Joel 2:21-27 Attitude of Gratitude

Joel 2:21-27 Attitude of Gratitude December 5, 2012

Joel 2:21-27 Attitude of Gratitude

Joel 2:21-27 Attitude of Gratitude

Joel 2:21-27 Attitude of Gratitude is a sermon for Thanksgiving
A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.
Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to ‘clean up’ the bird’s vocabulary.
Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.
Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”
John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude.
As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, “May I ask what the turkey did?”


When did the Thanksgiving celebration in the US begin?
Thanksgiving might not be celebrated in the United States today, were it not for a patient, persistent woman named Sarah Hale.
It is well-known that the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621 to give thanks for their winter in the New World.
In 1789, President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to commemorate the first Pilgrim celebration. But Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States discontinued it, calling Thanksgiving, “a kingly practice.”
After this, Thanksgiving was observed by some individual states, and on whatever date suited their fancy.
Then in 1828, Mrs. Hale, the editor of the magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book and author of the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” began campaigning for the restoration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
She wrote letters and sought appointments with national leaders from the President down. Time after time she was politely rebuffed, sometimes being told it was “impossible” and “impractical,” and sometimes being dismissed with a this-is-none-of-your-business scolding.
Finally in 1863 President Lincoln listened seriously to her plea that North and South “lay aside enmities and strife on (Thanksgiving) Day.” He proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be the official “National Thanksgiving Day.” This day was finally ratified by the U. S. Congress in 1941. 1
So we come to another year in which we celebrate an American holiday we call Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, our version of Thanksgiving is far removed from the way in which the original Pilgrims who came to the New World.


During the time of Joel’s prophecy, the people were living in similar insecure times. The prophet called the people to a time of prayer and fasting before the judgment of God. This process of prayer and fasting because you recognized that God would judge the world placed the attitude of gratitude (or thanksgiving) in its proper context. People did not thank God because He gave stuff. They thanked God because He would soon judge the world and so we needed to respect Him for what He has done.
The debate centers on the idea that a group of real locusts would come and destroy Judah. Does Joel’s prophecy speak of a group of real locusts, or are the locusts symbolic of an army? Some scholars believe that this was a prophecy that never came to pass because the people repented. So the argument, in this case, is moot. However, there are others who say that these locusts are a devastating army that would come and destroy the land. I would say that this is a description of a real army for many reasons.


  1. Apparently, this army uses the tactics of a locust army (Joel 1:4)
  2. It is called a “nation,” which is now compared to a lion (Joel 1:6)
  3. It clearly describes an army’s movements (Joel 2:4-9)
  4. God calls it His army (Joel 2:11)
  5. God is using the threat of this army for His people to repent (Joel 2:14) – and they did repent (Joel 2:18)
  6. The “northern army” reveals the location of the people who come to invade (Joel 2:20)
The army is, therefore, a physical army. Which army is it? Most scholars date the book (based on Joel 3:4-8) as somewhere in 850BC. This makes the people who invaded Jerusalem the Sabeans, Greeks, or Phoenicians.
So the prophet Joel showed the people a way to deal with the insecure times in which they were living:


Announce God’s judgment (Local Day of the Lord) – Joel 1:15-20
Call to Repentance – Joel 2:12-17
Thank God for His Response and Promise – Joel 2:18-27


When the United States was first founded, this process was well known the colonists. As a result, a day of “prayer and fasting” for repentance was set aside to prevent God’s judgment on the land. A second day, known as “Thanksgiving” was also set aside to feast and celebrate what God provided during the harvest. In the process of time, the Day of Prayer and Fasting was dropped in favor a Day of Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving Day was moved to accommodate the Christmas shopping season in the late 1940s to spur economic growth. After this, Thanksgiving has been overshadowed by its Christmas neighbor.
As a result, Thanksgiving has become a special day in which we spend time with the family – a reunion of sorts. But it is not necessarily celebrated as a “holy” day to God. We spend more time worrying about the turkey rather than thanking God for the turkey.
So we come to another year in which we celebrate an American holiday we call Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, our version of Thanksgiving is far removed from the way in which the original Pilgrims who came to the New World.
This week, Representative Ron Paul gave his last speech to the House of Representatives. He has run for President twice and he has spoken often of the role of a limited government. During his speech this past Wednesday, he concluded his speech with the following quote:
“Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed. The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.”
Our society depends on a virtuous and moral people. It means that our country cannot survive on secularism and materialism. However, that is what the Thanksgiving holiday has become. Merchants are trying to find a way to have their shops open on Thanksgiving Day. At the same time, people take less time to thank God. Instead, they take more time to watch sports on their television and gorge on food. While spending time with the family is important, it should not replace a time of worship to God. We are a spiritually moral people and it should be reflected in our Thanksgiving holiday. How can you do that in this hectic holiday season?


1. Stop worrying about your future.

Don’t be afraid, land; rejoice and be glad, for the LORD has done great things.
(Joel 2:21 HCSB)

2. Be glad for what God has done in your past.

Children of Zion, rejoice and be glad in the LORD your God, because He gives you the autumn rain for your vindication. He sends showers for you, both autumn and spring rain as before.
(Joel 2:23 HCSB)

3. Take notice of God’s promises to you today.

The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with new wine and olive oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate, the young locust, the destroying locust, and the devouring locust–My great army that I sent against you.
(Joel 2:24-25 HCSB)

4. Recognize that in all things, God will take care of you.

You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied. You will praise the name of Yahweh your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. My people will never again be put to shame.
(Joel 2:26 HCSB)

5. Realize that everything you really need comes from God.

You will know that I am present in Israel and that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame.
(Joel 2:27 HCSB)
Thanksgiving is essential to personal magnetism. The famous stress researcher Hans Seyle claims that two attitudes more than any other influence the quality of everyday life, and on these two emotions “depend our peace of mind, our feelings of security or insecurity, of fulfillment or frustration, in short, the extent to which we can make a success of life.” The most destructive emotion is revenge. But in contrast, “among all the emotions, there is one which more than any other, accounts for the absence or presence of stress in human relations: that is the feeling of gratitude.”
Mike McAdams of Nashville, Tennessee, visited his wife Cheryl in the intensive care unit of the hospital. “How is she?” an anxious friend asked as he exited her unit.
“It’s touch and go,” Mike replied. “She recognized me. We prayed together and held hands. And then we quoted the passage about thanksgiving in the book of James that says, ‘Consider it joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds …’ ”
“You know,” he added, “it’s impossible to be anxious and thankful at the same time.”2
1 Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).
2 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 735.
Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash
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