Summary: In this sermon, I talk about repentance from indifference: first, the devastation that indifference has caused to the people of Judah in the book of Joel; secondly, what repentance should consist of in our lives today.
Say “It’s about my heart!”
I. The background from which Joel speaks.
1. Here, in chapter 2, Joel begins by talking about a disaster that is coming to the people of Judah.
2. An “army” of locusts has come into Judah, devastating the land.
3. Today, we may not fully understand the devastation that has come to the land of Judah: I’ve heard the description of a locust plague, and it isn’t pretty. The locusts come into the land like a black cloud, sometimes even blotting out the light of the sun. They cover the ground, and eat every green thing so that the land is completely devastated – all of the crops are gone, the livelihood of the people. The landscape is completely barren – it looks something like the surface of Mars.
4. The first question that we need to answer is simply “why?”
5. First, why has this devastation come?
6. The answer is sin.
7. God has sent this disaster to wake up His people from indifference. One of the worst things that sin will do to your heart is make you indifferent towards God.
8. There are several places in Scripture that talk about this: In Revelation, Christ tells the church at Laodicea “You are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!…I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
9. A.W. Tozer has said: “I have long believed that a man who spurns the Christian faith outright is more respected before God and the heavenly powers than the man who pretends to religion but refuses to come under its total domination. The first is an overt enemy, the second a false friend.”
10. I find that today, more than ever before, more people who claim Christ are indifferent toward Him.
11. What is it going to take for God to get our attention?
Transition: Devastation has come to the land of Judah because of the indifference of the people toward God. What does God desire for the people to do?
II. Rend your heart: Joel 2:12, 13.
1. First, the Lord says that the people must return to Him with all of their heart.
2. It is important that He says “all.”
3. So often today when we desire to return to the Lord, or give our hearts to Him, we want to keep part of our heart for ourselves.
4. We think that this is too much for God to ask. But He understands something that we too often forget: Any part of our heart that we neglect to give to God will undermine everything that God desires to do with your life. If we don’t give Him all, we give Him nothing.
5. When we return to God we must return with all of our heart.
6. Secondly, the Lord says to return with “fasting and weeping and mourning.”
7. It’s similar to the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
8. In other words, don’t just say it – show it!
9. This is significant for us: we live in a time when people will say anything to make themselves look better. Words don’t seem to matter much anymore – actions mean something.
10. Next, He says “Rend your heart and not your garments.”
11. To rend means to tear, or rip to shreds. In Jewish tradition, when a person would mourn they would tear or rip their garments as an outward sign of mourning.
12. God says, “rend your heart.”
13. You’ve heard people say “that tore my heart to pieces.” Shouldn’t we react that way to sin and indifference in our lives? We must take sin and indifference seriously.
Transition/conclusion: Only when our hearts are softened and open will real transformation come into our lives; true transformation that comes as a result of real repentance that tears our hearts and is shown in our actions.