Scripture reading for September 11th: Joel 1-3
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; The earth and sky will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people; a stronghold for the people of Israel.” Joel 3:14-16
I remember September 11th, 2001 very vividly! It was a day that stunned our nation and cost the lives of thousands of innocent people in the twinkling of an eye. What was worse, was that we got to watch it in living color right before our eyes. I was in the surgery waiting room visiting a patient when I saw the plane fly into the building. Smoke and fire exploded and people were running everywhere. It seemed that the world had been turned upside down.
Joel was a prophet of God who spoke to God’s people during a terrible plague of locusts. (Joel 1:4) God used this locust plague to speak to his people of their coming judgment if they failed to repent. (Joel 1:13-14) Joel called God’s people to fasting and prayer. The ‘day of the Lord’ was near.
The custom for fasting was to put on sackcloth and sprinkle ashes on their heads. The people were called to cry out in weeping before God, mourning for their sins. But God was after something else. He desired a broken and contrite heart! (Psalm 51:17) (Joel 2:13) From a truly broken heart, they were to say, “Spare your people, O Lord.” (Joel 2:17)
The answer from God to this fast was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the whole land! (Joel 2:28-32) (Acts 2:14-21) There would be signs and wonders in the earth among God’s people, young and old, men and women! This would happen right before the ‘day of the Lord’! Everyone who would call on God would be saved! (Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13)
Joel ended with a vision of the coming ‘day of the Lord’. Joel saw multitudes of people gathered in the valley of Jehoshaphat. There God entered into judgment against the nations that rejected Him. (Joel 3:1-2) But God will be a refuge for His people! Whose side will you be on?