23 O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. 24 The threshing-floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. 27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
28 Then afterwards I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Devotion by Anne Mooney
Once upon a time there was a time of scarcity in the land of the Hebrews. Locusts invaded the land and ate all the crops. The people were hungry and anxious. They were afraid. Then God sent rain and the locusts went away and the land was full of plenty. The people were glad and praised God. They remembered the greatness of God and dreamed dreams of an abundant future full of God’s wonders. And God blessed those who spoke of God’s glory and lived lives of faithfulness.
Many years later there was a time of sadness for a small group of Hebrews who had experienced the loss of a trusted and respected rabbi and friend, Jesus. This band of followers met together during the Festival of Weeks to pray and commiserate. While they were gathered, a great wind blew through and tongues of fire appeared above the heads of those praying. Suddenly, instead prayers of grief, those who were gathered were filled with the Spirit of God. They began to prophesy and speak about God’s glory and all who heard them were filled with wonder because they heard them in their own language. Then Peter, the Rock, reminded the crowd of the words of the prophet of Joel who had written about the time of the locusts many years before. Peter reminded the people that God had given them the gift of Jesus and now they were full of God’s spirit and were called to testify to God’s greatness and to lives of faithfulness.
These stories remind me of times in my own life when I was delivered and later filled with joy and the spirit of God. I once owned a business with a partner that I did not enjoy. Everyday my heart was filled with dread and fear, but I could not see my way out of the business or the crumbling relationship. When God finally stepped in and did for me what I could not do for myself, I found my life transformed and my spirit was uplifted.
Time and time again the Bible shares stories with us about people living through times of distress, disaster, grief, and fear. Yet time and time again God demonstrates mercy, love, as God delivers people from whatever holds them captive. When we find this happening in our own lives, we become living proof of God’s power and glory as we share our stories of faith.
Dear God, Thank you for always watching over us and bringing us through times of struggle. Amen.