Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday - Joel 2 - Rend Your Heart, and not Your Garments

T is common to read in the Bible about people tearing their cloths in anger or fear; for regret, sadness, repentance or other such negative reasons. Of course, there was nothing wrong with those exhibitions of angst. However, if a person or a group of people demonstrated sorrow outwardly, while their heart and mind remained indifferent, then the rending of their garments was meaningless. God saw that His people were tearing their cloths because of their difficulties, but in relation to their own guilt, their hearts were unaffected (Joel 2:13).

There is no doubt that Joel's prophecies here rise above and beyond the mere plagues of his own day.  The nation spoken of Joel 1:6 is more than just a reference to the swarms of locusts which were denuding the land. In fact, while he was perhaps referring prophetically to the Assyrians, and to the pending judgment, which (at the time of the writing of this book) was probably only a few generations away, he was ultimately speaking of an invasion that still (to this very day) hasn't happened yet. The Day of the Lord is in view. And, while THE DAY of the Lord must surely refer specifically to the second advent of Christ, the event is so grand and significant that the seven years preceding that day, and the millennium following it, are so inextricably connected to it as to be (in many cases) included completely in the title.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tuesday - Joel 1 - A Great Plague

T appears that Joel wrote this prophecy in response to a great plague of locusts (Joel 1:2 & 4), which was accompanied by a drought and by wildfires (Joel 1:19-20). It was a time of famine in Palestine. It should have been no surprise. Moses had forewarned the Jews about such things (Deuteronomy 28:15, 16, 37-39). Their disobedience was sure to remove God's blessings and to bring many curses instead. And, the curse which Joel lived through was bad enough that he felt the need to write about it.  Yet, as he wrote concerning the happenings of his own day, God lifted his eyes deep into the future to see the great and final day of God's judgment (Joel 1:15). For example, the actual locusts in Joel 1:6-7 must surely be a harbinger of the demonic locusts of Revelation 9:1-11.

The exact when and where of Joel's prophecies is not clear, but in a way, it doesn't really matter. His experience points not only to a day that we must all consider, but also to principles that are universal. As I've already mentioned, Joel spoke of the Day of the Lord, or of Judgment Day. But we are not there yet. However, the things we think, say and do now are related to the coming judgment of God.  Notice that Joel claimed that the agricultural troubles of his day were a result of the lack of joy in the population (Joel 1:12). This is a very deep observation. The people were without joy for the same reason that any man lacks joy. The absence of joy is an indication of an absence of two crucial life ingredients: humility and gratitude.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday - Hosea 14 - Falling and Falling Again

SRAEL fell because of sin. Their economy, their political security, their military might, their culture and unity: all of those things were taken from them because of their sin (vs. 1). So, what was the solution? They did not need a brilliant economist as king. They did not need a master statesman who could work out compromises between hostile domestic factions. They did not need a military mind that could reorganize their army with flawless strategies. They did not need a local hero to give them a reason to come together. What they needed was to listen to their prophet, Hosea.  They needed to repent of their sins, to confess their guilt and to look to God for mercy (vs. 3). Obedience to God gives one the strength to walk on. Disobedience binds our feet together and leaves us sprawling and immobile (vs. 9).

Hosea gave the nation a solution to their problems. It was the only solution actually.  He said, "Take with you words and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, 'Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips"' (vs. 2). God's anticipatable response was declared just as plainly. He said, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely..." (vs. 4). True, they had fallen.  But it was not necessary for them to stay down.  Immeasurable blessings were available to them if they would only be willing to submit themselves to their God (vs. 5-8).  He was willing to lift them up (1st Peter 5:6). It was not God's desire to see His people fall. And, when they fell, it was not His desire for them to stay down. He wanted them to prosper, but only in obedience (Genesis 3:22-23).