A few months ago I noticed a large flock of robins doing their best to scratch through the hard, frozen ground. I had to smile in anticipation because I knew that spring was just around the corner. Because robins are a harbinger … a sign … an omen … of spring.
The Bible clearly teaches that human history as we know it had a beginning at creation, a mid-point at the First Coming of Jesus Christ, and it will have an end at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. When the world comes to an end, how will the people living on earth know they are the last generation? They will know because God will send us harbingers … signs … omens … warnings.
Read Joel 1:1-12
THE HARBINGERS ARE CREDIBLE
A. The Warnings Are indisputable
- Who does Joel clearly say is responsible for the warnings? See Joel 1:1.
- How credible are these warnings? Look up Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35; Isaiah 40:8; and Numbers 23:19.
- What command is given in verse 2? How did Jesus underscore this command in Luke 11:28?
- Describe what would have happened if Noah had not obeyed this command. See Genesis 6:9-22; 7:5-6, 11-12.
- What are some ways you can get your children, your family or other people to pay attention to the Word of the Lord, according to Deuteronomy 11:18-21?
B. The Warnings Are Universal
- Who were the harbingers for? Make a list, then put each people group into your own words. Read Joel 1:3-14.
- For whom were the harbingers irrelevant?
- Who will be caught by surprise when judgment falls? See Mark 13:35-37; Matthew 24:42-44; 25:13.
C. The Warnings Are Unique
- Write out Joel 1:2 in your own words. How does it emphasize the uniqueness of the harbingers?
- Give the phrase that Jesus used to underscore the uniqueness of the harbingers in Matthew 24:21.
- Make a list of record-breaking events or disasters unique to this generation.
THE HARBINGERS ARE CLEAR
A. Environmental Disaster
- How did God indicate to Solomon that He would get His people’s attention? See 2 Chronicles 7:13.
- Give phrases confirming that environmental disasters will be used as harbingers of the end: Matthew 24:7, 29; 2 Peter 3:3-7; Acts 2:16-21; and Revelation 6:12-14.
- What record-breaking environmental disasters have happened in the last few years?
- What are some of the other reasons the world gives for environmental disasters, thereby dismissing God’s warnings?
B. Social Disaster
- What social disaster is referenced in Joel 1:5?
- Make a list of the social disasters referred to in Romans 1:18-32; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; and Matthew 24:37-39.
- How does each social disaster on your list match America today?
C. Financial Disaster
- If wine in Joel’s day was a dietary staple, what is the warning implied when it is snatched away? See Joel 1:5.
- What could the wine represent?
- How is this type of disaster at the end referred to in Revelation 6:5-6 and Matthew 24:7?
D. Spiritual Disaster
- How did the inability to sacrifice affect the people’s relationship with God, according to Joel 1:9 and Hebrews 9:22?
- In Matthew 24:9-10, Jesus was speaking to those who were His followers, and who also were Jews. What did He say would happen to these two categories of people at the end? Give examples of the fulfillment of His words from our world today.
- How does disaster affect our view, and the world’s view, of God? See Psalm 42:1-4, 9-10.
E. Emotional Disaster
- Give the words with verses that describe the people’s emotions during judgment in Joel 1:1-16.
- How is this also described in Revelation 6:12-17?
F. Natural Disaster
- How does God use the natural world as a harbinger? Refer to Joel 1:17-20.
- What does Romans 8:19-22 reveal about the impact on the natural world’s involvement at the end? What does 2 Peter 3:10, 12 reveal?
THE HARBINGERS ARE COMPELLING
- As a result of the harbingers, how should God’s people respond? See Joel 1:13-14, 19; 2 Chronicles 7:13-15; Psalm 34:17; Ezekiel 33:1-9; Habbakuk 2:1; Matthew 24:45-47; John 4:34-35; 1 Peter 1:13, 4:7; and 2 Peter 3:11-12, 14.
- As a result of this study, what will you do?
What more do you think God could do to warn people that they are living at the end of the age? Please—don’t pretend that the disasters taking place now in our nation and our world are unusual but not significant. They are harbingers. Five minutes before you see Jesus, what will you wish you had done differently? Do it. Now! ©2019 Anne Graham Lotz
Adapted from an article originally published in June 2015.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her latest book, “Storming the Gates of Heaven,” is available from major booksellers.