by Eugene Adkins
“So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm” (Joel 2:13, NKJV)
God’s prophet came to the children of Israel with a message of urgency. He came with a message full of principles, guidance, warnings and exhortations.
Their nation, their livelihood, their families and their salvation were on the line. It was all slipping away when God was still eager to help.
Sometimes things slip from our hands because the load is too heavy and our grip too weak. Israel was loosening their grip on God and everything was going awry, as a result.
A powerful principle was delivered to them in Joel 2:13, that applies to the Christian age as well as it did to the Mosaic. It teaches that God’s grace is ready to be given and the storm on the horizon does not have to punish. God’s anger could be turned away.
God’s mercy and kindness were evident. They were always available to Israel because God was eager to bless them if they would only turn to him completely.
The outside evidence of repentance would not be accepted without the inward action preceding it. God was not pleased with the outward action alone and the principle has not changed today.
Israel had grown complacent with their religion, relying on outward actions without inward convictions. Their behavior was empty and it pushed them away from God in every aspect of life.
There is no doubt about it, Joel 2:13 preaches itself, then and now.
- We must ask ourselves as Christians if we genuinely seek to worship God, or do we show up because it is what we are supposed to do on Sunday?
- Do we think about our Lord’s deed and accomplishment when we partake of the bread and fruit of the vine, or is it just a cracker and some juice?
- Do we know what we are saying amen to when the prayer is finished?
- Do we give from what we laid by in store or is it just what we happened to have in our pockets?
- Do we sing to God with our heart, or do we string some words together with a melody?
Where are we on Sunday and Wednesday night if the rest of the body is meeting together in worship, edification and glory to God? Are we rending our heart or are we just rending the garment in our relationship with the Lord?
God demanded a penitent heart from the person who came to him in Joel’s day. He will accept no less today. God’s message still tells us to respond with our heart and the Almighty will accept us.
The mercy of the Lord is only found by repenting of our sins and obeying God’s word from the heart (Acts 2:37-42).