Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Joel: Between Porch and Altar

Book of Joel

The end of the world is coming.  
And no, this is not a joke.  

Most evangelical-type Christ followers believe this.  Sort of.  

The thing is, if we really believed this, if we really believed that destruction was imminent, that people would die, people we loved, this knowledge would compel us to do something.  

In rhetoric, we speak about kairos, urgency.  A need to act now.  

And in Joel, we get that.  

The day of the Lord is coming.  God will punish his people.  
"What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten."  (1:4)

It doesn't sound good.  
"Despair you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. . . . Surely the joy of mankind is withered away." (1:11-12)

"The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful.  Who can endure it?" (2:11) Blow the trumpet in Zion! (2:1)  Sound a warning.  Run, but you won't be able to escape.  

Perhaps there is another way.  
"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning . . . Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Who knows? He may turn and have pity . . ."

But act now.  
Blow the trumpet in Zion.  Gather the people.  
Get desperate before God and beg for mercy.  
Weep.  Weep loudly.  
Ask God to spare the people.  No, stand at the gates and wail.  Entreat God to relent.  
Mourn for the city.  Mourn for people you have never met.  
This is spiritual warfare.  And it's not pretty.  
It is the Holy Spirit who reveals himself.  How desperate are when we pray for our city?  Our neighbors? 

"Let the priests who ministry before the Lord weep between the temple porch and the altar.  Let them say, "Spare your people . . ."

And lest you think you're not a priest, think again.  This call is for all of us who follow Jesus Christ.  We are all priests now.  

Where is our urgency?  
I feel so complacent.  

Sometimes words don't capture the essence of an idea.  Sometimes an image or music is more effective.  Listen to this song, written by Charlie Hall.  

Yes, Jesus is coming back.  

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