Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Meditation on Joel 2:1-17 (Alan Reynolds)

Blow the trumpet to sound the alarm, for the “Day of the Lord” is coming, “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness (Joel 2:1-2).
Blow the trumpet again, this time to gather the people, to call a solemn assembly, to sanctify the congregation (vs. 15-16).  “Let the ministers of the Lord weep.  Let them say, "Spare your people, O Lord.’”

It sounds simple, almost mechanical.  God is angry, we repent, and hopefully God will be merciful.  But when you read the intervening verses (3-11), it is not so easy.  There is a scene of utter devastation.  It is announced in verse 2, “a great and powerful army comes.”  “Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, but after them a desolate wilderness” (vs. 13).
We know little of the judgment of God.  Our place has been pleasant and our time one of ease.  We gather, Sunday by Sunday, and we say a prayer of confession and receive assurance of pardon, and carry on as before.  We may have known trouble in our individual lives, but our nation, our culture, has flourished. 

Since World War II, it has been largely onward and upward; giving basis to what theologian Douglas Hall calls our “official optimism.”  We have little conception of such a “day of darkness and gloom.”
But one senses an increasing uneasiness in our place and time, recognition of disease.  There seems to be a sense that the good times are behind us and there are tough times ahead.  The daily newspaper certainly gives that impression.

But the Bible never leaves us in despair.  “Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful….  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent?” (vs. 13 & 14).  There is hope, the possibility of mercy.  Always, no matter how desperate the situation, there is hope.
Whatever the future may hold – for our church, for our culture, for our world – the end is in God’s hands.  We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

Grace and peace, to you and yours,




Peter Black said...

Your reflections this portion are surely apropos for those of us who are older as well as the contemporary generation, Alan. Your observations are sobering, and your concluding points hope-filled and encouraging, focused as they are on the mercy and grace of God, who is willing to forgive, when we follow the pathway of repentance and confession. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

I love the encouragement here, Alan, and your parting words about how - when it comes right down to it - God holds everything in His hands!

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