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Saturday, March 11, 2023

3-11-2023 Cry for the children of man


Joel 1:1-20

1          The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel.

2          Hear this, old men and listen to this all you who live in the land.  Have you seen anything like this before in your days or have your fathers even seen anything like this?

Look around all you people.  As we see the world today, have we seen anything like this before?  In our nation, we have survived a battle for independence (1775-1783), invasion from a foreign source (Britain 1812-1815), civil war (1861-1865) and civil unrest (off and on throughout our history).  The world has suffered two global wars (1914-1918 & 1939-1945) and on a smaller scale, how many nations have tried to overrun their neighbors?  We have seen a great depression (1929-1939) and continue to flirt with another.  We have seen world-wide hunger and just look at how intense nature is becoming!  Storms and earthquakes have been becoming more frequent and more intense over recent years.  Yes, there is nothing new to man (Ecc. 1:9) but examine the complexity and intensity of how all things are becoming. 

3          Tell our children about it and let your children tell their children and they, the next generation.

Tell your children about what is happening so they might be prepared and let them tell your grandchildren and even then  to next generation.  These are signs of the end times (Matthew 24:1-31, Thess. 4:14-18, Joel chptrs. 2 & 3 and don’t forget the book of Revelation).  We don’t know when the end times actually will be (Matt. 24:36), but the passage in Matthew tells us the world has not nor ever shall see the likes of the tribulation period again (Matt. 24:22).      

4          what the palmerworm has left, the locust have eaten, what the locust left, the cankerworm has eaten and that which the cankerworm has left the caterpillars have eaten.

Despite scientific advancement, look at how the beauty and fullness of God’s creation has wasted away through natural catastrophes and man’s advancement into the future.  Famine and natural disasters still persist.  This passage implies the complete desolation of plant life and that will impact animal life, even the air we breathe.   

5          Wake up you drunkards and weep.  Howl, all you who drink the wine because the new wine is cut off from your mouth.

The world lies drunken with the old wine (the way in which we have been living their lives) which has dulled our senses, become bitter and, even now has become undesirable.  The world will (and much already) has become a wasteland.  Yet there is new wine ready to replace the old and to take the bitter taste from our mouth.  The new wine is new life, abiding in the love of God.  Will the world reject it?  Will we (the church) reject it?

6          For a nation is come up upon my land, strong and without number whose teeth are the teeth of a lion and has the cheek teeth of a great lion.

Destruction is coming!  Grant it, Joel is talking about Israel, but these things are prophesied for Israel because of their rejection of God.  Is today’s world, today’s church guilty of rejecting God?

7          He who has laid my wine to waste and barked my fig tree has made it clean bare and cast it away and its branches ae made white.

The world has wasted the goodness that has God originally given us.  Our existence (largely) has slipped away into a pile worthy only to be burned.  Have we brought this legacy of destruction upon ourselves?

8          Lament like a virgin who is girded in sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

Cry like a young girl who has lost the love of her youth.  And yet, do we realize what we are losing, even today?  We should mourn at what we see, yet are we doing anything about it?

9          The meat offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord.  The priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn.

10        The field is wasted and the land mourns because the corn is wasted, the new wine is dried up, the oil languishes.

The churches do cry out.  But, have we stopped bringing our sacrifices before the Lord?  That is confessing our sins at the cross?  Do we still bring thanksgiving to the altar for all that Father has done for us?  Do we seek His direction in daily matters?  Do we even talk with Him?  Where has the relationship with our God gone?  Has it dissipated into oblivion?  Father has been bringing new wine (the love in Christ Jesus) into our lives afresh and anew yet, all too often, has it been squandered?  Has it even been truly received?  My Lord, even the churches have gotten off track and are falling away (2 Thess. 2:3).

11        Be ashamed, O you husbandmen, howl you vine dressers for the wheat and the barley because the harvest of the field is wasted.

Too much of the church just aint’ actin’ like it should and all the sacrifices are like ashes tumbling off the altar.  Brushed away and unaccepted!  And, like the church of Jesus’ time, the church knows what to do (Matt. 23:1-7, James 4:17).  Is it really just too much to ask?

12        The vine is dried up and the fig tree languishes, the pomegranate tee, the palm tree as well as the apple tree, even all the trees of the field are withered away because the joy is withered away from the sons of men.

Look at today’s churches!  Does it reside in the joy of the Lord?  Membership is declining because God’s Word is being compromised. Don’t offend anyone but always bring a joyful, word.   Yes, souls should be brought into the kingdom, but God’s standards should not be compromised in so doing.  We need to hear the truth so we can abide in it.  

13        Gird yourselves and lament you priests, howl you ministers of the altar.  Come, lie all night in sackcloth , you ministers of my God for the meat offering and the drink offering is withheld from the house of  your God.

Waywardness has brought emptiness.  Order needs to be restored.  I don’t mean sit still and be quiet.  Dads are (should be) responsible for the family, the pastor and church leadership should be responsible for the congregation because Jesus is respsonsible for the leadership.  Is the leadership listening to Him?  We may talk about the Holy Ghost, but how many actually listen to Him?

14        Sanctify a fast and call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God and cry to the Lord.

Just as Israel called for fasting and prayer when they were told that they were off track (2 Kings 22:1-23:3).  Shouldn’t today’s churches consider the same.  Even those fellowships who might have a right relationship with the Lord, shouldn’t they be praying for those who don’t?  And, My God, be bold enough to enlighten them?

15        Alas for the day!  The day of the Lord is at hand and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

Read any or all of the prophets.  When we go against God’s Word, there are consequences!  God will not put up with it forever (Gen. 6:3, John 15:6, Rom. 11:22)!

16        Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, even the joy and gladness from the house of our God?

17        The seed has rotted under the clods, the garners are laid desolate and the barns are broken down.  The corn is withered.

Look at this passage.  When we turn from God, everything we do, say or think turns sour or goes bad.  When God is not a part of our lives, there are no positive results.  We won’t even be able to store the good things that have come our way.  It all becomes for naught. If this is the state in which we stand before God, all is lost.  Polls tells us that today, church attendance is on the decline!

18        How do the beasts groan!  The herds of cattle are perplexed because they have no pasture, indeed, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.

19        O, Lord, I will cry unto you for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness and flame has burned all the trees of the field.

All creation, even the things or people that rely on us lose hope for there is nothing for them to hold on to.  Those who may have come to the Lord through us, are we a positive example for them follow and grow?

20        The beasts of the field also cry out to you because the rivers of waters are dried up and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Everything we could have given them is dried up and burnt – totally gone.  The wayward churches impact their fellowship, but even the communities and beyond.   

Yes, this passage speaks of Israel turning their back on God, but hasn’t too much of today’s church done just that?  Haven’t they ‘shelved’ God’s standards to accommodate the world’s values?

When Isaiah had come to Hezekiah and told him that his time in this world was over, Hezekiah wept and repented. Then the Lord gave Hezekiah fifteen more years to live.  Hezekiah was also healed and received a miracle as God’s testimony to the truth of the matter (2 Kings20:1-11).

In the eighteenth year of king Josiah’s reign, Hilkiah, the high priest discovered the book of the law during a rebuilding effort.  Hilkiah then showed the discovery to Shaphan, the scribe who showed it to the king.  The king Realized that all the evil which had befallen Israel was because Israel had strayed from God.   Josiah repented, God gave peace to the king and Israel because Josiah made covenanted to abide by God’s law.

Again, shouldn’t the church, which has strayed, repent and come back into the ordinances of God?  We see with king Josiah that there is restoration through repentance and obedience.

As dad is obedient to God, the family will line up better with God.  The family’s obedience to dad and God helps the church to line up better with God.  As the church lines up, we just may find that people (in general) are making better decisions about life.  As people start making better decisions we may see communities making better decisions.  As the communities make better decisions this must may spill over to the counties, the states.  Even decisions made at the national level!  Say what!  The world may become better off (at least in some places).  How does the prayer go?  “On earth as it is in heaven”?  But, it has to start somewhere.  And the bottom line is God within an individual!

So, do we cry for the children of man?  Should we be crying for the children of man?  Are we seeking how we might be an impact in our little part of the world?  Do we sit back and say “Well, that’s just the way things are.” 

Crying for the children of man starts somewhere. Who’s taking the first step?


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