream, and no nothing!

I was good at drawing when I was a little kid because my father was a talented artist. I represented my elementary school in art competitions and won many awards. My dream was to become an artist. I was also good at singing because my mother was an excellent singer, and I inherited her talent. You might not believe it, but I was also good at writing and dancing.

But after I failed in business at the age of 22, I was so anxious and worried about my future. I drank everyday. I smoke a pack of cigarette everyday. They were killing me gradually. My hands started shaking, so I could no longer draw. My voice was damaged by smoking, and I couldn’t sing well. To make matters worse, I developed depression, and my concentration and memory was getting worse and worse. Simply put, the locusts devoured my talents, health and life over 10 years.

My life was hopeless. If I had never had those talents (drawing, singing, writing, dancing), the sense of loss would have been less. But losing talents that I once had was an unimaginable loss. I just wanted to die.

Thankfully, When I was in my despair, the Holy Spirit came to me. He gave me the strength, healing my spirit, soul and body. Amazingly, I was able to quit alcohol and cigarettes instantly. Most importantly, God restored my talents, which had been utterly destroyed by sin for ten years. My hands no longer shaked, allowing me to draw again, and my voice was restored. I was able to write again. Above all, my concentration and memory were restored, enabling me to study diligently. Moreover, the Holy Spirit gave me many spiritual gifts that I had not have before.

What about you? Do you have any talents that have been devoured by locusts because of sin? Is there a part of your body that has been consumed by locusts due to disobedience? Do you have years that have been eaten away by locusts because of a life lived far from God?

Brothers and sisters, let us weep! Let us fast! Rend your heart and repent, humbly coming to God. Then God will restore your talents, health and spiritual gifts that the locusts have eaten. He will repay you for the years eaten away by sin, disobedience, and pride. God will use your restored talents, health and spiritual gifts again for His Kingdom!

This week, I hope you will set aside time to fast, even for one meal, and draw near to God. Let us pray.

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