March 22, 2012

Today you should read: Joel 2

We all have days that we look forward to. Life is filled with many milestones:

• The first day of kindergarten
• The first day of an athletic/extracurricular practice or the first game/performance
• The first day of high school
• Your 16th birthday (sweet sixteen)
• The day you get your drivers license
• The first day of college
• Your wedding day

We could go on and on! These are the days that seem to define our lives. Joel 2 talks about a day that the world will remember forever. For those who know Jesus, this will be a great day. But for those not found in Christ, it will be a day of utter devastation, judgment, and wrath.

The LORD utters his voice before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
who can endure it? (Joel 2:11 ESV)

I read a good summary of this day in one of my commentaries earlier in the week. It may be helpful for you as well, especially since it is not only common in Joel but in all the minor prophets. Check it out:

1. Day of the Lord. This is the major theme of Joel. The exact expression, yom yhwh (Hb., “day of the Lord”), is found five times in Joel (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14) and 13 times in seven other prophetic books (Isa. 13:6, 9; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Amos 5:18–20; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14; Mal. 4:5; see note on Amos 5:18–20). Other ways of referring to the “day” found throughout prophetic literature (e.g., “a day,” “those days,” “that day”) are used by Joel as well (Joel 2:2; 3:1, 18). Within Joel, the “day” refers not only to a final day of judgment upon the nations (3:2) but also to God’s ongoing judgment of Israel, both past and future (1:15; 2:2, 11), and instances of his intervention between Israel and the nations (3:1–2, 12, 14, 16). In each case, the “day of the Lord” indicates a time when the presence of the Lord brings judgment and/or deliverance and blessing, depending on the circumstances (see note on 1:15). Therefore, although the “day” heralds destruction for the nations, it also functions as a time of salvation for God’s people; the Lord remains a refuge amid the chaos of judgment (3:15–16).

My favorite part of today’s reading came at the end: the promise of the Holy Spirit. This promise has come to fruition for us today! If you have a relationship with the Lord, you have the Holy Spirit living in you. The Spirit convicts you of sin, encourages you when you’re down, gives you holy instruction, and so much more. What an awesome promise for us to embrace!

And this wasn’t the only promise God gave in the passage. The Lord also promised to allow His people to return to Him. When they return, He will restore. When He restores, they will never be shamed again:

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame. (Joel 2:27 ESV)

All of the days we listed earlier are important, special days in our lives. But none of them matter if there’s never been a day when you crossed from death to life. Do you know Jesus? Have you found life in Him? Make sure that the day you trust in Christ is highest on your list. It’s the only milestone day that carries into eternity.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

March 21, 2012

Today you should read: Joel 1

The book of Joel was written by Joel the son of Pethuel (1:1).  We don’t know much more about him.  He was quoted by Peter in his great sermon in Acts 2 (2:16-21).

 His name means – The Lord is God.  Nothing is known about his personal life.  There are 12 other men in the Old Testament that have his name, but none of them can be identified with the author of this book.  What we do know is that he is familiar with farming and geography and that he prophesied in Judah (we know this because he talks about Judah and about Jerusalem and he knows much about the temple and the priest’s role).

He begins this discourse with an appeal for Israel to repent – to listen (v. 2) and to wake up (v.5).  He warns them that destruction is coming unless they change.  He tells them to mourn about the state they are in and about what is to come.

… drunkards should mourn (v.5-7)
… land should mourn (v. 8-10)
… farmers should mourn (v. 11-12)
…priests should mourn (v. 13)

He calls them to repentance in verse 14.

Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting.
  Bring the leaders 
and all the people of the land
 into the Temple of the LORD your God,
 and cry out to him there. The day of the LORD is near, the day when destruction comes from the Almighty.
How terrible that day will be! (vs. 14-15)

In the remainder of the chapter, he tells of how bad the plague will be.  He informs them of what will happen.  He paints a word picture of utter destruction.

Joel’s call is for repentance.  What is repentance?  It’s a change of direction – a 180 in our lives.  It means to acknowledge our sin and turn from it leaving it behind us.  It calls for us to take steps of action and to be accountable to someone for healing and restoration in our lives.

What is there in your life that God is calling you to repent of?

Repentance first happens when we meet Jesus.  We acknowledge our sin (Romans 3:10-12) and turn from it.  We ask Jesus to come into our lives and change us (Psalm 51:10).

Often sin has a way of creeping back into the mix.  The very things we repent from when we turn to Jesus, often crop back up.  Sometimes even new things come into the picture.

Acts 3:19 warns us:

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Many of us remember the promise found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

What is God trying to get your attention about today?  What does He want you to repent of and change?  Take steps of action…

  1. Acknowledge it as sin (Psalm 51:4)
  2. Confess it to God (1 John 1:9)
  3. Remove it from your life
  4. Get accountability to keep it at bay
  5. Live victoriously through Jesus (2 Peter 1:3)

Posted by: Tim Parsons