Thursday, June 23, 2011

Perchance to Dream

It is about 800 B.C. The people of the southern kingdom of Judah are prosperous. Prosperity has led to complacency, which in turn has become self-centeredness and idolatry. A man is called forth to warn the people of the dangers of what they’ve become. His name is Joel; he is the son of Pethuel. That is all we know about him; scholars aren’t even really sure of the date or who is on the throne when Joel speaks, although it is likely it was Joash.

I tremble, I hesitate
to speak, to say the truth;
it will fall hard upon
their ears, hard upon
their hearts:
the locusts are coming,
to consume, to destroy.

Joel does what prophets do: he chastises, he warns, he tells people what they most assuredly do not want to hear, and he knows what the people do with prophets. They kill them. Yet he says what he is commanded to say, for he must say it for their sake, even if it costs him his life.

The fields are ruined
the trees are withered
the harvest is destroyed
the offerings are cut off
the wine is dried up
it is time to grieve,
to mourn with the priests.

The darkness is coming, he says, the darkness is upon them. And yet there is still hope, a small sliver, a tiny portion of hope: that the people repent, rend their hearts, and return. And with repentance comes the promise: the people will be fully fed, and

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.

Joel 2:28 (New International Version)

He understands the visions of young men, but he wonders at the dreams of old men. What are these dreams of old men? Are they dreams of sleep, of rest, of withdrawal to silence? Or are they God-sized dreams, big dreams, wild imaginings of what could be as opposed to what is?

Perhaps repentance upends the natural order, infusing youth and energy and exuberance, and even desire and passion, into hearts growing cold. Old men can dream dreams.

Joel smiles, although I cannot tell whether it is from gladness of heart or relief.

To see more posts on “God-sized dreams,” please visit Bonnie Gray at Faith Barista.

Photograph: Dreaming in Red by Yana Ray via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Lisa notes... said...

Nice, Glynn. I've always felt it would have been a VERY hard job to be one of those Old Testament prophets, predicting such horrors. Yet, even in the midst of God's wrath, he always offered hope, always kept a way open for change. Always kept the dream alive.

Louise Gallagher said...

I know so little of those Old Testament prophets -- and you are such a source of learning.


Caroline said...

I'll echo what Lisa commented. And I love how you described God-sized dreams. They ARE big. And wild. Bigger and more wild than we can imagine or understand!

Maureen said...

The implications of "God-sized dreams" are marvelous to ponder.

S. Etole said...

your ending speaks of this so well ...

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps repentance upends the natural order..." excellent thoughts, and much needed hope not only for them, but also for us today, that "Old men can dream dreams".

HisFireFly said...

Interesting thoughts to ponder:

Does repentence bring new life and energy and vitalization...?

Another reason to spend time on our knees...

thank you Glynn!

Anonymous said...

Powerful thoughts and reflections here, Glynn. Thank you.

Shaunie @ Up the Sunbeam said...

Glynn, I'm so delighted that you brought to light some of the beauty there is to be found in these less-traveled pages of the Old Testament. My favorite study in the Bible Study Fellowship curriculum is The History of Israel and the Minor Prophets. Thank you so much for this!! I hope people take your words as an invitation to visit these pages more often!!