“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
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 2:12-13 ESV)
Joel is full of powerful imagery declaring a much more powerful God. I have been reading through the Old Testament, and just prior to Joel, I finished reading Ezekiel. If there was one thing that impacted me from Ezekiel, it was the constant refrain that all people will know that the LORD is God.
There are two ways this happens; God will demonstrate his glory that everyone will know him, either in judgement for their sin, or in God’s mercy. All people will know who God is, but not all will be saved. Joel and Ezekiel both heavily inform the imagery in Revelation about the day when Christ returns, and in Philippians we know that every knee will bow before Jesus Christ.
This does not mean that all will be saved. You will recognise the LORD, but in what manner will that be? Will you be the one who sees God’s righteousness and hates Him for it? Will you tremble before him only when it is too late to be saved? Will you refuse to acknowledge God until the time for defiance is done, but eternity lies ahead?
Or will you sit before God now? Will you return to God with a broken heart, and grieve over your sin? God is a refuge for his people: Ezekiel reveals that God’s people are those who recognise God’s righteousness, and hate their sinfulness. The New Testament could not be clearer on this. One day all people will fall at Jesus’ feet, and any who have not acknowledged him will be condemned.
This is a scary reality. I think often our repentance is far too miserly. Certainly am guilty of this. It is hard to truly feel grieved about our sin. We foster it secretly, or deceive ourselves. Friends, we have to see God for who he is, and recognise the offensiveness of our rejection. We need to grieve about it. We need to turn back to the Lord, and be saved. See the excerpt from Joel at the start. Is that the state of your heart? Thankfully, Jesus’ salvation does not depend on our fickle hearts. But we need to take sin seriously, and make sure that we come before God broken and humbled, not clinging to ourselves or our pride.
God will be glorified, and all will know that he is the LORD. He will only be the refuge of those who call out to him.
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Joel 2:32a ESV)