The eldersElders are leaders who exercise wisdom or leadership by virtue of their age and experience. In the New Testament elders, along with the chief priests and scribes, constituted the primary opposition to Jesus when he taught in Jerusalem. More and all the people are commanded to tell their children and all future generations the story of the terrible locust invasion and God’s deliverance.
Why should Joel be so forceful in his admonition to the people that they should never forget the story of the great locust plague and God’s response to the laments and repentance of the people? People ask similar questions in our day when some “agitators” continue to talk about the Nazi holocaust, or the tragedy of the great depression, or the sacrifices of World War II, or the rejection of Vietnam soldiers, or the U.S. experience with race relations. Why keep ruminating about terrible things that happened in the past? Should we not be concentrating on the present and future rather than digging up the pain and sorrow of a past that cannot be changed? One can only imagine the response of young people to Joel’s exhortation. If they are anything like the youth of today, they would probably think of history as boring and irrelevant.
The Bible says that the major source of information about who God is and how God relates to humanity is to look at events in history. When trouble comes, the immediate question that comes to mind is, “What is God’s part in this? What is God trying to say?” Then the interpreters go to work to try to answer those questions. Joel saw the locust plague as a sign that God was punishing the people for their sins, though the sins are never listed as they are in many other prophetic books. Joel also believed that there is a chance that God will forgive and call off the terrors if the people genuinely repentRepentance is a central biblical teaching. All people are sinful and God desires that all people repent of their sins. The Hebrew word for repent means to "turn away" from sin. The Greek word for repentance means to "change on'e mind," more specifically, it means... More and follow up with appropriate rituals.
The story of the locust plague in the book of Joel teaches a number of things about God and human sin. It is important to remember for its words of warning and promise. God is at work in the world. Sin is serious and its consequences can be severe. But God will respond to our pleas for help and our honest repentance to bring deliverance and hope. God will not leave the faithful forever in misery.