to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 26, 2019 – Thursday
Joel 2:10-11 NIV
10 Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders at the head of His army; His forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys His command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?
A popular timeline of the minor prophets places Joel around 825 BC between Jonah and Amos. However this is suspect as he quotes or alludes to so many of the other prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, and Zephaniah among others as noted here in the first 45 seconds. Thus he is more likely writing sometime between 550 and 450 BC.
Joel wrote three short chapters (20, 32, and 21 verses respectively). Chapter one is about a past Day of the Lord when a recent drought and locust swarm devastated Israel. This is where Joel calls upon Israel to repent and he himself laments all that has happened. Then in chapter two Joel prophecies about a future, perhaps imminent, Day of the Lord. It is another day of judgment again and with the imagery of a locust swarm, but with words describing them as an army.
4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.
Then we come to our first verse of the day where verse ten is like that of Haggai 2:21Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth and Isaiah 13:10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; a result of the smoke from burning fields and cities.
Why did the earth shake and the heavens tremble in verse ten? Because as we read in verse eleven the Lord thunders as He leads His army. His commands are obeyed by His army and whether His army was literally made up of locust or men they were carrying out His commands. They were so immense in number it was clearly an image of a great and terrible Day of the Lord and His judgment against them for their unrepentant sins. It appears as a day of such enormous horror it could not be endured.
The rest of chapter two tells us if they would repent and change their ways, then because He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity (v13b). This is because His army will always obey Him.
The future will reflect God’s will and whether we like it or not. It will be just as well as full of mercy and forgiveness for those who repent. The question is whether or not repentance comes in time.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)