Yet even now," says the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting. (Joel 2:12)
Why do we fast? What is the purpose of fasting?
God said, "When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you." (Jeremiah 29:13,14) When people set aside the appetites of the body to concentrate on praying, they are demonstrating that they are seeking God with all their heart.
Fasting is an expression of wholeheartedness. This is clear from Joel's call to the nation of Israel: "Yet even now," says the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting. . ." (Joel 2:12).
Fasting is a demonstration that people are seeking God "with all their heart." Fasting puts things in proper focus. It is a physical way of saying, "Food and the things of this life are not as important to me now as the thing I am fasting and praying about."
Fasting shows humility. When a person is really concerned about the things of God, he will humble himself. There will be times when he will abstain from the enjoyment of food to continue concentrating and focusing on that which is important to God.
Fasting is the most effective way to show God that you are seeking Him with your whole heart.
A Warning and A Promise
The Lord will reply to them: "I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. (Joel 2:18-19)
Joel is a short prophetic book of only three chapters. However, the book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the minor prophet Joel introduces himself and speaks about the need to turn from our sins. He pleads to the nation for repentance. Then Joel prophesies about the coming of the Holy Spirit that will be poured out on all flesh in the last days. This prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
The speaker in the second half of the book is none other than the all powerful God Himself who gives both a warning and a promise. What is the warning? God warns His people about the coming day of judgment. What is the promise? God promises us of His abiding presence in spite of our unworthiness.
The Promise of Restoration
And I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)
This scripture is good news for anyone who has had things taken away through the evilness of Satan. This verse tells us that the locust not only destroyed the produce of that year, but so completely ate up everything that was green, all buds and barks from the trees that it took years for crops to be restored. Here God promises that He would remedy that evil. He would restore all the years the locust, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm had eaten (KJV).
God has promised to restore those things taken away from us because of wrong choices or other misfortunes. God promised us through the minor prophet Joel that barren lands would produce crops again. Just as God restored double what was taken away from Job, He will do the same for us if we believe God's promise of restoration.
Dreaming Dreams . . . Seeing Visions
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)
Through our imagination, visions, and dreams we can become who we want to be and do what we want to do. Through dreaming dreams and envisioning visions we can kick away the wall of limitation, remove all barriers, and let our imagination soar. We can be creative in our minds when it comes to our families, friends, jobs, and ministries. It is all right to dream and have visions. That's why Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived told us, "Where there is no vision the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). If you have no vision, you are not being creative. If you are not creative, then those people under your leadership are going to perish.
The Holy Spirit communicates through visions and dreams. Only through your dreams can you see and visualize a more successful existence. We see in our imagination and bring what we see to life. In Genesis 13:14-15, "And the Lord said unto Abraham, 'Lift up now your eyes, and look for the place where you are, northward, southward, eastward, and westward: For all the land which you see to you will I give it, and to your seed forever.'" God could have told Abraham He would give him the land. God wanted Abraham to see it and visualize all his descendants on the land. Pictures of this came to Abraham's mind time and time again. These dreams and visions carried dominion over Abraham's 100-year old body, and it was transformed into one that produced the son God had promised. And Abraham did have many descendents . . . including YOU!
Whatever we hold firmly in our minds will come to pass. Therefore, it is so important to visualize and think only on those things that are honest, true, just, pure, lovely and of a good report (Philippians 4:8). So go ahead be creative by . . . dreaming dreams and envisioning visions.