Posts tagged Repentance
Joel: A Plague of Locusts {DWITW 365}




We don’t like to find these concepts in the pages of Scripture. We cringe inside and skim over the passages that chronicle the details of God’s righteous judgment on His people. If I’m being honest a plague of locusts doesn’t seem very “nice,” and it makes me cringe inside to think that this type of buggy encounter would be brought about by God himself.

When I was young, my parents served as missionaries in West Africa. We lived in a rural village made up almost entirely of subsistence farmers. A subsistence farmer is a farmer who farms their own food purely for self-sufficiency. Their job from sun up to sun down is merely to grow the crops that sustain their own families. The men and boys spent long, hot days in the dirt fields coaxing their crops of millet to grow in order to sustain their family for the next year. The women spent the day working with the grain - removing it from the stalk, blowing the chaff in the wind, grinding the seeds into flour (many did this by hand). Finally, the women would make the flour into millet cakes or porridge for each family member to have a small portion of food each day.

The sound of the locust’s wings caused a dull hum of treachery, but the worst noise of all was the sound of the locusts eating the crops. All of them.

Now imagine in a context like that, the day the locusts come. A cloud formed in the distance and its ominous darkness gets closer and closer. The locusts are large, the length of a human thumb and they’re fat with all the millet they had already consumed. The thing was in this situation, the cloud did not just pass over with ominous darkness. Instead, the bugs one by one landed on everything and destroyed anything in the wake. The sound of the locust’s wings caused a dull hum of treachery, but the worst noise of all was the sound of the locusts eating the crops. All of them. When they finished, they all rose up as one and moved onto the next town to devastate the crops found there. And by the end of it all, nothing was left. Everything was destroyed. Devastated. Dead. Gone. The silence that settled over each town post-ravishing was worse than the hum of the locusts.

After having seen the devastation locusts can bring, I will never read Joel’s words the same again. I cannot skim over these few short chapters unscathed. My breath catches in my throat as I hear God’s judgment on the Israelites described as a plague of locusts.

We don’t like these concepts of death and destruction because they simply aren’t pretty. We don’t frame verses and quotes from these prophets and hang them in our homes. We don’t want to hear about the sad state of the consequences of an unrepentant heart. However, when we skim over these words, we are doing ourselves a major disservice. We need to instead read this portion of the Word and then weep. We need to feel the destruction, the hum of the locusts, the sickening sound of them eating away at our livelihoods. We need to understand that our sin does the same thing - it descends like an ominous cloud, consumes our entire livelihood, and steals life. Sin destroys not only our life here on earth, but also our relationship with God. It rises without a second notice, leaving only destruction and devastation behind it. And when we understand the full weight of this, we should weep. We stand in a shocked silence that awakens within us the core need: to repent. We need to Repent and Believe. Not just believe and reap the glorious, wonderful benefits. But first, we must repent. Repent and be aware of the choices that we make that can lead to destruction. Then, we can understand even deeper the beautiful words that come in Joel 2:12- 14:


“Even now-
this is the Lord’s declaration-
turn to me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping and mourning.
Tear your hearts,
not just your clothes
and return to the Lord your God.
For he is gracious and compassionate
slow to anger, abounding in faithful love,
and he relents from sending disaster.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave a blessing behind him,
so you can offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God.”


Suzanne Hines wants to live in a world where sunflowers bloom in eternal summer, where her children play instead of argue and where her family has an endless budget for travel. When she's not loving her husband, training and teaching her three children, and spreading education on the foster care system, you can find her writing, reading or running outside!

Her favorite Scripture is Romans 12:12 " joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer..." (NIV)

The Call to Return {DWITW 365}

The words of Hosea are still fresh in my mind from the DWITW summer study as I dip my toes into the writings of contemporary prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet sent to the southern kingdom of Judah prior to the Babylonian exile. The familiar language of adultery and faithlessness brings to my mind all the warnings and sufferings that Hosea voiced to the Israelites in the northern kingdom leading up to their exile to Assyria. In chapter 3, Jeremiah is told to make a proclamation to the exiled northern tribes of Israel:


Go, proclaim these words to the north, and say,
‘Return, unfaithful Israel.
This is the Lord's declaration.
I will not look on you with anger,
for I am unfailing in my love.
This is the Lord's declaration.
I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt —
you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You have scattered your favors to strangers
under every green tree
and have not obeyed me.
This is the Lord's declaration.

- Jeremiah 3:12-13 (CSB)

Though Israel had forgotten her true Husband and covenant Love, though she had pursued lifeless idols and foreign Baals, though she had been torn apart and devastated by the Lord’s righteous anger, she was not without hope. She was not forgotten. In this text, the Lord still calls her to return to Him with reminders of His unfailing love and reassurance that He will not be angry forever. Israel needed only to recognize and admit that she was guilty - guilty of rebellion, of idolatry, and of breaking her vows to her God.

Three times the Lord calls faithless Israel to return to Him (3:12, 3:14, 3:22). The third call is paired with a promise to heal Israel of unfaithfulness, a promise to mend the broken places within her. We, too, carry these broken places - places where we have sought out something other than the Lord to satisfy. We can be devastatingly forgetful and faithless, just like Israel.

There is redemption and life for you beyond what this fading world has to offer. 

I can see my own reflection in Israel’s missteps - in how I’ve bartered my love to feel less alone, in how I’ve pursued a pretty lie instead of a harsh truth, in how I’ve filled emptiness with fleeting comforts. I am all too guilty of forgetting the God who has performed great wonders of the heart and freed me from my enslavement to sin and self. By His grace and kindness, He allows me to see my own guilt and witness the ugly that faithlessness it breeds. And in that same grace and kindness, Christ came for me - knowing everything I have been and will be. Despite every idolatrous act I’ve ever committed and every loveless word I’ve ever spoken, He ransomed me from death and redeemed me from utter destruction by enduring them Himself. He took on all the pain, devastation and suffering, all to make a way for me to return to the holy God who is worthy of all my affections.

The call to return is for you too! The call is to turn from the things that have drawn you away, to return to the Lord, and to find healing and completeness in His arms alone. The way has been made. It is finished, sisters. There is redemption and life for you beyond what this fading world has to offer. Our salvation is found only in God. And through Christ, His wrath has been satisfied. His unfailing love stands waiting for us. What holds you back?


 Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.

One of her favorite Scriptures is:“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV