Friday, July 5, 2024

Morning Message: Love is the Answer

Bobservations Column
Titled: "Love is the Answer"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As Joel warns of an invading enemy coming to conquer His people, God lays out an ultimatum for the Jews in the passage today: “Deliverance for obedience.” It is a call for them to return unto Him, if they are to survive and remain in good standing with God. His agape’ is not at risk; it’s because of His agape’ that He makes this offer to them.

Justifying an error by the behaviors of those around us makes it impossible to identify the error itself. This is a mistake people and whole societies make: “This is the way we’ve always done it” is just another way of saying there might be a better way, but until somebody points it out to us, we will keep living the way we know.

Comparing ourselves to those around us, will neither challenge us, nor allow us to see God’s more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).

1 Corinthians 13 gives us the perfect challenge. “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not, and does not lift itself up, nor is it puffed up. (Love) does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, and thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails. …”

Our challenge today is the same as the Jewish nation’s. First, read the verse again, but replace the word “Love” with the name of Jesus. What is revealed is His faithful and loving nature, His grace and His mercy.

Lastly, read the verse once more, replacing the word “Love” with your own name. How far through the passage did you get? Comparing ourselves to others just like us is no challenge at all. Comparing ourselves to perfection reveals how far we have yet to go! Love is the answer!

“Hear O Israel: The Lord Our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
- Deuteronomy 6:4,5

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Joel 2:14-29 - "Love is the Answer"

Summary/Additional Commentary & Definitions:

God loves to restore broken things. Whether they be broken families, broken lives, or broken people, God is a God who loves to restore. As we come to our Old Testaments and study this theme of the Day of the Lord, it’s a theme that should send chills down our spine as it should have sent chills down the spine for early audience. God’s judgment is no trifling matter, and his punishments are not a little slap on the wrist. But God does not do what he does out of a malicious desire to make his children hurt because they’ve hurt him. No, God disciplines with an eye toward restoration and blessing. As Hosea puts it, God breaks us that he may heal us (Hosea 5:14-6:1).

How is God’s discipline a reflection of his love? Why do we struggle to believe that this is so?

There is a big difference between the angry father who disciplines because he is fed up with his disobedient children and just wants them to learn a lesson, and the kind but firm father who disciplines his children because he knows that such discipline is truly what is best for them. Too often, if we are not careful, we can think of God in the first category. But the Bible pictures a God who is angry with sin and disobedience, yes, but more than that he is a God who wants to restore people to a place of blessing, joy, and life. And sometimes, to do that, he must bring people through painful events to take care of the wickedness they won’t address.

In the passage we are studying today (2:14-29), we see God reversing the pain and misery that he earlier brought and warned would be worse if there were no repentance, and several different things that God plans on restoring: blessings, peace, and a right relationship with him.

Even in the midst of judgment, the opportunity to repent was given.  If the people would demonstrate genuine repentance, the Lord stood ready to forgive and bless.  

Sin is devastating. We saw that in chapter one. But God’s grace is greater, we see that here in chapter two. No matter your sin, there can be forgiveness, healing, blessing, and life. Because while God is a God who brings judgment, He is also merciful, gracious and loving.  He is the God who is willing to forgive and restore. 

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:  

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Blow...Consecrate...Call (2:15) - In the ancient world, horns were used to gather people for special occasions or to warn of danger. 
These are commands, not suggestions. They are a clear call for an urgent response! The nearness of the Day of the LORD demands drastic measures for the nation of Israel, and for us. All men at every point in history past, present and future are to turn to the Lord in His awesome mercy via the narrow path of repentance!

Sanctify a Fast (2:15) - Sanctify means set apart/make holy.  
Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. Fasting in the Old Testament expressed a mournful, urgent seeking of God in distressing circumstances. It was an outward expression of the inward reality of a shattered heart. It was an urgent response of repentance and great humility. It was the seeking of deliverance from a gracious merciful God.

Reproach . . .Shame (2:19-27) - "I will no more make you a reproach" and "my people shall never be ashamed" (vv. 26, 27) are ABSOLUTE statements that have yet to be fulfilled.  They can only be fulfilled in the far future (3:17). Joel now looks beyond the invasion to the time when God would heal His land and restore his blessings to His people.

Northern Army (2:20) - Although some have viewed this as a reference to the locusts, it is more likely referring to a military invasion by a country coming down from the north of Israel (see Ezekiel 38:6, 15: 39:2).  that future army will be driven into the eastern sea (Dead Sea) and the western sea (Mediterranean Sea).  This prophecy had an early fulfillment in the overnight slaying of the Assyrian host that had laid siege to Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:36).  Its ultimate fulfillment will be in the almost equally sudden destruction of the vast armies of Gog and Magog by God. 

Former Rain . . . Latter Rain (2:23) - The former rains came in October-December to prepare the seed-bed and assist germination, while the latter rains came in March-May to provide ample moisture for the grain and fruit crops to be rich and full.   The repentance of the people and the divine defeat of their enemies will be accompanied by the ending of the terrible drought and other pestilences.  This is referring to the millennial period that follows the period of the great tribulation.  The return of the seasonal rains signals return of the nation into divine favor which in turn signifies that they have returned to Jehovah, rending their hearts and not their garments (Joel 2:12-13). As before signifies that God had blessed them in the past.

I am in the midst of Israel (2:27) - The Lord's promised return would be a reversal of the Lord's departure (Ezekiel 8-11).

Pour Out My Spirit (2:28) - This great promise of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21), though He was not given to "all flesh" at that time.  The remaining parts of this prophecy (2:30-31) were not fulfilled at that time, but all will be fulfilled as Christ's return draws near.

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