Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 123

Joel 1–3, Psalm 138, Acts 2

Bible text(s)

1This is the LORD's message to Joel son of Pethuel.

The People Mourn the Destruction of the Crops

2Pay attention, you older people;

everyone in Judah, listen.

Has anything like this ever happened

in your time or the time of your ancestors?

3Tell your children about it;

they will tell their children,

who in turn will tell the next generation.

4Swarm after swarm of locusts settled on the crops;

what one swarm left, the next swarm devoured.

5Wake up and weep, you drunkards;

cry, you wine drinkers;

the grapes for making new wine have been destroyed.

6An army of locusts has attacked our land;

they are powerful and too many to count;

their teeth are as sharp as those of a lion.

7They have destroyed our grapevines

and chewed up our fig trees.

They have stripped off the bark,

till the branches are white.

8Cry, you people, like a young woman who mourns the death

of the man she was going to marry.

9There is no corn or wine to offer in the Temple;

the priests mourn because they have no offerings for the LORD.

10The fields are bare;

the ground mourns

because the corn is destroyed,

the grapes are dried up,

and the olive trees are withered.

11Grieve, you farmers;

cry, you that take care of the vineyards,

because the wheat, the barley,

yes, all the crops are destroyed.

12The grapevines and fig trees have withered;

all the fruit trees have wilted and died.

The joy of the people is gone.

13Put on sackcloth and weep,

you priests who serve at the altar!

Go into the Temple and mourn all night!

There is no corn or wine to offer your God.

14Give orders for a fast;

call an assembly!

Gather the leaders

and all the people of Judah

into the Temple of the LORD your God

and cry out to him.

15The day of the LORD is near;

the day when the Almighty brings destruction.

What terror that day will bring!

16We look on helpless as our crops are destroyed.

There is no joy in the Temple of our God.

17The seeds die in the dry earth.

There is no grain to be stored,

and so the empty granaries are in ruins.

18The cattle are bellowing in distress

because there is no pasture for them;

the flocks of sheep also suffer.

19I cry out to you, LORD,

because the pastures and trees are dried up,

as though a fire had burnt them.

20Even the wild animals cry out to you

because the streams have become dry.

The Locusts as a Warning of the Day of the LORD

1Blow the trumpet; sound the alarm

on Zion, God's sacred hill.

Tremble, people of Judah!

The day of the LORD is coming soon.

2It will be a dark and gloomy day,

a black and cloudy day.

The great army of locusts advances

like darkness spreading over the mountains.

There has never been anything like it,

and there never will be again.

3Like fire they eat up the plants.

In front of them the land is like the Garden of Eden,

but behind them it is a barren desert.

Nothing escapes them.

4They look like horses;

they run like war horses.

5As they leap on the tops of the mountains,

they rattle like chariots;

they crackle like dry grass on fire.

They are lined up like a great army ready for battle.

6As they approach, everyone is terrified;

every face turns pale.

7They attack like warriors;

they climb the walls like soldiers.

They all keep marching straight ahead

and do not change direction

8or get in each other's way.

They swarm through defences,

and nothing can stop them.

9They rush against the city;

they run over the walls;

they climb up the houses

and go in through the windows like thieves.

10The earth shakes as they advance;

the sky trembles.

The sun and the moon grow dark,

and the stars no longer shine.

11The LORD thunders commands to his army.

The troops that obey him

are many and mighty.

How terrible is the day of the LORD!

Who will survive it?

A Call to Repentance

12“But even now,” says the LORD,

“repent sincerely and return to me

with fasting and weeping and mourning.

13Let your broken heart show your sorrow;

tearing your clothes is not enough.”

Come back to the LORD your God.

He is kind and full of mercy;

he is patient and keeps his promise;

he is always ready to forgive and not punish.

14Perhaps the LORD your God will change his mind

and bless you with abundant crops.

Then you can offer him corn and wine.

15Blow the trumpet on Mount Zion;

give orders for a fast and call an assembly!

16Gather the people together;

prepare them for a sacred meeting;

bring the old people;

gather the children

and the babies too.

Even newly married couples

must leave their room and come.

17The priests, serving the LORD

between the altar and the entrance of the Temple,

must weep and pray:

“Have pity on your people, LORD.

Do not let other nations despise us and mock us

by saying, ‘Where is your God?’ ”

God Restores Fertility to the Land

18Then the LORD showed concern for his land;

he had mercy on his people.

19He answered them:

“Now I am going to give you

corn and wine and olive oil,

and you will be satisfied.

Other nations will no longer despise you.

20I will remove the locust army that came from the north

and will drive some of them into the desert.

Their front ranks will be driven into the Dead Sea,

their rear ranks into the Mediterranean.

Their dead bodies will stink.

I will destroy them because of all they have done to you.

21“Fields, don't be afraid,

but be joyful and glad

because of all the LORD has done for you.

22Animals, don't be afraid.

The pastures are green;

the trees bear their fruit,

and there are plenty of figs and grapes.

23“Be glad, people of Zion,

rejoice at what the LORD your God has done for you.

He has given you the right amount of autumn rain;

he has poured down the winter rain for you

and the spring rain as before.

24The threshing places will be full of corn;

the pits beside the presses will overflow with wine and olive oil.

25I will give you back what you lost

in the years when swarms of locusts ate your crops.

It was I who sent this army against you.

26Now you will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied.

You will praise the LORD your God,

who has done wonderful things for you.

My people will never be despised again.

27Then, Israel, you will know that I am among you,

and that I, the LORD, am your God

and there is no other.

My people will never be despised again.

The Day of the LORD

28“Afterwards I will pour out my Spirit on everyone:

your sons and daughters will proclaim my message;

your old people will have dreams,

and your young people will see visions.

29At that time I will pour out my Spirit

even on servants, both men and women.

30“I will give warnings of that day

in the sky and on the earth;

there will be bloodshed, fire, and clouds of smoke.

31The sun will be darkened,

and the moon will turn red as blood

before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.

32But all who ask the LORD for help will be saved.

As the LORD has said,

‘Some in Jerusalem will escape;

those whom I choose will survive.’ ”

God will Judge the Nations

1The LORD says,

“At that time I will restore

the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem.

2I will gather all the nations

and bring them to the Valley of Judgement.

There I will judge them

for all they have done to my people.

They have scattered the Israelites in foreign countries

and divided up Israel, my land.

3They threw dice to decide

who would get the captives.

They sold boys and girls into slavery

to pay for prostitutes and wine.

4“What are you trying to do to me, Tyre, Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you trying to pay me back for something? If you are, I will quickly pay you back! 5You have taken my silver and gold and carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6You have taken the people of Judah and Jerusalem far from their own country and sold them to the Greeks. 7Now I am going to bring them out of the places to which you have sold them. I will do to you what you have done to them. 8I will let your sons and daughters be sold to the people of Judah; they will sell them to the far-off Sabeans. I, the LORD, have spoken.

9“Make this announcement among the nations:

‘Prepare for war;

call your warriors;

gather all your soldiers and march!

10Hammer the points of your ploughs into swords

and your pruning knives into spears.

Even the weak must fight.

11Hurry and come,

all you surrounding nations,

and gather in the valley.’ ”

Send down, O LORD, your army to attack them.

12“The nations must get ready

and come to the Valley of Judgement.

There I, the LORD, will sit to judge

all the surrounding nations.

13They are very wicked;

cut them down like corn

at harvest time;

crush them as grapes are crushed

in a full winepress

until the wine runs over.”

14Thousands and thousands

are in the Valley of Judgement.

It is there that the day of the LORD

will soon come.

15The sun and the moon grow dark,

and the stars no longer shine.

God will Bless his People

16The LORD roars from Mount Zion;

his voice thunders from Jerusalem;

earth and sky tremble.

But he will defend his people.

17“Then, Israel, you will know that I am the LORD your God.

I live on Zion, my sacred hill.

Jerusalem will be a sacred city;

foreigners will never conquer it again.

18“At that time the mountains will be covered with vineyards,

and cattle will be found on every hill;

there will be plenty of water for all the streams of Judah.

A stream will flow from the Temple of the LORD,

and it will water the Valley of Acacia.

19“Egypt will become a desert,

and Edom a ruined waste,

because they attacked the land of Judah

and killed its innocent people.

20-21I will avenge those who were killed;

I will not spare the guilty.

But Judah and Jerusalem will be inhabited for ever,

and I, the LORD, will live on Mount Zion.”

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

1I thank you, LORD, with all my heart;

I sing praise to you before the gods.

2I face your holy Temple,

bow down, and praise your name

because of your constant love and faithfulness,

because you have shown that your name and your commands are supreme.

3You answered me when I called to you;

with your strength you strengthened me.

4All the kings in the world will praise you, LORD,

because they have heard your promises.

5They will sing about what you have done

and about your great glory.

6Even though you are so high above,

you care for the lowly,

and the proud cannot hide from you.

7When I am surrounded by troubles,

you keep me safe.

You oppose my angry enemies

and save me by your power.

8You will do everything you have promised;

LORD, your love is eternal.

Complete the work that you have begun.

Psalms 138GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

1When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. 2Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. 4They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

5There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. 6When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because each one of them heard the believers speaking in his or her own language. 7In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! 8How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? 9We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asia, 10from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, 11both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia — yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!” 12Amazed and confused, they kept asking each other, “What does this mean?”

13But others made fun of the believers, saying, “These people are drunk!”

Peter's Message

14Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd: “Fellow-Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, listen to me and let me tell you what this means. 15These people are not drunk, as you suppose; it is only nine o'clock in the morning. 16Instead, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about:

17‘This is what I will do in the last days, God says:

I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.

Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message;

your young men will see visions,

and your old men will have dreams.

18Yes, even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will proclaim my message.

19I will perform miracles in the sky above

and wonders on the earth below.

There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke;

20the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will turn red as blood,

before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes.

21And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’

22“Listen to these words, fellow-Israelites! Jesus of Nazareth was a man whose divine authority was clearly proven to you by all the miracles and wonders which God performed through him. You yourselves know this, for it happened here among you. 23In accordance with his own plan God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him. 24But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner. 25For David said about him:

‘I saw the Lord before me at all times;

he is near me, and I will not be troubled.

26And so I am filled with gladness,

and my words are full of joy.

And I, mortal though I am,

will rest assured in hope,

27because you will not abandon me in the world of the dead;

you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave.

28You have shown me the paths that lead to life,

and your presence will fill me with joy.’

29“My fellow-Israelites, I must speak to you plainly about our famous ancestor King David. He died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day. 30He was a prophet, and he knew what God had promised him: God had made a vow that he would make one of David's descendants a king, just as David was. 31David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said:

‘He was not abandoned in the world of the dead;

his body did not rot in the grave.’

32God has raised this very Jesus from death, and we are all witnesses to this fact. 33He has been raised to the right-hand side of God, his Father, and has received from him the Holy Spirit, as he had promised. What you now see and hear is his gift that he has poured out on us. 34For it was not David who went up into heaven; rather he said:

‘The Lord said to my Lord:

Sit here at my right

35until I put your enemies as a footstool under your feet.’

36“All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the one that God has made Lord and Messiah!”

37When the people heard this, they were deeply troubled and said to Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do, brothers?”

38Peter said to them, “Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit. 39For God's promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away — all whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

40Peter made his appeal to them and with many other words he urged them, saying, “Save yourselves from the punishment coming on this wicked people!” 41Many of them believed his message and were baptized, and about 3,000 people were added to the group that day. 42They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.

Life among the Believers

43Many miracles and wonders were being done through the apostles, and everyone was filled with awe. 44All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. 45They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed. 46Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts, 47praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

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