“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13
My last Monthly Message ended on a rather abrupt and solemn note, so I thought I should add a supplement leading on from Joel 1 to some of the great truths in Joel 2!
In his fallen state man not only dislikes the idea of dependence upon God but positively denies it. For centuries, man has assumed that politics, military power, philosophy, intellect, science and so on have the solutions to our problems. Yet time and again history proves all that to be false. As Paul says in Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”. We must, of course, do all we can professionally and socially, to combat coronavirus and its effects, but we were created to be dependent upon, and to live in relationship with, a loving, all-powerful Creator.
Joel 2 gives us several encouragements and challenges for serious consideration:
v2 “Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming” – one day all sickness, fear, sorrow, injustice and wickedness will be no more. Though it will be a ‘day of darkness and gloom’ for those who persist in rejecting the Lord, it will be a day of gladness and full redemption for “all who have longed for his appearing” (II Tim 4:8).
v11 “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” – since God’s judgment on sin has fallen upon Christ, those who are in him, by faith, “shall be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Rom 5:9). Hallelujah!
v12 “’Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’” – no mere lip service will do but the Lord himself longs for his people to return to him wholeheartedly.
v13 “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate” – however far we wander, he is still our God, solely on the merits of our crucified Saviour! The repentant, returning soul knows, to his deep joy, that God is gracious and compassionate.
As we return to the Lord let us also have a sense of history and of thankfulness:
vv20/21 “Surely he has done great things. Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things”. What has the Lord done in your life? Will he fail you now?
Now to the final verses of the chapter: God’s promise to pour out his Spirit on all people. h Peter declared that promise to have been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost and now the life-giving Holy Spirit is available and at work still today. The promise of v32 still holds true: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Understandably, the NHS, the Government and the news media are pre-occupied with the pandemic. They need both our prayers and our co-operation. But our greatest and most urgent need is to learn what it means to be totally dependent upon our Sovereign, Redeemer God, a God of justice and of grace who always keeps his word.
Your brother in Christ
God willing, Saffron Walden Bible Focus will take place this year on Saturday, 11th September. This is, of course, subject to lockdown restrictions having been lifted.
We hope the situation will be clearer by mid-April.
We shall keep you informed!