Joel 2:12-13, 2:32
The book of Joel is one of warning to the people of Judah and it can be applied to believers today. The people of Judah had become prosperous and smug in their relationship with God.
Underestimating God, they became egotistical, they worshipped idols and fell into sin. Joel cautions them that this way of life will unavoidably cause God to cast His judgment down on them.
In the first part of chapter 1, Joel predicts that a locust plague will befall the people of Judah. In the second half of chapter 1, Joel calls the people to repent. Then in chapter 2, Joel warns of the approaching judgment, and for the people to “Return to the Lord your God.” In the last part of chapter 2, Joel tells them that God will pour out His Spirit. Then finally in chapter 3, Joel tells them that the Day of the Lord is near.
The “Day of the Lord” is a common expression in the Old Testament. It generally alludes to some phenomenal occurring, regardless of whether a current event (the plague of locust), an event that is soon to happen (Jerusalem being destroyed or enemy nations being defeated), or at the end of history when God will vanquish a11 of the powers of evil.
God was telling His people to return to Him while they still had time. Their time for repentance was almost over and judgment was soon to given to them for their disobedience. Believers today need to understand that our time of repentance is also running out, like the sands in an hourglass, slowly falling. We do not know when our time will be up so we must repent for any wrongdoing that might be in our lives. We cannot afford to have anything holding us back from a relationship with the Lord.
In biblical times, people would tear their clothes as a sign of deep remorse for any transgressions, along with the covering of ashes and wearing sackcloth. God did not want the people to put on an outward demonstration of repentance without an inward application of repentance. (Matthew 23:1-36)
Our inward attitude (heart) must be true and righteous to God for grace and mercy to come upon us. If only an outward action is performed, it is of no use and judgment is what we deserve. (Amos 7:2-6)
What does it mean to repent? It means that one feels and expresses sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing, transgressions, or sin. It enters our minds then it hits our hearts. We do a complete 180 degree turn around and go back to God.
Mercy and judgment are intricately connected. One can follow the other. Joel had said that if the people confessed their transgressions that the Lord would spare them from judgment. In this coming judgment and disaster, some would be spared. God wants to mend and heal broken lives, not demolish them. We should acknowledge his salvation, or we will face judgment with the unrepentant.
Repentance is an inward experience, not an outward display. The heart is what needs to be torn, not our clothes. Judgment falls unto the sinner for not accepting Christ, and unto the Christians living in sin. When a person repents and turns their hearts and lives to God, He is saying that we were under His judgment and that He was going to judge us. But because we are repentant, He will not judge us.
Church Hymnal, page 357, Is Thy Heart Right With God
Have thy affections been nailed to the cross?
Is thy heart right with God?
Countest thou all things for Jesus but lost?
Is thy heart right with God?
Is thy heart right with God,
Washed in the crimson flood,
Cleansed and made holy, humble and lowly,
Right in the sight of God?
Friend where do you stand today?
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