Most Frightening Book
is the most frightening book in the Bible?
Many find Revelation and Daniel rather
frightening. But what about
the little book of Joel?
Joel prophesied a devastating attack by countless millions of
locusts devouring all vegetation in its path.
“What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has
eaten; what the swarming locust left, the creeping locust has eaten; and
what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.”
[Joel 1:4; NASB]. “Before
them the land is like the Garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste”
[Joel 2:3]. What graphic
language! Wasn’t Joel a
his words we are able to imagine a vast army of hungry locusts marching
into a lush green land, and leaving behind a desert without grass and
with all the trees bare of leaves, of fruit, and even bark.
Imagine all of Singapore brown and bare, without a single leaf or
blade of grass. Then
terrible famine spelling death to humans and animals alike.
Isn’t this frightening?
we remember Joel, we remember locusts.
You could call the opening passage, Joel 1:2-7, “Devastation by
locusts”. But isn’t
there much more than locusts in Joel? What does Joel talk
about from 1:8-12? “The
field are ruined, the ground is dried up [or mourns], the grain is
destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails….the vine is dried
up, and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the
apple tree – all the trees of the field – are dried up.”
Does all this not speak of “Devastation by drought”?
Like the locusts, the drought will be brought upon sinning and
that was the problem, wasn’t it? That
Israel was continuing to sin, without repentance?
Immediately after the frightening description of “Devastation
by locusts” and “Devastation by drought”, Joel offered Israel a
way to escape the terrible double scourges: “Put on sackcloth, O
priests, and mourn….Declare a holy fast.
Summon the elders and all who live in the land….cry out to the
Lord” [Joel 1:13 & 14]. In
fact, Joel is so moved that he himself calls out to God: “To you, O
Lord, I call” [Joel 1:19].
cries out because “Fire has devoured the open pastures, and flames
have burned up all the trees of the field.
Even the wild animals pant for you; and streams of water have
dried up”. Then he repeats what he has just said:
“fire has devoured the open pastures” [Joel 1:19 & 20].
Say, is this a third scourge: “Devastation by fire”?
Hmm, aren’t grass and bush fires common during drought?
given Joel’s wonderfully graphic language, could he have meant that
drought had devoured the open pastures and the trees of the field, like
fire? To answer this,
shouldn’t we study Joel’s style of writing, to see if he had ever
written in a way similar to using the imagery of fire to represent
study will show that Joel used the metaphor of fire to describe locusts,
not drought! He said that,
“they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming
stubble” [2:5]. But wait a
minute, isn’t the operative word “like”?
In 2:5 the locusts are like a fire, but in 1:19
& 20, Joel did not use the word “like” but said directly that
“fire has devoured the open pastures, and flames have burned
up all the trees of the field”.
So isn’t it more likely that Joel was referring to actual fire?
devastating waves of destruction, by a vast army of locusts, by drought
and by fire, coming to hit your country and cause perhaps hundreds of
thousands to die of starvation; wouldn’t you be frightened?
But remember, Joel called Israel to repentance, to escape all
these scourges [1:13 & 14]. And
in 2:12, we see God’s direct call to Israel to repent.
“Even now, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and
weeping and mourning”, God called.
This is immediately echoed and amplified by Joel in a long
passage, 2:13 – 32, detailing how God will respond to Israel’s
repentance with generous blessings.
threatened three terrible scourges, but He also called Israel,
repeatedly, to repentance to avoid the scourges.
Do we see a wrathful and merciless God in Joel, or a
merciful God ready to forgive?
Note: We want to thank Mickey Chiang for his ongoing contribution to
BTW. May God bless his ministry of writing!
Chapel on Wednesday, July 23rd, was taken by student Zhang Haidi. She
spoke of her spiritual journey and expressed thanks to God for the
blessings received from the university fellowship group that she joined.
to Mr & Mrs Timothy & Sharlene Lim on the arrival of their first
child, Matthew Lim on 14 July.
Dr Violet James, her mother, and
the rest of her family, on the Homegoing of her father, the late Dr G.
D. James, a well-respected Brethren leader. He was a faithful servant
and evangelist of God, a writer of devotional books, and founder of the
Asia Evangelistic Fellowship. He passed away on 24.7.03 in Sydney.
apologies for the non-appearance of this feature due to lack of space.
Once a month, when “Thinking Points” is featured, we shall take a
break from Good Books. If we may whet your book appetite a little, for
the next two weeks, Next week’s Good Books” is a triplet that is
having long gestation period
(two weeks): we hope you will enjoy a review of thee volumes on the
controversy surrounding the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. We shall be
reviewing books by Colin Gunton, William Rusch, and Catherine Mowry
LaCugna. For the week following that we shall look at several books on
the Inter-Faith Debate in view of the current interest in maintaining
A Reader’s Response - "I am on the mailing list of
BGST and read with delight your latest book review on Peanuts. I have
been, for many years, "learning" about the Lord through
Peanuts through the writings of Robert Short and also Abraham Twerski
(Twelve Steps and When Do The Good Things Start). I just wanted to tell
you how happy I was to read your Book Review to know that you (and I
could not find anyone else) enjoy Peanuts as a humorous mirror
reflection of ourselves in the Lord's eyes" (Seah Min Wai).
We continue our introduction of new students who have signed up for one
of our three study programmes. We want you to thank God with us for the
students whom God has sent to us. Do uphold them in your prayers and
pray for the Faculty team also that we may be able to look after both
their theological and spiritual formation.
Angeline Ong Kim Lian (for the Dip CS) worships at the Victory Family Centre.
She graduated from the National University of Singapore (BA) and
holds an executive position at the
Pioneer Electronics(s) Pte Ltd.
Tessie Setiabudi (for the Dip CS and M.Div) is from Indonesia and is a permanent resident
in Singapore. She is a
Training Specialist and Psychologist and holds degrees from the Sonoma
State University (BA) and the United. States International University in
San Diego, California (MA). Currently she is studying also at Hull
University, UK (MBA). She worships at the Wesley Methodist Church.
Pastor Song Yong Hak (for the MCS) is from Korea and a graduate from the Chonnam National
University, Gwangju (BA in Philosophy) and the Reformed Theological
Seminary, Seoul (M Div). He worships at the Zion Bible-Presbyterian
Church and was recommended to BGST by our alumnus serving in
Johannesberg, South Africa, Rev Samuel Kim.
Ralph Amirtharaj (for the Dip CS) is a permanent resident in Singapore.
He is a Database Administrator with Citibank and is a graduate of
the Coimbatore Institute of Technology (B Engineering) and the
Bharathidasan University (M. Engineering). He was baptised at a Prayer
House of the Assembly of God in India.
Anthony Tay will be on leave from 25 Jul to 6 Aug. If you need any
assistance, please refer to Serene or Kok Wee.
A BLESSED BIRTHDAY TO ...
Collin See 21/7
Pierre Fong 22/7
Dawn Yap Tien Ming 23/7
Philip Soh Tian Lye 24/7
Eunice Tham 25/7
Leonard Kok 26/7
Ng Li Shien 27/7
Wong Siew Ee 27/7
Mdm Chew Lee Khim 27/7