I am currently studying one of the Old Testament Minor Prophets titled “Joel”. According to the late Dr. Gleason Archer in his “A Survey of Old Testament Introduction”, Joel was probably penned in the 9th century B.C., during the minority reign of King Joash.
The historical account of King Joash is recorded in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 24. Joash was seven years old when he was crowned king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, putting an end to the illegitimate reign of Queen Athaliah.
Archer believed that Joel, by not mentioning any reigning king of Judah, is an indication that the minor Joash was reigning under the supervision of Jewish elders, such as the High Priest Jehoiada.
The issue plaguing Judah during Joel’s ministry was a devastating locust infestation — the kind of infestation that all ancient agrarian cultures feared.
In The Bahamas, our greatest fear seems to be major hurricanes. With the absence of an agricultural sector, locust plagues are an afterthought among Bahamians.
In Deuteronomy 28:38, God threatened His covenant people with locust infestations if they failed to adhere to His moral laws. The infestation in Joel is a fulfillment of the aforementioned verse in the Pentateuch. Joel 1:4 says, “That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.”
The infestation in Joel’s day devastated the economy of Judah, which reduced the overwhelming majority of its citizens to poverty. With the scarcity of food products, inflation undoubtedly increased, placing the have-nots in grave danger of starvation.
We see an example of a steep price inflation in 2 Kings 6:25, during the Syrian siege of Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The crisis was so dire, that certain Israelites resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:26-30).
Today, in The Bahamas, the cost of living has risen sharply, particularly with the escalating cost of consumer goods, building materials and fuel — all due to COVID-19.
In ancient Israel, while God had put measures in place to protect the marginalized and poor in Leviticus 23:22, there were no social services or unemployment benefits scheme to protect unemployed farm laborers and all those indirectly and directly employed in the agricultural industry.
The Joel infestation was so catastrophic that God called on even the drunkards to weep (Joel 1:5), as the locusts did not spare the vineyards. Indeed, all sectors of Joel’s society were called on to repent, via prayer and fasting (1:8-14). There were no exceptions.
The elders and the riff-raffs were all called to repentance. In The Bahamas, that would be the political leaders all the way down to chronic alcoholics.
Even the Jewish religious leaders were not immune from the locust devastation (1:9), as both the meat and drink offerings had been discontinued, due to the Jewish people’s inability to tithe.
The economy was in complete shambles, which impacted the coffers in the temple. I see correlations between The Bahamas and the Jewish people in Joel’s day, particularly with church leaders bemoaning the COVID-19 restrictions and their attendant negative impact on the finances of the church.
If church members are either unemployed or not attending church, obviously that would lead to a drastic drop in tithes and other financial contributions.
While Yahweh plagued His disobedient people with swarms of locusts in Old Testament times, He has plagued Bahamians with a stubborn pestilence named COVID-19, which has mutated into the more lethal Delta variant.
Interestingly, Yahweh had threatened Isreal with such a judgment in Leviticus 26:25. Indeed, both the secular and religious realms have not escaped God’s judgment.
By politicizing COVID-19, Bahamians are conveniently evading the main reason for the current crisis. We want to make this COVID-19 crisis about either the Free National Movement or the Progressive Liberal Party while failing to reform.
We want to continue living immorally while pretending that a change in government will somehow put an abrupt end to COVID-19. With our wanton bloodletting, corruption, systemic sweet-hearting, promiscuity, gambling and porn addiction, child abuse, dabbling in obeah and disdain for the sacred, no one should be surprised that God’s hands of judgment are heavy on this nation.
I believe that God is using COVID-19 to awaken The Bahamas from its spiritual slumber. Yes, He is also punishing other nations. But my focus is on The Bahamas. All of us must repent. The time has come for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis and the Bahamas Christian Council to take the bull by the horns by calling for a bipartisan national day of fasting and prayer:
“Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord.” (Joel 1:13-14).
— Kevin Evans