This is Pastor Terry Munn and his family. I spent last weekend with my son Brett and family in Ft. Jones, CA, and went to their church, so these are notes from Terry's sermon.
Terry Munn, Pastor, Fort Jones Community Church, Fort Jones, CA
We can learn a lot from study of the book of Joel in the Bible's Old Testament. Joel wanted to warn his people (Israel) to turn away from their sin, but they would not. Are these United States, California, Scott Valley--you and I--in the same dangerous condition?
• Joel 1:8 God wants His people to mourn over their sin. A virgin, pledged to be married but never consummated, now mourns over her lost bridegroom.
• Joel 1:9 They could no longer offer the daily grain and drink offerings. The priests mourned because they had no sacrifices to offer God.
But, unless the people repented from their wanderings from Him, their offerings were meaningless and empty to God:
Isaiah 1:11-15 "The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. God is more concerned with our hearts and our obedience than He is to just superficial compliance.
• Joel 1:10-12 The devastation of the land would have a spreading and lasting effect on the entire nation. They were dependent on the produce of the land, but severe drought depleted their crops. The produce was all ruined—grain, fruit, olives, figs, dates. Trees that were destroyed took years to regrow before they can produce. (The date palm, for instance, takes 20 years.) Commerce and Trade would be severely crippled and even stopped. And yet the people would not turn back to their God, they continued to worship strange gods from other lands.
Joel 1:12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away. The Jews lost their joy because they had lost God’s blessing.
Isaiah 9:3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
Joel 1:13-14 Again God calls for remorse and repentance. Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Getting anything turned around before God involves being remorseful, but that alone is not enough. It must be followed by repentance.
Sackcloth was a course garment made of goat or camel hair, probably itchy, uncomfortable, and smelly. People wore it as a sign of mourning.
Fasting, while is an external practice (just like sackcloth), has a strictly internal significance. It showed penitence and humility.
Joel 1:15 The Day of the LORD.
15 Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Israel saw it as a time when God would pour out His judgment on all their enemies.
God’s judgment is reserved for all who are in rebellion against Him (including Israel). Like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Zephaniah, Joel described the Day of the Lord as one of judgments on the nations that do not know God, but also one of punishment for unfaithful Israel as well. Restoration and blessing will come only after judgment and repentance. This is how Isaiah describes God’s coming judgment (Isaiah 2:10-21) Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty! 11 The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 12 The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), 13 for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, 14 for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, 15 for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, 16 for every trading ship and every stately vessel. 17 The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, 18 and the idols will totally disappear. 19 Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. 20 In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. 21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.
Jeremiah says about God’s judgment (Jeremiah 4:6) Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction." Amos says about the Day of the Lord this: Amos 5:18-20 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. 20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light—pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? Zephaniah continues with the same theme. (1:7-18)
Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near.
The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. 8 On the day of the LORD’s sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king’s sons and all those clad in foreign clothes. 9 On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold, who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit. 10 "On that day," declares the LORD, "a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills. 11 Wail, you who live in the market district; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined. 12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’ 13 Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine. 14 "The great day of the LORD is near—near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. 15 That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16 a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. 17 I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth."
The phrase “the Day of the Lord” occurs five times in Joel and is its central theme. Six other prophets use the phrase: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah and Malachi. Sometimes abbreviated as "that day" the term often refers to the decisive intervention of God in history, such as the invasion of locusts or the battle of Carchemish 605 BC where Pharaoh Neco was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon (Jeremiah 46:2,10). It can also refer to Jesus’ second coming. When it is not used for divine judgments in history it refers to the final day of the Lord. In the final day of the Lord. Jesus triumphs over all of the enemies of God and brings His people into His blessings and rest/security.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
Truly the Day of the LORD was and still is and will be at hand. God is still judging sin and pouring His wrath out upon it, but the day is coming when that will happen one final time and it will be like nothing before.
Joel 1:16-18 The effects of God’s wrath on sin are even seen in nature.
No more seeds. Beasts have nothing left to eat.
Joel 1:19-20 Fire equals judgment or severe drought (both).
Everything is left scorched and barren, the effects of sin. The fields are burned up. Even the wild animals pant for the Lord. Sin can also leave our lives dry and bare and nothing on this earth is able to quench it and make it new again.
Romans 8:19-22 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
God will restore everything when He brings forth the New Heaven and the New Earth.
God wants renewal and revival in the nations He blesses. He cannot bring it to this nation until He brings it to His churches. To His people- you and me. But we can have personal renewal right now.
How do we fix it? We get back to the basics, putting God and His Word first in our lives.
There is a set pattern for this: Belief, Acceptance, Confession, Repentance.