Torn Hearts, Tender God
Loving Lord and my loving Father, Your greatness demands my praise and Your love demands my devotion. I gladly give them.
Read Joel 2:12-27
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.
“Repentance is a not merely an intellectual change of mind or mere grief, but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which result in spiritual fruit” (D.A. Carson). This is what Joel is talking about.
Because God is at the head of the invading army, there is hope for God’s people. They are urged to return to God wholeheartedly (12). Their repentance must not only be ritualistic (rending garments), but real (rending hearts) because God responds tenderly to such heartfelt repentance (13). The people (from the youngest to the oldest) are to fast and pray, “Spare your people, Lord” (15-17).
When we turn to him with all seriousness and sincerity, God takes pity and responds tenderly and immediately (Hos. 2:14). It is not that God delights in disciplining his children. If only we can spare him the agony of having to discipline us by trusting him and obeying him (Heb. 12:10,11). Even if he has to discipline us, he delights in reversing our circumstances when we turn to him in repentance. Being at the head of the invading army, he would turn around and stop them (20).
There is a great reversal when God responds tenderly to our repentant broken hearts. The description of the devastation brought on by the locusts and the invading army is written over by connected blessings. Hence the earlier “dried up” experience will be replaced by abundance and fullness (19,22-24). There will be new wine for the new day (Rev. 21:5). God promises to “repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (25). Like Job, who received back all he lost and in double measure (Job 42:10-15), God’s people would be richly blessed by his forgiveness and generosity. It is important that they remember that it is God who has worked this miracle (26) lest they fall into sin again. God is keen to assure his everlasting love to his people, declaring that “never again” will they and therefore, God, be shamed (19,26). The ball is in our court.
What would true repentance look like? What are the blessings that such repentance brings to individuals, families, churches, and nations?
Father, I acknowledge that in my life, there are years “…that the locusts have eaten.” Thank You that those failures can be reversed, and a new day will dawn.