Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cry to the Lord!

Locust  (Image from Pixabay)
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Joel 1:1-20

“Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the elders
And all the inhabitants of the land
Into the house of the LORD your God,
And cry out to the LORD.” Joel 1:14

In the next days we’ll be reading the entire book of Joel. So a little background is in order.

Joel was a prophet to Judah. The introduction to the book in my study Bible dates his ministry during the reign of Joash when, under the high priest Jehoiada, the worship of God had been restored (2 Kings 11:1-21; 2 Chronicles 23:16).

The catalyst event to writing the prophecy was a locust plague so bad there was nothing left. Fig trees were ruined, offering grains cut off, wine (grapes) dried up, oil (olives) failed, vine, pomegranate, apple all withered - Joel 1:7-12.

Joel interpreted this as the judgment of God. He did not pick that idea out of the blue, for Moses had warned in one of his Deuteronomy sermons of just such a curse as a consequence of disobedience - Deuteronomy 28:15, 42.

And so Joel summoned the priests, elders, and people to radical repentance: “… lament, Wail… Come, lie all night in sackcloth, consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders…. And cry out to the LORD” - Joel 1:13,14.

Might we do something similar when the bottom falls out of life for us, personally, for our family, our city, our country? We probably won’t experience a literal locust plague but some modern events are just as devastating: fires (who can forget the horror of last summer’s  wildfire in Fort McMurray), hurricanes, earthquakes, ice storms, vehicle accidents, cancer diagnoses, the death of a loved one…

Or we may be grieved by the moral locust plague that is destroying our society’s foundations. It's an attack:
  • On the family (new definitions of marriage, fluid sexual identity, pornography). 
  • On life (abortion, legal euthanasia, homelessness). 
  • On law and order (rampant rebellion, disorder, and violence under the guise of “free speech,” drug permissiveness and addiction, a lax judiciary which is often more lenient toward the perpetrator than the victim),
  • On thought and speech (as political correctness which claims to understand the motivation behind actions and to silence speech that would challenge society’s changing mores).
I’m not saying that when tragedy strikes we’re necessarily to blame or that we should take that responsibility on ourselves. It may not be our fault.  But let’s let our understandable panic, desperation, confusion, lack of solutions, even despair draw us to God and prayer with the fervor of Joel in his summons to the locust victims of his day.

Charlie Hall’s song “Holy Visitation” (sung here by Rita Springer) is a modern invitation to such a passionate encounter with God over these things.

PRAYER: “O LORD, to You I cry out"...for my country and this generation.”Amen. (Joel 1:19)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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