A Night in Sackcloth
Loving Lord, before You here and now I reaffirm who I am, whose I am, and why I am here.
Read Joel 1:13-20
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor. 7:10). We must remember the difference between worldly remorse and godly repentance.
The massive destruction of the land called for serious response and immediate attention to spiritual matters. The crops were completely ruined (17), the animals were suffering (18), and there was a severe shortage of water (20). The regular supplies for Temple offerings dried up and the worship of God, at the heart of Judah and Jerusalem, was severely affected. This was serious and called for action.
The action required was to turn to the Lord with repentance. First, the priests were to put on sackcloth and mourn. As they could not carry out their regular duties in the Temple, they were to spend the night in mourning and prayer (13). A fast was to be declared; the leaders and people were summoned to the Temple (14) to “cry out to the Lord” (cf. 2 Chron. 7:14; 20:3). They were to stop all they were doing and focus on God. They had ignored God or taken him too lightly. They were guilty of idolatry and social sins, as the prophets point out elsewhere (Amos 2:4-8). This was a time to consider their ways and return to the Lord. The Lord is able to use calamities to convert his people.
Why do disasters strike our lives? We may not be able to find specific answers, but we know two things. We can always turn to God, who alone can ultimately help us: “To you, Lord, I call” (19). God is the best and most reliable Person to turn to, for he cares more than anyone else (Psa. 27:10). We require God-centered and God-initiated solutions to our most urgent and serious problems. Secondly, disasters are opportunities to give careful attention to our relationship with God and to repent of all that negatively affects that relationship (Hag. 1:4-7). A night spent mourning can be good for the soul.
Try fasting for a day or spending a night in prayer to turn your heart closer to God or to pray for some special situation.
Lord, I have been given a timely reminder that my sin is a serious matter with You. Enable me to deal with sin in my life and release it to Your forgiving grace.
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