“Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
Joel 2:23 (ESV)
My dad is pretty awesome, and I know I don't show my appreciation for him as much as I should. He quite frequently sends me Bible verses throughout the day to encourage me at work. He sent me this verse the other day, and since I had also just finished reading Joel myself, I thought I would share it with you.
Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets. This book is a bit difficult to date given that it makes no reference to contemporary worldly powers, although most scholars believe it was written during the late 9th century BC, during the reign of Joash. However, despite this the message of Joel is timeless and can be applied to any age.
The theme of Joel is the Day of the Lord. This term refers generally to periods of wrath and judgement uniquely coming from the Lord, and may specifically denote the last days that are described in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Joel reveals God's character - His might, power and holiness - in a magnificent way.
The book can be arranged into 3 sections:
1. Contemporary Day of the Lord (1:1-20)
The land of Israel is suffering from massive devastation caused by a locust plague and drought. Details of the calamity are followed by penitence and reformance.
2. Eschatological Day of the Lord (2:1-17)
The narrative moves from the historical plague of the Lord to the judgement in the last days. Using the plague of locusts as a backdrop, Joel paints a vivid and forceful picture of the impending final Day of the Lord (2:1-11) and calls for repentance (2:12-17).
3. The Lord Speaks to the Repentant (2:18-3:21)
Here the Lord speaks directly to the people who have repented, and he replies to their earnest prayer. There is a reversal of calamity into blessings. The Lord gives promises of material restoration through divine healing of the land, spiritual restoration through the work of the Holy Spirit, and national restoration through divine judgement on the unrighteous.
In the passage quoted above we see a specific reversal of the judgements described earlier in Joel (1:18-20), where the prophet talks about famine and lack of rain.
In verse 2:23, God tells us to be glad and rejoice in Him because He has given us "the early rain" for our "vindication". In Old Testament times the first rains came in October-December to prepare the seed-bed and assist germination, while the latter rains came in March-May to provide ample moisture for the grain and fruit crops to be rich and full. Here we can see that while there will be judgement in the End Days, after the judgment comes a time of great blessing as the land and spirits are revived.
What an amazing God we have! Not only does He save us from our sinful state, but He also promises blessings if we repent and trust in Him.