Monday, May 17, 2021

2021.05.17 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? 

Hear! Listening, listen! That’s the command of Joel 1:2. The prophet wastes little time on himself. He’s the son of Pethuel, but we can’t nail down either one’s identity any nearer than a space of about 600 (!) years. We’re too prone to pay attention to other things as it is. It’s not Joel who is demanding our attention, but the Living God!

The Lord wants our attention to His Word, Joel 1:1. It’s the Word of Yahweh. Even if He hadn’t sent a locust plague, it would demand our submissive hearing. It would demand that we believe what it teaches. It would demand that we obey what it commands. 

Our thoughts are so full of other things as we go about our lives. But the Lord Himself has spoken! Ought our thoughts not be full of His words? We think relentlessly about what we desire. But the Lord Himself has spoken!  Ought we not relentlessly pursue what He desires? We are often consumed with many worries or anxieties. But the Lord Himself has spoken! Ought not failure to heed Him be the thing we most diligently avoid?

The Lord wants our attention to His work, Joel 1:2. In the context of Joel, the Lord has brought a locust plague on a scale that they had never seen before. But He is constantly working all things according to the counsel of His will (cf. Ephesians 1:11). And we know that He is working all things together for our good (cf. Romans 8:28) and giving us all things (cf. Romans 8:32), even as He does whatever is necessary for producing in us the requisite holiness for eternal happiness (cf. Hebrews 12:1–17).

Pay attention! Providence is personal. Calling us to thanksgiving (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Calling us to repentance (cf. Luke 13:1–9). Calling us to serve (cf. Romans 12:1). Calling us to worship (cf. Psalm 104). Calling us to obey (cf. Psalm 119:96; 2 John, verse 6). Calling us to dependence (cf. John 15:5). Calling us to groaning (cf. Romans 8:22–26). And we could go on, but everything through which His providence brings us has an appropriate response to it in His Word.

The problem is that we are quite unresponsive! And so the Lord often does things in a more spectacular fashion to demand our attention. And, how grievous it is then, if we still don’t pay attention.

The Lord wants our attention to His worship, Joel 1:3. One of the reasons that the Lord is bringing the entire nation to its knees in mourning is that they have not properly lamented over the public worship of God (Joel 1:13). And He is going to call these same “elders and all inhabitants” (Joel 1:2) to “a holy assembly in the house of Yahweh” (Joel 1:14). 

It is in such an assembly that everyone, from the eldest down to the nursing babies, is called to gather (cf. Joel 2:16). While this four-generation repetition of God’s Word and God’s works from Joel 1:3 surely takes place in family conversation and family worship, the holy assembly is the preeminent place where it happens. Neglect of the public worship, or an approach to public worship that neglects this multi-generational dynamic, is to be grossly negligent with the care of God’s holy seed (cf. Malachi 2:15)—a negligence that the coming great and dreadful day of the Lord was to remedy (cf. Malachi 4:5–6).

The Lord has spoken—and has climactically spoken in Christ. The Lord is continually acting—and has climactically acted, in Christ. The Lord has created and redeemed us for worship—a creation in Christ, and a redemption in Christ, unto a sacred assembly led by Christ!

How are you paying attention to God’s Word? How are you developing the habit of continually responding to Providence as the Lord’s personal work? How are you prioritizing the Lord’s holy assembly, and especially the multi-generational instruction and reminding in that assembly?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH550 “Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds”

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