Interaction of the Divine and Human
Joel 2:18-24
Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.…

Then will the Lord be jealous, etc. These verses refer to the removal both of the actual calamity under which the nation were suffering, namely, the plague of locusts, and also to the removal of that calamity which was to come upon them by the invasion of a foreign foe, namely, the Assyrians. The latter is evidently referred to in ver. 20: "I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things." Henderson implies that the passage in Zephaniah 2:13, "He will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness," is sufficient to prove that the term "northern" here refers to the Assyrian power. However, for homiletical purposes, it scarcely matters whether the locusts, Assyrians, or any other destructive enemy are referred to. The grand question is - What are the truths contained in the paragraph that are of universal importance and application? The following are clearly deducible.

I. THAT THE MATERIAL CONDITION OF A PEOPLE DEPENDS UPON THE DIVINE OPERATIONS. Two things are referred to in the passage as the works of the Almighty towards the Jewish people at this time.

1. The withdrawal of calamities. "I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate." When terrible calamities come upon a people, such as hosts of destructive insects, or pestilence, famine, or war, who but the Almighty can remove them? Men may and ought to employ means; but futile for ever will be all human efforts without the co-operation of Almighty power. This fact should teach us ever to look to him and him only for deliverance from evil at all times, both material and moral.

2. The bestownent of blessings. "The Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen." The productions of the earth are dependent every moment upon Almighty power. At his bidding the most fertile regions of nature are struck into barrenness, and deserts and wildernesses become fertile and beautiful as Eden. The pseudo-scientist of this age traces the operations of nature to what he calls "laws," a term to cover his ignorance. But true philosophy as well as the Bible teaches that nature is absolutely in God's hands. "He causes the sun to rise and to set." He poureth down the genial showers and sealeth the heavens. A practical recognition of him in all the phenomena of nature is what reason and religion demand. "Every good and perfect gift," etc.

II. THAT THE DIVINE OPERATIONS ARE INFLUENCED BY THE MORAL CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE. We are taught here, that the removal of the calamity and the bestowment of the blessing came upon the people in consequence of the moral humiliation for their sins, described in the preceding verses. The priests and the ministers of the Lord wept between the altar, and said, "Spare thy people, O Lord!" etc. "The porch before the temple was a hundred and twenty cubits high, twenty broad from north to south, and ten from east to west. The altar was that of burnt offering in the court of the priests. Here, with their backs toward the altar, on which they had nothing to offer, and their faces directed towards the residence of the Shechinah, they were to weep, and make supplication on behalf of the people." That the Divine conduct towards us depends upon our conduct towards Heaven, is inexplicable to us although clearly taught in the Word of God. Indeed, consciousness assures us that he is to us what we are to him. It is absurd to suppose that God will alter the laws of nature because of human prayers or human conduct, says the sceptic scientist. But what laws of nature are more manifest, more universal, settled and unalterable than the tendency of human souls to personal and intercessory prayer? From every human heart the world over, there goes up to the great Spirit in some form or other a prayer, either for self or others. Every aspiration is a prayer - "God help me! God help thee!" God help him! "God help them!" Point out to me a human soul where the spirit of these is not being breathed out every day. Scripture abounds with examples too numerous here to write of God apparently altering his conduct on account of man's supplications.

III. THAT THE RIGHT MORAL CONDUCT OF A PEOPLE WILL ENSURE THEM DIVINE BENEDICTIONS. "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month." In these verses there is a beautiful gradation. First, the land which has been destroyed by the enemy is addressed in a prosopopoeia; then the irrational animals which had suffered from the famine; and lastly, the inhabitants themselves. All are called upon to cast off their fears, and rejoice in the happy change which God would effect. Desolation, barrenness, and famine would disappear, and times of prosperity and happiness return. It is too clear for either argument or illustration, that if you change the moral character of any country from ignorance to intelligence, from indolence to industry, from intemperance to self-discipline, from sensualness to spirituality, from enmity to love, that the whole material region in which they live may abound with plentifulness and beauty. Such a change throughout the whole human population to-day will give to all a new heaven and new earth. - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

WEB: Then Yahweh was jealous for his land, And had pity on his people.

Interaction of the Divine and Human
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