The statement of Joel 2:25—“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten”—is a reference to the produce of food from the years the locusts destroyed the harvest. A closer look at the context and details of this verse offers additional insight into the goodness of God.
Israel’s crops had been destroyed by a locust invasion (Joel 1:4), and the impact lasted more than one year. This could indicate that locusts invaded in consecutive years. However, it is more likely that the damage of one invasion had a multi-year impact. When locusts destroyed a crop, they wiped out the seed saved from the previous year, the harvest of the current year, and the seed that would be used the next year. Locust devastation of grape vines and fruit trees would take years to redevelop (Joel 1:12).
Joel 2:25 complements the preceding verse, which says, “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.” The restoring of the years the locust had eaten would include an abundant harvest of grain, grapes, and olives.
Joel had used the locust invasion as an illustration of God’s judgment. In His promise to “restore” the years lost to the locust, God is pledging to restore His repentant people to a place of blessing after judgment. The context describes many other positive things that would take place during this restoration:
-Green pasture for livestock: “the pastures of the wilderness are green” (Joel 2:22).
-Trees and vines that bear fruit: “the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield” (Joel 2:22).
-The spring and summer rains would come as needed for a good crop: “he has given the early rain” (Joel 2:23).
The results of this restoration would be both physical and spiritual. Physically, “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.” Spiritually, they would “praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you” (Joel 2:26).
The conclusion of this section of Joel summarizes God’s intention for the restoration: “And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame” (Joel 2:26-27). God must deal with sin, but when His people repent, they find abundant blessing that more than compensates for what was lost in the judgment. His grace abounds.