Joel gives us both the bad news of Godʼs judgment and the good news of his promised deliverance, and there is plenty of tension between the two, isn’t there, they arefurious opposites.
Both the judgment and the promise remind us of this balance, this tension, of our desperate need for Godʼs help. The judgment that our sins deserve is far worse than a plague of locusts referenced in chapter one, and the promise of the Holy Spirit reminds us that the help we need is nothing less than supernatural. We are so ill-equipped to take care of this ourselves that the help we need is supernatural, not man made.
Here is the Gospel in Joel – Through the ministry of Jesus Christ, the requirements of judgment and of supernatural provision have both been met.
Jesus took upon himself the plague and place of judgment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5.21)and then promised (John 14.16) and provided (Acts 2) the gift of the Holy Spirit.
How do we balance the good and evil, how do we balance the idea that God is righteous and holy and cannot tolerate sin and therefore take action with a God of mercy, of love, of forgiveness, or compassion, and of love? How do we balance the righteous requirements of justice and judgement with the deep desire to forgive and love that sparks this?
G.K. Chesterton said this,
Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.
See, no matter how much evil there is in the world, no matter how far from God we think we may be, no matter how desperate the situation may be in which we find ourselves, no matter the world-ending power that is encapsulated in the wrath of God, God has already provided the solution, God has already provided a way out, and He came, He lived, He died, He rose again, and He ascended, at which time He sent another, another helper, the Holy Spirit to come alongside us, to abide in us, to walk with us.
All of this is reconciled in the person and the work of Jesus.
He took upon Himself the sins of the entire world, we are not denying that sin or evil do not exist, that they are mere facets or our imagination, but we are saying that God loves you so much that He took action, personally, to redeem you from this, to save you from it, ultimately and eternally, that He struck the perfect balance in the person and work of Jesus.