The Land Restored
Joel 2:21,22 – “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
God’s punishment for sin was a very real experience for the children of Israel. Their constant disobedience of God’s laws and their disregard for him as their Lord caused a great chasm between them. A day of reckoning is coming upon them, ‘a day of clouds and thick darkness’. An army of locusts approaches ‘like blackness spread upon the mountains…the land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.’ What a powerful visual image of the devastation that sin can leave behind; the damage that it can cause and the loss that it brings as it ravages across our world.
“Yet even now” declare the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
God’s anger always gives way to mercy and he makes a way for us to return to him through genuine repentance. God does not need, or want, a big show of weeping and wailing and tearing of clothes. What he does want is a sincere rending of our hearts and a turning back to him. By his grace he sends the rains of healing and with it comes a promise – “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”
We know that we cannot get back wasted time and wasted years definitely cannot be reclaimed. Charles Spurgeon explains it like this: ‘Time once past is gone forever. You cannot have back your time; but there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wasted blessings, the unripened fruits of years over which you mourned. The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours.’
Of this you can be sure; when God restores, it will be fully and it will be completely.