Thursday, October 6, 2011

Let your heart be torn! - October 6th, 2011

12“ Now, therefore,” says the LORD,   
Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 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 2:12-13

History and Context:
We know very little about the prophet Joel and his book. The little that we do know has to be gleaned from the text as he is not mentioned elsewhere. We know that his father's name was Pethuel (1:1), we also know that he is writing in response to a great tragedy of a plague of locusts. He sees the people of Judah in darkness and suffering and calls them to repent because God still loves them and longs to rescue them. Joel mentions very similar themes as Isaiah, Amos, and Ezekiel and he talks a lot about the 'Day of the Lord'. The best guess as to the date of the book is between the 8th and 4th century BC.

The Text:
This is the Lord's continous cry to His people throughout the Bible. "Turn to me with all your heart"! He cries out for His people to return to Him, to repent. He reminds them of His love and mercy and that He will forgive them and make it well for them if they would simply turn back to Him. There is one part of this particular passage that I want to bring out though:

So rend your heart, and not your garments

In the times of the old testament it was common to tear your clothes as a sign of repentance. Often that is seen throughout the Bible as men and women of God would realize that they had done wrong and they would tear their clothes as they fall to their knees and cry out to God for forgiveness. this was a powerful outward sign, but God makes it clear here that the outward sign is meaningless without inward repentance. It doesn't matter if you tear your clothes if your heart is not also torn.

The Challenge:
Turn to God with all your heart today! If you have been turned away from Him, if you have sinned against Him, then let your heart be torn in repentance and return to Him. He will accept you! He has already been pleading for you to return, you just haven't been listening. Turn to Him with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Turn to Him in repentance!

The Prayer:
Lord, forgive me for anything that I have done against you! I turn to you with my whole heart. I choose to let my heart be torn. Bring me back intoyour presence Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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