My name is Dan. I'm not that guy who normally speaks up here. So I'm one of the associate pastors here and it's my privilege to keep us moving along in our our study of that the words of the prophets. I was nervous. Anyways, as I always am when I'm asked to speak in front of a group of people and then I found out that the elementary kids are going to be in here now. I'm terrified know but that I appreciate the opportunity to come in and share a little bit with you. I'm always told you're supposed to start with a joke. So to peanuts walked in a restaurant when was assaulted.
Some of your like I'd get it now that I got that out of the way. Let's pray. Father God thank you so much for giving us an opportunity to look into this Book of Joel at thank you that you speak to us. So clearly through your word. I got to ask that you would bless the words that come out of my mouth that you would bless the the hearing that you would just use your spirit to speak to us so that we can understand what it is that you would have us know that we might bring glory to you and glory to your son Jesus. We ask this in his name. Amen.
All right, so we are continuing our walk through the prophets and we're looking at the Book of Joel this week Jose kind of a relatively unknown guy. We don't know much about him other than the fact that he wrote this book and it appears from if you read through the details. I said Book of Joel would appear to his speech and speaking to the southern Kingdom in Israel the
The tribe of Judah & and so we're not sure exactly when he wrote the book either. We think it was probably after the Exile. If you're familiar with the history of God's people they were sent to Exile in Babylon. They came back. So it was probably written in 4 to 500 BC but there are some Scholars who had bigger brains than me or you that's a no it was probably later like maybe 7 to 900 BC. The bottom line is that Joel gives us a super kind of specific context for his book that helps us to understand what it means and also that the book can really speak very very clearly to us. It's referenced again in the New Testament with respect to Jesus. So I'd invite you to turn to the book and roll as I kind of take you through the overview here. I'm just so we can understand we're just going to look at a few verses from from the the book It's relatively short at three chapters long, but but the book Starts with talking about this plague of locusts and we'll talk more details about this but there's bad stuff going on there in Israel the time that this is happening. And so there's this plague of locusts in Joel takes and says, hey look at this and consider what it means. I would respect the fact that God is in charge of everything. So he talks about this plague of locusts. It is very very explicit about what's going on and how people should respond and then he starts to connect into this day of the Lord and show if you read through it, it still sounds like locusts it part and it still it also sounds kind of like the end times as you get into chapter 2 and then in the chapter 3 starts to speak in apocalyptic terms and so you might say hey maybe this is actually talk about something more than just a locust plague sometime few hundred years before Christ walk the earth and that may be true. There's debate if you read the commentaries about exactly He's talking about but here's the thing is it's absolutely clear that he is talking about what happens when tragedy comes where we is God's people should should focus our thoughts and our minds and our hearts and then the later part of the book talks about judgment and deliverance and the fact that God is still in charge of everything even when there's chaos and some bacteria as kind of a big picture of what the what the book says because we're going to focus on a very very specific topic today and I want you to think in terms of our own culture. What do we do when tragedy strikes? What is our normal response in American culture when when there's disaster when there's hardship, what do we do? And I want you to watch this little video has a couple of clips of some presidents responding to things that were probably familiar with
September 11th enemies are Freedom committed an act of war against our country.
Americans have known Wars which of the past 136 years they have been Wars on foreign soil. except for one Sunday and 1941 Martinson on the casualties of War tonight at the center for great City on a peaceful morning. as a symbol of America's resolve my Administration will work with Congress and these two leaders to show the world. That we will rebuild New York City.
No, we are living through difficult and uncertain time tonight. I want every American to know this we will rebuild we will recover and the United States of America who is stronger than before.
We are a culture that values Point ourselves up by your own bootstraps. We are we are a culture that says hey, you know what when the going gets tough the tough get going and then there's something and then flee admirable and saying hey when we get knocked down we get back up but there's something immensely dangerous in that to it can become kind of a cult of self. They can become an idolatry of people where we say. I don't care what God has thrown at us. We will make it all good. And so so what I asked you to kind of considered the day is I want you to consider this topic of morning and if you're saying that sounds like a downer it is all right. That's why I started with a joke Okay. This may be a little bit of a downer message today, but I think by the time I get done talkin, you'll understand why we need to go there and then why it's actually a good thing and then we're going to consider this topic and morning. Necessarily like just funeral morning, but this idea of of difficulty of a tragedy of sadness and we're going to look at it from a couple different perspectives, of course starting with a Book of Joel then we're going to talk about why it's important like God says that it's important to us. And then finally we're going to end up with you know, where do we go with this idea of morning at where should we end up? Right? So that's what we're going to roll through. As soon as we consider this. I do want you to understand that I needed to use one word that kind of capture everything. So I chose the word morning but really were talking about, you know, weeping sadness lamentation difficulty when when things go wrong in life. Hey, I do we stop and cry do we stop and say oh Lord. This is this is so tough that is the idea of mourning the idea that we would not just jump into rebuilding but that we would stop and say hey this hurts this is tragic. All right, and this this concept is really really big in the Book of Joel that is coming through his is area is what he says with a cutting Locust left that swarming Locust has eaten with a swarming Locust left. The hopping Locust has eaten there with the hopping Locust left to destroy and Locust has eaten now. I've never seen a locust plague. So I'm thinking it what's the big deal with a bunch of grasshoppers, but their reality is is when a locust plague comes through particularly in an agrarian society all your food gun. Not only is all your food gone. But as we're reading a second all the grapes are gone that you can make wine with both to drink and to do offerings in the temple. Not only is all your food gone. But all your food for your livestock is gone as well. And so a locust plague can have an impact of epic proportions and show we had a bunch of grasshoppers out here last summer if any of you remember that I was kind of like a bad year for grasshoppers, but that's enough in this is what an L Locust plague actually looks like Pictures of an hour a giant swarm of locusts about 15 kilometers long is Madagascar's National read seven. This road is normally popular with tourists who come for the breathtaking views. But today they're observing a natural disaster a plague of locusts, which is already destroyed.
So this isn't just a little thing that the folks that study this stuff say a locust. When can I have 10 billion locusts in it? You can have a thousand square foot any any bug aphobes in here. Imagine having a square foot with a thousand like slapping grasshoppers. They're eating everything in sight. Okay. This is the heebie-jeebies for if you don't like bugs and it's horrible for your crops. There was a locust plague in Ethiopia 1958 where the Locust ate 167000 tons of grain that's enough to feed a million people for a year. So when this happens when Joel refers to this Locust plague, he's not talking about just oh this is kind of a bad thing. This is tragic and it's a huge potential impact on the people that he's he's speaking to but look where he puts our mind of your phone on your Bible. Look at verse 13 or chapter one where Joel is saying well, this is how we should respond to this plague put on sackcloth and lament Oprah's Wella Ministers of the altar go in past the night in sack cloth on ministers in my God because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God concentrate a fast call a solemn assembly of the elders and all the inhabited the land of the house of the Lord your God and cry out to the Lord. Joel is not saying hey, let's get to pulling out are fly swatters. He's not saying let's get to digging and planting in and let's let's make up for what just happened he saying stop. And and wail and lament and moan and in Humble yourselves by wearing sackcloth. This is a very bad thing he returned to me with all your heart with fasting with weeping and with morning and Rend your hearts, not your garments and I want you to focus on that that second part where he says with fasting with weeping and with morning cuz that's where we're kind of targeting right now. Is this idea that our response should not be how everything is good God's in charge. They all know that's true. Our response has to start someplace else where we say. Oh man, this is bad and we should recognize it as such. So there we have this pattern and roll where he is saying, hey, you know what weeping and mourning are actually a good thing. He says in verse 15 blow the trumpet in Zion consecrate a fast call a solemn assembly gather the people consecrate the congregation assembly. Gather the children even nursing infants, but the bridegroom leaves his room in the bride her chamber notice. He's not just saying. Hey, you go into your private corner and weep where nobody can see you. He says no you come together and you cry out to the Lord between the bestival in the altar let the priests the Ministers of the Lord weep. Let them do it in front of people. Let us come together and acknowledged. This is bad. That is the question that comes up. Why would he say that? Okay and we'll get to that in a minute. But let's think about how Joel is like hey God says to us that when bad things happen. It is totally appropriate for rest of week and mourn and well, what is our culture say? What is the culture say about self esteem? What is the culture say that we should do with our children when they encounter things that would make them weep and mourn and well in so many instances we have now adopted this kind of philosophy where hey, you know, what if the kids are going to be sad because they lost the soccer game. Let's not keep score. Hey, I mean that's what we do. If the kids are going to be sad because they got an s on that test. Let's get rid of the grades or let's just make it so even though you got an F. We're not going to tell you or we're going to call it something else or we're just going to pass you on anyways, and it doesn't stop there. We have a culture. We're on our institutions of Higher Learning. We have safe spaces so that you can go and get away from people who might make You Weep and wail and mourn but there's a there's a definitive Trend in American culture to say man. Anytime you start to feel bad. Stop that get away from that as fast as you can okay, and it doesn't just come from outside who here likes to cry. Hank who here likes to Wii it is really guys weren't with it. Take this to heart. This is big for us. It is really hard for us to feel like we're Macho and in charge and all that sort of thing when we can't even form word cuz there's a hitch in our throw it in. There are eyeballs are sweating. Okay, but that is exactly what we're called to do. We in our heads do not like pain we do not like to be shown to be weak. We do not like to be in front of other people miserable and so frequently will say. Hey, yeah, I don't have to be that way. I'm all in and that's why this message that you'll bring this is so important is because there's a definitive difference between what he's saying what Goddess am through him and what our culture tells us and we have to ask the question which way should I go should I be blubbering down the hall? Or should I be standing strong and acting like this doesn't matter to me. And so that's why it's important for us to talk about why in God's perspective morning is important. Let me catch up with my notes Here.
So here's the first thing morning when we weep when we feel ourselves crushed by things that are going on around us that is it a knowledgement of Truth. Anybody who has lost somebody that they love is totally aware of the fact that that is crushing it hurts and so in so many places in life if we try to deny morning if we tried to get away from the pain what we're really doing is denying truth. We are trying to escape the truth that should be breaking our hearts and there's plenty of that out there. So it's only if I was just to stop for a minute and think about all the things out there. That would make me mourn. Okay. I think it's absolutely tragic that this year between 12 and 50 million babies will be killed in their mother's rooms. Okay that
It is it kills me that our kids are going to school and they're being told. You know, what I'm going to tell you lies about your gender. I'm going to tell you lies about your sexuality and I'm not saying that every school here in Cedar City. We have some great teachers here. I'm not pointing at all them I'm saying we as a culture have adopted this idea that we are going to tell our kids that they came from goo that they're just random chances. There's so many different things that our forces upon our children in public education in the public sphere that is just destructive and it's just not true and in so often though, that's just out there but it's not just out there. It's in here survey after survey after survey says, you know what you guys going to church your divorce rate is almost the same as those out of the church you guys cheat on your taxes almost the same as those out of church you commit infidelity almost the same as those out of the church There is almost no substantive difference the cystically Between those who sit in churches on an average Sunday and those who do not are there differences. Yes, but should we be weeping that the people of God do not look like Jesus? Yes, and that's what I'm talking about is is when we fail the morn we fail to acknowledge the truth, that should be breaking us in when we look inside ourselves. We see the same thing when I get up in the morning. If I'm honest when I look in the in the mirror, I am not seeing a great guy. I'm seeing a guy who struggles with all kinds of things that God said you should not struggle with it or at least you should not be doing these kinds of things. You should not be having these kinds of thought you should actually care about your neighbor and not just wave to be nice there. So many things if I hold my life up to that the mirror of the Bible that it says, you know what then you are a messed-up guy and that is the truth and that's if you're honest. If you know the Bible, if you do the same thing you'll be in the same place. And and I said this was going to be a downer and it is a little while right but don't don't worry. We're not done. Okay, but when we look at ourselves, when we look at our world, there is a lot to be crying about. It doesn't need to be a locust plague. But the idea that the truth is revealed in morning or morning is it is a consequence of the truth also plays into this idea that morning tells us when something is wrong. There is a disease called CIP. It's congenital congenital insensitivity to pain and it is a disease a genetic disorder where you can't feel stuff and you and I would go but that sounds kind of good I stubbed my toe doesn't hurt. I hit my thumb with a hammer doesn't hurt that sounds like kind of a good deal for me, but people who has CIP So much wanted to go away. They so want to feel pain because when they drink a hot cup of coffee, if it's too hot it's going to burn their mouths. They won't know until they have blisters in their mouth. If they put their hand against the stove. They won't know it until somebody says Hey move your hand or until they start to smell the burning flesh. If they go outside on a cold day, they'll get frostbite and never even know it because they can feel no pain. And so we have this initial reaction. Like I don't want to feel pain just like I don't want to feel morning. But in reality that kind of pain that kind of morning is so helpful to us. It's so helpful to us to acknowledge what the truth really is.
When Joel is talking to his readers in his book, he's talking about Locust being the real issue. But he's telling them that this is so much more than this. There's a truth be honest. There's a truth that God The God Who is in charge of all this has issues with us, right? And so when we mourn we are able to open our eyes to say hey God what's actually going on here? Tell me what's wrong? Okay, and the last thing is this idea that the morning humbles us and this is so important for us as well. Joe uses terms like wear sackcloth and fast and cry out. He says, you know put yourself down low because you can't fix this yourself. I always remember when when we were stationed in Okinawa Japan, which is little island that the Americans conquered during World War II Japanese-Americans came in and when the Americans were coming in the Japanese Army told all the citizens. The Americans are going to eat you they're going to rape you. They're going to torture you so fight to the death, right and the Americans course one. They took control the island in this one fellow. That was actually the governor of Okinawan. We were there his name was massive. He died with her show. He was a child at the time and after the American still control the island. He went into hiding and he stayed in hiding for like a month and he stayed until the point where he was literally starving to death and at that point. He said it doesn't matter I might as well just turn myself in cuz I'm going to die. Anyways, I'd rather die by poison or torture than die by a slow death by starving and so he walks up to American GI and he says, You know, whatever you said in Japanese. I'm sure the guy can understand it. But he's like hey look at me and this guy pulls out something and gives it to him and a note. I says, I knew this was it I'm going to die now to take something and he eats it poison. He's waiting for the convulsions to start the chocolate bar. And it's at that point where he realizes that it was all a lie that he was told don't allow this to happen or bad things will happen to you when it was all a lie, and we can be so like that when it comes to morning and suffering and pain we can so stand back thinking man. If I allow myself to go down this road if I allow myself to week who knows it is not going to kill me. But God to answer is so clear that if we allow ourselves to be humbled before him and say God I need you. Okay that he will lift us up. It's so important for us to understand this because this is part of the good news about Jesus. If we never get to the point where we are broken enough to say I need saving then the concept of a savior is absolutely irrelevant to us. It doesn't mean anything and so we have to be at a point where we can stay Lord. I understand I need something. This is what this is what James tells us and James chapter 4. He says draw near to God and He will draw near to you cleanse your hands you Sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded erected in the morning week let your laughter be turned to mourning in your joy to the lamb humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you. Hey it crazy that God would say, you know what? I want you to be erected. I want you to turn your laughter to morning, right so that I can lift you up going to be a bit of a downer sermon. I want to understand that. The reason we're going down this road is because I love you and because God wants you to hear I believe that when we allow ourselves to go down a road that looks so dark. Hey that we will find that God is lights even in the darkness that he will lift us up if we're willing to go down that road and acknowledge things as they are to acknowledge that things are wrong that we have a need to Humble ourselves and say I can't feel this need myself. I need somebody else to lift me up. Okay, and that kind of brings us to this last point is where should morning lead and there's all kinds of different things we want to do. Things come up that would make us weak. Okay. One of the things that we want to do is we want to suppress that we want to just pretend like it's not there. You guys are all familiar. I'm sure with the post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD one of the elements there is that people will experience horrible things in car accidents or come back and they will just take it and stuff it and it might be 10 or 20 years later that comes back out to the surface and all kinds of a difficulty emotional turmoil dysfunction and people have to learn to deal with it. But we're always tempted to take whatever it is that would burden they still have a weight and stuff it but that's not God plan for us God plan for us is for us to say yes. I acknowledge what God did for us today or did did in our lives today at and somehow trust him to be the answer. I don't know if you know this but That sounds like one and nine Americans today actually take antidepressants, which means that there's a bunch of us in this room that do and sometimes that is medically totally needed. It's a gift from God that we have that access but back in the 1980s only about 1 and 52 can two depressants and what that would tell you is either we've really changed as Humanity in the past 30 years 40 years or so, or we are starting some of us to suppress those things that would take us down and not follow them to their logical conclusion. And so we have to be very very very clear very very careful not to suppress it when God take us to a place where it feels like we're getting so low, we need to look to him and ask him before. We just go hang. No, I refuse to accept this pain. I actually know I heard about a doctor in Access who when he was dying. He knew he was dying. He said you guys can't have a funeral for me. That's what he told his wife because I don't want people to feel down. Where does that leave the wife? He's gone not going to text him whether they have a funeral or not. But think about how hard it is to have closure when you can't even mourn the loss of somebody supposed to suppress the things that would make us mourn. We're not supposed to substitute the things that would make us more neither in and if you're like me, this is a huge Temptation something makes you feel bad you go run after something that makes you feel good if I'm feeling really low like maybe I'm purposeless. Let me go watch a Marvel movie marathon, okay and live vicariously through all these superheroes if I'm feeling like yeah, you know what maybe I don't have this all together. I feel like life is kind of a little empty. Let's take a trip down to st. George & Shop till we drop K buying stuff always lifts me up a little bit. There's all these different ways where we can substitute when life seems like it's not going. Well. Well, maybe I'll turn to you know, this latest thing that they're selling on the internet. Maybe I'll turn to this, you know track the person that I work with all different ways that we can say. Hey, I've got this pain. I want this pain to go away and I'm going to make it go away. It doesn't matter how that's substituting the real answer when an answer that is not going to satisfy us something we have to be very very careful about Here's the thing. God calls us to Deliverance. Hey, so he does not say hey, you know what? I want you to mourn and then died. Okay. He says I want you to mourn and call out to me and I'm not just going to ask you to mourn and call out to me. He says I want you to weep knowing that there is an answer to your waking and you may not see that answer right now. You may not feel that answer right now, but that answer is something that I will promise you God promises us Deliverance.
This way Joel says in verse 13. We looked at this earlier, but 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. Joel does not say weep and mourn and just suck it up you're going to die. He says we mourn acknowledge things as they really are and turn to God for he is gracious. He is merciful. He is abounding in steadfast love. That's where he points us. If we do not Point towards as we as we mourn if we do not Point towards Deliverance, what do we end up with? I've been talking this whole time about this idea that maybe morning is a good thing all the time. It's not okay if I mourn without hope I end up in Despair and that in itself is a pathology that can can be super destructive. So I'm not saying it's always good to be miserable. What I'm saying is when God puts things in front of us that are caused Misery we are to be comfortable saying yes, I will be miserable God because I'm looking forward to you and I acknowledge the truth. And I know that you're bigger than my present circumstances verses 28 to 32 and I struggled with this part of the message. We're almost at the end of the best part of the message because I really really want to spend a lot of time pumping you back up there, but I'm not going to and I'll explain why in a minute, but I do want you to see this. This is what he says is there come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit on All Flesh your sons and your daughters shall prophesy your old men shall dream dreams in your young men shall see Visions, even on the male and female servants in those days. I will pour out my spirit and I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth blood and fire and Columns of smoke the sun shall be turned to Darkness the moon to blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes and it shall come to pass. Did everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved? These forces are applied very very specifically by Peter in Acts 2 to Jesus. This idea that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved beautiful. It is a promise. It's why we talked about Jesus every week. I would love to spend more time talking about this. I would love to spend more time talking about Matthew 5:4 where it says blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted but the danger of doing that is that if I present an intellectual answer to your morning and you jump straight password oughta be burned in your heart into this idea that I know everything is happy and sunny because Jesus is here. You will understand the concept but you will not experience what Joel is calling us to experience and that is the actual Deliverance that comes from our Lord to do. This is what I'm asking you to do this week. I'm asking you to take time to think about yourself to think about your life. And be willing to mourn be willing to be broken. By the things that you see around you be willing to be broken by the things that you see in yourself, but as you do that understand that God will end and wants to end your morning, but he wants to end it in something real pay the True Deliverance that comes from Jesus who has saved it from our sins and who has promises eternity who is who can take us through every bad circumstance and I want you to do it this way. I want you to experience those verses that we just read through. I want you to experience the reality that God will lift you up out of your morning rather than hearing it from me and I'll just just share this kind of closing vinyeta. What I'm talking about about a week ago is 2 weeks ago. Yeah, two weeks ago. I got a call and end. This call was delivered and in with the the best of intentions and it went on for like an hour and a half. But basically they're the Essences is called was at Dan the things you do. You're just not very good at it. You should probably stop and people don't like you show and I honestly mean the person who is delivering me this feedback was trying Did you the best for the kingdom of God in the whole time? I was having this conversation that was part of me that wanted to say let me see I can tell you event after event after then. I can tell you people have said good things about me. I wanted to come back with both this swinging and say you are wrong. You are wrong. You're wrong. But here's the thing is God had already started me processing Through This Book of Joel and this topic that I've been talking about today. And I knew that that was the wrong response and I knew that some of the things of this person was Sharon with me were 100% dead-on accurate. In show as I process through it. I had to say God. I'm not going to fight back. I'm going to weep over the fact that I might be completely incompetent what I think I'm doing for you and I'm going to let you speak to me and I don't have time and you don't have the patience to listen to how God showed up that week, but he showed up over and over and over again through scripture through my wife through my friends to say. Hey Dan. Yeah, you should change this. You should change that you're doing fine over here. You're doing your best overhearing your best is good enough and I am with you and you're with me. So it's good. That is a personal experience that God took me through I think because I was going to be up here sharing this today. And that's the experience that I want you to have the experience of a real and living God who shows up and will lift you out of the hardness that the hard places and not Allow you to substitute or suppress the things that are brake are hurt. So this is what Bob here's the founder of World Vision said, he said let my heart be broken by the things that break your heart. That's so he prayed to the Lord and I would ask you to pray that this week as well. God let my heart be broken by the things that break your heart.