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A CALL TO ACTION: Understanding the Book of Joel — Part Four

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Talk is cheap. In a time when economic, religious and geopolitical threats are rising….a time when so much of the world is turning against God…a time when so many have forgotten God in their daily lives….a time when so many think the Church is irrelevant and/or hypocritical….and a time when many have turned against Israel and God’s Chosen People, what we need are leaders at every level of society who are serious about crying out to the Lord for mercy and redemption. I’m not talking about a bunch of religious hot air  — slogans, bumper stickers or platitudes. What we desperately need is a bold and sincere and solid and revolutionary faith that moves us to action, that moves us to know God more deeply and serve Him more faithfully before the Day of the Lord arrives.

As we read in the New Testament Book of James, “faith, if it has no works, is dead” and “faith without works is useless” (James 2:17 and 20).

This one of the reasons I love the Old Testament Book of Joel and why I’m grateful we studied it together at the 2011 Epicenter Conference — because it is a powerful call to action. Skip Heitzig, a dear friend and senior pastor of a wonderful Bible-teaching congregation of some 14,000 people in New Mexico, taught at the conference on Joel 2:18-32 (Joel 2:28-32 in English is actually divided as Joel chapter 3 in the Hebrew Bible) and did a powerful job. I would encourage you watching his message — and the other messages — for free on-line. Today, I’m posting Part Four of my personal study notes on the Book of Joel. I hope you’ll find them helpful as you seek a faith that changes your life and moves you to serve the Lord with more passion and conviction than ever before.

PART FOUR:

The Hebrew Prophet Joel indicates a day of severe and unprecendented judgment is coming upon the world. The question is: How should mankind in general – and the people of Israel in particular – prepare for such judgments before they come? Beginning in Joel 2:12, the Lord is very clear and specific. His people are to:

  • Blow a trumpet in Zion and sound an alarm on His holy mountain in Jerusalem
  • Consecrate a fast
  • Proclaim a solemn assembly
  • Gather the people
  • Sanctify the congregation
  • Assemble the elders
  • Gather the children and the nursing infants
  • Gather brides and bridegrooms
  • Urge the priests, the Lord’s ministers, to weep and ask the Lord to spare His people and not let them be a byword among the nations
  • Return to the Lord with all our heart
  • Return to the Lord with fasting
  • Return to the Lord with weeping
  • Return to the Lord with mourning
  • Rend our hearts and not our garments
  • Return to the Lord because we believe He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil
  • This is not just a call to a generic, run-of-the-mill prayer meeting — this is a call to get on our faces and beg and plead with the Lord to have mercy on us as individuals, as families and as nations

Two observations:

  • It’s interesting to me that the specific sins of the people are not enumerated — the Lord is concerned about all sin, not just a few certain types
  • It’s also intriguing to say that nowhere in the text is there a call to take up arms and fight against the enemy invaders — this isn’t to say Israel or America or other countries shouldn’t defend themselves against enemy nations or terrorist organizations; but when it comes to sin and judgment, there is no political or military solution; our only hope is to turn away from our sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness; He will save us when we ask with humble, repentant hearts, and He’s the only One who can

Clearly, chapter two of the Book of Joel is a trumpet call — a call to action

  • To Israel – a national call to turn back to the Lord
  • To the Church – a global call to turn back to the Lord
  • To all of mankind — a personal call to repent, to get right with the Lord, before it’s too late, before judgment comes

The bad news: the Scriptures are clear that a terrible time of judgment and devastation is coming, worse than at any other time in human history.

The good news: The Scriptures are also clear that when individuals repent and return to the Lord – and by God’s grace when the nation of Israel repents and turns back to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – then…..

  • “the Lord will be zealous for His land” (2:18)
  •  The Lord “will have pity on His people” (2:18)
  • The Lord will send His people “grain, new wine, and oil” (2:19)
  • The Lord will defeat the enemies ofIsrael, notably attacks from the North (2:20)
  • The Lord will do “great things” (2:21)
  • Israel will turn green again (2:22)
  • The fig tree and the vine will yield its fruit again in full (2:22)
  • The Lord will send “the teacher of righteousness” (the Hebrew translation in 2:23)
  • The Lord will make up to those who have repented for the years the locusts have eaten (2:25)
  • Those who have repented (“My people”) “will never be put to shame” and they will know that the Lord is in the midst ofIsrael, that “I am the Lord your God, and there is no other” (2:26)
  • The Lord will pour out His Holy Spirit “on all mankind,” Jews and Gentiles alike (2:28)
  • Sons and daughters will prophesy
  • Old men will dream dreams
  • Young men will see visions
  • Men and women of all classes and stations will be able to receive the Holy Spirit
  • “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered” (2:32) – Jew or Gentile.
  • NOTE: this another critical point in the text: in the last days (beginning with Pentecost/Acts 2 but accelerating as we get closer to the Day of the Lord), we’ll see the Holy Spirit moving more powerfully and publicly and personally and persistently than ever before in human history…..this requires us to develop a much better, deeper, richer Biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role, how He works, how to be filled with the Spirit, how to walk in the Spirit, how to be careful not to grieve the Spirit, how to be more discerning of spiritual deception, etc.
  • The Lord will display wonders in the sky and on the earth (2:30)
  • The sun will turn to darkness (2:30)
  • The moon will turn to blood (2:31)
  • All these things will happen “before” the “great and terrible Day of the Lord comes” – that is, before the final of the judgments of the Great Tribulation (2:31)
  • This judgment is sure and certain – it is coming, it cannot be stopped, and many will suffer horrifically if they are not followers of Jesus Christ with the seal of the Lord on their foreheads

That said, the Lord will use these terrible judgments to shake people all over the world – and particularly in Israel – and cause Jews and Gentiles to deeply reconsider what they believe and what they are following.

This is how God works at key moments in history – He literally and figuratively shakes the world

  • Haggai 2:6-7 – “….in a little while I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations….”
  • See also Haggai 2:21-22 – “….I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations….”
  • Many will come to faith in Jesus during these times. Whoever will repent, whoever will return to the Lord, whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
  • Why not make that decision today, before these traumas come?
  • Yes, Jews are the Chosen People. But according to the Scriptures, it is not enough that the Lord chose the Jews — Jews must also choose the Lord.
  • Yes, God loves the Gentiles. But according to the Scriptures, it is not enough that the Lord loves Gentiles — Gentiles must also love the Lord with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and love their neighbors as themselves.
  • The Lord said through Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
  • Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
  • Now is the time to call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

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To read these and other columns on our new Hebrew blog, please visit www.joelrosenberg.co.il.

To watch any of the messages on the Book of Joel from our recent conference in Jerusalem, please go to www.epicenterconference.com.

To learn more about The Joshua Fund, please go to www.joshuafund.net.

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