The message of Joel was first given to a specific audience at one time in history. Although all of the message applied to them, it applied in different ways. The same process works today. Application refers to the way God’s Word covers us, governs us, and becomes the basis for action.
God’s Word covers us when we realize that we are the kind of people described in a passage. When we identify with scripture, the Holy Spirit applies scripture to us-the vivid truth of God’s Word for us personally. The people of Joel’s day were covered by God’s words of warning and hope. We are covered by those same words. Coming dangers may not be swarms of locusts or invading armies, but they are just as dangerous if we face them with unrepentant hearts that refuse God’s care.
God’s Word governs us when we take its commands seriously and recognize its authority. God doesn’t have to earn the right to give us direction; we should be eager for and attentive to God’s direction. The people in Joel’s day who benefited from the prophet’s words were not those who took it as curious information. Rather, those who heard God speaking through His prophet and obeyed were blessed and forgiven.
God’s Word is meant for action. Verses in scripture can often find an immediate place in our lives. Joel wrote, “That is why the LORD says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts’ ” (Joel 2:12-13). These words confronted the people of Joel’s day with an immediate call to repentance. That same call reaches across the centuries to us. Our persistent tendency is to turn away from God. Instead, we should take every opportunity to learn from God’s Word.