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Finding Jesus in Joel

America has always been a land of immigrants. People from many nations have arrived on our shores speaking their native tongue, sadly, leaving that language behind. I believe in the value of speaking English in America but I think it’s a tragedy that their children did not become bilingual. There’s something really wonderful about your native tongue and the privilege of teaching your children and grandchildren to speak that language.

Joel began his prophetic book with a command to tell future generations what happened in their past and why. The southern kingdom of Judah was about to go into captivity to the Babylonians and Joel, a clarion for God, cries out to repent for that day is quickly closing in on them.

That’s the lower story. Joel’s message was clear: return to God in true repentance and He may change His mind (Joel 2:12-14). What’s intriguing is the upper story, the spiritual aspect of this book. We don’t need to worry about a physical captivity in another land, that’s the lower story, but we should be concerned about our spiritual captivity to living a life without God’s forgiveness; that’s the upper story. When Jesus received the sin of mankind on Himself He gave us the opportunity to receive His righteousness as a gift. Joel’s message was to the Jews of his day but it’s also for us and our families. We call that the law of double reference.

Joel writes of ‘the day of the LORD’ continuously throughout his message and we know it refers to the time when God used the Babylonian Empire to capture them but we also know that the double reference includes the final ‘day of the LORD’ when Jesus returns. That’s the language I want to speak to my children, grandchildren, and in the future generations of my family. Knowing Old Testament scriptures and words that anticipate and expect His return are the two languages I want to speak.

How can I be sure that Joel is speaking of the end times? We read in the book of Acts Peter explaining that what was happening on the Day of Pentecost was prophesied by the prophet Joel. He told the people, who spoke many different languages, that Joel had prophesied that day (Acts 2:14-21). Even though it was only partially fulfilled, the Holy Spirit was released, we can be sure that the final ‘day of the LORD’ is near and we’ll recognize it with more signs and wonders. More importantly, Jesus described ‘that day’ much like Joel: signs in the heavens and signs on the earth.

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:44 ESV)

I encourage you today to be bilingual and teach your kids the language of scripture as Joel declared. As you read his message pay careful attention to that phrase, ‘day of the LORD’ and remember that our King is coming!

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