Nobody

Today, we consider a prophet’s history, as we look at the life and times of Joel. (Joel 1:1, 13-14) The prophet Joel seems to be a nobody, not a somebody, just an anybody. Do I have any of those here today? Yeah, the world is filled with nobodies. People that the Lord God calls to do His work. There is no hard information about Joel offered in scripture, just he is the son of Pethuel in verse 1. Hey, remember Pethuel? Oh, that guy. However, his message offers insights to the reader which stem from his numerous references to Zion. This suggests that he is from Judah or the southern kingdom. Moreover, Joel focuses a lot on the priests of Jerusalem as he paints himself in stark contrast as a layperson. This means his diatribes or rants offer us a positional argument.

Yet, Joel retains a measured amount of respect for the Temple establishment. We would do well to put this attitude back in place today. God is still using His church to spread the Gospel, to teach and speak to the nations. Though critical, Joel maintains the church still holds value. This isn’t uniform in the prophetic tradition, take Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. Rather, Joel who is best described as a temple prophet shares his messages to people around the temple. So, if we want to see an Old Testament example of what a prophet may look like today, operating inside the local church, Joel is one of our best examples.

Listen to the hope he offers in Joel 1:13~Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. (ESV) Israel can still avoid the coming crisis. But what’s the crisis? Many of the prophet stories open with prose to illuminate the situation. Like a pastor painting a word picture to set the stage, time, and date, or even era. Joel makes a passionate and hopeful call to repentance.

So, how are you sharing your story? When we come to the Lord and confess and believe we are shifting our story from all about us to all about Jesus. What He has done for us, what He is doing right now and the path He has placed us on. To whom are you sharing your story? Your story is so powerful and unique. God is using you to do amazing things and to reach people that perhaps no one else will.  Why not take a few moments today and ask the Lord to help you focus your life in a way that leverages your story for the Gospel. I would be willing to be that the Lord already has some events on your calendar to meet people in a moment that they could sure use some good news and a hopeful word. Ask God to use you and your life for His good.



The road to redemption

Enter the Prophet. (Joel 2:12-32) Joel 2:12-13a~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…(ESV) Does it surprise you to learn that repentance did not originate with the ministry of Jesus though He declares in Mark 1:15 Repent and believe. Our prophet, Jesus, who is also our High priest and soon coming King, wasn’t saying anything new. Rather He, like all prophets was sounding the alarm. An alarm to wake up and shake off the stupor and slumber of sin and repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

We see a shift in Jesus in Matthew 4:17. It is a determined transitioning where Jesus shifts from one thing to the next thing. Thus, in Matthew 4:17, Jesus begins to minister as a prophet, later in Matthew 16:21 He shifts again to become our high priest, as the Passover lamb, heading towards the Cross. Then in Matthew 26:16, He shifts again to lay down His life, ransomed for His people, this is the work of a king. Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King. His message to all humanity is a call to repentance and it places Him in a long line of prophets going back almost eight centuries.

This role of the prophet is not only embodied in the ministry of Jesus but continues in the formation of the early church. Acts 2:16-21 reiterates the words of the prophet Joel in Joel 2:28-29~And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days, I will pour out my Spirit. (ESV) Peter announces the marriage of this Joel 2 prophecy to help explain the events of Pentecost. Joel’s words set the stage for proclamation about Jesus Christ. They are a forceful call to repent, be baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. The prophetic call is to be reborn or born again, it is a call to repentance.

Even in the fiery rhetoric of God’s impending judgment, proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets, there’s always space for Israel or people like you and me to take another path. This is the positing of Robert Frost, Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;…I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: … I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. 

The prophet enters and says, boldly, full of passion and zeal for God and says, What road are you on? There is hope if you’ll repent. When we repent, we avert God’s impending judgment on our lives, for our nation, and its leaders. Saint of God, get your life right with God and pray, pray for our nation, we are in desperate need. One way we Sound The Alarm is to pray for our nation. As you take note of all that is going on in America and the current direction of our nation you will notice a great need for much more prayer. I want to encourage you today, to take on the task of ownership concerning our nation and its leaders, by praying for them. Set aside a day or time to pray for them and call their names before the Lord. Some of them in South Carolina are Duncan, Rice, Wilson, Mace, Clyburn, Norman, and Timmons. We need to do a lot more praying for our nation and its current leader Joe Biden.



Prophet

נָבִי nāḇî’ (navi), Hebrew for prophet, it means mouthpiece of God. When God calls an individual to the office of the prophet. It’s not something we wake up desiring, nor are we born into or educated in a school. Moreover, the office of the prophet requires absolute and unadulterated truth-telling. Even when this is at personal or national discomfort. For a prophet is married to the divine prophetic utterance. Unlike an evangelist who can blow into town, drop the dime and leave the pastor to clean up, the prophet of God is committed to the Lord’s message.

There is not a greater visual illustration of this than Hosea, who married a whore and had to go and buy her back, again. Prophets live out the message of God’s love and His desire for us to turn from our sin. The prophet’s chief aim is to call us back to God. Back to our first love. All throughout human history God has called people back to Himself. To live in a covenantal relationship of complete devotion to the creator, sustainer, and provider of all things. 

Take Job, who works to keep up his children’s relationship with God. If you have not brought your kids back to church, you need to. Job 1:5~ When celebrations ended…Job would purify his children…and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said…Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts. This was Job’s regular practice. (NLT) Later, Ole Mo, after exiting Egypt with God’s children in tow, pun intended, tells them to stick with God, here are the ground rules to the covenantal relationship. You know this top 10 list as the 10 Commandments. 

The prophet’s God-given task is to call His wayward children back to Himself. Even at the end of days, as our world is closing, He says to the church of Ephesus, I know your deeds and how you have persevered, but. Revelation 2:4~But I have against you that you have abandoned your first love. (BLB) What does your love for God look like? The little king said, Elvis Presley, Wise men say Only fools rush in, But I can’t help falling in love with you. When we fall in love, we are just a hunk, a hunk of burning love. Lord Almighty, Feel my temperature rising. 

See freshly minted love isn’t deep, but passionate. For true depth in love is grown over time as it perseveres and is nurtured and enriched. Two kids who can’t wait to get married are in heat, burning with passion, and yes Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 7:9, it’s better to marry than burn. However, the burning of fledgling love, is passion, and God says to us, where is your passion for Me, you’ve lost it. To this the prophet says, Sound the Alarm.

Today, God is calling you to sound the alarm. So, what does that mean for us as believers? It means we need to grasp that time is truly short and we need to be letting people know that Jesus is coming soon and the only way to escape the judgment of God is to submit our whole lives to Him by confessing and believing. Is there something that you need to confess to the Lord today? Why not sit quietly and ask God to reveal to you anything in your life that needs to be placed under the precious blood of Jesus. Then, confess whatever comes to mind.