Summary: Be prepared for the things to come
Words of Warning – Series on Joel
* Billy Graham was preaching the funeral of former U.S. President Richard Nixon before five U.S. presidents and a worldwide audience, & he said as he pointed to Nixon’s casket, "Every one of you will be there one of these days. Are you ready?..Don’t save the world & starve your own soul.”
* In the first part of the prophecy of Joel, we have been reminded of the Day of the Lord and what will happen on that day. It’s not pretty, but it is a reality. Our text calls us to GET READY for the Rapture and Revelation.
* We know about getting ready for things. We get ready for events, school, work, weddings, church and much more. Candidly, we don’t care to go somewhere and not be ready. How do we get ready for to meet God and eternity? Realizing that our world, society, and even church culture has missed God’s mark (which, by definition, is sinful) and that nothing sinful is ready to meet God, what do we do?
* For the people of Israel, after opening his prophecy with Judgment of an eye-opening type, God give Joel the way to get ready. I’ll suggest 3 actions which, as a church and a culture, are needed to “Get Ready.”
1. Assemble God’s Children – The first line in verse 15 is a repeat of verse 1, “Blow the horn” yet here it is for a different reason. Verse 1 is an alarm while verse 15 is a call to gather. When rural America moved into the 20th century, most church buildings were equipped with “Bells”. For most, these were sounded on Sunday mornings (& other occasions) to call the believers together. Joel says, “Call all God’s children together” and the call of the New Testament is the same, “Come Together.” Why?
a. The Power of the Assembly – When we speak of this assembly, the modern day counterpart is the church. The assembled church has incredible power. Jesus gave the church the KEYS to spiritual things in heaven and hell. The church has the power to lock and loose things in heaven and hell! But this is the church that is assembled and together. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fell when they were ALL together and in unity. In John 17 the Lord Jesus prayed diligently & passionately for His people to walk in unity and harmony. God has chosen to work through His church (the assembly) so there are many other issues which we can glean from the text. We read of the call to ‘fast.’ In simple terms fasting (though not practiced by most Baptist) is a commitment to put God & His walk ahead of EVERYTHING! Then the KJV doesn’t call this just an “Assembly,” but a solemn assembly” (dealing with sin).
b. The Priority for the Assembly – Maybe the better way to state this is the “participation” in the Assembly, but it seems to me that the Prophet is giving us a picture of our expected priority and participation. Look at all the people who are mentioned; Senior Adults, children, babies, people & even newlyweds. It would seem that the word of the Lord is this: “Let nothing stand in your way of getting together, it’s that important!” We are living in an era of ‘I’ and ‘me’. Most of us are tired of hearing about this because (for many) it smacks us in the face. “I don’t like Sunday evenings,” “Wednesday night do nothing for me,” or if “I” have nothing else to do this week, “I” may be there; are all statements which are being spoken every week. In many minds, the Assembly is a man made institution which does not deserve first priority, yet this line of thinking is not from the mind of our Lord. Jesus loved and loves the church. He birthed her, died for her, empowered her, and one day is coming back for her. Initially, He sent the Holy Spirit when the church was gathered.
c. The Prayer by the Assembly – It was very common for the leaders and thus, the priests to offer corporate prayer for the assembly. Of all the Biblical examples of this I love the Nehemiah 9 example the best. (Read). Now, look at the last part of verse 17 and sense the passion for God and His people. The leaders are told to stand between the portico and altar to pray. With their back to the altar because they had nothing to offer & their faces to the Temple where God was enthroned, they were to pray with a broken heart. Why were their hearts broken? Because of the corruptness of God’s people. Perhaps the reason God answers so few of our prayers today is because He sees no brokenness over our sin, our unfaithfulness and even our inconsistent lives. I submit that if we are to get ready for the Day of the Lord, we must be like Joel speaks and be broken.