Rev. Fr. (Dr) Anthony Mario Ozele, PhD
HOW WILL THE LORD RESTORE THE YEARS?
If we will repent of our sin, God promises to “repay you for the locusts have eaten”. But how would the Lord restore you: what should we expect when He restores the years that the Locusts hast eaten? Well, again our text does not spell it out, but the context does.
The first effect of the LORD’s restoration of the years is that gloom will turn to joy dramatically. Now, in the case of the locust invasion, the LORD’s restoration affected the land and the animals. So Joel, in a figurative way, calls upon the land and the animals to be glad and to rejoice (v. 21-22). The LORD’s restoration will be so dramatic that it is unthinkable that anything touched would not rejoice. Even the land and the animals will, as it were, rejoice!
How much more the children of God, when God sends the rain and restore the years that the locust has eaten (v. 23-25). This is the firstthing we must do, or rather, WILL DO, when the LORD restores us. We will rejoice and be glad. The Lord will chase away our gloom. The LORD will give us reason again to know we are blessed of Him.
Secondly, when God restores, we shall be satisfied. Happiness has begun because we will be satisfied (v.26). “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” says David (Ps 23:1). “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” says Paul (Phil 4:11). When the LORD restores, our needs and desires are fully met. The fact that we do not always feel it to be so, does not make it any less true. Today our sin prevents us from enjoying full satisfaction. But one day God will remove our sin, and we shall be perfectly satisfied.
Thirdly, when the LORD restores, you will praise His name because you will know that He has dealt wondrously with you (v. 26). You will see His hand clearly. Your eyes will be opened to see it. It is so because when God gives contentment, it comes not only with the provision of needs, but a work of grace in the heart.
Fourthly, when the LORD restores, you will no more be ashamed. Like the unnamed woman who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears, you will no longer need to feel shame again. Notice how Joel repeats that twice: “and my people shall never be ashamed” (v.27). Sin makes us shameful. When we sin, we will try to cover ourselves with every means at our disposal. We will sew fig leaves; we will hide in the bushes. We will hope against hope that no one will discover our sin. But when God forgives and restore, we need not be ashamed every again.
When we harbor sin in our heart, our knowledge of God is marred. We behold Him as a God of wrath. We dare not go to Him. Like a child who has offended his father, we try to hide from Him and we think that He is going to punish us. But when we repent, God restores. He restores us to our former joy. He gives us again a fresh assurance of His covenant love for us. He makes us go to Him as our loving heavenly Father who is ready to bless us with all heavenly blessings. He makes us enjoy His fellowship again.
WHY DOES GOD RESTORE? He restores us in order to:
- Show us His love, His care, and His concern. Mark 1:35-41, 1 Pet 5:7, Ps 55:22
- Replace what the enemy has stolen, killed and destroyed with something better and bigger. John 10:10, Is 58:12, Ps 147:3
- Empowers us to fulfill His purpose in life. Ps 118:17 & 24, Is42:8, III John 2.
- Advertise His glory and honour to the outside world through us.
God is in the restoration business and delights in seeing his people put back together again. Life is often hard and the enemy of our souls does everything in his power to make sure our eyes are not fixed on the Lord. If he can detract us long enough, he knows we are more apt to fall. God is for us and not against us.
Is Nigeria Too Far Gone? Cannot God Restore Nigeria Also?
Is the situation hopeless? Can the Lord not cure our nation’s wounds? He did so for Israel! To Nigeria and all nations, God still says,“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again…” (Jeremiah 31:3). To wicked Israel the Lord said, “I am with you and will save you, ‘declares the LORD. ‘ Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished” (Jeremiah 30:11).
Israel suffered an incurable wound of sin! But there remained a people in Israel who engaged their heart to approach the Lord. To these people He said, “I will bring him near and he will come close to me” (Jeremiah 30:21). God healed Israel’s incurable wound and saved a nation already under judgment! He restored it and built the city on its own heap! He multiplied and blessed them, and “Their children will be as in days of old” (Jeremiah 30:20).
God could restore Nigeria the same way He did Israel! He could heal the wasted years if He had a people engaged in seeking Him! He could wipe out all the years of wickedness and restore and rebuild! Scripture says, “God will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they ransomed him [Israel] from the hand of him that was stronger than he” (Jeremiah 31:11). And He can do the same thing to Nigeria! Yes, there is still hope. But time is running out. Pray that God will draw us to Himself and spare this nation.
The prophecy of Joel anticipates the Great Day of the LORD. That day will be a day of judgement for the impenitent as well as a day of vindication and restoration for the children of God who fear the LORD. But let us remember that although prefect restoration. We will begin to experience his restoration of the years that the locusts have eaten as soon as we begin to repent of our sin for which the Lord sends the Locusts. Remember that the restoration is not merely a physical and temporal one, but spiritual and eternal restoration.
May the Lord grant us the grace to keep from despair and cynicism when faced with a plague of locust. May He grant us the assurance of restoration, and therefore an impetus to return back to Him! Amen.