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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Rend Your Heart not Your Garment (Joel 2)

When you think about reading the Bible, do you ever feel like the New Testament is more relevant and applicable to our lives than the Old Testament? I have. But over and over this year, God has shown me that mindset could not be further from the truth.

In a recent study of the book of Joel, I was blown away by how much it relates to our time, today.

In Joel's time, the Jews had become prosperous and complacent. They were kicking back, enjoying life, and taking God for granted. They had forgotten their purpose, to live for God. In fact, they had turned away from God to focus on themselves, indulging in sin and idolatry. Does that sound at all familiar? Isn't this what we see today?

God sent Joel to warn the Jews that turning away from Him and indulging in sin and idolatry would bring God's judgment upon themselves:

Joel 1:6-7, 2:12-13 [6] For a nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the fangs of a lioness. [7] It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree splinters. .. [12] “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; [13] And rend your heart and not your garments.”

Like the Jews in Joel's time, we are living in a time of complacency in which the majority have turned away from God. God's not just saying, "repent." He's saying "I want true repentance, not just the outward motions. In other words, He wants full-time followers not part-time Christians.

"Rend your heart," means truly realizing our sin and repenting in our hearts. True repentance is seen by a focus on God not just for a few Sundays but by putting Him first every day going forward.

Joel tells us because of the unrepentant hearts of his people in his time, God sent a locust plague to plunge them into famine; one which they could not survive or recover from without turning back to God. But if they turned back to God, God promised deliverance:

Joel 2:18-19 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land and will have pity on His people. [19] The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied in full with them; and I will never again make you a reproach among the nations.

So how does this all relate to us today? There's really no denying worldwide famine is just around the corner. But this time instead of a locust plague, we see globalists working in concert like locust to destroy petroleum reserves, jack up prices, reduce shipment of goods, purchase the vast majority of farm land, while we "coincidentally" see so many fires at food processing plants all over the country over the last year, common sense says it is anything but coincidence. So what could it be? What does Scripture say?

Deuteronomy 28:15-45 [15] If you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: [18] The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. [22] The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. [38] You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. [45] All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees He gave you.

Amos 4:9 Locust devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to Me, "declares the LORD.

We can read these warnings and say to ourselves, "But that's the Old Testament and he's talking to the Jews, not us, and there are no locust plagues destroying our land." Or we can read between the lines and ask ourselves when Jesus gave us the command to "go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He taught us," is it ok with Him if we just ignore that today? Does He really expect us to serve Him, love others, and tell them about Him? Does He really expect us to be full-time followers instead of part-time Christians?

Dear Lord, The gifts, talents, and calling You give to each of us is unique and different. But You haven't called any of us to live as a part-time follower. You have called each of us to rend our hearts and return to You. Lord put it on our hearts how we are to live for you full-time in a world which is encouraging us to never think of You or put You first. Lord, today, let us choose to remember your sacrifice in our place and how You are calling each of us to serve You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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