Week of September 5, 2021 

SERIES: Return – The Book of Joel           

TITLE: Week 1 – “God, Plagues, and Pandemics”

Joel 1:1-20 


We kicked off our new series “Return: Back to God” this Sunday. This study through the Old Testament book of Joel is timely for our lives. Pastor Brian began this weekend by looking a “God, Plagues, and Pandemics.” Here is a summary of the message. 


  1. Return: Oh to return to God as a people…His people. 
  2. Joel 1:1-2 ESV “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?”
  3. Have you seen anything like this in your life? Or, in the days of your parents? 

THE PLAGUE: A Significant Event with Future Implications for Israel (Joel 1:1-4)

  1. This plague is unique. 
    1. Locusts aren’t unique. Swarms of locusts in season aren’t unique. But the devastation of this plague of locusts is unique. 
  2. 4 waves of locusts. 
    1. This feels relentless if you are living through it. 
    2. “4” – is an apocalyptic number.
      1. 4 world empires/beasts – Daniel 2 & 7 
      2. 4 Horsemen – Zechariah 1:8 and Revelation 6:1-8 
    3. Gazam – cutting locust.
    4. Arbeh -swarming locust.
    5. Yeleq – hopping locust.
    6. Hasil – destroying locust.
  3. How bad is it? 
    1. There is no wine in a land of vineyards. (Joel 1:5)
    2. A nation has come against us.  (Joel 1:6) 
      1. This is a literal nation – prophetic future for Jerusalem.
    3. Vines and Figs destroyed. (Joel 1:7) 
      1. God speaks of Judah as His vineyard often in judgement. (Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 15:1-8, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 13:6-9)
    4. Grain offerings and drink offerings cut off from the house of the Lord. (Joel 1:9) 
      1. These were commanded multiple times daily (Exodus. 29:38-46, Numbers 28:1-8). 
      2. This signifies the Covenant being annulled. Joel sees this as the day of the LORD. The worst thing that could happen.  
    5. Fields destroyed, vines dry up, all agriculture destroyed. (Joel 1:10-12) 
      1. There is no provision or economy. 
    6. The joy of the people has dried up completely. (Joel 1:12) 
  4. What to learn from this these verses: 
    1. The plague teaches the wrath of God is inescapable. (Joel 1:4)
      1. Amos 5:9 ESV “Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD. Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him…” 
    2. The plague foreshadows “the day of the Lord”. 
      1. The “ultimate” day of the Lord vs “the day of the Lord” 
        1. The ultimate day of the Lord is the apocalyptic, end-time event when the wrath of God is poured out on the earth and judgement ensues. 
        2. There are other “day of the Lord’ events like this locust plague in the Bible that cause a shift in history and turn people back to God. 
        3. This locust plague is that. It foreshadows (as we will see) the impending destruction of Jerusalem by a northern army (Babylon and Rome) 
        4. Joel 1:6 ESV “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.”
    3. Tell your children and grandchildren. (Joel 1:3) 
      1. This is not a new command. It’s how faith is passed on from generation to generation. 
        1. Exodus 12:24-27 – Tell them about God the deliverer in the Passover. 
        2. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – Tell them about God the promise giver. 
        3. Psalm 78:1-8 – Tell them about the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. 
        4. Joel 1:3 – Tell them about the wrathful God who judges his people with destruction. 


  1. God calls his people to the following: 
    1. Wake up you drunkards (self-indulgent people) – Joel 1:5.
    2. Everyone should lament (general population) – Joel 1:8.  
    3. Be ashamed tillers of the soil and vinedressers (agricultural workers) – Joel 1:11. 
    4. Repent and lament (priests, ministers, prophets) – Joel 1:13 & 14-20.
  2. Observation: 
    1. This pandemic we are living through is unique. It is multi-faceted. Who has seen anything like this in their lifetime or that of their parents? This is not just the land of Israel. This is global. Who is responsible for this? China? Natural? Satan? God?


  1. God is sovereign. 
    1. People like to try and protect God’s reputation. To clean Him up a bit. 
    2. Like this natural disaster. They say: But He can use it. Or, what Satan meant for evil, God will use for good. 
    3. Who is sovereign over the universe, the Earth, and everything in it? 
    4. Who has authority over Satan? 
    5. Who holds the kings of the Earth in His hands like a watercourse? 
  2. The Bible never teaches that God is a “passive observer” or powerless only to react to what is happening. God is sovereign over all. 
    1. Amos 3:6 ESV “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has done it?” 
  3. Question: But Why? 
    1. Is it sin? 
      1. Luke 13:4-5 ESV ““Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
        1. Which Jerusalemites are worse? Unless you repent, you too will perish. 
      2. Example of the blind man in John 9:2-3. The disciples asked – Is it because this man sinned or his parents sinned that he is blind? Jesus says, no, this happened so that the work of God could be displayed in his life. 
      3. Neither example is ascribed to accident or misfortune. One shows we all sin and need to repent. The other shows that suffering comes to people not because of sin but for the glory of God. 
    2. Is it Satan? 
      1. “God, for His own purposes so governs evil forces that the course of human history goes where he directs it.” – D.A. Garrett
  4. God is doing a work of grace we do not yet understand.
    1. Adam and Eve, Noah, Egypt, Wilderness, Jesus, Destruction of the Temple, the Great Pandemic…
    2. He is restoring all things.
    3. We are living through a pandemic that He is using to bring restoration. This is a “day of the Lord” event shifting the course of history in part so the people of God will listen and RETURN to Him and His way. In whole, to bring about the restoration of all things. 


  1. Where is our hope in all of this? 
    1. Joel 1:19 ESV “To you, O LORD, I call.” 


  1. The Christian response to plague and pandemic is both to fear God and to trust him. 
  2. It is to recognize that I too deserve the worst of what has happened to others and must remain constantly repentant. When tragedy does strike me, it is to realize that God is not necessarily pursuing me for some sin. He is working all things for His glory and our good. If we follow the example of Joel, then in suffering and hardship too, we must look for the hand of God.
  3. My only hope is Christ. (The wrath of God isn’t just in the Old Testament)
    1. Colossians 3:1-6 ESVIf then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”



Take time as you begin this week to encourage one another through sharing God moments and through prayer. We are bombarded with so much news, information, and challenges that can be discouraging. It’s important to find God working in and through our lives. It’s encouraging to share this with others. Take some time to share this week. 

  1. What are the “God moments” from this past week?  How have you seen God at work that is unmistakably Him? 
    1. How has He been working not just in your life personally, but in the lives of your family (spouse, kids, grandkids)? 
  2. How did God speak to you through His Word this past week? 
    1. How are you hearing and obeying? 
  3. How can we specifically pray for you this week? 

Pray as a group – thanking God for how He is at work and asking Him to answer the requests that were mentioned. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask and discuss the following questions.

Q: Read Joel 1:1-2. How does Joel begin? What does God call the reader to do in these first verses? 

Q: What was significant about the plague they were facing? 

Q: What was the result of the plague? How bad were things for the people? 

Q: How would you define the “day of the Lord” mentioned in Joel? How does this differ from the “ultimate” day of the Lord we see in the book of Revelation? 

Q: Read Joel 1:3. Why is it important to tell our children and grandchildren of who God is and what He has done, even in is wrath and judgement? How do you live this out in your family? 

Q: Read Joel 1:5-20. How did God call the people to respond to the plague? What actions did He call them to take?   

Q: Why do you think God caused the plague? What could this teach us about God?  

Q: Where does Joel say our hope comes from? How can we keep this truth as our focus in difficult times? 

Q: In our current pandemic, what purposes do you think God is working for His glory and our good?  


God is sovereign over all things. He is not a passive observer or powerless only to react to what is happening in our lives and world. We are to fear God and trust Him in all situations, especially in plague and pandemic. In times of trial and suffering, if we follow the example of Joel, we must look for the hand of God in it all. Use these final questions to think about how to apply what God has spoken to us this week to our lives. 

  1. What did you hear? 
    1. What is your one “take-away” from this week? How did God speak specifically to you through this week’s passage and study? 
  2. What do you think? 
    1. How did this passage and study affirm, challenge, or change the way you think about gathering in big and small ways? 
  3. What will you do? 
    1. What is your next step? How will you take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to your life this week?   

Close with prayer. 


  • Joel 1:1-20, Amos 5:9, Amos 3:6, Luke 13:4-5, Colossians 3:1-6

UPCOMING MESSAGES: “Return: Back to God” 

  • September 5 – “Plagues and Pandemics” (Joel 1:1-20)
  • September 12 – “Return to God” (Joel 2:1-17)
  • September 19 – “God will Restore (Joel 2:18-30)
  • September 26 – “A Glorious Future” (Joel 3:17-21)