Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Joel 2: 12-17

12"Yet even now," declares the LORD, "Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
13And rend your heart and not your garments "
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger,
abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.
14Who knows whether He will not turn
and relent and leave a blessing behind Him,
Even a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?
15Blow a trumpet in Zion! Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,
16Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders,
Gather the children and the nursing infants
Let the bridegroom come out of his room
and the bride out of her bridal chamber.
17Let the priests, the LORD'S ministers,
weep between the porch and the altar,
And let them say, "Spare Your people, O LORD,
And do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations
Why should they among the peoples say, 'Where is their God?'"


There it is, friends--the word which changes everything. After a chapter and 11 verses of devastation and destruction, there is something new to come.

"Return to Me...." declares the Lord.

Must stop right there and say what an incredible blessing that is! Not just for Judah, but for all of us, no matter where we are or what we have done. "Yet, even now...return." We've read through so many difficult times in these passages, taking deep drinks of the cup Judah was holding. How amazing to come to this place--God audibly speaking--and to have Him utter these words of hope!

This is not to say that we can just "come back" without any action on our part. God is specific about what is needed. Come with "fasting, weeping, mourning...rendering your heart." The Amplified Bible adds the note on mourning "until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored." 'Rend' means to rip, tear, split or, where the heart is concerned, to cause distress or pain. In the Bible, we read of those so convicted over their sin that they ripped their garments and put on sackcloth in their mourning and repentance. God says, not your garments--your hearts! Your hearts need to be broken over your sin.

If there was doubt that God is a God of second chances, embrace verse 13b. "Slow to anger...relenting of evil." I like the English roots of 'relent'; it means to bend. Again, I'm looking at the Amplified Bible's phrasing on verse 14: "Who knows but what He will turn, revoke your sentence [of evil], and leave a blessing behind Him [giving you the means with which to serve Him]...." Not only is God capable of turning over your guilty verdict, He has the capacity to bestow a blessing upon you, that you might continue to serve Him. How about that kind of justice? Can you explain it??

The last three verses of today's passage echo the beginning of Joel 2. Lest the people forget that quickly how their saving needs to happen, Joel reiterates the call for the nation to come together for united repentance, the "solemn assembly."

"Do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword...." This is strong wording here, "Your inheritance"--or "heritage, possession, property" [Strong's]. But it needs to be. It speaks to relationship and the authority in the relationship. We are God's people. We belong to Him. The plea of the people: May we not be a disgrace to Your name, a "byword"--an epithet or object of scorn--that other nations ["heathen nations," says the KJV and other translations] should say, 'Where is their God?"

Doesn't that just get to the crux of things? Up until this point, could we not read this account of Judah and say, "Where is their God? Who is their God??"

When we choose to go our own way, where is our God? Who is our God?? Will we recognize when our gracious, compassionate God--who could bring forth His full wrath through a day of the Lord--is saying, "Yet, even now...return"? And will we render our very hearts? Will Judah??

More encouragement from the Lord.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Joel 2: 18-22

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).


Edie said...

Rend your hearts. I just can't help but think of His People in this nation as I read these words. I fully believe that if we, His People would rend our hearts and "return to the LORD our God" that our nation would be healed.

The parallel in your study of the prophets and the condition of our nation is astounding.

Sue J. said...

Just seeing how the words from the prophets have been spoken in other ways, at other times, has been enlightening. God has been so consistent in the message and has tried so many paths to reach so many! That in itself shows His great love, even as we are yet sinners....

II Chronicles 7:14, paraphrased: If My people would humbly pray and seek My face and turn away from their wicked ways, then I would hear them and move My hand...and heal their land!

Carmen said...

I LOVE the Amplified Bible. It gives such an incredible picture of the meaning of the wording used. We live in such a superficial world. How we love to take shortcuts! But that is not possible with God. God is the real thing, and He wants the real thing from us. True heartfelt repentance; a deep realization of sin and its impact; the indisputable recognition of a loving God in a falling world. What a wonderful, all encompassing God we serve! Thanks for this post Sue...sorry it's taken me a while to get to it.