Joel 2:25-27 has been going through my spirit for many months,
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”
Every time I read these verses, one particular line stands out to me,
“... My great army which I sent among you.” (vs. 25b)
We often get so excited about the restoration part that we miss this line. So why am I pointing it out? It is for perspective and for deep understanding of how loved we are as sons and daughters.
This may sound strange, and you may wonder what I mean. How can an army of locusts sent among us prove the depths of the love of our Father?
Many years ago my husband and I were launched into ministry in a very public way, yet there was still much refining in our hearts and in the intent of our hearts that still needed to occur. At one point in our journey our amazing Heavenly Father looked upon us and knew that we needed the discipline that only a loving father can bring. He sent among our lives what only can be described as an army of “swarming and crawling locusts.” This season of difficulty, which looked to our eyes like destruction, was actually the time of discipline that would lead to repentance for the sake of restoration. It was the Father sending His great love upon us in the form of chastening.
I cannot imagine the depth of love that it took our Father to send such discipline upon our lives. The pain that came upon us was devastating. The “locusts” came and exposed every area of compromise, rebellion, pride, and unfaithfulness that was masked under all of the “good works.” This “army sent among us” stayed for seven years and I truly did not know if we would survive. I was often convinced that it was a demonic attack against us for all the years of ministry we had done. Although I am sure that the enemy took advantage of this time, I am more convinced that the great mercy of our God sent this among us in order to save us from our own hidden sins and generational strongholds.
It is easy to blame the enemy for everything that comes upon us but during those seven years, time and time again I became keenly aware of all that was being brought to the surface and exposed that neither my husband nor I had allowed ourselves to deal with. God was extracting the precious from the worthless. He was refining us, disciplining us (because He loves us so very much), and saving us from the things that would have ultimately destroyed us.
I won’t take the time to go into how deep and severe this seven year period was but I will say that I don’t know if I, as a parent, could have allowed my children to face such excruciating pain and not intervened. But the depths of His love allowed the full process to take place, knowing that He was there to save and deliver us from the very things that would have destroyed us. It gave me a greater understanding of how He could send His Son to die for us!
Psalm 78:8 says,
“Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.”
God was assuring us that we would not be like those who had gone before us; stubborn, rebellious and not giving our hearts fully to Him. During those long and agonizing seven years He humbled us, gave us hearts of obedience, hearts fully yielded to Him. He knew the deep cry in us to be like Him and in His mercy He disciplined us and answered our greatest longing.
Many of you have gone through long periods of crisis and what only can be described as an army of locus sent among you. But what if it was (or is) the greatness of the love of your Father that sent this “great army among you” in order to save you?
We came out of those years refined and have seen gold produced. We are learning not to resist repentance but to understand it as a gift of freedom that we may quickly embrace. The fire of His love still remains upon us, keeping us pure and holy unto Him. And now we live in the time of restoration; we dwell in the beauty of verses 26 and 27,
“...You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”
Though many of you have been through a time of a “great army being sent among you,” there is a promise that springs from this time and it is the promise of restoration! I truly cannot thank God enough for His discipline and for sending the army that exposed all that was hidden. He delivered us from so much! How great is His love! How vast is His wisdom and how good are His ways!
If you are in the midst of this sort of sifting and refining, humble yourself before the Lord quickly. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the gifts of humility, obedience, and faithfulness, and to cause your whole heart to be turned toward Him. Not only for your sake but for your children and your children’s children.
“...because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." Hebrews 12:6
It is better to humble yourself before you are humbled by the Lord. This is a time where God is creating a people who will walk in humility, obedience, and faithfulness, whose hearts belong fully to Him.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:10
Oh, how deep His love is for you and for me!
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