Tuesday, March 28, 2017

An Unexpected Destination

Exactly how I made it to the prophetic writing of Joel, I am not sure.  When I opened my Bible this morning, I had recently been reading Romans and had gone to I Thessalonians.  I suppose I figured I would meander around in Paul's letters a bit more, but suddenly there was this urge to go back to the Old Testament to the prophets.  For some reason I found myself looking for the book of Joel.  I reasoned it had been a long time since reading it and it would be an easier read than Ezekiel or Isaiah.  I was not ready for the Word which leaped from the middle of the 2nd chapter which said, "rend your hearts and not your clothing..."  (Joel 2:13)
Of course, the natural order calls for the tearing of clothes and not the heart.  While none of us have likely seen it happen, there are those moments described in the Scripture of sorrowful people so overwhelmed with their sins that they tear their clothes in anguish.  Today's culture would not see such people as repentant sinners, but people who need to be arrested because of indecent exposure.  But, the Word of God creates an image of people so distraught with their sins that they literally tear apart their clothing as an expression of their deep sorrow and shame.
So, Joel reverses the order.  Instead of calling people to rend the external, he calls them to rend the internal.  What an image is created here as we think of people like you and me so overwhelmed with a personal awareness of sin that we tear our heart.  The very seat of our sin, the place which speaks of the core of our disobedience against God is ripped open, left torn and bleeding because of the deep anguish we are experiencing.  What Joel is telling us is to go beyond a sorrow which causes us to rend something that speaks of our appearance to others to a deeper act of confession and sorrow seen only by ourselves and God. 

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