I really just want to go through the book of Joel, and take what seems to be key verses to me and talk about them.
The first 15 verses of chapter 1 can be summed up with Joel 2:3
Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.
The Lord is warning them of judgement day. This verse is telling us how devastating the Lord’s army is going to be. Until His army comes, everything is going to be grand, we are going to be enjoying the pleasures of the earth in all its beauty. But when the Lord passes through, everything behind Him will be destroyed into a waste. There is nothing His army won’t cover. It will bring disaster to all. Going back a few verses, to Joel 2:1
Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem;
shout a warning on my holy mountain.
Let all the people who live in the land shake with fear,
because the Lord’s day of judging is coming;
it is near.
Shake with fear. This reminds of the moment when you get to class, the toughest one, the one you really need that A in, and you get to class to realize everyone has on their desk an important assignment to turn in that you forgot to do. Fear strikes you hard, you panic quickly think how you can resolve this. Maybe you can leave class now before the professor comes. Maybe I won’t say anything and the professor won’t notice. You think to yourself, how in the stinkin world could I forget about this assignment?!
But now take this another step forward, you’re living your life, maybe on your way to work, to school. to the gym, on the way home, which ever, and this trumpet blows from the sky. Close your eyes and imagine this. Then this voice comes shouting from the sky, “Judgement day is coming next week. Prepare yourselves!” Imagine that fear. What’s the first thought that comes to mind? Whatever your thought is, I want to ask, how in the stinkin’ world could you forget that God said there will be a judgement day?!
Joel 2:6-11 describes what God’s army will be like.
When they see them, nations shake with fear,
and everyone’s face becomes pale.
They charge like soldiers;
they climb over the wall like warriors.
They all march straight ahead
and do not move off their path.
They do not run into each other,
because each walks in line.
They break through all efforts to stop them
and keep coming.
They run into the city.
They run at the wall
and climb into the houses,
entering through windows like thieves.
Before them, earth and sky shake.
The sun and the moon become dark,
and the stars stop shining.
The Lord shouts out orders
to his army.
His army is very large!
Those who obey him are very strong!
The Lord’s day of judging
is an overwhelming and terrible day.
No one can stand up against it!
In terms of an army, God’s army is extremely disciplines and follow orders exactly to how they were given them. There is nothing that can stand in the way of God’s army. No amount of human effort or advancement can get in His way. On top of that, it says in front of His army “the sun and moon become dark, and the stars stop shinning.” Even if you were to try and fight it, there is no light to see. Total darkness. Everything will be destroyed without a trace. It’s kind of an overwhelming thought.
I love what it says next though in Joel 2:12-13
The Lord says, “Even now, come back to me with all your heart.
Fast, cry, and be sad.”
Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad;
let your heart be broken.
Come back to the Lord your God,
because he is kind and shows mercy.
He doesn’t become angry quickly,
and he has great love.
He can change his mind about doing harm.
God never threatens us without giving us a way out of His wrath. So now, you’re sitting in class, you decided to stay, the professor sees that you forgot to do your assignment. He says to you, “Son, why have you not followed my instructions? I told you the first day of the semester of the assignment, I have warned you every week since, and here you have not done it. According to my syllabus, I am going to have to give you a zero.” And, rightly so. Yes, you may have gotten to busy, things got in the way in you just forgot about it, sure your grandmother may have died last week, but the professor warned you from the beginning of the assignment.
Coming back to the trumpet in the sky, to the voice shouting that next week is judgement day. What’s your excuse to why you haven’t been living right with God? Fortunately for you, God is given each and everyone of us a second chance. “Come back to me” He says! “With all your heart.”Come.
He says, “Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad; let your heart be broken.” I think sometimes we like to pretend we are upset about our wrong doings, I think sometimes we like to make a cover of us being sad so that maybe we feel better about ourselves, so that maybe others are more easily to forgive you. But God is telling us, He doesn’t care about our physical attributes of being sad, let your heart actually be broken. When was the last time your heart was broken? Do you love that Lord so much that even the slightest sin against Him cuts you deep? Or are you like me, more adapted to my sins, kinda brush over them. As long as you say you are for God, it’s all okay right? As long as you are happy and having fun right? As long as you aren’t upsetting or doing harm to others right? I think sometimes we forget and simply can’t imagine how much God loves us and how much pain it costs Him when we sin. Maybe your sins are no big deal to you, but to God, it cost His Sons’ life.
Let your heart be broken and come back to the Lord your God. “He is kind and shows mercy.” “He has great love.” Unlike our professor who is simply following his syllabus and the rules of the university, God can and will give you a second chance. Judgment day doesn’t have to be a bad day for you, it can be the greatest day of your life. Turn back to Him.
Who knows? Maybe He will turn back to you and leave behind a blessing for you..
So God comes through and destroys all life and everything around you, BUT who knows, maybe He will turn back and leave a blessing for you. This verse isn’t saying He will turn around, but it implies hope. A blessing from the Lord is greater than anything we can conceive ourselves. Here Joel is simply stating, sure everything may get destroyed in your life, but God can still turn around and bless you and your land. There’s nothing He can’t bless.
Then the Lord became concerned about His land and felt sorry for His people. He said to them: “I will send you grain, new wine, and olive oil, so that you will have plenty. No more will I shame you among the nations.”
Boom, God’s grace. We can rebel all we want against God, but He still feels sorry for His people when disaster comes. What kind of love is this? So after destroying everything in our lives, He comes back and says I’ll give you everything brand new and will give you plenty!
Over all what I am seeing here, beyond judgement day, is a message about our hearts. Change your heart towards God, and He will restore you. He’ll make you brand new.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
What does God want? He wants you to come to Him, no matter how broken, so that He may forgive you and piece you back together. He wants to make your weaknesses your strong point.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he[God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I[Paul] am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
And one more, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what’s been done, God can use it.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
This is what I love about my God. He’s not asking me, or you, to be perfect, He’s asking us for our heart. When you give God your heart, all His commands, The 10 Commandments, all the ‘rules’ change. It no longer becomes something you have to follow to be a good Christian. Rather it becomes something you desire to follow because you realize His love is greater than sin. You realize God didn’t create all His laws to give us an impossible to test or to keep us away from our pleasures, rather He was protecting us from the world. If you sit down and consider the 10 commandments, look at them from a perspective that they are there to protect you, rather than a list of rules to follow and break. Watch as you realize the 10 commandments are a sign of His love for us, rather than wrath. They are there to protect, rather than take away.
God’s pretty cool. Come and give Him your broken heart. He won’t turn you away. He will only love you.
(Gonna start at verse 20 next time.)