Joel 2:12-25 Selected (NKJV) A Call to Repentance
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him— 19 The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations. 25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten….
We have strayed so far! The Lord has taught us how we are to live but each has turned to his own way. We do not walk in His ways yet we try to appear as if we do. We go to Church and sit to listen to the message but do we heed God’s word? God is calling us to repentance. Our world has gone terribly wrong. We have the chance to change all that one person at a time.
The Prophet Joel tells the people of Judah (Israel’s Southern Kingdom) where they have gone wrong. They, too, were about outside appearance rather than living rightly in their hearts. They would rend (or tear) their clothes to show repentance but there would be no change within their hearts. They were the same deceitful people inside. Joel calls out to us to return to the Lord who will restore His blessings upon us even making up for the punishment we received for our rebellion. He is that loving a God!
We, like ancient Israel have wandered away from the Lord. We look OK on the outside but our hearts are black with sin. All is not lost though. God will redeem if asked. Our Heavenly Father is gracious and merciful. He will restore us. I know this firsthand. He has always been with me.
My earthly Father was a model of my Heavenly Father for me as I grew up. My Dad was Fred and he was gracious, loving, merciful and compassionate too! Most of all, he was kind. You knew he loved you and wanted the best for you. He was sometimes disappointed but seldom angry. When I made mistakes, he would say “you’ll do better next time.” He was a man of few words. In case you are wondering, I take after my Mother in speaking as I am not of few words. One time, I had a battle with my Mom and decided to move out on my own. My Mother was upset. All my Dad said was keep your key. Only three little words. That was his way of saying I am always here for you. I don’t want you to go but you can always come back. You will always be my son no matter where you go and I will always love you. You can go out into the world in strength when you have that ace up your sleeve. Not only was my Heavenly Father always with me but so was my earthly Father. I never did move out. My Dad got my Mother to apologize for her interference and promise to treat me as the adult I was at the time. I lived with my parents in mutual respect until I married Jean. I love my parents dearly and I am so blessed by them. Many are not that lucky.
In the same way, the Lord holds you in His heart and will restore you if you return to Him. You may have to face the consequences of your choices but He can redeem you and make you whole. No matter how far you have strayed, He can redeem you. Many people think they have wandered too far for the Lord to bring them back but that is just not true. There is no place His arm cannot reach. In the story from Joel, every living piece of vegetation had been devoured and the land was completely desolate. Yet the Lord said He would restore all that the locusts had eaten. Nothing is impossible with God. Return to the Lord. He is waiting for you with open arms!
Thank You Lord that You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. In Your mercy, lead us closer to You. Write Your story on our hearts. Help us to remain in You so we do not have to return. Let us walk with You and share Your love with all whom we meet. In Your name we pray. Amen!