“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter…” – Joel 2:25.
JUDAH WAS IN a state of ruins all round, spiritually in relation to God, physically in regards to its abundant land and emotionally in regards to life itself. Everything spoke of desolation as the land was stripped bare by the judgement of God. It was none other than God Who sent the locusts and locusts symbolise a stripping to nothing of all living aspects that generates life. Judah had become utterly fruitless, a land that had become totally barren.
This, indeed, was grace – grace from the very heart of God Who mercifully intervened and woke Judah out of her absurdity. Let us ponder that in light of the fact that this nation had become more corrupt than the surrounding heathen countries, so much so that they would blush with shock, that such a nation chosen by the Great I AM, could commit such immorality.
The Word of the Lord came to Judah right in the midst of her drunken stupor and oftentimes with agony of heart there is the drive to be intoxicated with something that evades reality.
I’ve always been inclined to think of this particular verse – or anything in relation to God restoring – as being put back to the original state from where one has wandered, and although that has some truth in it, it doesn’t shine in all of its wonder; we’re missing something incredibly awesome when we confine it to that alone. Not until the last few weeks have I seen this in its bigger setting.
Let’s look at Roman 5 for a moment where Paul is discussing Adam’s original sin verses our standing in Christ. Adam was created in such a way that even God Himself was pleased with. Adam’s state was so glorious when he walked with God in the garden – no sin, no blemish but enjoying the presence of God with no censure. That’s pretty big – in fact, that’s something we cannot get our heads around when we look around and observe how sick society as a whole has become, or preferably, manifested itself, because since the fall of Adam, sin has plagued humanity. Call to mind that in Genesis, before God flooded the entire earth, men and women continually thought and acted wickedly. We’re seeing that same kind of scenario more or less today. Adam’s sin was imputed (credited in the negative sense) to the entire human race – that is, the moment each one of us are conceived, we’re being fashioned into the realm of sin, just as we inherit our parents gene’s, even though we have not committed ‘sins’ per se. Each one of us inherit Adam’s sinful nature (not sins per se, it goes way beyond such) at the very moment of our conception. It is literally a spiritual disease. There are many who hate this truth, but who is anyone of us to dispute what God has revealed so explicitly stated in this fifth chapter of Romans? Inevitably, as we are all under Adam – the Federal Head of the human race – the consequences lead to an eternal destruction that none of us can evade but for the mercy of God.
The positive side of this is that since Christ was born into the world in the likeness of human flesh, yet without sin, something incredible has happened. The very opposite takes place for everyone of us that have been chosen in Christ; the fall of Adam meant death for us all; Christ, Who is the Perfect ‘Adam’, is now Head of those that are born anew by the Holy Spirit. The inevitability of that entails that all of Christ’s righteousness is now imputed to us who are justified (absolved) freely in God’s sight. This can only lead to life – life that does not end – more so, that life can only be because He is the very centre of it. Knowing God is the very substance of life – period.
Our present state in Christ is far superior to that of Adam before sin made him captive to destruction. Hold this very thought in your minds.
It was vitally important to state the above truths because that same rule ties in with what I’m about to explain.
How does all of this fit in with the main verse we’re looking at: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter…”? What does it really mean that God will restore to us the years that the locusts have destroyed?
God does not restore us to our last standing of where we were; God restores us to where we ought to be right now at this very moment.
We are not carried back in time to where we regain the years of our youth; we are all still digressing physically, but rather, we are enabled to see clearer with wisdom in ways we couldn’t see back then, accomplishing tasks at a greater speed and with more accuracy – hence the reason why time is not only gained; we override it. God has a way of ‘supernaturally’ (from our perspective) forwarding us in time without ‘breaking’ the laws of time. What we have lost is gained, not exactly in the same way as if we were to carry on at our best had we not lost our way, but in ways where we arrive at the destination point of being right on track with the ‘now’.
When God is restoring the years that have slipped through our hands with nothing to ‘show’ we have to get to grips with what is happening now – never to be passive but to be wholly focussed on what God is showing us and there is a tremendous power exerted when we are in the flow, like a plane ascending to the threshold of a jet stream; we are carried along at tremendous speed that seems to defy the laws of time without compromising it.
We’re restored in such a way as to be more fruitful than we’ve ever been. It’s not so much quantity as in quality; we will bear quality fruit unto God in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Notice the key here: unto God; we don’t use God as a means to bless our plans – that’s carnality at its very nature. As redeemed people we bear fruit for God and His purposes. That is the true hallmark of sound spiritual restoration. We want to please God far more than ourselves.
Are we getting the real picture here?
We all bear fruit, Christian and non-Christian alike; either we produce bad or good fruit. ‘Christians’ can bear bad fruit; what’s deemed good in our eyes isn’t always good in God’s. Matthew 7:21-23 alone shows that and is one of the most alarming Scriptures in the whole realm of Scripture. Each one of us is called to bear what God has predestined in our lives. Now with some there’s going to be varying degrees; some labour more than others, but that is solely because of the calling, gifting and grace of God. Our responsibility is that we find out and fulfil what God has called us to and God is not so much pleased with how much we do but how we do what He’s called us and assigned us to.
What about wasted time – can we regain those years? No, but we can still accomplish what should have been done in those wasted moments. There are some doors God closes for good and they are to be laid to rest through His cleansing, but there are doors that still remain open, that He keeps open and says, “Walk through.” Such avenues are open with more vigour; opportunities and connections that come about in ways we could never orchestrate or manufacture by ourselves; they are God-interventions – that unplanned phone call, unplanned conversation, or meeting that person resulting in occurrences that leave us standing amazed with wonder. We know those instances where the whole atmosphere is transfigured into the incredible and we see God alone working; there we perceive His hand turning events we could never bring about with all our expertise.
What about our sin – how can that be used for good when so many years are lost? We are made all the more sensitive to God when grace has been showered on us instead of receiving what we rightly deserve – judgement. That’s grace abounding; we hate such sin all the more; we love God all the more – “All things work together for good to those love God” and in context that is inclusive of all the unfavourable circumstances in our lives.
Marriage – those years of heartache where circumstances beyond our control have turned almost everything sour. How can those years be regained when our physical health is not as pristine as it use to be? All we’re inclined to see is irreparableness, so how can the good fruit of marriage be restored? In God’s hands and in submitting to Him through the pain, He can and will bring beauty out of ashes; He does and will bring order out of chaos and His blessing will far outweigh the pain endured through years of delays.
That business coming to an abrupt end, either what we’ve ran into the ground or has been snatched away from us – how do we recover that? Are such doors closed; is it reparable; will we ever venture into business again? Is it wild irrational thinking to believe that we can succeed in ways never achieved before? God allows dying but also resurrects with greater power. Nothing is wasted and sometimes God will have us look back to salvage all the good that we can retrieve from the past in order to look forward and climb higher mountains. Nothing, again, is wasted in God’s economy.
More importantly – above all – is our relationship with God; everything must flow right from that alone. Our walk with God can and will be greater than when we first begun, even exceeding our best years. It is not a case of ‘catch-up’ with God. All those years wasted that we have squandered, He uses to make us all the more resilient and determined to pursue Him. Our eye is much keener, our desire much purer, our knowledge of Him much deeper; our prayers much firmer; we see more than we’ve been able to see before and we are released to accomplish the things we feared so greatly before. This is the work of grace, restoring, renewing, confirming and empowering to do great exploits for Him.
With God the best is always yet to be even on the best of our days.
Not you, nor I can restore the things lost but God: “I will restore the years…”
“And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before… the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” – Job 42:10, 12.
“Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
(Frances Ridley Havergal)