This morning, we’re turning to Joel chapter 2. In this chapter, we hear the heart cry of God to us and better understand the days and season of the Lord in which we are living.
This chapter starts out warning about the coming day of the Lord and describes how terrible it will be. The day of the Lord is the final day when God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth. It is the day when time is up and the current order of things are destroyed before God makes all things new.
It is a terrible and horrific time that spares nothing in all of creation. Even the stars are destroyed. That day is coming. However, it’s not right now!
Right now, we are living in the days of God’s grace and mercy and patience. We are living in the days where God’s salvation is still ours for the receiving! In fact, Peter reminds us that it is for our own sake, and because of His patience, that God has not yet brought the day of the Lord. He wants no one to suffer His wrath, but desires for everyone to receive His salvation. Since love that is forced is not love at all, He patiently waits on us to choose Him.
2 Peter 3:8-14
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
After explaining all of the signs to watch for and what it will be like when He returns, Jesus concludes with this same simple advice in how to live our lives:
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Be ready. None of us are promised tomorrow. Most all of us here have experienced the unexpected loss of loved ones that painfully reminds us of this reality. That’s why after Paul also teaches us all about death and our coming resurrection, he concludes in a similar way:
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
After warning about the coming day of the Lord, God calls us back to the days in which we are living:
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
We’re reminded once again that the Lord doesn’t judge by mere appearances. This is what religion does. The Lord judges our heart and motives and attitudes. If those are right, then our outward lives will be right as well. That’s why God fills us with the Holy Spirit inside of our lives to do a work of transformation where it truly is needed.
I love how bluntly Jesus explains this truth to us!
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
And so God is calling us to clean up our lives so that we can return to Him, right?
God is calling us to return to Him JUST AS WE ARE so that He can cleanse us of all of our sin!
We CANNOT clean up our lives on our own, we need Him to do it for us!
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.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Something powerful happens when a people choose to abandon themselves, which is what fasting is, and choose to come together to simply seek after God (assemble)!
We see the results time and time again throughout the Old and New Covenants. When people choose to seek after God, they find Him! When they choose to turn to Him, He turns to them! When they cry out to Him for salvation, He saves! When they cry out to Him for deliverance, He sets them free!
God is a restorer and a rewarder of those who diligently and earnestly seek after Him (Hebrews 11:6)! This is God’s response:
The Lord’s Answer
18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land
and took pity on his people.
19 The Lord replied to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
an object of scorn to the nations.
20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you,
pushing it into a parched and barren land;
its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea
and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea.
And its stench will go up;
its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things!
Has God done great things for you?
Has God done great things for you?
21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah;
be glad and rejoice.
Surely the Lord has done great things!
22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
23 Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Grain – Jesus, the Bread of Life; the Living Word on which we feast!
Wine – the Holy Spirit; the very Presence of God within us!
Oil – God’s anointing; that which empowers, enables, and equips us to do what we could never do on our own!
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
This has all taken place! God’s restoration is available to all of us through the free gift of His salvation! And that’s just the beginning! This has also taken place:
The Day of the Lord
28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
(Those days are these days! These are they! We are them!)
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls.
Right now, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! Today is the day of salvation! Today, we can all receive the outpouring of God’s Spirit!
We will prophesy, we will dream dreams, we will see visions, there is deliverance, there is restoration, there are signs and wonders and miracles! These are the days in which we are living!
So today, why not call on Jesus? Why not leave our old self behind and allow Jesus to save and deliver and heal and transform us into a new creation? Why not receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the anointing of the Lord?
It’s God’s will and His desire that we do! He’s just patiently waiting on one thing; for us to receive it!
He has done great things!
God wrapped Himself in flesh and lived just like you and I. He dealt with all of the same weaknesses and trials and temptations that we face, but He never once gave in to them and sinned. He lived a perfect, sinless life. Then, He willingly gave up His life on the cross to pay the penalty of sin. Then, He rose again from the grave defeating sin and death!
He now offers to us His Kingdom and a true and abundant life of freedom by simply putting our faith in Him and receiving His free gift of salvation. He’s calling us to follow Him from a victory into a victory by living our lives by faith in Him.
Let’s take Him up on His offer! Let’s leave everything behind and follow Him into a full and abundant life! Let’s seek after Him as He restores and rewards and makes all things new for us!