The book of Joel paints a picture of the stark contrast and peculiar harmony of God’s justice and mercy. He begins by recounting the judgement that God had brought upon Israel at the hands of Babylon and Syria and many other nations. Then he explains that a swift and full judgement is still to come unless the people of God repent and turn. Joel continues by reminding the people that the Lord is:
…gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
This proclamation is evident in the following verses as Joel gives a glimpse of a God who restores the fortunes of Judah (Joel 2:24), repairs the damaged land (Joel 2:21-22), and pours out His Spirit on His people (Joel 2:28-29).
God will not only restore His people, but He will judge the surrounding nations for their treatment of His people and will put them under the control of His people. Then Joel sums up this God of justice and mercy in Joel 3:16:
The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the Lord is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.
This is the God we serve, He roars like a lion and protects His people with security and compassion. He is a roaring refuge. His love is a shelter from the storm of His wrath and there is no safer place to be than in the shadow of His wings. Because of our sin, we are constantly tempted to step outside of His protection. We are fooled into thinking that we will be safe if we go it on our own. But we are babies, exposed to all the harshness of life outside of His protection and constantly in need of sustenance and care. Let us continually return to the Lord. Let us call on His name for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Joel 2:32)