“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” ~ Joel 2:25
Though not well known, this is a beautiful verse of Scripture. Earlier in the book, the prophet Joel had warned the Israelites that a terrible judgment was on the way: God was sending a plague of locusts, palmerworm, cankerworm (especially destructive caterpillars/larvae that suddenly appear in large numbers and overwhelm vegetation) and caterpillars.
Despite many warnings and messengers, the Israelites persisted in their idol worship and, therefore, God promised to send a terrible judgment on them.
And He did.
All their crops were lost, consumed by the locusts, palmerworm, cankerworm and caterpillars.
The effect of this plague was far-reaching: Not only would they lose their crops for that year (which would lead to famine); but, the recovery from the crop loss would have been slow because they would struggle to find seeds to plant: so great would be the devastation of the locusts and caterpillars.
Joel, therefore, urged the people to pray and to fast (Joel 1:14, 2:12, 2:15): to sincerely recommit themselves to God and seek His abundant mercy:
“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…” Joel 2:12-13a
And, in the midst of Joel’s prophecy of doom comes this marvelous ray of hope: “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25).
Most of us have made mistakes in our lives. We can look back at times when we chose the wrong path when we went our own way instead of god’s way. And many of us are living with the consequences of our decisions.
We are the single, unwed mothers, the estranged fathers; we are those suffering from HPV or HIV; we are the drug-addicted, the sex-addicted, and the porn-addicted; we bought houses we couldn’t afford to buy and now can’t afford to keep; we are the career men/women who sacrificed everything to get nothing and to give that to no-one.
But, whatever the suffering we might be experiencing as a consequence for following our own way instead of God’s way, the promise of God still extends to us: If we will recommit our lives to Him; if we will serve Him; if we will do things His way; if we will look at life through His eyes; then God promises to restore the years we have lost.
Like the Israelites we will still have to face the consequences of our actions. A painful famine was the consequence of their sins; and we often face painful consequences for our sins too. But, in later years God poured out His blessing on the Israelites and they had so much that it erased the shortfall they had experienced earlier.
Likewise, though we might suffer the consequences of our sins, God will pour out His blessings in our lives if we turn to Him: He will restore to us the years the locusts have eaten.