“Because I said so.”
This was a sentence I loathed as a child. Whenever my parents or teachers said it, I could feel my hackles rise, and I don’t even have hackles. It felt like such an in-your-face display of authority. Why must I do this thing? Because they said so. That didn’t feel like a reason. It felt dismissive, even if their position of authority gave them every right to command me without providing what I deemed a proper explanation.
Today’s passage from Joel essentially says, “Because I said so”—but with a twist. Instead of it being a blunt or dismissive command, it is a promise. Because I said so. Who? God. That is, after all, what the entire sentence is hinging on: The person who makes the promise determines its validity and efficacy. And in this case, God is the one making the promise.
Israel was under duress from invaders, as judgment for their own rebellion against God. They were in captivity, facing starvation, and had lost their home. So, as they’d done throughout the Old Testament, they cried out to God, and, as He’d done throughout the Old Testament, God listened. He offered them a glorious promise of feasting and health, of vindication, and of fullness. The people could “rejoice and be glad, for the Lord has done astonishing things” (Joel 2:21).
They could rejoice because He said so—the same God who had done astonishing things dating back to the creation of the world. This passage echoes of those things. It echoes of Jubilee (Leviticus 25)—a freeing and redeeming time—when God promised Israel, “I will repay you for the lost years” (Joel 2:25). It echoes of the burning bush and of Sinai (Exodus 3;19-24). These are markers, reminders of God’s sovereignty, which prove that He is the Lord and there is no other (Joel 2:27).
Throughout the Minor Prophets, God threads these I AM—or “Because I said so”—phrases so people will know the promises are true. He reminds the hearer repeatedly, “I am the Lord.” Why? Because in times of trial (and in times of ease) we forget. We forget who we are and whose we are. We forget what God has done in the past and lose sight of His help both now and in the future.
But God knew this about us, and so He promised the pouring out of His Spirit (Joel 2:28,32)—“the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15), and the seal of God upon those who love Him (Ephesians 1:13). He gave us His Spirit to remind us of what’s true.
God has promised us restoration and redemption. But He also promises us Himself. And just like He did for Israel through the prophet Joel, He promises to deliver us to fullness, joy, and health, too—a Jubilee to those who belong to Him. That is our future promise. And though we don’t know when it will come true, we can trust Him to bring this, and all of His promises, into fruition, because He said so.
Written by Barnabas Piper