Joel 2:12 NIV “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and notyour garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God. 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroomleave his room and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they sayamong the peoples, „Where is their God?‟ ”
In the first part of the prophecy of Joel, we have been reminded of the Day of the Lord and what will happen on that day. It‟s not pretty, but it is a reality.Our text today calls us to GET READY for Christ‟s return.
Matthew 16:24 NET Then Jesus said tohis disciples, "If anyone wants to becomemy follower, he must deny himself, take uphis cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, butwhoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life?
27 For the Son of Man will come with hisangels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (An allusion to Psa 28:4; Psa 62:12; cf. Pro 24:12)
Joel prophesied people had to do things to GET READY. Jesus calls each of us todeny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, because, when he returns he will reward each person according to what he has done. Are we doing anything! Salvation demands ACTION!
1 Thessalonians 4:16 NET For the Lordhimself will come down from heaven witha shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up togetherwith them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
We know about getting ready for things. We get ready for events, school, work, weddings, church and much more. We don‟t want to go somewhere and not beready. How do we get ready to meet God and eternity? Realizing that our world, society, and even church culture hasmissed God‟s mark (which, by definition, is sinful) and that nothing sinful is ready to meet God, what do we do?
For the people of Israel, after thisprophecy with eye-opening judgment, God gave Joel the way to get ready. These verses suggest 3 actions which a church and a culture need to “GET READY.”
1. Assemble God’s Children The first line in verse 15 is a repeat of verse 1, “Blow the trumpet” yet here it isfor a different reason. Verse 1 is an alarm while verse 15 is a call to gather. Picture it this way. The Emergency Broadcast Tone or tornado sirens are sounding an alarm.
The Church bell, the same as the bell at the farm, calls workers to come in to befed & nourished. Joel says, “Call all God‟schildren together” and the call of the NewTestament is the same, “Come Together.” Why?
The Power of the Assembly 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. When we speak of this assembly, themodern day counterpart is the church. The assembled church has incredible power. Just as Jesus gave them to Peter, thechurch has the KEYS to spiritual things in heaven and hell.
The idea is not that Peter will admit peopleto heaven, but that Peter opened the doorof the kingdom to both the Jews (Act 2:38-39) and the Gentiles. (Act 10:34-44) (Guzik) The power to open the gates of thekingdom of heaven was expanded into the great missionary commission,
- a commission that was understood bythe apostolic church to be addressed not to the eleven apostles only, but to all Christs followers without distinction. (ISBE) Therefore go and make disciples of allnations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 NET
But this is the church that is assembled and together. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fell when they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 NET Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were alltogether in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting.
3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest oneach one of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. In John 17 the Lord Jesus prayeddiligently & passionately for His people to walk in unity and harmony.
John 17:20 NET "I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of thosewho believe in me through their testimony, 21 that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I praythat they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
22 The glory you gave to me I have givento them, that they may be one just as weare one — 23 I in them and you in me —that they may be completely one, so thatthe world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.
God has chosen to work through Hischurch (the assembly) so there are manyother issues which we can glean from thetext. We read of the call to „fast.‟ In simple terms fasting (though not practiced by most believers in modern times) is acommitment to put God & His walk ahead of EVERYTHING!
The Priority for the Assembly 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursingat the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Maybe the better way to state this is the “participation” in the Assembly, but itseems to me that the Prophet is giving us a picture of our expected priority and participation.
Look at all the people who are mentioned; the elderly, children, babies, & evennewlyweds. It would seem that the word ofthe Lord is this: “Let nothing stand in yourway of getting together, it‟s that important!”
We are living in an era of „I‟ and „me‟. Most of us are tired of hearing about this because (for many) it smacks us in theface. What flimsy excuse have you heardor used? “Sunday‟s the only day I have to relax.” “I don‟t like coming back Sundayevenings,” or if “I” have nothing else to do this week, “I” may be there; are all statements which are commonly used.
In many minds, the Assembly is a manmade institution which does not deservefirst priority, yet this line of thinking is not from the mind of our Lord. Jesus loved and loves the church. Hebirthed her, died for her, empowered her, and one day is coming back for her.
We claim to be a member of the church, but are we if we‟re not a participant? Are we as useless as an appendix & need to be cut out? Look at the picture Jesus draws.John 15:1 NET "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 2 He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.
The Holy Spirit was sent when there was an assembly gathered. Things happen when God‟s people assemble! The main thing is Jesus promises to be there, shouldn‟t we be there also?Matthew 18:19 NET Again, I tell you thetruth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them."
The Prayer by the Assembly17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they sayamong the peoples, „Where is their God?‟ ”
It was very common for the leaders andthus, the priests to offer corporate prayer for the assembly.In verse 17 we sense the passion for God and His people.
The leaders are told to pray standingbetween the temple porch and the altar.With their back to the altar because they had nothing to offer & their faces to theTemple where God was enthroned, they were to pray with a broken heart. Whywere their hearts broken? Because of the corruptness of God‟s people.
Perhaps the reason God answers so fewof our prayers today is because He sees no brokenness over our sin, ourunfaithfulness and even our inconsistentlives. I think if we are to get ready for the Day of the Lord, we must be like Joel speaks and be broken.
2. Acknowledge God’s CharacterWe could stay here all day talking about God‟s character and still only touch thesurface. Yet, to read verses 13 & 14 is tosee common characteristics of our Lord. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing—grainofferings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.
He is Gracious Think about those first three attributes which we have read; gracious andcompassionate, slow to anger. I think oneword encompasses all of these thoughts;merciful. Would it be fair to say, that God has not given us what we deserve?
He has given us kindness, understanding,leniency, and the best gift of all, His Son.God is THE God who takes the first step toward us so that we can find Him.
He is Good He is so rich in love that He (of His own choice) can be merciful! Almighty God is good to us in that He offers us His loveand the assurance that when we come toHim, He will abundantly pardon. Considerthis: God is so gracious and good that He desires that no one fall under His divine judgment. He sent Jesus to die because He desires that no one perish.
However, make no mistake: His goodness is only exceeded by His righteousness and Holy God will indeed judge unholy man because God will judge and punishsin. Getting ready for the Day of the Lord means recognizing that He is gracious, good and;
He is Generous God‟s character is such that when we come to Him „who knows‟ what He might do? He may replace His judgment with ablessing. We know that James the brother of Jesus writes that „every good andperfect gift comes from the Father‟ (James1:17) and we know that Jesus taught that if “we who are sinful give good gifts to ourkids, what do you think God will do?” (Matt 7:11; Luke 11:13)
Never forget, God is rich! He is rich in grace, He is rich in life, and He is rich in love: He is generous with all that He has! Too many think that God wants to „cramp their style‟ and „take away their fun‟ whenactually the opposite is true. We will neverbe ready for His coming until we recognize the true Character of God.
3. Accept God’s Call (for repentance) We are familiar with the call to repent. John the Baptist and Jesus began theirministry calling people to repent. In Acts 2, the people cried out “what must we do?”Peter said to them, "Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of JesusChrist for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 NET
He didn‟t stop proclaiming this message. In Chapter 3, after healing the lame man he preached again saying, Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times ofrefreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you — that is, Jesus. Acts 3:19-20 NET
Jesus‟ message rings clear; No, I tell you! But unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Luke 13:3 NETThere is no exception. To look in verse 12& 13 is to know that God was talking with His own people.
12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, withfasting and weeping and mourning.” 13Rend your heart and not your garments.Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
He says, “Repent”and gives us 3 pictures to see; The Timing The Turning The Tearing
The TimingHe says “EVEN NOW.” Paul writes, For he says, "I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation Ihelped you." (Isaiah 49:8) Look, now is theacceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:2 NET
God never says you can, will, or should wait. He says, “Do it now, do it quickly.” Many will respond, “I‟ll repent however, Iwant to wait.” First of all, if you can wait—it probably won‟t be true repentance because true repentance comes from a broken heart. Generally, no brokenness equals no repentance.
The Turning To turn to God means turning from something. Most of the time it means turning from self. This is not easy or desirable. Just like you can never turntoward the east without turning your back on the west, you can never turn to God without turning your back on the world.
To be a friend of God is to be an enemy of the world (and visa-versa). Maybe this is why turning to God takes such action. Notice the three participles; fasting,weeping, and mourning. A participle is the adjective form of a verb. A verb is the action word and just like turning, all threeof these require us to take action. Can you sense the hurt of the heart when you see weeping and mourning?
The Tearing I think the act of fasting, weeping and mourning is the bridge which leads to the “tearing.” In Old Testament days it was common to tear your clothes and dirtyyour face to demonstrate your repentance. However, the prophet says, „Don‟t stop with your clothes, tear your heart also.‟ Itis only when we tear our heart that we will become tender enough to return to the Lord with no excuses.
God calls us to “Get Ready for His coming.” We must be ready in our hearts and with our lives.In an article for Youth Ministries magazine, a 14-year veteran of the Navy SEALs describes the color-code system they use to indicate levels of combat readiness. Each stage has a parallel in spiritual warfare.
Condition : The soldier is relaxed and daydreaming, unaware of hissurroundings. A Christian in this condition is easy prey for Satan.Condition : The soldier is relaxedphysically but alert mentally. A believer atthis level may sense trouble coming, but he‟s not ready to confront it.
Condition : The soldier is physically prepared, mentally alert, andready to fight. A believer at this stage has on the full armor of God.Condition : As in condition orange, the soldier is ready to fight. The difference is experience. A battle-seasoned Christian knows quickly what to do because of his experience and familiarity with Scripture.
Wherever we as followers of Christ happen to be--at work, in the mall, on a business trip, even among fellowbelievers--we need to know about Satan‟s methods and be prepared to resist. He always seems to attack at our most vulnerable moments. But if we stay alert and armed, we can fend off his most powerful attacks. --DCE
THINKING IT OVERWhich color code describes your spiritual condition? How have you responded recently to temptation? Are you studying and obeying God‟s Word?