Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.( Joel 2:11-19)
God can handle Locusts. He knows how to handle Babylonians, Seleucids, Assyrians, Romans, Turks, and destructive hordes of leftists. He actually uses them for his purposes and then judges them. Recent events here in America are disturbing indeed, and they portend destruction, but God is on His throne.
What God wants is for his people to truly and deeply give him their hearts. He wants us to turn to him from the World, and all of our idols in which we trust, and to repent of our sins with all of our hearts. This is one of the central messages of this prophet, and it speaks to us today if we will listen.
God is speaking, in view off the “Day of The Lord” and in the very face and time of the people stricken, smitten and being stripped of everything by various forms of “Locusts”.
I think of my own lifetime, which has spanned the 60’s up to this day. America was a strongly Christ influenced nation, but Atheists have eroded and torn away at everything ‘Christian’ about it. Our institutions have been co-opted and used against us, our schools, (once the envy of the world) our families have been under constant attack and undermined, various people groups have been set against each other, The church is under attack, institutions such as law, medicine and education have been taken over by leftists and utterly inverted. The very highest of Christian ideals for a society, the sanctity of Life has been desecrated and trampled underfoot.
The “cultural locusts” have descended upon us and are taking everything from us in wave after wave of erosive destruction. This is the judgment of God. We are being chastised, by the Holy God of the Bible.
The Prophet gives us the answer, a turning back to God in Spirit and in Truth.
God is saying, “…turn ye even to me with all your heart…” . What does it mean to know and love God? It couldn’t mean being half hearted about Him. Repentance has a meaning, it means to “change one’s mind”, to Turn around, to re-think your entire approach.
Let us ask of ourselves, “Do we love the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and Strength”?
Is God real to you? Are you in anyway devoted to Him? What do you love the most?
God adds that we should turn to Him, “… with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning…” .
There is much to weep over, if we allow ourselves to, before God. The sorry condition of our (too often) lukewarm souls, the many compromises we have made in the areas of entertainment, the presence of deep sin in our lives or in our families, without being challenged. “Blessed are those who mourn…” Jesus said.
How about some tears for what is left of the church? I have seen an alarming lack of concern for church among confessing believers, in fact a good many Christians simply do not go to church anymore more do they support one!
There are many reasons for this, much has to do with the decline in the standards of teaching and ministry, a good many Pastors have become worldly, and seek to appeal to worldly values in others, and have tuis destroyed much of the church. They have put people in a situation where they simply don’t see the point of supporting such churches anymore. But shouldn’t we mourn over it?
What a time, where people need the lighthouse effect of sound, healthy churches! What a let down too often, where people go to church and get pop psychology, infantile level ‘sermons’ and lightness which denies the awesome holiness of God.
When someone really gets serious about spirituality, it involves various levels of fasting. Fasting is a way to afflict the soul, and to focus on what is the only supreme value, a right relationship with God. It is a humbling of the physical man, and of the distracted soul, that the Spiritual be sharpened and ears be opened to Him who speaks to his children when they want to listen.
God calls upon his people, not to make a huge external and emotion driven show of it, but tells us to “…rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God:…”.
The same Holy God who sends the locusts as a punishment or a discipline, is also of a Forgiving and benevolent nature towards his children, He doesn’t want destruction,
“… he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.“
We are to keep that in mind, and rely on that mercy and goodness of God, as we call upon him for repentance and forgiveness.
But the urgency is so great, that he calls All to a “Solemn Assembly” a time of fasting, prayer, repentance, for the whole congregation.The Young, the Elders, the nursing mothers and even the NewlyWeds in their honeymoon, are called to participate in the time of seeking!
The Prophet is given special instructions for the Priests, ie the ministry. They are to prostrate themselves, and to cry out, between the Porch, (Where the congregation is) and the Altar, (where God is).
Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
God would have his ministers to be restored in their heart for his people, (their charges) and to cry out for their welfare and that they be revived. The Ministers are even given the prayer that they should pray…”SPARE THEY PEOPLE OH LORD, DON’T LET THEM BECOME A REPROACH…”.
Thus we can see what God requires of his people, in view of the Day of the LORD. He wants out hearts again, He would have our hearts turned to him, tenderized, renewed in faith, hope, and love.
When was the last time you shut everything off and gave time to the LORD? When was the last time you wept over your sins, or over the hardness of your heart? When was the last time you wept before God, for someone else? Out of concern for their very soul, have you ever secretly wept before God for them?
Let the deep message of the Prophet Joel penetrate your heart today. Hosea, another prophet’s words ring so true also, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, until he rain Righteousness…”.