Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree; it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down; their branches are made white.
As I read about this invasion of locusts in Joel 1, I have to keep in mind the attack of the strong army that’s coming in chapter 2. In Joel 1:5, Joel looks at the people who didn’t see the locusts coming. They are people who like wine (which was one of the main things destroyed by the locusts in chapter 1). He tells them verses 5-7. In verse 5 he says, “Wake up, stupid drunks! You aren’t even paying attention to what’s going on!” But then in verses 6-7, he switches gears. He says that the point is not the locusts — the locusts are a mere shadow of the real substance. Verses 6-7 go like this, “This is about a nation coming to destroy you! It’s like a lion! It’s going to torch everything, worse than a locust can!” It’s like God is saying to me, “James, you are too drunk on yourself, entertainment, fashion, food, internet, working out, blogging, etc. that you don’t see the bigger picture! You think you have a locust problem. No, you have an opposing army problem that is about to destroy you worse than you ever thought possible.” Sin is different than sins. Most Christians think they have problem with sins. No, we all have a sin problem. Apart from Christ, we are nothing but sin.
And so I think about the election today. I think that God can use peculiar passages of Scripture like Joel 1:5-7 to communicate his heart in an election. God is saying, “This election, it’s like a locust invasion. And there are people who are too drunk to even realize what’s going on. There are other people who see it, but are too drunk to realize that this is not about locusts. It’s about something worse. The locusts foreshadow the invasion of real army who will murder you.” This election is simply a shadow of a bigger problem. A lot of Christians think the world is going to end because a certain man might get into the White House. Other people think that that same dude is the Antichrist (which makes me laugh).
Obama-Biden is not the problem. Heck, one or both of them might come to truly know Jesus in the next four years! (I bet you haven’t thought about that, have you?) The problem is not the locusts. It’s the destructive army. It’s me. I’m the army that will destroy myself. My own geographical territory (i.e. my soul) is laid to waste because I’m a sinner. In Joel, the locusts and the army were punishment for sin. They are allusions to the greater spiritual reality that the sin we so flippantly commit is destructive in our lives.
Christians worry about Barak Obama ruining America. Where is your allegiance? It should be to the eternal government of Heaven, ruled by Christ. That’s a bigger concern for me! Who cares if America is ruined? I don’t. (Please, nobody leave a comment or send an email saying that I’m an idiot for wanting America to die or don’t care about this country or don’t care about abortions or that I’m an anarchist. None of those are true and I won’t respond to you anyway.)
My concern is with the church. Who is the biggest problem for the church? Who is the one who could potentially tear it apart? Who is the one that will divide a local church family. It’s not Barak Obama. It’s not Joe Biden. It’s not Nancy Pelosi. It’s not Howard Dean. It’s James Pruch and everyone reading this that loves Jesus.
Outsiders don’t tear apart the church. Insiders do. Paul talked about this in 1 Corinthians 5, in the context of sexual immorality. Who were the problems in the Corinthian church? Insiders. Who were the ones grossed out by what Christians were doing? Outsiders. Who were the ones suing each other and ripping each other off and not calling out sin in each other lives? Insiders. The insiders were the problem.
We are the problem, not Barak Obama or any other politician. We think we have a locust problem. It’s bigger than that. A lot bigger than that. It was so big, it cost Jesus his life. We have a large army on the way and a lot of us are too drunk to see it coming. Praise God that he has provided a way through his Son! O that we would see beyond the swarm of locusts today and to the destructiveness our own selves bring everyday.