December 7, 2018: Even now!
Joel 2:12 (NIV)
12 ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
Perhaps you have heard this voice, “It is too late for you. You have wasted too many opportunities and God is done with you now.”
The people of Judah had heard that voice far too many times. Many had given up hope of ever being restored to God. The sin of Judah was far too grievous. Any chance of being forgiven was now over, the invading army was at the gate, and they outnumbered Judah’s army. All that was left to do was to wait the final deathblow.
But, wait, wait wait, do you see these words in our text, “Even Now!” O could it be true that God will yet spare us and restore us? No, our minds cannot conceive of such a God like that who would forgive even at this last moment. There is something you do not know.
He is not like any other God. He is not capricious or harsh; he delights in showing mercy and forgiveness. If this is true then how do we approach him? He is so kind and loving he gives very clear directions in how to do just that.
Return to me with ALL your heart. Nothing left over, nothing hidden. Everything out in the open. No false pretenses or ulterior motives. You are coming to Him because you want to know and worship him and for no other reason.
So how will you demonstrate your true repentance? In fasting, going without any food or other sustenance while you seek Him. In fasting you are saying to God you will find no other comfort but in him and him alone. You will look for no other sustenance but in Him.
Put away all other gods, leave the paths of self-pleasure and run to Him who is the source of all good and lasting pleasures.
Weeping. How do you come to one that you love but you have spurned his advances far too long? Do you just say “Sorry” and go on as if nothing happened? Do you act is if what you have done was merely a little white lie, no big deal? This cannot be the way you return. To return to the God you have left to go after other idols which are no gods is to see the deep sense of wrong you have lived in. It is to see how you have caused him pain and hurt by your actions and ignoring him.
Mourning. This is not just a little short session of weeping but it is a protracted period of mourning where you see your sin for what it truly is, high treason against the sovereign lover of the universe. How could you do what you have done? How could you be so crass to go about your way ignoring the God who cared for you and gave you life and liberty and everything else? No, if you see the depth of your sin causing the God of the universe to send his son to die in your place so you could have life with him this will bring a profound sense of grief that will turn your fasting and weeping into great periods of mourning.
Lest I am remiss in this, rest assured that the period of fasting and weeping and mourning will not last forever. If you consider the one who is calling you to himself and asking you to fast and weep and mourn, you will see he has great intentions for you for he said in another Scripture that weeping may endure for a night but joy will come in the morning.
Listen to the call of God, come aside and spend the night in fasting and weeping and mourning, then at the break of day your soul will exult with great swells of joy and gladness.
Yes, He waits Even Now to restore you if you will come home to him.