How do you respond to breaking new?
From the coronavirus, tornados in Nashville, to election coverage we’re inundated today with a variety of headlines from around the globe through a variety of media sources.
Titles of breaking news are written to get your attention. This isn’t a new practice. In Old Testament times messages were also written with intent to capture an audience’s attention.
Consider Joel 1:1-2
The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? (Joe 1:1-2 ESV)
In verse 1 Joel briefly tells the readers the message being shared comes from the LORD. Right away this communicates to those who belong to the LORD that something important is to follow. *
What source do you trust for breaking news?
What news source do you consistently pay attention to? Social Media posts? Internet searches? CNN? NPR? A local newspaper?
Why is this the news source you choose to get information on breaking news?
How do these news sources get your attention? Flashy titles? Short excerpts? Editorial opinions? Graphics?
How do you know the news source you gravitate towards provides contextual facts in their reporting?
Have you ever thought about this before?
What does Joel do next to continue garnering attention?
Verse 2 calls Joel’s readers to “hear this ” and “give ear”.
What picture appears in your mind when you read those phrases?
Someone with a megaphone speaking to a crowd?
Maybe an instructor in a classroom stressing key points they want students to remember?
Who does Joel say should listen to this message?
Joel speaks to both elders and all the inhabitants of the land. He’s being specific and generic at the same time. But who does Joel mean by elders? Are these the governing officials of the community or simply those who are advanced in years? The next sentence from the passage provides insight here.
Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
Joel is asking the community, on behalf of the LORD, to consider whether what is happening in their community has ever happened either in their own life or their ancestors. This communicate to me that he’s not talking to ruling elders but those who are advanced in age when he sets apart the elders in verse 2. The LORD wants everyone to consider current events in comparison to their previous experiences.
Why would the LORD send this instruction to Joel’s community?
It will be easier to answer this question as we continue studying the book of Joel but what immediately strikes you as you consider this call to reflection in relation to current events of today?
Do you stay up to date on current events just so you have something to chat about during “small talk”?
Are you overly obsessed with or easily panicked by current events?
As for me, I intentionally limit how much time I spend with news media. I discovered in my late teens that if I read, listen, or watch news media too frequently that I begin to struggle with depression. When I do interact with any form of news media I pray for discernment and wisdom to see what God wants me to learn or apply.
How can these first two verses of Joel help you process current events today?
I’d love to hear from you!
*Also see my post Names and Their Meaning for more thoughts about what Joel 1:1 communicates.
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