There are many characteristics of God, and one of them is that He is just – not only with us, but throughout the Bible we see how God punished His people and then promised to restore them. In this week’s story, Judah was facing a punishment from God, and Joel warned them that an even greater day of judgment was coming. With this day coming, he told the people of Judah they needed to repent because God would rather forgive His people than punish them. Follow along with this devotion, which you can walk through with your family in 10-15 minutes one night this week or review it in 3-5 minutes over the course of the week.
KEY VERSE – DAY ONE:
Review the key verses and hand motions for this unit with your children.
“And the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, has been born for you in the city of David.’” – Luke 2:10-11
“Yahweh is good, and his love endures forever. His faithfulness endures through all the generations.” – Psalm 100:5
BIG PICTURE QUESTION – DAY ONE:
Ask your children the Big Picture Question for this unit: What is God like? God is slow to anger, merciful, and loving.
MAIN POINT – DAY ONE:
Share with your children that this week’s main point is God warned His people to repent before the Day of the Lord.
BIBLE PASSAGE – DAY TWO:
This week’s Bible story comes from Joel 1-3. This story can be found on page 110 of the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook. Take some time now to read these passages with your children or you can refer to the Bible story summary below!
BIBLE STORY SUMMARY:
The people of Judah were in trouble! There was a drought in the land; no rain fell for a long time. The people had ignored God and did not obey His commands. God had told His people many years before what would happen if they turned away from Him, and now these things were actually happening.
The land of Judah had been attacked by a great swarm of locusts! The locusts ate the plants in Judah. They destroyed everything in the fields.
God gave the prophet Joel a message to tell the people in Judah. Joel said, “Listen up! Has this ever happened to you before?”
No, there had never been a swarm of locusts like this in Judah before. But God had sent locusts before somewhere else. When God led Moses to rescue His people, God sent locusts to punish the Egyptians for their sin. Now God was judging the people of Judah for their sin.
Joel told the people to ask God to forgive them. “God’s day of greater judgment – the Day of the Lord – is coming!” Joel said that for those who do not trust in God, the Day of the Lord will be terrible!
Next, Joel told the people what that day would be like. God was going to send a strong army to take over Judah. Everything would be burned up by a fire. Everyone would be very afraid, and no one would be able to survive!
“Turn back to God before it is too late!” Joel said. “God is gracious and merciful. He does not get angry easily. God would rather forgive you than punish you. Turn from your sin. Maybe God will bless you!”
Now God’s message gave them hope for the future. “I will send rain,” God promised. “The plants will grow, and the animals will have water to drink. Then I will give my Spirit to everyone. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“I will bring Judah and Jerusalem back together, but a final day of judgment is coming. I will judge those who turn away from Me. I will punish the enemies of My people. You will know that I am your God. I will forgive those who turn from their sin, and I will be with My people forever.”
REVIEW QUESTIONS – DAY THREE:
After reading the Bible story or going through the summary, ask your children these review questions:
- Were the people in Judah obeying God? (no)
- What did God send to eat all the plants? (locusts)
- What did Joel say God was going to send to take over Judah? (a strong army)
- What was the good news Joel gave the people? (if the people repented, God would make the plants grow, He would save the people, and He would bring them back together)
- What insect invaded Judah? (locusts)
- What other time in history did God send locusts? (when God led Moses to rescue His people, God sent locusts to punish the Egyptians for their sin)
- What did Joel tell the people to Judah to do? (Joel told the people to ask God to forgive them)
- What day did Joel say was coming? (God’s day of greater judgment – the Day of the Lord)
- What did Joel say would happen on the Day of the Lord? (God was going to send a strong army to take over Judah, everything would be burned up by the fire, everyone would be very afraid, and no one would be able to survive)
- What is God like? God is slow to anger, merciful, and loving.
- Who will be saved? (anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved)
- What did Joel say would happen to the enemies of God’s people? (God will judge those who turn away from Him and punish the enemies of His people)
WORSHIP – DAY FOUR:
CHRIST CONNECTION – DAY FIVE:
It’s amazing to see how things that happened in the Old Testament are connected to the New Testament and the Gospel – the good news that Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins because of His love for us. These Christ connections show us that God has been preparing us for a relationship with Jesus since the beginning of time.
Joel warned God’s people about a day when God will punish His enemies, rescue His people, and make the world right. Jesus died to rescue people from sin, and those who trust in Him will be safe.
Joel warned God’s people about the Day of the Lord – a day when God will judge His enemies, free His people, and make the world right again. Those who trust in Jesus will escape God’s punishment for sin. Jesus was punished in our place, and we share in His righteousness.
PRAY – DAY FIVE:
As you pray, ask God to forgive us when we sin and do not do what He wants us to do. Thank Him for promising to restore the people of Judah and in the same way, how He promises to restore us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Ask God to help us trust and obey Him more.