Today’s Old Testament reading is full of the classic fire and brimstone type rhetoric that many, who haven’t read the bible, use to accuse our loving God of being vengeful and unforgiving. However, in today’s passage below, we see that the opposite is true. But even here, non believers and even many believers wonder why this God would want us to come with fasting, weeping and mourning. Well, I would say to them, think of the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Imagine the humility and fear it took for the son to return to his father having made such a mess of his life. Now imagine his shock, and possibly overwhelming relief, at his father’s joy and celebration on his return. Perhaps it is not such a bad thing to be childish in this regard, and expect God to be angry because we’ve misbehaved. But from God’s perspective, we are his little children whom he loves beyond words. In this passage we learn that allowing our genuine sorrow to show because we know we have disappointed our father, leads to the possibility that he will bless us and not punish us after all.
Joel 2:11-14 NLT
The Lord is at the head of the column. He leads them with a shout. This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders. The day of the Lord is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive? That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before.
Today I have learned that it is not the punishment of God that I fear most. It is being alone in this world with out my father in heaven that I fear. As far as I am concerned, terrible as the the day of The Lord might be, I’m far more afraid of the bad things that I could be exposed to today or this week. Now, the sorrows and sufferings of this life can’t necessarily be avoided, by turning to God, but I know that since I did, I have found strength beyond anything I knew before. This is the strength of God himself and when you know that, you find there is no trial to go through that will destroy you. My goal today, as always, is to have the courage to testify to my experience of God’s mercy and compassion when I deserved anger and punishment, to testify of receiving his blessing instead of his curse.
Joel: 1:1-3:21, Revelation 1:1-20, Psalms 128:1-6, Proverbs 29:18