REVIVAL LESSON 7 - Joel 2:12-13, 15-17 - It's Not Too Late to Bring Revival
BACKGROUND: Last week, in our study of 2 Chron. 7:11-14, we identified four points of personal application about revival that are just as relevant to 21st Christians as they were to the post-exilic Jews to whom they were originally addressed: The key word of application we learned was "If," repeated four time: (1) If you will humble yourself-that is, confess and accept God's headship in our lives and admit our own weakness and powerlessness in relation to God's authority and sovereign control over all things; (2) if you will pray for revival-putting humility into action by approaching God's in a way that reflects who He is and who we are not; (3) if you will seek God's face-that is, come face-to-face with God with the attitude that He is more important than anyone else in our life; and (4) if you will honestly repent of your sins-which means you come to God with conviction that God is right, contrition that you're truly sorry for grieving God, and that your have taken action to turn away from these sins. To achieve personal spiritual revival, God demands these four things unconditionally and there are no exceptions.
Today, in the our series of lessons on OT revival, we will study the prophecy of Joel as it relates to the call to revival for 21st Century Christians and the churches we represent. Scholars are divided on the dating of the book, some placing the prophet in the pre-exilic era (before 701 B.C.) when the Northern Kingdom was still intact, while others date him in the post-exilic timeframe after the return of the exiles from Babylonian captivity in 537 B.C., which roughly coincides with the series Bro. JR preached recently from the Book of Nehemiah about the Jewish remnant who returned to Jerusalem and began rebuilding the Temple and the walls around the city. All agree that Joel was located in the southern Kingdom and possibly lived in Jerusalem. The first part of the book of Joel (1:1-2:17) consists of the prophet's sorrow over the spiritual ruin of his country (Judea) and his call to the people to repent and pray for deliverance; the second part (2:18-3:21) deals with God's response and the promise of deliverance. The overriding theme of the book-repeated five times in 1:15, 2:1, 11, 31; and 3:14-is the coming of the "Day of the LORD." We could spend weeks talking about the "Day of the LORD" from an OT Jewish perspective but as NT Christians, we will look at it solely from an eschatological (end-times) perspective-the "Day" that Jesus Christ returns to judge the world.
Read JOEL 2:12-13 - TURN TO ME AND REPENT
12 "Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 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.
v .12-13a: "Yet even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments." - This is God's call to you and me for personal spiritual revival and spell outs the kind of repentance He expects from you. He seeks repentance from your heart-that unique inner-self that makes you who you are as an individual. Returning to Him with "all your heart" means you hold nothing back-completely transparent-and allow God to cleanse all your sins, even the most secret things that only you and God know about. "Fasting" implies repentance so deeply felt that you literally lose all appetite for food and allow nothing to distract you from God's presence. "Weeping" and "mourning" shows that you're sorry for grieving God and willing to admit that you are wrong and He is right. To "rend you heart" (v. 13b) describes an outward sign of the inward sorrow and pain you truly feel for grieving God with your sins. In a few words, God wants 100% of you and is calling you for an all or nothing experience.
v. 13b: "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" - When we honestly and truly repent as specified above, God will accept it with grace, mercy, patience, forgiveness, and love, because these characteristics reflect God's unchanging nature. (Compare with seeking reconciliation with humans.)
(Note: v. 14 skipped because it pertains to ritual offerings and sacrifices not relevant to NT age.)
Read Joel 2:15-17 - BLOW THE TRUMPET IN ZION, CALL A "SOLEMN" ASSEMBLY
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 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. 17 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?'"
v. 15a: "Blow the trumpet in Zion;" - The prophet dealt with us personally in vv. 12-13 and now he moves to the second step and calls us to revival as a group, in our case, as a church. The prophet is calling the churches to "blow the trumpet in Zion" to announce that the Day of the LORD-the second coming of Jesus Christ-is on its way. We don't know exactly when, but we do know It's certain to come-and according to the signs (see Mt. 24:3-14), may come very soon. (This isn't just my opinion but a consensus of the vast majority of evangelical Christian pastors across this county.) It will start with individuals and then spread through their churches. Revival is from God and this is how the Spirit of God works.
v. 15b: "consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly;" - This is a call for mass (or corporate) revival, commanding Christians to band together and pray for revival. "Consecrate" means to set apart. The prophet is telling us to leave the food behind (difficult for Baptists), forget the music, skip the usual formalities, and go to the church for a "solemn assembly"-this is a totally serious corporate action that pictures the entire church facing God and praying for revival.
v. 16: "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." - The prophet is telling us to leave no one out of this solemn assembly-old, young, children, infants, and even people in the middle of their wedding day! This is as serious as it gets. Yes?
v. 17a: "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." - The prophet even tells us how to set this solemn assembly up: Our pastors are to visibly and audibly come forward, from the vestibule to the altar, to pray that God, in His mercy, would forgive and spare anyone in the church. This would include not only the babies and children, but even adults who have not repented of their sins and confessed Jesus as savior.
v. 17b: "Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" - When all Christians suddenly and inexplicably disappear at the rapture, the atheists and pagans left behind to face the Great Tribulation will (or should) know the truth and will have no basis to mock God.
APPLICATION-Pretty straightforward: The time for getting on our knees and seeking God's face for personal spiritual revival and corporate revival, as a church, is RIGHT NOW! How about you? Are you ready to respond to the trumpet's call and come to the solemn assembly? If you're not sure and have questions, feel free to ask Brother JR, Brother Phillip, or me. There is even a printed guide available in the Church Office on how to pray for personal spiritual revival.
PRAYER: I'm going to pray that model prayer right now, so please bow with me:
Dear God, my heavenly Father and Creator of all things, I come to You this morning, asking You to use the power of Your Spirit to revive me as a believer in Your Son Jesus Christ, who I claim as my blessed Savior and as the Lord of my life. I approach Your throne with my whole heart and ask, dear God:
I ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the perfecter and finisher of my faith, AMEN.