Joel calls the people to rend their hearts rather than their garments and to return to the God who loves them, and He will multiply His blessings upon them. If they respond accordingly, God will turn His judgment into His blessings. God is a gracious and merciful God ready to forgive and restore at any moment. Because this is the kind of God we worship, Joel says in Joel 2:21-23, “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! …Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God.”

When Paul said, in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord,” he was not coining a new phrase. He was simply quoting an Old Testament command that appears in Psalm 32, Psalm 64, Psalm 104, and here in Joel 2. The Hebrew word for rejoice has as its root meaning to shine or be bright. So, the exhortation to rejoice means to “brighten up.” Put on your happy face! Smile! Lift up your countenance. Why? Joel goes on to speak for God in 2:25. We should rejoice and be happy and smile and brighten up after repentance and turn back to God because God says, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,  my great army, which I sent among you.”

It took Michelangelo 5 years of lying on his back to produce his masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Within a century, no one remembered the bright, brilliant colors of the original work. In 1936, another painter, using a special solution, cleaned the frescoes for the first time. No one had imagined that beneath centuries of grime lay such vibrant colors. The complete restoration of the Sistine Chapel was completed in December of 1989. The result was breathtaking. For the first time in 500 years, people viewed the masterpiece the way it was intended, with all the color and beauty. This is what God does for the repentant soul. Jeremiah 30:17 says, “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD.”