The prominent image in the book of Joel is a locust plague. It was recent enough to be deeply impressed on the minds of all the people. An “Act of God” is usually described as an event outside of human control. It is so extraordinary and devoid of human agency that no precaution could avoid the consequences. Damage caused by tornadoes, perils of the sea, extraordinary floods, and severe ice storms are usually considered acts of God as would the locust plague referred to in Joel.

 However, the picture of devestation left behind was a teaching tool for Joel. He used it to illustrate an even greater destruction that would fall upon the nation because of their rebellion from God. An army from the East, a great locust plague, will come and destroy the nation of Israel. The picture of this great destruction was designed to bring God’s people to repentance and of course restoration.

 Jesus used a similar “Act of God” as a teaching lesson for Israel. When 18 people died when a tower fell on them, Jesus asked the crowds, “…do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” God’s complete sovereignty in the affairs of the world should lead us all to repentance and faith in the God of the universe.  C. S. Lewis tells us that much of the pain and suffering in the world is the result of God’s purpose of teaching us the most important lessons in life. Obviously, the lessons learned in our pain are more enduring than those learned in our pleasures.

 Painful lessons are often required to direct us into God’s glorious purpose for our lives. Every Shepherd has to occassionally apply the rod to the back of the sheep. But remember what David said, “Thy Rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” The purpose of these “acts of God” are to drive us to our knees before him and to call out to him for help.


“To you, O LORD, I call. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has burned all the trees of the field.” Joel 1:19