Joel 2:11 says: “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” As I read today’s chapters, the phrase “The great and terrible day of the Lord” came immediately to mind; and it made me fearful.
Fearful because the chapter 23 is directed at the “shepherds” and the prophets, those who were entrusted with the task of leading God’s people in God’s ways and according to God’s will. Those shepherds and prophets were not doing their job. Many of them were not even true shepherds and prophets, but were instead usurpers who took on the mantle in order to lead God’s people astray. But there is warning in these verses for those of us who are in positions of leadership in the church today. While we like to think that those in church leadership are there for the right reasons, it is a sad reality that many are not. Power, prestige, pride, control, these are all motivators for some people in leadership, not God’s voice or His will. We must be sure that we are called to leadership, but then we must also be sure that we stay close to the Master Shepherd as we lead his flock. If you were paying attention to the words against the prophets in chapter 23, you will notice that they were not listening to or even hearing God’s voice, even though they were proclaiming that they were.
Those of us who lead must understand that we will be judged more harshly because the growth, direction and responsibility for others is on our shoulders.
I was also struck with fear as I read about God’s wrath against the nations of the world. It is easy to get the wrong picture of God when reading these verses; picturing him as vengeful, hate filled, prone to violence. But the context of God’s anger is explained pretty clearly in 25:5 “He (God) announced, ‘Turn, each of you, turn from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors forever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve them and to worship them and do not provoke Me to anger by the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.”
God gives us warnings, and then more warnings, and still more warnings before he ever turns his wrath upon us. As I mentioned in a earlier post, God’s anger against rebellion and sin is still real today, but it has been directed at Jesus instead of us. The truthful reality is at the end of time when Jesus returns and God’s Kingdom is established for all eternity, those who have stubbornly refused to listen to God’s call for repentance and obedience will face the wrath of God.
That should terrify us, because God in all of his splendour, holiness and majesty is terrifying to behold. That is why Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If you ask me, our world(and me) could use a good healthy dose of that fear.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Jeremiah 26-29