Joel 1: Refuge
Discussion notes based on the sermon preached the eveing of 8-5-22
Read the passage again and don’t forget to start your meeting in prayer.
Particularly ask that the Holy Spirit would guide your discussion and help you to apply what is said in Scripture to your lives today. Sermons are available on the St John’s website or YouTube channel.
– We don’t know anything about Joel other than what is said in Joel 1:1; we don’t know
when he prophesied or the background to his prophecy. However, this does not matter.
The only thing that we need to know is that he wrote against the background of a
serious disaster that had struck the land of Israel (vv.10/12/17/20). He told wrote about
how the people should react to this and God’s warnings and promises that transcended
that disaster and, indeed, transcend any disaster.
– It is unclear whether the disaster was the result of a literal locust infestation or whether
the references to locusts are metaphorical (c.f. Judges 6:3-6, Jeremiah 51:27 and Nahum
3:15) but, again, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that disaster had struck and Joel
begins his prophecy by addressing how the people should react.
– He makes four main points:
i) The people should be realistic about the seriousness of what has happened
(vv.2-3); they are not called to belittle it.
ii) They should lament (vv.5/8/11/13)
iii) They should repent (v.13; putting on sackcloth was a sign of repentance and it is
clear from what Joel says that he believed that the people needed to repent, see
also v.5 and Chapter 2 vv.12-13);
iv) They should call on God and take refuge in him (v.14; c.f. v.19).
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
– How have you or people you know reacted when faced with something awful in your or their life? Are any of these reactions inherently wrong or better or worse than others?
– How can we be sure that we are being realistic about the seriousness of what is happening in our lives. Think of real examples of situations in which, on reflection, you may have not been wholly realistic in your appraisal of something.
– What does lament involve? How can we encourage one another to react appropriately to things that happen without seeking to impose on them?
– We need to be careful to avoid attributing all disasters to God’s judgment but we need to recognise that we they may involve this (Contrast the examples of Joel’s time, the life of Joseph, the life of Jeremiah and what Jesus said in John 9:3). How can we avoid, on the one hand, inducing false guilt and, on the other, failing to repent when we need to?
– How can we take refuge in God? What does this involve? What should we do? And what does God offer us? Discuss how you might use the Psalms in relation to this.
– Pray that you would know how to react appropriately when faced with problems and even awful events in your life.
– Pray that you would be able to help one another in times of difficulty.
– Pray that you would habitually take refuge in God and that God would show you how to do this? Repent of times in the past when you have failed to do so.
– Pray about any serious issues that are disturbing the lives of any members of your group at the moment.
– Pray for others who you are aware are facing awful situations in their lives at the moment and ask God to be their comfort and strength. Pray that they would be able to put into practice the things that you have learnt from Joel 1.
NB: You could consider reading Psalm 46 together or using all or part of another Psalm (such
as Psalm 5 vv.1-7) as a prayer.