Summary: Realisation leads to Repentance, and that leads to Restoration. In realisation, we need fresh revelations of God. In repentance, we need to see the good purposes of God. In restoration, we seek to return to God.
[Read Joel 2:11b-14]
`Even now,` declares the LORD, `return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.` 13Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing - grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.
There are TWO underlining themes that run through all the books of the Minor Prophets – the need for REPENTANCE and the hope of RESTORATION.
• God wants to restore to His people the blessed life that He has planned for them under His rule. They’ve lost that through their rebellion and idolatry.
• But the key to experiencing that is repentance – the realisation of their foolish deviation from God’s will and a return back to God’s ways.
You have this picture of a REALISATION (or revelation), a turn around (REPENTANCE), and a RESTORATION (a returning to God).
• Before restoration can take place, the people must repent. Restoration comes through repentance.
• Repentance is the key that unlocks the blessings of God in their lives.
But the people need to know where they are. They will turn around only when they understand the need to turn around.
• No amount of punishment will serve any good if the people do not know what’s wrong. Without this realisation, nothing can be achieved with punishment. You induce pain but no change. It brings you suffering but no repentance.
• This explains why the Lord took so long a time before He disciplines. This explains the need for the messages of the prophets. They are wake-up calls to the people.
(1) REALISATION – Seek a Fresh Revelation of God
This realisation can only come through the fresh revelation of God’s will.
• Unless and until the people realised this, they will not turn around. There is no reason to do so.
This is the wisdom of God’s discipline. With every discipline, parents, stress on what is the right thing, the acceptable behaviour. Punishment itself serves little good if the child is left to guess “so what’s the right thing to do”.
I heard over the radio a week ago this good advice – we tend to tell our kids, don’t do this or that – don’t shout, don’t run… but then we didn’t tell them what they should do. Don’t run means to stand still or walk slowly? Don’t shout means to keep quiet or talk softly? God has to belabour His points through the prophets!
Pray for a fresh revelation of God when you find yourselves drifting away and losing the zeal to stay pure.
Let me share with you these TWO testimonies from the Bible:
(1) ISAIAH - Isaiah 6:1-5
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
(2) PETER - Luke 5:6-8
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
The Israelites will never, ever, experience again, the true blessings of God, for their lives, until they realised their mistake and turn around.
• The Lord stirs up their senses through a graphic description of the invasion of locusts. [Read Joel 1:1-7]
God uses the invasion of swarms of locusts (which the people understand) to picture the devastation that would come when He punishes them - through the real army of the Babylonians. The damage they caused is unbelievable. There’s nothing left!
1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep!
1:8 Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the husband of her youth.
1:11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers.