Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thoughts on the Book of Joel (in many parts); Chapter 1, Part 1

“The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: hear this, O elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land.  Has anything like this happened in your days or in your fathers' days?  Tell your sons about it, and let your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation” (Joel 1: 1-3).

A Generation of Vipers

‘So he (Jesus) began saying…“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.  Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”’ (Luke 3: 7-9).

From the first blast of the trumpet (the prophet’s initial declaration) a fire is ignited and we, His people, are but wood beneath an altar in its path!  “The word of the Lord that came” is enough to set the world on fire, but we are just getting started!  His word came to Joel, which means “the Lord is God;” seems benign enough…right?  Combine that meaning, however, with the meaning of Joel’s father, Pethuel: “opened or enlarged of God” or “ingenuousness of God.”  Now, ingenuousness is not a commonly used word, so what does it mean?  Answer: “Free from deceit or disgrace; open; artless; innocent” or “great simplicity of mind.” So, the Lord is God, there is no other, and we have been enlarged to receive the magnitude of His person within as we maintain our singleness of purpose.  But how have we been enlarged and how do we escape the inevitable flames that are coming?  Answer: tears of repentance.

Internal enlargement only occurs when we allow ourselves to be hollowed out by sorrow over the destruction that sin brings.  When we allow ourselves to be habitually moved, we sacrifice ourselves by allowing internal erosion at the margin of our being.  Our emotions are like a subterranean sea ever pulling down our intractable and stubborn nature into itself to be drowned there, and in the process, hollowing out a cavernous home within our bodies which is likened to a cavern formed in limestone beneath the surface of the earth.  Just as fire has little effect upon limestone and water and tends to get snuffed out by the suffocating atmosphere of caverns, so fire has no fuel and little oxygen to long burn the soul that has been purged by sorrow.

And “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4).  Many think to circumvent God’s way of the cross and sorrow today, and unfortunately, this nearing Day of the Lord, the Brightness of His Coming, will expose every false way and lay open all the secrets of every heart.  Thieves and robbers, those that thought they could come up into life another way, will be caught red handed; the very sorrow they tried to avoid will come upon them suddenly and intensified.  Indeed, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who choose another god” (Psalm 16:4).