When have you felt overwhelmed?

What triggered the feeling of being overwhelmed?

  • An overpacked work schedule?
  • Too many social engagements?
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one?
  • Losing a job?
  • A personal health crisis?
  • Global challenges such as Covid-19, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.?
  • A combination of any of the above?

Any of the above and more can trigger feelings of being overwhelmed even in the most steadfast personalities.

Now have you ever considered how you might react if you saw a mighty heavenly army coming towards you?

Today our study of Joel describes how overwhelmed the people are at the appearance of the Lord’s army.

Consider these three different translations of the original Hebrew:

ESV  Joel 2:6 Before them peoples are in anguish; all faces grow pale.

NET  Joel 2:6 People writhe in fear when they see them. All of their faces turn pale with fright.

NIV  Joel 2:6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.

What can we learn from these three translations regarding the reaction to the approaching Lord’s army?

Anguish can be defined as extreme pain, distress, or anxiety.

Do you agree that someone in anguish might writhe in fear as the NET translation states?

All three translations indicate the people or nations faces turn pale. The NET explicitly states this paleness represents their fear of what they are seeing.

What have we learned prior to Joel 2:6 that explains this reaction of being overwhelmed with fear?

  • This writing is a message directly from the Lord through His prophet Joel.
  • The Lord indicated in chapter one that He sent the locust infestation to wake up the people.
  • Chapter one also indicated  that the proper response to their circumstances was to cry out to the Lord in mourning.
  • Now in chapter two the Lord compares the locust infestation to a future day when He will come in clouds of darkness and a consuming fire.
  • The Lord says no one can escape this day that is coming.

Why has the passage stopped describing the Lord’s invading army to pause and highlight the reaction of the Judeans and by extension us today of the Lord’s approach?

All along the Lord has been describing through Joel the extent of His power.

He has the power to bring an army, whether through natural causes such as locusts, use of foreign human armies, or His own heavenly armed forces.

At this point in Joel we are being told the people of Judea are finally waking up to the reality that they are not in control. They are powerless at this point to resolve their situation because it is the Lord Himself who has orchestrated their circumstances.

Why did the Lord send these circumstances?

The frequent comments that people need to wake up and listen imply the Judeans have been neglecting their relationship with the Lord.

Why is He warning that He is coming at the Judeans with his full militaristic capacity?

Again, the implication is that He is coming in judgement because the Judeans have neglected their relationship with Him.

How does all this apply to us today?

My take on Joel up to this point is that we need to understand and accept that the Lord is the one in control, not us.

We also need to accept and respond to Him when He sends His prophets to communicate His instructions.

Thankfully, in addition to the Old Testament scripture we have the glorious news of our Messiah, Jesus Christ’s completed act of salvation on our behalf.

This hope can carry us through the times when we feel most overwhelmed.

Spend time this week listening to this song, Even If, by Mercy Me.

  • And remember, if you are struggling take time to get alone with the Lord and tell Him.
  • He wants to hear from you.
  • He wants to show you His power, not to frighten you, but to remind you that He has the power to save You.

We will learn more about how the Lord will save the Judeans and us as we continue our studies.


Barbara Lynn

P.S. A huge thank you to all who have lifted me up in prayer and encouraged me this past week.

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