A. ? Locust Plague. [OHP1]
- Recap (terrible locust plague picturing coming judgment) Read [OHP2] - insects, army, ? something more - God’s instrument of judgment - Egypt (picture of judgment to come) - read a lot of Scripture so the picture you have is that from God’s word, not my imagination: (Revelation 9 Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth (angelic being, messenger sent from God); and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him (release demonic forces but under God’s direction). He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened (v.10) by the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth (demonic manifestation), and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing (? locusts), nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment (cf. V.6) of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them. The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle (cf. V.4); and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots (cf. V.5), of many horses rushing to battle (v.4). They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon. The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things.) - satanic being but released at God’s command.
v.4 - The images of army and locust are inter-twined. The locusts appear like horses, war-horses - fast, terrifying, they run. They overrun the land with tremendous rapidity. When the calamity strikes it does so with overwhelming speed - sudden destruction, no chance to flee, to escape. The emphasis is on the speed of the attack. Rapid, relentless, irresistible - “like” “like” “like” (cf. V. 4,7) - they are not any of these things, but something like them - something never seen before but likened to other things - fast, conquering, powerful, consuming, organized. - appearance of horse but they are not - what are they? - the locust beasts of Rev 9:7.
v.5 - The chariots leap to the tops of the hills - the strong points that are easiest to defend and hardest to take - yet they leap upon them as if there was no resistance, completely overwhelmed, consuming fire. So smoothly does the invasion go that the battle order is not disturbed by any pockets of resistance (cf. v.7,8). Usually the battle starts with the troops in order but in the midst of battle the order gets disrupted in the chaos of fighting. But so imperceptible do the invaders resistance that the battle order is never broken. Like an ordered machine they overrun the land - unstoppable, irresistible. The effect on the inhabitants of the land is awful!
V.6 - they are a cause of great anguish (torment in Rev 9:5,6). Man is impotent, helpless before them. In dread!
V.9 - Remember the song? There is a false teaching around that the church is Joel’s army - this army is under God’s control, but it is demonic! It is not the church! The attack is fast, vicious, relentless, unstoppable, inescapable, into houses & homes, through defenses, they will find a way in no matter what. You wont be able to keep these fearsome beasts at bay!
v.11 - Divinely commissioned on a Divine mission - who can withstand them?
B. The Day of the LORD.
What is it? the day of the LORD, God acting in judgment to recompense men for what they deserve. I don’t know what it will be like, let Scripture describe it: (Isaiah 2:10-22 Enter the rock and hide in the dust From the terror of the Lord and from the splendour of His majesty. The proud look of man will be abased And the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased. .... The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased; And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, But the idols will completely vanish. Men will go into caves of the rocks and into holes of the ground Before the terror of the Lord And the splendour of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble (cf. V.10). In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship, In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs Before the terror of the Lord and the splendour of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble. Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed? Isaiah 13:6-16 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near! It will come as destruction (cf. V.3) from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man’s heart will melt. They will be terrified, Pains and anguish (cf. V.6) will take hold of them; They will writhe like a woman in labour, They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame. Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation (cf. V.3); And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. (cf. V.10) Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold And mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,(cf. V.10) And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the Lord of hosts In the day of His burning anger. And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land. Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword. (Cf. V.11) Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished. Ezekiel 30:2,3 Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’ “For the day is near (v.1), Even the day of the Lord is near (v.1); It will be a day of clouds, (cf. V.2) A time of doom for the nations. Obadiah 15 For the day of the Lord draws near (v.1) on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head Zephaniah 1:7-18 Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near (v.1), For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests. “Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice That I will punish the princes, . ..... Near (v.1) is the great day of the Lord, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, (v.6) A day of destruction and desolation (v.3), A day of darkness and gloom,(v.10) A day of clouds and thick darkness, (v.2) A day of trumpet and battle cry (v.1) Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers. I will bring distress on men So that they will walk like the blind, Because they have sinned against the Lord; And their blood will be poured (v.11)out like dust And their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the Lord’s wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire (v.3)of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth. Zephaniah 2:1-3 Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame, Before the decree takes effect— The day passes like the chaff— Before the burning anger (v.3) of the Lord comes upon you, Before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you. Seek the Lord, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger. Amos 5:18-20 Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness (v.2) and not light; As when a man flees from a lion And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall And a snake bites him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it? Malachi 4:5 Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.)
What is it like? From these passages we see that it is a day of judgment, recompense, earthquake, clouds (associated with God’s abode) , shaking of the heavens, war, darkness, distress, bitterness, bloodshed, fire! No escape, doom! a complete end!
- It may not be how we expect - it’s not going to be a fun day! It is unprecedented - worse than the holocaust!
v.3 - Like the locust plague, the army consumes and devours, relentlessly, wave after wave until there is nothing left. In the past יהוה’s judgment has always left a remnant. This time there will be no remnant. Evil will be utterly extirpated. - Three features here: fire, war and cosmic events.
Does it matter? it is near, we need to be ready, prepared v.1 - The Day of the LORD is near! We should not be carrying on life as normal, oblivious of the impending doom! The alarm must be sounded! Blow the trumpet, cry out, tremble! Why? because of the Day of the LORD! It is not a day of joy but a terrible day. We needs tremble because it is near! There is good reason for us to be alarmed - to be warning people. Yahweh’s mountain is HOLY - that is why destruction is coming - the holy place has not been held as holy but has been defiled. Many have looked forward to the Day of the LORD but it won’t be the wondrous day they’ve been expecting but will be a day of doom and gloom - We need to have an urgency an imperative. Judgment it imminent, we cannot continue on as if everything was normal. (Romans 13:12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.). (Matthew 24:36-42 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.)
What should be our response? - (come to this later) warn others of its nearness, prepare ourselves, urgent need to repent and seek God. Repentance is two fold - in mind and in action. Turning. Changing your thinking from self centred to God’s perspective. Changing your direction 180 degrees - turning from pursuing your own ways to doing the will of the King.
C. Fire! There is fire, fire that consumes all in its path. Nothing escapes! The consistent witness of Scripture is a judgment by fire!(cf. Hebrews 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire. Isaiah 66:15 For behold, the Lord will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. 2 Thessalonians 1:7 the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire). The LORD is coming with fire! In that last day judgment will be by fire (2 Peter 3:7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 1 Corinthians 3:13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. Revelation 20:9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them).
D. The War to End All Wars. The invading army is preparatory to Armageddon Blowing the trumpet (shofar, a carved horn) signaled the danger of invading forces. "My holy mountain" (cf. Psalm 2:6) is Moriah, the temple hill (Revelation 16:13-16 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. Joel 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.”Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations And gather yourselves there.
Bring down, O Lord, Your mighty ones.Let the nations be aroused And come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat, For there I will sit to judge All the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. Isaiah 34:1-3 Draw near, O nations, to hear; and listen, O peoples! Let the earth and all it contains hear, and the world and all that springs from it. For the Lord’s indignation is against all the nations, And His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter. So their slain will be thrown out, And their corpses will give off their stench, And the mountains will be drenched with their blood.)
v.2 Who is this multitudinous mighty people? this is the destroying army that will execute יהוה’s judgment on His day. There never has been anything like this army before nor will there ever be again. The mightiest, most destructive force this world has ever seen! (cf. Matthew 24:16-22 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.). Indeed there is reason to tremble, for gloom, for alarm. Reason to sound the alarm in warning. But no we continue on as if nothing will ever change. Fools! Darkness, gloom, war like there has never been before - worse than WWI and WWII! (Daniel 12:1 Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Mark 13:19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.)
V.3 - We have never been touched by war, some have experienced the depression - but to lose EVERYTHING! Nothing escapes! The place is left a wasteland. This is Israel - but are they alone going to experience God’s judgment? Ch.3 says gather the nations - that’s us. Are we raptured out before it occurs? - why then does Jesus warn His disciples of it in Matt 24? Why does Peter tell believers to prepare for it?
v.8 - This is not a swarming mass of insects, it is orderly and planned - this is an extremely disciplined army of highly trained soldiers. Nothing can prevent, halt or delay this advancing force. But the advance is not only orderly it is rapid
v.9 - Now the invading force is in the city! They are on the walls! Scaling them. In the homes! The invasion is rapid - in people’s homes before they know it. Stealthily they enter. The people are caught unawares - no time to prepare or resist. No warning! Before they know it destruction and judgment has overtaken them and they are impotent to do anything about it. They should have heeded the warning to repent and seek יהוה before it happened - for by the time the invasion has been started it is already too late! Now is the time to turn to יהוה and seek His face! Do it now! - before it is too late and any action will then prove futile.
v.11 - This terrible invading army is the LORD’s army - carrying out His plan and purpose. This terrible calamity is not the triumph of evil, letting loose its venom against God’s land. No, this invasion is God’s plan and purpose. This is יהוה’s will. יהוה has come in judgment - His host, His army with Him. His army is very mighty - it cannot be resisted. Its might comes from the fact that it is carrying out יהוה’s word. Who can resist יהוה’s will?! He who carries out His word is mighty. For יהוה’s word cannot fail.
- the day of the LORD is dreadful, awesome, inspiring fear and dread - who can endure it?! No, it will not be the wonderful time people have been anticipating (cf. Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap )
- man will face up to the fact that you are no longer facing a human foe, natural disasters - THIS IS GOD! It is dreadful. There is an army, it is made up of spiritual beings, innumerable - they may be from the pit but they are acting at the LORD’s direction, obeying his orders implicitly. This absolutely awful torment and disaster is from God, directly by His command! Does a God of love do such terrible things? The answer is “Yes!” And He will! Does that fit with your image of God? If not your God is not the God of the Bible! The day of the LORD is great! It is dreadful! It is unbearable! Who can endure it?! But it is God’s day when His will is perfectly carried out without opposition.
E. Cosmic Events.
v.10 - Not only are the people terrified before such terrible judgments - even the earth itself shakes! We have moved from locust invasion, to army invasion to the direct judgment of יהוה in the end times. This is the final Day of יהוה! - But something else is going on! Things in the heavens are being shaken. It is not just on earth. Revelation confirms this - there are many judgments released, the war is one, the locusts is another, the cosmic order being shaken is another. You can try to defend against an army, man can cooperate to deal with a disaster on earth but what do you do when the heavens the earth itself shakes, the sky shakes, then sun and stars no longer shine? What are you going to do about that?!!!! We are utterly dependent upon that sun shining every day. Virtually all our energy can be traced ultimately to a cosmic source. What are you going to do when the sun no longer shines? It is my belief that this describes the earth being knocked out of its present orbit! This event is confirmed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 24:29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken) Never has there been a calamity like this! (cf. 2 Peter 3:10,12
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.... looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! Revelation 8:12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. Isaiah 13:10,11 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. Isaiah 34:4 And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or as one withers from the fig tree. Ezekiel 32:7,8 “And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud And the moon will not give its light. “All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you And will set darkness on your land,” Declares the Lord God Revelation 6:12-17 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”). Dreadful is the Day of the LORD! Heed the warning now! Seek His face desperately!
F. The Required Response - Repentance.
v.12 - Although this most terrible of trouble is so imminent, yet still it is not too late - God is as patient as ever and longing for repentance (cf. 2 Peter 3:9; Rom 2:4; Rev 2:21; 1 Tim 2:4; Ezek 33:11) - The required response - the only solution is repentance, there is still a chance “even now”. He doesn’t want to destroy, it is He who wants us to return.
- The turning is to be deep, heart-felt and genuine. All your heart is required - desperate repentance, grieving for your sin - mourning over it with weeping. Seeking God desperately, returning to Him is more important, of greater priority than eating. Too many times Israel had repented, only to turn back to idolatry once the crisis was over. Deep repentance from the heart, broken-hearted sorrow for what they have done will come (cf. Zech 12:10-14). Returning/repentance is the urgent requirement - seeking the LORD desperately and in earnest (cf. Deut 4:29; Jer 4:1,2; Hos 12:6) - a grieving for the wrongness of your way. Israel will mourn for Him who they pierced - they did not recognise Jesus for who He is. That is the basis on which we will all be judged: what did you do with my Son?
v.13 - No situation is ever so terrible that it is beyond redemption - while God is, there is hope! Hallelujah! Because of who He is! Hallelujah! - not because of anything in us. He hasn’t changed! His character is still the same! His name is still the same as that revealed to Moses (cf. Exodus 34:5-7). He is still gracious, compassionate, merciful, slow to become angry, abounding in loving-kindness and taking pity on evil. But to know God as this, we must come to Him in absolute humility, acknowledging our sin and turning irrevocably from it. Sincere repentance - rend your heart and return to the LORD you God. It must not be mere outward religious form, the rending of garments but the repentance of a contrite heart and a broken spirit (cf. Psalm 51:17; 34:18; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). If there is true repentance יהוה may yet relent of the evil that He is bringing upon the land in judgment of it (cf. Jer 18:8; 42:10; Amos 7:3, 6). Indeed יהוה acts in judgment on evil, as He is doing on His Day, but still He is gracious and compassionate, slow to become angry and abounding in loving-kindness. This is His Name forever! Praise His Name!
- The way back is the same as ever: repentance - a broken and contrite heart - brokenness is the way to return to the LORD, to draw near to Him - the way remains the same (cf. James 4:6-10 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.). We are in desperate need of יהוה’s grace, for the gracious aspect of His character to be toward us. The way to obtain grace is by deep unfeigned humility - brokenness: weeping, mourning, fasting. What is required, what is absolutely imperative is that we return to יהוה (2x in v.12&13). Returning requires turning from our own way and going back to יהוה - going His way i.e. repentance - Repentance is a complete turn around in your thinking and a complete turn around in your direction. My way is wrong, all I’m doing and my whole way of thinking is completely wrong!
- The absolute imperative and urgency of returning to יהוה has to strike deep within us so that it becomes the only thing that absorbs our attention. "I must get right with God! I must get back into close fellowship with Him!" The way back is through brokenness. The time is NOW! ("even now declares יהוה!") (2 Corinthians 6:2 Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”)
- We are wrong but God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness - it depends on who God is, His name.
v.14 - He is sovereign, it is completely dependent upon His decision, we don’t deserve it but He may have pity because He is gracious. The ability to serve God is a privilege, we sometimes regard it as a duty or a favour we are doing God. If we repent/return (שֻׁבוּ v.12; וְשׁוּבוּ v.13) to , then He may yet turn/relent (יָשׁוּב) toward us. Instead of the curse of this awful judgment, He may instead leave behind a blessing. This is not guaranteed, but it is in accordance with His nature and we should seek this possibility whilst there still may be a chance of Him yet acting in grace. There is always the hope of God relenting (Jer 26:3; Jonah 3:9) and we should seek Him to that end through repentance. If He blesses then the crops will once again grow and the vine again yield (Hag 2:19) and His people can once again return a thank offering to Him for His mercy and compassion. Those offerings that were cut off (cf. 1:9, 13) can now be restored. If He blesses us then we can again bless Him with an offering of thanksgiving and worship. Our blessing Him is dependent upon Him first blessing us. We have nothing of our own to offer Him, we cannot first give to Him, or gain merit - we are dependent upon His initiative in showing us prevenient grace before we can offer anything to Him. We can only give to Him what He has first given to us (Rom 11:35; Job 41:11).
v.15 -- the trumpet was blown summoning to war, warning of the coming of God’s army of judgment, now it is sounded to proclaim a fast - national, a collective repentance. Come together to seek God desperately and seek that His judgment may be turned aside. Call a solemn assembly, where all the people together may determine to seek the LORD together and turn from their own ways. The need is desperate, if this does not take place the consequences are dire! There is urgent, desperate necessity to call the people of God together for repentance. This is true! All must come, no exception, all must gather together and sanctify themselves - pursue holiness The fact that they gather together shows that this is the utmost priority. Call a prayer meeting - how many turn up? Other things have higher priority - higher priority than being completely consumed in final judgment?!
v.16 - Note the emphasis on organizing the people to get together - the efforts to ensure unity, to get everyone involved: "gather"; "assemble"; "gather"; "come out". All were to gather together. We need this call to go out, to assemble all God’s people for a collective, earnest, humble seeking of God - collective repentance. God’s blessing falls on this kind of unity (Psalm 133). All were to come - old and young - even those too young to understand. No excuse, nothing was to take priority over this seeking of יהוה. - This is number one priority, more important than anything else! Higher priority than consummating your marriage. Would you sacrifice your wedding night to seek God? It is a desperate situation and a radical response is called for. All are to be there. The young, the old, elders, leaders, children, even babies - no exceptions. Individual repentance there must be but also a collective repentance. Seeking God together as the number one vital necessity. What is more important than seeking the LORD? You may say, but this is wayward Israel, it doesn’t apply to us Christians, but what does Peter say? (1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?)
v.17 - The response required is clear: weeping before יהוה in the temple, by the whole people, but particularly by the spiritual leaders - the priests and those that are in the service of יהוה. They are to cry out for mercy - call for יהוה to pity His people and spare them. To intercede, reminding Him that His honour and glory is at stake - they are His people, His inheritance, His special possession; it is He that makes them an object of reproach and shame so that their calamity becomes proverbial, how will it reflect on their God, on יהוה Himself? It will seem as if He is either impotent to protect His people, or unfaithful - He has given up on them. If God’s people come to naught, what will happen to יהוה’s Name? The heathen will mock and scorn it, saying, "He doesn’t exist!" "Where is their God? He didn’t come to their rescue. Their God let them down, He abandoned them!" This blasphemy against the Name of יהוה cannot be allowed. For His Name’s sake יהוה must save them. Not because they deserve it, not for their own sake but for the sake of יהוה’s honour - for Him to be God He must uphold His promise, His unchanging character of mercy, faithfulness, grace, compassion, loving-kindness. If He proves not to be thus He is no longer יהוה that He has declared Himself to be. Our appeal to God is never on account of anything in us but always and only on the loving-kindness. Our appeal to God is never on account of anything in us but always and only on the basis of who He is - His eternal unchanging character. What is the basis of their prayer, not their need or what they deserve, not for Him to have pity on them because He is soft - the basis of the prayer is the honour of God’s name! This should ever always be the motivation in our prayer. How often when we pray the motivation is what we want, we want someone to get better. When Kay was sick her prayer was that God’s name be glorified. God’s primary motive in acting is the honour and the glory of His name - are we aligned with that purpose. It is because of the honour of His name that He acts in judgment and it will be on the basis of the honour of His name that he will also spare His judgment in response to genuine heartfelt repentance.
- Is God’s nature character evident among us? Is it obvious to people that God is here or do people say “Where is their so called God?”?
- Is His name honoured? Is that our foremost concern?