Daily Reflections November 10, 2017
The minor prophets are no less blunt than the major prophets. They deliver some of the most pointed rebukes and warnings for the nation of Israel. But there is also some very encouraging words of hope that come to us through these messengers of God. In Joel 2, the prophet continues his word of judgement on the people. He has already told them that the locusts would swallow everything in the land.
But the people are obstinate and hard-hearted. So he tells them here in the first eleven verses that there would be a great army, the Assyrians, that would come against them by the word of God. God would use this nation to come against them and show his wrath against their relentless rebellion.
There is no doubt here that God is the one that is meticulously directing this army as an instrument to scourge his own people. And if this war was not coming by the hands of man but by the word of Almighty God then there is no hope to resist. We cannot forget that all things are created, sustained, and used by God for his perfect purpose. Do not try to resist what is, respond to what you know it is there for. And we know that, whether we experience curse or blessing, it is an instrument of God to draw us humbly to himself. But with the harsh promise of judgment, we also see the generous mercy of God.
Just like the powerful words "but God" in Ephesians 2:4, we read the powerful words:"even now". It may seem that God has given the people over to destruction without hope. It may seem that his patient forbearance is over and only judgment remains. But even now, after how far they've run away from him, they can turn from their wicked ways and contritely return to the Lord. Even now, after they've experience so much destructive consequences of their sin, there's still hope that God can show mercy and restore them.
What weight those two words have!
Even so, Joel says that the power in those words can only be experienced by the true rending of the heart. The physical rituals of tearing garments was only evidence of worldly sorrow that leads to death. But because the heart is the seat of the sin, an internal return of the heart was evidence of Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. The apostle Paul says this clearly in 2 Corinthians 7:10,
"For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
Friends, do not be slow to see that God's promise for judgment due to your sin is not something that you can resist. He may have something in your life right now that he has orchestrated to ravage you to the core. It may even seem like it is too late and that there is no hope that you will ever make it through.
Can I encourage you? Even now, God is able and willing to show you pity and mercy, to turn your curse to blessing, and begin to restore what was lost. Humbly come to him with a truly broken heart, repent of your rebellion against him, and lay your life at his feet.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
At the introduction of this psalm, we read that this is a prayer of David when he was in the cave. Those who are familiar with David’s story will be able to recall two occasions that David found himself in a cave. These two instances can be found in 1 Samuel 22 and 1 Samuel 24. While we are not told which of these situations the psalm was written about, that detail is not important. Both instances share the same context of David fleeing from King Saul who was seeking to put him to death. King Saul wanted David destroyed for he was growing in popularity superior to the King (see 1 Samuel 18). This prayer, therefore, was made when David was surrounded by a few faithful men, but hunted by the King’s army.
Having acknowledged the context of this psalm, David’s words begin to take on more weight. This was not simply the reflections of a man going through a bad day, but they are rather the words of a man who has every reason to despair for his very life. David understands the severity of his predicament and his spirit faints within him (v. 3). Nevertheless, David does the only thing that he can and cries out to God. He lays all of his fears, troubles, and anxieties before the Lord and acknowledges that the Lord alone is able to provide him with refuge and deliverance.
Amazingly, despite his circumstances, David offers these heartfelt cried to God with great confidence and assurance. Note the hope displayed in the last line of this psalm: “For you will deal bountifully with me.”
As believers in Christ we should take note of this psalm and seek to mimic the faith of David. Remember the instruction of the Apostle Peter when he wrote:
“Cast all your anxiety on him [Jesus] because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
What an incredible verse. You no longer need to bear the weight of your anxieties on your own. Not only are you permitted, but you are instructed to cast them instead onto Jesus. Why? Because he cares for you! What a beautiful truth that we must continually remind ourselves and one another of. No matter how big or how small the challenges of your life are, the Lord invites you to bring them to Him. Do this with the confidence that the Lord will deal bountifully with you because he cares for you.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier