"Yet, even now, " declares the Lord, "Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning, and rend your heart and not your garments." Joes 2:12-13
The prophecy of Joel was written after a severe drought and an invasion of locusts, which Joel saw as a punishment for the sins of the people. He also depicted this invasion of locusts as an army, a harbinger of a future military campaign in the Day of the Lord.
As I read it, I thought about how history repeats itself over and over. There is massive sin, which includes all kinds of tyranny and cruelty from man trying to play God and rule over His creation. Then God has to intervene in the affairs of man and defend the righteous. This includes judgement, but He always extends mercy and pleads with us to return to Him and His ways to restore order as we read in these verses.
Redemption and restoration must be preceded by confession and true repentance. Perhaps you, like me, needed to be reminded of what true repentance looks like. As I read these verses I looked closely at how God describes true repentance. He wants us to always come to Him with all our heart. Isn’t that what we all want in a relationship with those we love? Who wants to be married to a man or woman with a divided heart? We want all their loyalty and all their heart. It is a God given desire and need inside each one of us. Ultimately we need that desire met first and foremost by God Himself. Then we are able to give what we have received from Him.
The times in my life I have been desperate for Him I incorporated fasting in my prayer life. I believe we see from these verses true repentance for individuals and for our nation is necessary. Most of us are not in a position to call for a national fast, but we can certainly call for one in our personal lives and our families. Our nation, and world for that matter, warrants a call for fasting, weeping, and mourning before our God.
We are to rend our hearts; not our garments. What does the Lord mean by that? He showed me when we render our garments it is external with only an outward appearance more for man than for God. God sees the heart. He wants truth and sincerity in the inner man, heart to heart with Him.
As the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of my heart I knew it had been a long time, since my repentance had met the standard He had just revealed through His Word. In all honesty there have been few times in my life I have prayed, repenting with fasting, weeping, and mourning as described here. I realized my prayer life had become more about the cares of this world, rather than my intimacy with God Himself. Our main objective is to love God with all our heart. He said so in His Word. The most important commandment according to Jesus is to love Him with all our heart, body, soul, and strength. (Matthew 22:34-40)
Therefore, our prayer life should firstly be for the pure pleasure of His company. Oswald Chambers is quoted: "Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship with God."
When we comply with the greatest commandment we live out the greatest life! When we do this as individuals the face of our nation will change.
We cannot stand for truth and justice without returning to the perfected Laws of God. It is where our laws originated as a new nation. It is what made us different. As we read the greatest history book ever written, our Bibles, may we learn from the examples of fallen nations that were restored by obeying the instructions of God Himself as we are reading today.
I pick up in verse 13:
Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.
If we continue reading, they implored all people to assemble and cry out to God. They blew the trumpet and proclaimed a solemn assembly and consecrated a fast. They gathered the children and nursing infants. We would all do well to gather our families and study the message in Joel 2. We need to include the children for they are the future of our nation. One of the greatest tragedies is that we are too busy to teach our children the laws and ways of God. What could possibly be more important to impart in our children’s lives? If we want a good life for our children then introduce them to the character of God so that they may have a standard of truth that is immovable and eternal. I pray that we will first kneel alone before God to allow the Spirit to help us rend our hearts and strip off our external hypocrisy. May we truly live for the approval of God over men, and then our children will follow.
In His love.
I am very proud of clients, Julie and Shane Kinney, and Marilyn Hanks, who participated in the High Five Trail Run/Hike Saturday morning on trails with the highest elevations inside Hanging Rock State Park, in Danbury, NC. The greatest reward are the views!