Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, June 26, 2021

2021.06.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:28–32

Read Joel 2:28–32

Questions from the Scripture text: When will this happen (Joel 2:28a)? What will God do (verse 28b)? Onto whom? Who will prophesy (verse 28c)? Who will dream dreams (verse 28d)? Who will see visions (verse 28e)? Upon whom else will Yahweh pour out His Spirit (Joel 2:29)? Then, what will Yahweh show, where? (Joel 2:30a)? What three things on earth (verse 30b)? What two things in the heavens (Joel 2:31a–b, cf. Revelation 6:12)? Before what (verse 31c, cf. Revelation 6:17)? Who will be saved (Joel 2:32a–b)? What will be where (verse 32c)? What establishes/guarantees this salvation (verse 32d)? Who are the ones who end up calling on the name of Yahweh (verse 32e–f, cf. verse 32b)?

There is another Day of Yahweh (Joel 2:31c) coming. This one is coming with the day of the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16–17). That is the day on which the sun turns to darkness (verse 31a, cf. Revelation 6:12) and the moon to blood (verse 31b, cf. Revelation 6:12). 

But something marvelous becomes apparent, when we compare these two scriptures. The sixth seal in Revelation concludes with, “for the day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17). But the passage in Joel ends with “whoever calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:32).

Who can endure the final day of the Lord? The one whom the Lord spares by the means described in Joel 2:28-29. Something marvelous is initiated on the day of Pentecost. The Lord is now to pour out His Spirit not only upon Israel (Joel 2:27) but upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). 

In Numbers 11:29, Moses had prayed, “Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” At Pentecost, that prayer is answered in the apostles’ preaching in all sorts of languages that they had never studied (cf. Acts 2:5–21). Here is conclusive definition of the gift of tongues: it is a form of prophecy, for the apostle identifies the tongues of Pentecost with the prophesying of Joel 2:28–29

Here also is a glorious characteristic of worship in the New Testament age. Though ruling and teaching in the church is reserved for those men whom the Lord gifts and calls for that office, the pouring out of the Spirit shows that Christ has taken His seat as the ultimate Prophet, the ultimate Priest, and the ultimate King. 

And Christ expresses this through those who dwell on the earth in union with Him. All believers have prophetic and kingly functions in the state, as well as prophetic and priestly functions in the church. All believers give an answer for their hope; all believers are royalty on the earth. In taking the supper together, each one who eats the bread or drinks the cup shows forth the Lord’s death. In congregational song in the New Testament, we are filled with the Spirit, and the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, and we admonish one another with Scripture. 

All believers come all the way through the curtain into the Holy of Holies. All believers are members of the priestly choir. All believers eat from the table that has been provided through the sacrifice of Christ. All believers carry on a ministry of intercessory prayer.

So, there is a remnant whom Yahweh calls to Himself (Joel 2:32f) and for Himself by the pouring out of His Spirit (Joel 2:28-29), resulting in their calling upon His Name (verse 32b). And the day of Pentecost heralds the beginning of the age of great ingathering of this remnant from all nations (“all flesh,” Joel 2:28). A day when God extends to all nations that repentance to which He calls them in Joel 2:12-17 and His response which He promises in Joel 2:18-27.

How have you exhibited that calling upon the name of the Lord that comes from the Spirit’s being poured out upon you? How have you fulfilled prophetic, priestly, and kingly functions?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH546 “God of the Prophets!”

Friday, June 25, 2021

2021.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:18–19

Read Philippians 3:18–19

Questions from the Scripture text: Who walk (Philippians 3:18)? When has the apostle told them? What is he doing as he writes this now? As what do they walk? What is their end (Philippians 3:19)? What is their god? What is the true nature of that in which they glory? Upon what do they set their mind? 

The apostle has just set before them the example of Christian maturity: continually straining forward and upward to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of them. We must keep running after that holiness without which we will not see the Lord (cf. Hebrews 12:1–17). We have been saved to see Him and be like Him, and we press on toward a purity that has Him Himself as its standard (cf. 1 John 3:2–3).

But not everyone who claims the name of Christ perseveres in the pursuit of Him. So we have to be careful whose walk we follow (Philippians 3:17, cf. Hebrews 13:7). For many walk not after that for which Christ has laid hold of them (cf. Philippians 3:12) but at exact cross-purposes, as “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” That path doesn’t lead to glory; its “end is destruction.”

So, this passage gives us three indicators that one’s walk is not on the path to glory. When you see one of these in someone, don’t follow them!

Their god is their belly. That is to say that they go after self-pleasing and self-satisfaction. There are many who present Christ in this fashion: that He will grant them the sort of life that they enjoy. This is the opposite of recognizing that our enjoyments are corrupted and that part of sanctification is learning to find Christ Himself most enjoyable. Others view forgiveness as a “live for yourself free” card. Whatever the case, the apostle warns us elsewhere that if we sow to the flesh, we will reap destruction; the flesh has an agenda, and it is opposite the Spirit’s agenda (cf. Galatians 6:7–9).

Glorying in shame is the second indicator of a walk on the path of destruction. There are two ways that we can do this. One of them is more obvious, having to do with that which is outwardly sinful. There is great liberty in knowing that Christ is all our standing before God. But it is liberty from guilt, not liberty to sin. Yet, there are many in the churches who twist the gospel to glory in being able to sin with (as they suppose) with impunity. 

But a more sneaky way we glory in shame is by glorying in our effort. The apostle spent most of this chapter setting glorying in ourselves over-against glorying in Christ. Even that which in itself would have been good, if we glory in ourselves as having done it, becomes a shame to us. Watch out for those who glory in what they have attained, and do not imitate their walk.

Setting the mind on earthly things is the third and final symptom of destruction-ended walking in Philippians 3:19. To understand what the apostle means by setting the mind upon earthly things, it helps to look at another place where he uses almost the same language. In Colossians 3:1–6, he says to set our minds on things above, not things of earth, by putting to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. 

The question for us is: where is my life? Is it hidden with Christ in God, so that who Christ is and what Christ wants determines how I will live on the earth? Or is my life bound up in enjoying myself in this world, so that Christ’s cross becomes a mental excuse for sin? It’s no wonder, then, that the apostle says that living this way makes someone an enemy of the cross of Christ. But when fleshly men encounter the gospel, they use phrases like “liberty of conscience” to mean not “do whatever Christ wants as I understand it from Scripture” but rather “do whatever I want, and expect that Christ will be understanding.” Watch out for those who are always agitating about their “freedom” to do as they please. Don’t emulate such “Christians.”

Who are some Bible teachers or ‘Christian’ personalities who discourage zeal for holiness? How are you avoiding following them? Who are some whose obsession with Christ Himself leads them to zeal for holiness? How are you considering and imitating them?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH429 “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Christ's Mind in the Agony of the Cross (2021.06.23 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 22:1–21)

The mind of Christ on the cross is a most precious study, which we have primarily from this Psalm. Here is both the righteousness which stands for us in His greatest act of righteousness, as well as the example that He has set for us in entrusting Himself to Him Who judges justly (cf. 1Pet 2:18–25). In Psalm 22:1–21 we see... The greatest anguish, v1–2. The greatest support, v3–5. The despisings of men, v6–8. The delightings of God, v9–11. The crucial moment, v12–18. The great deliverance: righteousness and resurrection, v19–21.

2021.06.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:41–20:8

Read Luke 19:41–20:8

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Jesus go (Luke 19:41)? What did He see? What did He do over it? What did He call the time of His arrival (Luke 19:42)? What didn’t the city know? Why not? What would happen to the city as a result (Luke 19:43)? And what to whom else (Luke 19:44)? For what sin? Into where did He then go (Luke 19:45)? What did He do? What was He saying (Luke 19:46, cf. Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11)? What was He doing daily (Luke 19:47)? But what three groups were trying to do what? Why weren’t they able to (Luke 19:48)? What was He preaching, when He was teaching in the temple (Luke 20:1)? What did the three groups do on one of those days? What do they ask in this confrontation (Luke 20:2)? With what kind of sentence does He answer (Luke 20:3)? What question does He ask (Luke 20:4)? Why don’t they want to say it was from heaven (Luke 20:5)? What are they afraid of, if they say it was from men (Luke 20:6)? On the basis of just these two considerations, how do they answer (Luke 20:7)? How, then, does Jesus answer their original question (Luke 20:8)?

Taken as a whole, this passage reminds us that popular spiritual movements may be quite impressive on the surface, but comparatively empty and ineffective in their substance. The chief priests, scribes, and elders are prevented from destroying Jesus by His popularity (Luke 11:47–48), and paralyzed by the popular opinion that the baptizer was a prophet (Luke 20:6). 

But Jesus knows better. By the end of the week, the crowds will be shouting “crucify Him!” They may have much enjoyed His preaching (Luke 11:48), but Jesus knows that Jerusalem “did not know the time of your visitation (Luke 11:44). 

This is a sobering word for us. We may enthusiastically join in religiously zealous praise of Jesus (Luke 11:38). We may attend eagerly upon the preaching of Jesus (Luke 11:48). We may approve of preachers that He sends us to call us to repentance and announce to us that Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away our sin, and even that He is the Holy One whose sandal straps we are unworthy to untie (Luke 12:6). Yet, for all of this, we may still be failing to know the time of our visitation.

We might be elated about our perceived spiritual condition in the same moment that Jesus is weeping over that exact spiritual condition (Luke 11:41). Jerusalem would be leveled—not as other cities in world history have been leveled, but as the city which murdered the Christ (Luke 11:43-44, cf. Psalm 2, Acts 4:24–28). And while crowds of thousands rejoice over Him, He weeps over what is going to come upon them as a consequence of their actual spiritual condition, which they cannot even see.

We should tremble with dread at how easily enthusiasm about Jesus can lead to rejection of Jesus. Even today, many of the so-called “worship musicians” have rejected the faith altogether and come out in support of wickedness that Christ abominates. And will we blindly follow spiritual-feeling experiences of enthusiasm, when they can lead to such acts and such consequences?

So, let us not put much stock in how we feel about our responses to Jesus, but rather rest entirely upon Jesus Himself. Then, we will not be led into doing things because we feel worshipful in them, but rather doing those things which Jesus Himself in His Word calls worship, or obedience, or service. His house must be a house of prayer, because that is what “is written” (Luke 11:46). So let us cling to His Word, because that is how we truly cling to Him. 

To Him Who weeps over His people’s low spiritual condition. To Him Who perfectly adheres to the Word. To Him Whose wisdom confounds His enemies. To Him Who was doing all of this in order that He might die and rise again for all who cling to Him.

How do you evaluate your worship? Your service? Your obedience? How would Jesus evaluate it?

Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

God's Mercy to/through His Anointed in Providence, Presence, and Prayer (Family Worship lesson in 2Sam 15:13–37)

Of what mercies can believers be sure, even in the midst of the hardest circumstances? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 15:13–37 prepares us for the first serial reading of morning worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-five verses of holy Scripture, we learn that even while He was disciplining David, Yahweh was merciful to him through His surprising providence, favorable presence, and hearing of prayer—all which blessings unfailingly belong to believers in Christ.

2021.06.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Read 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to David in 2 Samuel 15:13? What does he tell him? To whom does David speak in 2 Samuel 15:14? What does he tell them to do? What does he need to do with them? Or else what will happen? What would Absalom do to the city? Who speak to whom in 2 Samuel 15:15? What are they ready to do? Where does the king go (2 Samuel 15:16)? With whom? Without whom? Where does he stop in 2 Samuel 15:17? What do they do there (2 Samuel 15:18)? Which ethnicities are specifically mentioned? And especially how many from where? Whom does the king specifically mention in 2 Samuel 15:19? What does he tell him to do? Why? What doesn’t the king want Ittai to have to do (2 Samuel 15:20)? What blessing does the king pronounce upon him? By whose lives does Ittai vow in 2 Samuel 15:21? What does he vow? Who are involved in this vow (2 Samuel 15:22)? What is the procession like, when they begin moving again (2 Samuel 15:23)? Over what do they cross? Toward what? Who else came (2 Samuel 15:24)? What did they have? What did the king tell him to do with it (2 Samuel 15:25)? What did he hope to find instead? How would he know if he found favor? But what might the opposite outcome be (2 Samuel 15:26)? And to what would the king submit in that case? What two offices does David recognize in Zadok (2 Samuel 15:27)? Where does he tell him to fulfill those offices? With whom attending him? What would David do (2 Samuel 15:28)? For whose Word, especially, would David be waiting? What do Zadok and Abiathar do (2 Samuel 15:29)? Now where does David go (2 Samuel 15:30)? Doing what? How else is his mourning expressed? Who joins him in it? What does someone say now in 2 Samuel 15:31? To Whom does David respond? For what does he ask? What does David do, when he gets to the top of Olivette (2 Samuel 15:32)? And who overtakes him there? Doing what? What does David say Hushai would be, if he went along (2 Samuel 15:33)? What does David suggest for him to say (2 Samuel 15:34, but cp. what he actually says in 2 Samuel 16:162 Samuel 16:18-19)? What effect does David hope Hushai can have? What communication chain does he set up for the spy network (2 Samuel 15:35-36)? What does 2 Samuel 15:37 call Hushai? Right before whom does he arrive?

The scene in the narrative now shifts from Absalom’s contingent to David’s contingent. The first verse gives us the transition—a messenger comes from one to the other saying, “the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” And yet, there are many indicators in the rest of the passage (and in following passages) that the heart of Yahweh is with David. We see the Lord’s mercy to David in several little vignettes.

First, there’s the loyalty of his servants—and especially of Ittai—in 2 Samuel 16:15-22. The Holy Spirit drops into 2 Samuel 16:18 that the six hundred Gittites “had followed him from Gath.” We’re reminded of the seed promise, going back to Genesis 3:15, and reinforced through Noah and Abraham. 

There is One coming in Whom all the earth would be blessed. We’re reminded of that little clause in Exodus 12:38, “A mixed multitude went up with them also.” Now here are six hundred Philistines with God’s anointed. He has chosen to bring the Christ through David, and this is just a foretaste of the gathering in of the nations. David tries to send them home, but Ittai the former-Philistine is all-in on Yahweh and His anointed (2 Samuel 16:22). 

This Ruth-Naomi moment between David and Ittai also reminds us that David has been on the run before. Yet, the Lord was with him then (giving him these six hundred faithful Gittites), and the Lord is mercifully with him now (strengthening him through their continued allegiance). When we find ourselves in moments of difficulty—even as consequences of our sin—we are attended by our God, Who for thousands of years has specialized in doing His people good through such moments.

The second vignette comes when David crosses over the Kidron (2 Samuel 16:23), and the Levites arrive. All the Levites. And the ark. What does it matter if all the nation is against you (2 Samuel 16:13), if God’s presence (here expressed in His priesthood and the mercy seat) is for you (2 Samuel 16:24, ff; cf. Romans 8:31)? 

David remembers that it is not Yahweh’s furniture that he needs so much as Yahweh’s favor (2 Samuel 16:25, cf. 1 Samuel 4), and actually sends the priests and the ark back into Jerusalem. This way, not only will the gospel ministry of the priests continue by way of the sacrifices of the tabernacle service, but Zadok the preacher will also be there to minister the Word (2 Samuel 16:27). And, if Word comes from God, Zadok can send it by way of his sons (2 Samuel 16:28).

The third vignette comes just a little ways farther, on the way up the Mount of Olives. Only at this point does David learn of the treachery of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:31), which compels a desperate cry of prayer that is already being answered. David crests the hill and pauses for worship (2 Samuel 16:32a), which is itself an indicator of grace. How many would pause for the worship of God in the midst of a hurried retreat/escape?

But he’s still in the middle of it, almost certainly repeating the prayer of 2 Samuel 16:31, when the prayer is answered. One look at his torn robe and dusty head (2 Samuel 16:32b) puts to rest any worries about whether Hushai has also betrayed him. David suggests that Hushai offer his services to Absalom  as a way of defeating the counsel of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:34, but we’ll see how Hushai sticks to the truth in 2 Samuel 16:16–19). David quickly organizes the spy network in 2 Samuel 16:35-36, and the narrative concludes with the “camera” following Hushai back down Olivette, back over the Kidron, and into Jerusalem, where Absalom shortly arrives (2 Samuel 16:37). The final note about Hushai, “the friend of David,” reminds us that God is often doing us good through people whom we can’t have with us or can’t see doing their good to us.

All of this is a great encouragement: it matters not how skilled and powerful are those who are against you, if you have the Lord with you. And it is especially an encouragement, because it is a display of great grace. Remember from chapter 12 that this is all occurring as a disciplinary action from the Lord for the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah. What a blessed glimpse of the ways of our God, Who rules and overrules all things for our good—even in the midst of disciplining us for sin.

In what situations have powerful, influential, and/or skilled enemies organized themselves against you? For what might the Lord be disciplining you? Even if that’s the case, what hope do you have in the midst of it?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

2021.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 6:9–17

Read Revelation 6:9–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the Lamb open in Revelation 6:9? What did John see? Where? What had been done to them? For what two things? What were they doing (Revelation 6:10)? With what kind of voice? What were they asking? What did they call the Lord? What did they want Him to do? What was given to each of them (Revelation 6:11)? What was said to them? Until what were they to rest? What two numbers are mentioned? What does the Lamb open in Revelation 6:12? What happens on earth? What happens to the sun? What happens to the moon? What happens to the stars (Revelation 6:13)? In what manner? What happens to the sky (Revelation 6:14)? What happens to every mountain? What happens to every island? What seven types of men does Revelation 6:15 mention? What do they do? What do they say to what in Revelation 6:16? From Whom are they desperate to be hidden? What day has come (Revelation 6:17)? What is the presumed answer to the question in verse 17b?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Revelation 6:9–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with When This Passing World Is Done

We live in an age of longing. On earth, the creation groans (cf. Romans 8:22), and those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan (cf. Romans 8:23), and the Spirit Himself groans (cf. Romans 8:26). In heaven, glorified souls cry out how long (Revelation 6:10). They have white robes already, but the answer to the “how long” question is that there are two numbers that must be completed.

The first number is the number of their fellow-servants. Here is the doctrine of election unto salvation. God has an exact number whom He is saving, and the end of this age is waiting for its completion. 

The second number is the number of their brethren who would be killed as they were. Here is the doctrine of divine providence. The Lord has assigned to each of us a cross. Those for whom that cross is to be murdered for the faith are a number that has been established by God. How much each of us may be helped in taking up our own cross by the knowledge that our Redeemer has specifically selected it for us!

But this is the age of faith. And it will be followed by the age of sight. We will see the horror that awaits every last one who is not among those servants and brethren mentioned in Revelation 6:11. The earth that seemed so reliable to them will become a great, quavering instability. The heavens to which they looked will host darkness and death (Revelation 6:12) and fall to pieces (Revelation 6:13). They who lived as if God and the Lamb did not exist, did not see, did not judge… they will cry out for shelter that they will never obtain (Revelation 6:16). None will be spared, from the highest of kings to the lowest of slaves (Revelation 6:15).

When believers see what comes upon all the rest of humanity, how greatly will they marvel at what the Lamb has done for them! But when they see Him Who sits on the throne and the Lamb, how greatly will they marvel at what the Lamb has won for them!

It is the age of faith—substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. And already those who believe marvel at what God has done for them. But when faith becomes sight, we will know it much better still.

How much do you long for the day of Christ’s wrath? What will you learn then about yourself?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH470 “When This Passing World Is Done”

Monday, June 21, 2021

2021.06.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:18–27

Read Joel 2:18–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things will Yahweh do (Joel 2:18), when His people have repented as instructed in Joel 2:12-17? What will He say (Joel 2:19)? What will He do? What will He stop doing? What will He do to the invader (Joel 2:20)? With what effect? Why—what effect has the invader had? What should the land stop doing (Joel 2:21)? What should the land start doing? Why—Who else has had the same effect in verse 21 as the invader has in Joel 2:20? Who else is not to fear (Joel 2:22)? Why? Who are to do what in Joel 2:23a? In what (Whom!), especially, are they to rejoice (verse 23b)? How will the drought conclude (verse 23c–d)? With what results (Joel 2:23-24)? How will the restoration occur (Joel 2:25a)? With what effects (Joel 2:25b–Joel 2:26a)? How will the people then respond (verse 26b)? Why (verse 26c)? With what effects (verse 26d)? What will they then know about God’s active presence (Joel 2:27a)? And about His relationship with them (verse 27b)? And about Him (verse 27c)? With what (again) effect (verse 27d)?

In these ten verses, we have the response of the Lord to the repentance that He has commanded, and that they have evidently followed: reaction (Joel 2:18), refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c), restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20), rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b), redemption (Joel 2:23 c-Joel 2:25), reverence (Joel 2:26), and reconciliation (Joel 2:27).

Reaction (Joel 2:18). The Lord has commanded His people to repent with their hearts, and He responds to our repentance with zeal and pity. There is in God that perfect disposition toward His repenting people of which the most intense human zeal and the warmest human compassion are just a copy. What a marvelous “reaction” from our God!

Refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c). Whereas the Lord had used His creation to make His people feel their neediness of Him, He now uses it to make them feel His abundance for that need. The covenant relationship is restored, the covenant blessings begin to flow again, and not just in the renewed supply (verse 19b) but in a renewed satisfaction (verse 19c). Of course, the first provision isn’t actually grain and new wine and oil, but the Word (verse 19a, “Yahweh will answer and say to His people). Now the resurrected Redeemer refreshes His people in Word and sacrament, giving them not merely sounds in their ears and snacks in their mouths, but giving Himself to their souls.

Restoration (Joel 2:19d-Joel 2:20). With the covenant relation restored, the Lord takes away their shame (verse 19d, cf. Joel 2:26d, Joel 2:27d); they no longer appear as a people under judgment. Instead, those by whose mandibles He had judged them now themselves come under judgment. There will always be vindication and vengeance for you, dear believer, even if you deserved and needed what the enemy has done to you. 

Rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23 b). We had seen in chapter 1 that the land mourned (Joel 1:10), and the beasts groaned (Joel 1:18), in order to help the farmers, the priests, and indeed all of the people to mourn for the lack of their joy in the Lord. In a real sense, the earth and its creatures had been cursed for their sake. And now that it’s time for the people to rejoice, He once again uses the land and its creatures to lead the way. The greatness of the restoration (Joel 2:21c) has exceeded the greatness of the chastening (Joel 2:20g). The time for fear has passed, the time for gladness and rejoicing has come! 

Redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25). The children of Zion are brought to rejoice in Yahweh their God not only by circumstances, but again by words, and indeed by a great Preacher. There’s a play on words in verse 23c that is obscured by our version. It uses a homonym so that the same form for “former rain” in verse 23e should probably be “teacher” in verse 23c, and that line should read “For He has given you the Righteous Teacher.” 

The Lord uses His Word to bring His people back and to announce to them their blessedness. Though this surely included Joel himself, and those priests who fulfilled his prophecy’s call upon them, it is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and Righteous Teacher.

Not only does God’s Righteous Teacher bring us back, but the years that we spent in error or under discipline are not ultimately lost. As the blessing of God starts to pour back down (Joel 2:23d–e), there is enough both for the moment and for filling/overflowing the storage (Joel 2:24), until the effects of the locust army are entirely reversed (Joel 2:25). 

It is the opposite of Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interprets in Genesis 41; this is fullness so great that it wipes out the effects of the famine. This is God’s way with His repenting people; He takes away their grief by bringing them to a better place than they would have been in if they had been steady from the start.

Reverence (Joel 2:26). The ultimate blessing, however, is satisfaction with God and adoring of God. It’s one thing to eat plenty, but many people do so without contentment; it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied (verse 26a). And it is one thing to be satisfied with God’s gifts, but it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied with the God of the gifts Himself (verse 26b). Being restored to a God-delighted worshiper is the greatest blessing of all. God brings us into the true riches when He brings us into reverence! This is God’s great work on earth (verse 26c), and those who are made worshipers in this way will find their joy to be full and forever (verse 26d, cf. Romans 10:11). 

Reconciliation (Joel 2:27). Indeed, for the one who has been brought to treasure God above all else, there is one blessing higher than the privilege of adoring God; and, that is the communicated presence of the God he adores. Yahweh Himself in their midst (verse 27a), Yahweh Himself as their own (verse 27b–c)—that is the ultimate, full-and-forever blessedness of the people of God (verse 27d). 

Of what do you need to repent? How does desire for these blessings encourage this repentance? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee”


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Maturity Presses On (2021.06.20 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:!5–17)

Christian maturity is not the state of having attained, but of recognizing that you haven't and pressing onward and upward unto the perfection of Christ Jesus, by the grace of Christ Jesus.

God's Response to Repentance (2021.06.20 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:18–27)

The Lord responds to our repentance with the greatest possible blessings in this life and the life to come

WCF 15.2.1, pt 1, What True Repentance Sees and Senses (2021.06.20 Sabbath School)

By repentance unto life, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God