Scratching the Surface of Joel
Have you ever seen that bumper sticker, "God's Coming Back Soon...and He's Really..."?
While Jesus said nobody knows for sure when that day's coming except the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior, that day's coming; and when we read Matthew 24, Mark 13, and other related texts and recognize the birthpangs of that day increase in frequency and intensity as the day draws closer...
Well, you get the point; and if you don't, as bikers like to say, I can't explain it to you.
Moretheless, as the Boy Scouts used to say as Jesus still does, "Be prepared!"
That was His way of saying we can avoid a lotta trouble by not getting caught with our pants down in any fashion when that day comes without any more warning than we've already received.
No excuses when that day comes.
We have been warned.
Joel is about that day.
God's people are devastated by locusts: "We have been invaded! What the cutting locusts left, the swarming locusts consumed; what the swarming locusts left, the creeping locusts consumed; what the creeping locusts left, the stripping locusts finished off."
But Joel is about that locust plague being nothing compared to "the great and terrible day of the Lord" that is coming.
Stepping back, the locust plague came because God used it to punish His people for insulting His holiness in so many ways.
"The great and terrible day of the Lord" - a repeated theme/warning in the Bible - refers to the really, really, really big and much, much, much unimaginably awful judgment that is coming to people who persist in insulting His holiness in so many ways.
It will be: "Judgment will come on a black and fearful day; a thick cloud of darkness will loom over everything. A great and mighty army advances like dawn spreading across the mountains. Never has the world seen anything like it before, nor will future generations ever see anything like it again...The army is like a fire, consuming everything...a scorching flame burning everything...Nothing is spared..."
Fortunately, we know God wants to save everybody.
That's what Jesus was/is/remains all about.
Jesus proves that point - the biggest point in the big book.
So Joel points to the only path to avoid the totally devastating punishment of that day: "Who can survive?...Turn back your heart and rededicate yourselves to Me...Show Me your repentance by fasting, weeping, and mourning....Rip the wickedness out of your hearts; don't just tear your clothing...Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved..."
My buddy Cliff said he no longer nods like a good humor man agreeing with the last person that he's talked to like an incomplete sentence ending in a preposition when someone says, "Pastor, please pray for me..." Now he asks, "Before I pray for you, are you serious about repenting?"
Cliff got that from Joel: "Rip the wickedness out of your hearts; don't just tear your clothing..."
In other words, walk the talk!
Saying without doing, as James makes so clear, is a lie.
Doing after saying confirms the veracity of confession.
That's what the call to fasting in Joel is all about: "Blow the trumpet!...Set apart a time for fasting...Assemble the people..."
Show the seriousness of what you say about loving God!
I'll never forget that big church meeting in the mid-seventies in Baltimore, Maryland when I sat with several other last year seminarians in a room on the fifth floor of the Hilton Hotel with Dr. James I. McCord who was President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches as well as our seminary; and how he challenged us: "I don't care what you do, boys! But do something for God's sake!"
That's Joel's message.
That's the Bible's message.
Do something for God's sake!
Don't be like that drunk on the old Jackie Gleason show: "I ain't doin' nothin'...I'm just hangin' aroun'...doin' nothin'..."
Do something for God's sake!
That's how we show our appreciation for Him as our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior; and avoid the awful consequences of not doing anything for God's sake when that inevitable day comes.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!
Post a Comment