One definition of the word promise is a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.

The picture above shows a common childhood type of promise known as the pinky swear.

  • How many of your childhood promises have you kept?
  • How about as an adult?
  • When is the last time you made a promise?
  • Did you keep that promise?
  • When is the last time someone made a promise to you?
  • Have they kept that promise?

Read Joel 2:25

ESV  Joel 2:25 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.

In the context of the book of Joel this verse is a promise directly from the Lord to the Judeans who had been suffering from a locust infestation.

Biblical scholars point out that the word we translate to “restore”, “repay”, or “make up to” is found elsewhere in the Bible in legal contexts that pertain to restitution for a loss of property or life.

Consider the following examples:

ESV  Exodus 21:33-34 “When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his.

ESV  Exodus 21:35-36 “When one man’s ox butts another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and share its price, and the dead beast also they shall share. 36 Or if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall repay ox for ox, and the dead beast shall be his.

For more examples see Exodus 22:1-15.

The examples from Exodus all involve rules for restoration between fellow humans that were supplied from the Lord through Moses for the Israelites.

Now in Joel, the Lord states He will legally bind himself to providing restoration to the Judeans from the damage that was done by the successive hordes of locusts that have ruined the food supply.

The Lord, the great I AM, promises, “I will restore”.

Lest we forget, this verse also reminds us that the Lord openly claims responsibility for having sent the locust army that has caused such great suffering and anguish for the Judeans in the first place.

Do you remember why the Lord sent the locust army initially?

Read Joel 2:12-13 again:

ESV  Joel 2:12-13 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

The implication leading up to the Lord offering a legally binding promise to restore the damage that had been done by the locusts He sent was that the Judeans’ hearts had not been faithful in relationship with Him.

He sent the locusts to wake up the Judeans that He desires relationship with them.

He sent the locusts to discipline them for having neglected their relationship with Him.

He sent the locusts so that He could demonstrate His powerful grace and love once His people returned to Him with all their hearts.

Read Joel 2:25 again:

ESV  Joel 2:25 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.

Biblical scholars debate why the word year is plural in the original text. Some argue that the locust infestation must have happened for several years in a row. Others argue that even one season’s crops being devoured by locusts would result in more than one year’s loss of foodstuffs.

Whichever argument you lean towards the bottom line is the Lord promises to restore whatever loss He has sent your way.

His promise is legally binding and all-encompassing no matter what you have suffered.

If you are struggling with a loss right now, no matter what the loss is or how long you have suffered, do you trust the Lord’s promise to restore you?

Keep in mind the Lord’s promise of restoration is all encompassing and based on a relationship with Him.

Are you faithful in your relationship with Him?

Have you considered that the difficulties in your life may be there to help keep you reliant on Him?

Yes, sometimes the difficulties in our life are not sent from the Lord.

But remember the words from Joseph:

ESV  Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

In Joseph’s case, the Lord allowed Joseph’s brothers to mistreat and sell Joseph into slavery because the Lord was working to bring Joseph into a place of being able to provide food to those same brothers years later.

In this year of 2020 all of us have had an increased stress load due to unprecedented circumstances.

Do you believe the Lord’s promises to the Judeans in Joel are still valid today?

Can the Lord restore to us what we have recently lost?

I believe He can and will.

What that restoration promise looks like may not be what we expect but it will be abundantly life giving and timely.

May the Lord instill a deep confident faith in Him no matter what you have faced this year or may face in the future.

We may not always understand what He is doing but scripture and history affirms He is working according to His promise to restore humanity to a right relationship with Him.


Barbara Lynn

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