RETURN TO THE LORD!
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Joel 2 : 1-17
"And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God….” -Joel 2:13
Today’s reading commences with the blowing of the trumpet a sign to warn about “the day of the Lord” and Prophet Joel proceeds to give a picture of this judgment day, with a call to repentance.
Old Testament times rending garment simply meant tearing apart one’s garment to show grief or mourning. We see this in Genesis 37:34 when Jacob heard the news of his son Joseph’s death. But here we are asked to rend our heart and not our garment- a call to tear ourselves apart from all the things that hinder us from walking with God. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says: “For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is fully devoted to Him.” God is always searching for a people with a contrite heart, broken over their sinful nature with a willingness to change. He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and will defer the punishment He intended.
God says to them “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12). A deeper look into these three actions to help us understand repentance better:
Fasting in this case is a humbling before Him which declares that we have wronged Him and only He can deliver us from the consequence of our action. God also looks at the attitude of our heart while we fast. Isaiah 58:3-7 reveals the heart attitude and actions that God is displeased with: “Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. “Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist...”; and the heart attitude and actions that God expects from us: “….Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, …And to let the oppressed go.... Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry …..bring the poor into the house; …..see the naked, to cover him……. " Let us take heed that we do not just put on a show of fasting but truly humble ourselves before Him because we need His grace to live a godly life on this earth while in this body.
Weeping before the Lord is an act of desperation and unconditional surrender to His goodness and acknowledging His power to deliver. Mark 14:72: ‘… And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, "Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And he began to weep.’ We also read about the woman who wept in repentance at Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:38: “…and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears ….”
Mourning is something we do when we regret the damage that has been caused by our actions. In Judges 21:6 we read, “But the Israelis were mourning for their relatives in the tribe of Benjamin. They announced, "One tribe has been eliminated from Israel today!” During the time of Judges everyone did as and what they liked because there was no one to rule over them. All the tribes of Israel had vowed before the Lord that they would not give their daughters in marriage to the tribe of Benjamin because of something that they had done wrong. So now all Israelites were mourning when they realized that their action would cause the tribe of Benjamin to be no more. God expects us to be contrite and mourn over our disobedient acts that led to a painful consequence, so that we will not repeat it but then turn back to Him and be restored.
Today as we understand what is involved in true repentance, let our attitude and actions reveal it.
"Always, everywhere God is present, and always
He seeks to discover Himself to each one”
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