Thunderstorms

How do you respond to thunderstorms?

When my husband and I first moved to South Carolina we had to transition our dog, Dutch, to apartment living. Dutch was used to having over ½ an acre to roam prior to this adjustment. He appreciated affection but mostly liked some space between himself and others.

Then one night after we had gone to bed, a thunderstorm occurred. At the first crack of thunder Dutch jumped onto our bed to get in between us. He stayed there until the storm had passed, trembling the entire time.

Until that moment, we had no idea how deeply scared of thunderstorms Dutch had been.

As we continue our study in the book of Joel  today, we come to a verse that describes something more frightening than a common thunderstorm.

ESV  Joel 2:2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.

Leading up to this verse we learned that the Lord sent a message through the prophet Joel to get the attention of the people in Judah.

ESV  Joel 1:2 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?

Chapter 1 of Joel describes a serious locust infestation that destroyed the agricultural landscape resulting in a serious famine for all. It also details that the appropriate response to their circumstances should be to gather in sackcloth and mourning before their Lord.

Now as we transition to the second chapter, we begin to see that the Lord is doing more than telling the Judeans to seek him about the famine they are experiencing. He is sounding an alarm and telling them they should tremble!

Why?

Joel 2:1 indicated the alarm was to announce the day of the Lord is coming. Then building from the devastation the locusts caused described in chapter 1, verse 2 begins describing what this day of the Lord will be like.

Read verse 2 again:

ESV  Joel 2:2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.

Also consider this translation:

NAS  Joel 2:2 A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.

In looking at the original Hebrew language for this verse it is interesting to note that the term the ESV translates as “blackness” has been translated as “as the dawn” instead in the NAS.

  • How is this possible?
  • Does it matter for our understanding of this verse?

Hebrew is a consonantal language which traditionally had no written vowels. A method of vowel pointing was created by the Masoretes in the latter part of the 1st century to preserve the oral tradition of Hebrew. (Check out this text to learn Biblical Hebrew).

The Hebrew consonants used for both “blackness” and “as the dawn” are identical. The vowel pointing is what changes which word one might be using.

  • The argument for using vowel points that would yield the word “blackness” is related to the maintaining the intense negative context of the passage.
  • The argument for using vowel points that would yield the phrase “as the dawn” is related to the startling and sudden arrival of the advancing attack just as the sun can “suddenly” appears over the mountains in the morning.

Now read Joel 2:1-2 together in both ESV and NAS translations:

ESV  Joel 2:1 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.

NAS  Joel 2:1 Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, 2 A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.

My personal preference is the visual imagery of the dawn being suddenly broken with the appearance of a massive army approaching. It just feels more poetic to me.

  • But both translations have merit in my mind.
  • Both communicate the announcement of pending judgment from the Lord effectively.
  • Neither distracts from the intent of this message.

Joel 1 tells the Judeans to listen and wake up to their current circumstances as a precursor to what is now announced in Joel 2:1-2 with a trumpet call of alarm and disturbing thunderstorm like sudden appearance of an army swiftly approaching.

This would certainly cause me to tremble and be alarmed!

How can these thunderstorm verses help us today?

God sent His message through Joel with an expectation of a response.

God sent His message through Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so forth with an expectation of a response.

Yes, the verses under scrutiny today describe a terrible day of future judgment that should cause us to tremble in fear.

There is a solution that will be presented later in Joel and other scriptures but today let me challenge you to ponder yet again the need to hear what the Lord is saying.

ESV  Revelation 3:3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

  • He wants you to remember His words.
  • He wants you to remember His deeds.
  • He wants you to be alert!
  • He wants you to repent!
  • He wants you to seek relationship with Him.

Why?

  • Because He wants a relationship with you!
  • Because He wants you to have a strong faith!

What circumstances are you facing that you need to wake up to and see God’s call to hear, listen, tell, repent, or sound an alarm about?

Remember when studying difficult passages like we are in Joel that they are written for our benefit.

If the Lord did not care about His creation, He would not have provided the scripture we are studying together. Hold on to this fact as we continue to work our way through the next several verses together.

And to give you some additional encouragement this week spend some time listening to this song: Eye Of The Storm – [Lyric Video] Ryan Stevenson

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

P.S. As I worked on the content for this post a thunderstorm was in progress. How appropriate! 😊

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One Reply to “Thunderstorms”

  1. Today’s lesson brought to mind Hosea 6:1. At this moment I cannot quote it correctly, but I know that it is a verse that gives me assurance.
    Thank you for providing this study.

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