Saturday, May 15, 2021

2021.05.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:1–3

Read Joel 1:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose Word is this (Joel 1:1)? To whom did it come? How is he identified? What is the primary command in Joel 1:2a? To whom is it first addressed? How is the command restated in verse 2b? To whom is it now addressed? What question does he now ask? What is the implied answer? What is the primary command of Joel 1:3a? To whom at first? And then to whom does verse 3b apply the command? And then whom in verse 3c?

The Lord wants your attention. Joel is one of the prophets about whom we know the least. All Joel 1:1 tells us is his name and his father’s name. The rest of the Bible tells us nothing about him. Commentators spill a fair amount of ink trying to tell us the possible significance of our not knowing anything about him. But the point seems to be to divert our attention away from Joel and to Yahweh Himself. 

To His Word. Although Joel was the one to whom the word came, Yahweh is the One from Whom the word came, and with Whom we are to deal with in it. It is the Word of Yahweh. This is like the Thessalonians who “heard” a word from the apostle, but rightly recognized it as not the word of the apostle, but as it truly is the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

God brings His Word through men. This gives opportunity for the wicked unbelief of many scholars to shine through as a warning to believers. If they use human instrumentality to cast doubt upon the divine nature of the Word, especially of its perfect truthfulness, then they do not have Jesus’s doctrine of Scripture, and we can easily avoid them as wolves rather than undershepherds.

It also warns us against interacting too much with the man in the pulpit and too little with the God-Man Who speaks from heaven (cf. Hebrews 12:25). One reason for esteeming those who speak the Word to us (cf. Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17) is so that the weakness of the instrument and the wickedness of our feelings toward him won’t get in the way of our submission to what he preaches. If the text is faithfully presented, it is Christ Himself Who addresses us, and we can tell much about whether we submit to Him and worship Him by how we interact with His Word that has come to and through His appointed servants.

To His works. Has anything like this happened? The rhetorical question demands the answer, “NO!” The reason that it is asked is because we are so dull that we easily miss the significance of what God does in His providence. 

Not every hard providence is a direct judgment for a direct sin, as the book of Job makes quite clear. However, in Luke 13:1–9, Jesus taught that every startlingly unusual death is a reminder that death comes to all of us, and that apart from repentance unto life and saving faith, the first death of the grave will be a moment of horrific transition to the second death of Hell.

Older people are susceptible to an acquired insensitivity to the Lord, like a spiritual callous that makes it difficult to prick the conscience. Children are susceptible to make a big deal out of everything and deal emotionally with all but seriously with none. Both groups are addressed specifically in Joel 1:2-3, but no one is left out of the group, “all you inhabitants of the land”!

When God does something unusual, He wants us to notice it and turn our hearts to Him. Every one of us. Whatever our obstacles are to taking His interaction with us seriously, He commands us to overcome them. And to help one another overcome them. Tell your children. Let them tell theirs. And them another generation. 

The bigger the event, the bigger the reminder of the one event that will dwarf all others: the Day of the Lord. Don’t miss opportunities in your life to have your attention drawn to that great day. And when you speak of a once-a-century event, or hear of a once-a-century event, make sure to look past that little bit of history to the end of all history.

To His worship. We’ll get there again in Joel 2:15–17, but there’s one obvious place where this multi-generational hearing and telling of Joel 1:2-3 occurs: the Lord’s holy assembly. When we gather for that worship, we are especially to listen for the Lord. It is there that His Word comes not just to one, but to all of us, whether through just the one as in the preaching and the praying, or through everyone as in the singing and the supping. So, when we are at worship, He demands our attention. And, in His general demand of our attention, there is especially a demand that we worship.

And that means all of us. It is more difficult for the elderly to get around, but the seasoned believer will make more effort to get to the worship assembly than to anywhere else. It is more difficult for a child to participate in a way that helps others, but the Lord calls them to do so, and both they should put forth the effort to worship well, and others should put forth the effort to accommodate their learning. Not only are many generations worshiping at once, but this is the means by which today’s child generation becomes tomorrow’s adult generation that is telling a new generation of children and so forth.

The Lord demands our attention. There is a great day coming in which we will all be judged by Christ Jesus—not only in the sense that He Himself will do the judging, but also very much in the sense that the great question of the day will be: “What have you done with Christ?” Have you recognized Him as your Creator, to Whom you have owed everything; your King, Whose wrath and vengeance you deserve, but Whose provision and mercy you have continually received; and, your Redeemer, Who has borne the penalty of Your treason so that you might be a co-heir of the kingdom with Him? In His Word, in His works, and in His worship, the Lord demands your attention!

When you are reading or hearing the Bible, what difference does it make to you that it is a personal word from God? What recent events of your life have called for your attention? How do you prepare for public worship? What are you currently working on, when it comes to your participation in public worship?

Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the LORD” or TPH128B “Blest the Man Who Fears Jehovah”

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