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Do you see the spiritual disaster that plagues our nation? Our world? Do you think that is something a political party can fix? Be neither fleshly nor naive, beloved.
Consider the following case study.
The prophet Joel wrote in the midst of a national crisis. He said it was something even the old folks had never seen (see Joel 1:2). The land itself was suffering: “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.” (Joel 1:4 ESV) Fact is, it’s so bad, “nothing escapes them” (Joel 2:3).
It does affect the culture; Joel even speaks to those whose party life is affected by the crisis: “Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.” (Joel 1:5 ESV) It’s like saying, “Understand this...the condition of our nation is not good for anyone.”
Joel is waking the crowd up to the crisis at hand.
But, not just the culture crowd; even the land itself is affected.
“The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the lord. The priests mourn, the ministers of the lord.” (Joel 1:9 ESV) The portions that were to be offered up to the lord eaten up by the crisis.
Not only the culture and the land, Joel tells us this is personal for the priests and the ministers, too; if there is nothing for the offering, there is nothing for the priests to eat either.
Make no mistake, this crisis is no mistake: “The lord utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:11 ESV)
Our nation is in crisis. I could spell it out all day long; it’s sad if I must do for us to see what we need to do. We must repent. We must pray. We must seek the face of the lord.
“‘Yet even now,’ declares the lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the lord your God?” (Joel 2:12-14 ESV)
Call out to the peoples! Y’all come. Let’s gather. Let us call out to the women, to the men, to the boys and girls – let us young, let us old. Call out to all types of people; let us rich and let us poor, let us seek the lord. Get the people, get the preachers; get everyone, let us each drop what we are doing and drop to our knees. Let us seek the mercy of the lord.
Let us rend our hearts before the lord: “Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the lord, weep and say, ‘Spare your people, O lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:15-17 ESV)
As we gather in our places of worship tomorrow morning, indeed, beloved friends, let us seek the lord. Let us refuse to simply show up and go through the routine of the order of service. Let us fall to our knees at the many sacred altars in our places of worship and cry out to the living God.