What are portents?

Signs or omens that foreshadow a coming event.

What are superstitions?

A belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

Why is it important to know the difference between portents vs. superstitions?

From Genesis 9:12 to Revelation 15:1 I found 90 verses that use the word “sign” to reference either a covenant being made by the Lord or to what will precede His arrival at a time of judgment of all nations.

Other verses throughout both Old and New Testaments describe the signs that will precede His final day of judgment.

Read Joel 2:31

ESV  Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Today we have been able to discern scientifically what an eclipse is doing and even to predict when they will occur.

Out of context, Joel 2:31 appears to be describing what happens during a lunar eclipse known as a “blood moon”.

Lunar eclipses are a natural phenomenon that happens in a predictable pattern.

Almanac.com states: for centuries, a “total eclipse of the Moon” has inspired mythology, folklore, songs, and even movies. (Watch out for the werewolves!) 

In context of the book of Joel, what is Joel 2:31 indicating?

Joel 1:1 tells us that it is a message from the Lord through His prophet Joel.

Joel 1:2-2:11 describe in detail the sufferings the Judeans had been experiencing: multiple locust infestations causing severe famine followed by drought and even fire.

Joel 2:12-17 reveals a possibility of hope to the community if they would only return wholeheartedly to their relationship with the Lord.

Joel 2:18-27 describe the Lords response to their implied return to relationship with him in the sense of His promising to restore abundantly to them all they had lost materially in food and their agricultural-based economy.

Joel 2:28-29 announce the Lord’s plan to pour out His Spirit on all people who serve Him regardless of age, gender, or social status.

Now in Joel 2:30-31 we are told about a variety of signs that will precede the arrival of a great and dreadful day known as the Day of the Lord.

Blood, fire, columns of smoke, a darkened sun and a bloody moon will precede the Lord’s time of final judgment.

These signs are happening either in heaven or on earth at the same time.

Lunar eclipses can last up to four hours and do not typically include blood, fire and columns of smoke being present.

We are not given a time frame in Joel 2:30-31 how long the portents will be present.

The sense I get is that these signs will not be expected or predictable like we currently do.

We will be surprised when this happens.

Why is the Lord sharing the description of these portents in Joel?

Consider 2 Peter 3:9:

ESV  2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Remember it is implied by the sharing of the promises of material restoration and spiritual blessings from Joel 2:18 to today’s verse that the first audience of Joel had returned wholeheartedly back into a worshipful and right relationship with the Lord.

The Lord is giving His servants information that is to encourage them and prepare them for the day He has set for final judgment.

When is the day of final judgment?

Consider Matthew 24:36 and 44:

ESV  Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

The Lord wants His servants to be ready.

As we continue forward into the first month of 2021 are you wholeheartedly serving the Lord in a way that indicates to Him that you are ready for His arrival?

What things might you do differently today if you expected His arrival in the next moment, day, week, month, or longer?

Read again 2 Peter 3:9:

ESV  2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The Lord will not hasten to come in final judgment on earth until all whom He calls reach repentance.

Hold on to this hope!

This is a portent to rejoice in not a superstition to fear.

What else would you add to the discussion about portents vs. superstitions?


Barbara Lynn

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