(Reflections based on the book of Joel as a whole)
Yahweh is God, that is the meaning of the name Joel and as I read through the verses in this short book I begin to see how the meaning of Joel’s name connects to his personal calling. Joel’s mission was to make the people aware who has control over everything, the one true God, Yahweh. Joel’s uses the events of the locust plague and warns the Israelite people that the “day of the Lord” was coming and all who turn away will be destroyed. Joel in his best effort tries to get the people to open their hearts and minds to the truths of the message that God is all-powerful and trustworthy.
As I read these few chapters one verse really sent me a clear message of God’s power. Chapter 2:3 reads “Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.” The God who created what was made to be perfect (Eden) also has the power and authority to destroy and take away. Joel’s plea for the people to repent came from a deep personal understanding in his own heart of who God is, on God’s behalf Joel was calling them back into a covenant relationship with Yahweh.
I think Joel faced many of the same things that we face today; we have a generation of people that don’t even know who God is and for many they don’t want to know. We have a culture that focus on everything but the truths of the bible; people have chosen to do things for themselves, they have been raised into a culture that is self-serving. We like Joel need to be a part of the calling to bring people back to a faith in not just the next thing that is bigger and better, we need to be calling people to experience the heart change of the grace, mercy and love of our heavenly father.
(Reflections on the book of Hosea as a whole).
Hosea’s calling as a prophet unravels through a humanly painful experience that gives us a picture of God’s unconditional love for all his people through the living example of unfaithfulness in the marriage between Hosea and Gomer; a marriage that seemed “doomed” from the beginning. The experiences, the emotions and the actions that Hosea experienced would have brought any strong man to his knees; this was a special assignment from God. Hosea, called by God was made strong to be an example of the love, grace and mercy the Lord had for His people.
It might be that a relationship can withstand a single indiscretion of unfaithfulness and I have witnessed God’s power and healing love through the trials of a personal friend. When we read Hosea’s story and recount the continuous unfaithfulness of Gomer and God’s people we can reflect on how this same pattern was and still is active in the world today. Through Hosea we get a picture of who God is and His unchanging faithfulness. Chapter 3 gives us the beautiful picture of God’s redeeming grace and mercy “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” (NLT).
Through countless infractions we read of impending destruction, the turning change of heart because of the love God had for His people and chance given for people to return back to the Lord. Hosea’s call to bring the people back to God through these events is a call like no other. As I have been called to serve among God’s people I have to pray, trust and know that God is a pillar of faithfulness and that I must draw from that strength in my own life and ministry.
As I wade through the spectacular dreams of the kings and hear Daniels prophetic interpretations I can’t help but notice what the end result is in each scene, it’s something we like to call a conversion experience. We see a change of heart that leads King Nebuchadnezzar to “praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven” (4:37). King Belshazzar even though we don’t know if he turned hos heart to the Lord was used by God to make his presence known among the people. Through the events of the lion’s den King Darius makes a decree that all in his command are to “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” (6:26)
Daniel held some high positions in government and administration but God had given him the gifts of prophesy, interpretation and endurance as he fulfilled God plan to reach all the people through the dreams and visions of the kings. Daniel may have had influence within the courts of the king, it was God’s calling on Daniel’s life that led him to be in the presence of the kings as they were confused and unknowingly had God working in them to change. God had used Daniel to impact the lives of unbelieving rulers who in turn had the power and influence over the nations.
Are we like Daniel today? I have the privilege of being in a workplace that encourages spiritual growth and understanding. Like Daniel many of us today work in places that don’t consider faith and religion acceptable and yet through Daniels experiences we can have the hope that God will use us in ways we may not be able to imagine. When I reflect back on the time and space that God has used me in the past, He has opened the doors to many relationships that one day may bring people closer to him.
Thinking about the experience of God’s call to ministry in life has been in the forefront of my thoughts recently as I personally reflect on how that call unfolds in my life. When I think of Daniel in the Bible my mind typically recalls memories of the stories of Daniel in the lion’s den of the miraculous story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Today as I read with a specific purpose and look deeper into the life of Daniel I begin to get a glimpse of how he was called into service for the Lord.
Through the first few verses we are introduced to Daniel and his friends as they are being sought after by King Nebuchadnezzar as potential candidates to work in the palace as advisors to the king. Daniel was most likely from a family of royal or noble heritage, young and apparently “of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning and competent to stand in the king’s palace.”(1:4)
It would seem that Daniel had some good things going for him, what seems like a privileged upbringing, a continued higher education, and the potential of a position in the king’s palace. We also learn of the strong conviction Daniel had to be faithful to his upbringing in fulfilling the laws of his people. God had a plan for Daniel’s life. God brought him through life so far to be in this place, a place where he would be used to bring attention to the name of God. This was Daniels call; he was to be a prophet, one who God used to make His Word and self known among the people. God used Daniel to change lives. As a leader called by God I have the same responsibility, to make His name known among the people today. Reading the story of Daniel and experiencing his response to Gods call in his life is an encouragement and a challenge for me today.