Our Bible contains story after story of God’s reversal. Israel was enslaved in Egypt but freed by God’s hand. Hannah was barren but had a child, Samuel. Isaiah and Micah talk about swords being beaten into plowshares (and Joel shares the opposite). Mary sang about the powerful being brought down from their thrones and the lowly being lifted up. Jesus taught that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Again and again, God’s work brings reversal. Surely God has done great things?from a certain point of view. The powerful aren’t pleased when God’s work brings about the removal of that power. In today’s reading from Joel, the reversal of power was not good news to the northern army. “Its stench and foul smell will rise up. Surely he has done great things!”
God shows favour to those we might least expect: the poor, lowly, outcast, alien-those who are lowest in society. God does this with purpose. God’s reversal comes with the invitation to be a blessing to others. Israel was not freed from slavery and, as Joel writes, Israel is not returned from exile so they could lord their freedom over others. They were blessed to be a blessing to others. So are we.
When the powerful are brought down and the lowly lifted up, I give you thanks. When it is my power that is brought down that others may receive blessing, I give you thanks. Amen. — ANS