“And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the Name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel and that I am the Lord your God, and none else; and My people shall never be ashamed.” Joel 2:26-27

We have heard much of fundamental truths. And how important they are to the correct understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

We thought of this when preaching on the text which is quoted above. Generalize this text, and make it to apply to Judah and Israel, head for head, and you miss the mark. What will you do with the twice repeated: and My people shall never be ashamed ? If ever people were ashamed it was when Nebuchadnezzar dragged them away from their country, temple and city to the land that is situated between the rivers.

If you would understand Joel’s prophecy, and indeed all of the Holy Scriptures, you must attend to what I would call a fundamental truth. Attend to this: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

If we do not see that all the deliverance of the Lord is fulfilled in the remnant whom the Lord shall call with His effectual call, all of the Word of God is a closed book. If we keep this truth before our eyes, all is clear. Then we also see how all things work together for good unto those that love God. Then the truth that God’s people shall never be ashamed is clear too. Even when they find themselves in Babylon, in th6 wicked world, where everything seems to be against them, they will sing their song of deliverance.

And they will give thanks. For they eat in plenty. And that is the miracle of grace.

They will eat in plenty.

The text is prophetic. It prophesies of the remnant which will return from the Babylonian captivity. In that wicked land they mixed their food with bitter tears. They hung their harps upon the willows, in the midst thereof. They smarted under the taunting of the wicked who employed derision and mockery in order to aggravate the plight of poor and miserable captives. But God sent light into the soul of the prophets and they saw deliverance for the remnant which the Lord would call. And in the prospect of that deliverance, they saw the people of God, returned to their own land, and eating and drinking to the full.

Yes, that was natural eating and drinking. And it was blessedness to them also. And they would thank and praise the Lord for all the dainties which He had given them. And so also we, on the day of Thanksgiving, entered the house of God and we thanked Him, also for the wonderful blessings which are natural, earthly, temporal.

I know that they are not the most important of God’s blessings, but we will appreciate them, evaluate them rightly, and think God for them, in the name of Jesus. We are not indifferent to them. And we may not be indifferent to them. Note this: “. . . meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.”

And so we thanked God, and will thank Him again and again, for the meat and all other food and drink, with clothing and shelter, and all the other temporal blessings which He so liberally bestows upon us.

Do I understand it? Do I understand why the Lord deals so bountifully with us here in America, while thousands upon thousands are without? No. But I will thank Him nevertheless. The Bible tells me that I should.

But they are not the most important.

And sometimes the Lord will come and break the staff of bread, and then we will see famine in the land, and desolation, and great suffering.

But we will thank God anyhow. That is, if we receive His grace in our hearts.

Attend to Habakkuk 3:17: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

In other words: we will “give thanks in everything”.

How in the world must I understand this? Leaping for joy in a famine? Giving thanks when there is desolation and suffering? Giving thanks to God when war breaks out, and the fields that normally show the peace of waving grain, changed into gory wastes of slaughter?

Remember two things: the name of God, and the “remnant”. The name of God is this: the God of my salvation. And: in the midst of the remnant there is deliverance always.

“Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee!”

Beautiful thanksgiving!

In the midst of thee!

There you are! That is the explanation. A little while ago I told you that we will properly appreciate and evaluate the natural blessings of God, and properly give thanks for them. They are good and may not be refused, but must be taken with thanks, with the Word of God and with prayer.

But if the Lord decides that we shall suffer in famine, we will nevertheless declare our Thanksgiving Days. We will give thanks in days of adversity as well as in days of prosperity.

And why?

Because great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee! You see, dear reader, when Joel told the remnant that they would eat in plenty and be satisfied, you must not forget to mark the symbolism there is in such abundance. When your table groans under the load of meats and drinks, so that mother must carry back oh so much, then you have heard and seen one of God’s sermons in nature. God does not talk to you exclusively from His precious Word. He talks to you every day from out of the book of nature round about you. Every loaf of bread which you buy and eat, tells you that Jesus is the bread of life, and that there is deliverance in that Jesus.

Oh, what glorious sermons are spoken to us in these days and in this country. It matches the abundance of Joel’s prophecy for Israel. But how terrible if we do not take heed to those sermons of plenty and satisfaction, and do not apply to ourselves the spiritual lesson there is in every hearty meal.

Attend to Joel again: You shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the Name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you! There is the spiritual application. Every meal tells you of the greatest Wonder of God. And that wonder of God is further explained in the text. And if we lay hold of the truth of that wonder, we shall begin to understand Habakkuk. And we shall also sing our song of praise in the night of suffering and famine.

Here is the wonder: God is in the midst of Israel.

I hear a bright reader ask: But is not God always in the midst of Israel? And, for that matter, is He not always in the midst of every nation, tongue and tribe? Is He not even in the midst of all the hosts of devils? Is He not in the midst of Satan himself? Did not Paul teach the heathen: “though He be not far from every one of us”?

Oh, but there is all the difference in the world how God is near, how He is in the midst of us. Here the meaning is that God would be in the midst of Israel in His love and loving-kindness.

According to the prophetic view of Joel, he had seen Israel forsaken by the Lord because of His wrath. They had sinned, and He had banished them to Babylon. But when they had repented and cried to Him, they had returned to Him with weeping and lamentation. And because of His eternal covenant of grace, He returned to them, moved the hearts of kings for them, and they might return to the land of their fathers, rebuild the temple and city, plant vineyards and olive yards, and eat in plenty and be satisfied,—for the Lord would be in the midst of them in His love.

And so they would praise the Name of the Lord.

Praising God: proper thanksgiving!

Because of the wondrous dealing with Israel.

Yes, God would be in their midst.

And they would know it. And so we begin to understand Joel, and also Habakkuk. When God is in your midst, there is liberty and joy.

What does it mean? In this twentieth century?

It means that He came in our midst in Jesus. That first of all.

In Joel’s day God dwelled in the midst of Israel, and they knew it, for the sacrifices were made. The sheep and lambs and goats and bullocks were slaughtered amidst great singing and rejoicing.

No, Israel did not understand fully how God would work salvation, but they did know that Jehovah and blood spelled deliverance.

But we live anno Domini 1950, and that makes a great difference. The bleeding lamb of the Old Testament has been substituted by the bleeding Lamb of God. And we see and understand in a measure the mystery of Godliness. God is manifested in the flesh.

God incarnate dwells among us. Christ has come.

And we know it.

But how? First, through His precious Word. That Word has told us the whole story, and soon now we will celebrate again the story of God’s love in the sending of His dear Son. Second, because the Spirit of Jesus Christ has been shed abroad in the remnant. And through that Holy Spirit of Christ, God dwells in the remnant. And where that Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. And also knowledge.

You see, when the Word and the Holy Spirit of Christ is given unto you, you know that God is in the midst of us. We know that also about ourselves, but only in connection with all of Israel. For He has fashioned, and is fashioning a Body for His Son, who is the Head. And, thirdly, in that connection, you know individually also that God is in your midst, since that Spirit witnesseth with our Spirit that we are the sons of God. Then you know that God has dealt wondrously with you.

Is He not wondrous in all His works? Imagine, He has swallowed all your sin, guilt, death, condemnation, damnation and all your eternal curse which you deserve to have carried yourself. But it is gone.

Can you now see why Habakkuk will leap for joy in the God of his salvation, even in the midst of great famine and desolation?

Thanksgiving even in the desert!

Yes, and the remnant will understand.

And Israel will also know that God is their God, and none else.

That means first of all that they know how salvation came exclusively by and through God. From alpha and omega He is the God of our salvation, and none else. It is not superfluous that we emphasize that. Your and my understanding of that truth determines the climax or the bathos of your thanks.

God has saved us! From everlasting to everlasting He is the God of our salvation.

Paul chants: and all these things are of God who hath reconciled us to Himself!

And, secondly, it means that God is their God in the sense that He and He only is their sovereign. To have a God is tantamount to saying that you are His worshipper. He is in your midst and there He tells you that you shall live unto Him in all your life. From morning till night you shall serve Him and praise Him.

Shall we do this, dear reader?

He is so worthy of it. Without Him and His salvation there is no sense in a Thanksgiving Day. For that reason I cannot understand our National Thanksgiving Day. As a nation we certainly do not worship, serve and praise Him. America, America, you are heaping up treasures of wrath with this God of our salvation. No, but the remnant will serve Him. For they know that He is in their midst and that He is their God, and none else.

And so this remnant have their Thanksgiving Day.

But did you note that this remnant have a Thanksgiving Day every day? They have heard and understood Paul when he said: in everything give thanks.

Joel speaks to them every day. And every day Joel says of them: and ye shall praise the Name of the Lord your God!

Continuous thanksgiving! How marvelous.

It is the beginning of an heavenly occupation.

In heaven there is always thanksgiving.

Joel fell into repetition: I have heard it twice: “and My people shall never be ashamed.”

The point of view is deliverance, mind you.

Well, this remnant, this Israel, shall never be ashamed with respect to this deliverance. And deliverance at this late date is a portion with God in His new world that is coming. And we shall never be ashamed.

Ashamed you would be if you came to the pearly gates and if you would hear it said: It is not for you! What a shame that would be.

Ashamed we would be if the deliverance would not be there at the end of the ages. No heaven, no liberated and beautiful earth, no new Jerusalem, no eternity of serving and praising God! What a shame that would be.

Ashamed we would be if it were there, but if it did not come up to our expectation. If it were nice and all that, but not as wondrous as Joel and all the prophets made it, the men who had a pre-vision of the new Jerusalem. What a shame that would be.

But fear not, ye Israel: My people shall never be ashamed. You will go there, as surely as you have His love in your heart now. It is there: faith, even our faith, is a substance of the things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And it is more than just nice: it is untold rapture. You and I and all the remnant will say: the half has not been told!

Give thanks to God for great is He: His mercy endeth never!