August 05, 2011

God's Voice in a Disaster

Joel 1:1-12; 2:12-17

Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors?
Joel 1:2


Israel faced an unprecedented disaster. Swarms of locusts devoured the land, shredded the trees, consumed the vines, and ravaged the wheat fields. Livestock starved, and famine threatened the people.

The prophet Joel reveals that this plague was a result of Israel’s unfaithfulness. The Israelites had neglected their worship of God, preferring their own ways to God’s way. Because of their sin, God sent this plague to grab their attention and encourage repentance.

In that day, as Joel received the word of the Lord, he knew this disaster was sent as a punishment. But that doesn’t mean all disasters are direct punishments from God. Some people interpret natural disasters that way today, but that is not faithful to God’s Word. Jesus, God’s Word in the flesh (John 1:14), taught that not every tragedy can be traced to personal disobedience (see Luke 13:5; John 9:1-3). We must remember we live in a world broken because of sin. Sin has corrupted every part of God’s good creation, and natural disasters are a result of that corruption.

But the curse of sin—which affects us and all nature—will not last forever (Romans 8:1921). God sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the price of human sin, and he saves all who repent and believe in him. As Joel declares, the compassionate, loving God promises to restore and bless us, along with his world!

Lord, we grieve that sin has broken your good creation. Help us to live faithfully for you in the hope of all restoration. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Rob Toornstra

Rob Toornstra has served as pastor of Sunnyslope Christian Reformed Church in Salem, Oregon, since 2006. When not busy with pastoral duties, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

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