I’ve studied and prayed through the book of Joel intensely for more than 15 years. In chapters 1 and 2 of Joel, the Lord issues 16 key instructions that will help His people to authentically and thoroughly (the capacity for our hearts to deceive us is great) yield and repent to the Lord (think Daniel 9).
- “Hear and listen to the Word of the Lord.” (Joel 1:2) Keep on listening. Keep on hearing.
- “Be awakened.” (Joel 1:5) Let the light of the Holy Spirit illuminate your heart.
- “Blow the trumpet.” (Joel 2:1) Declare the need for repentance.
- “Gather the elders.” (Joel 1:14) Share and dialogue what the Lord is saying with the leaders.
- “Call a sacred assembly.” (Joel 1:14) Gather the people – call everyone to humble themselves unto holiness.
- “Sanctify the congregation.” (Joel 2:16) Establish the purpose and intent of your gathering as holy and focused on the intentions of the Lord.
- “Consecrate a fast.” (Joel 2:12) Focus the hearts and appetites to be fully attentive to the Lord.
- “Rend your heart.” (Joel 2:13) Make your self, your ways, your history, your heritage, and your hopes exposed and vulnerable before the Lord.
- “Tremble.” (Joel 2:1) Be aware of your unrighteous nakedness before the God of perfect holiness and power.
- “Lament.” (Joel 1:13) Meditate upon how decimated and barren you are apart from the Lord.
- “Weep and wail.” (Joel 1:5 and Joel 2:17) Let your naked, barren condition and the condition of your family and your people bring you to tears and touch your emotions.
- “Be ashamed.” (Joel 1:11) Let yourself feel the shame of your nakedness before the Holy One and all the holy ones in heaven.
- “Lie in sackcloth.” (Joel 1:13 and Joel 1:12) Let your whole being be brought to nothing – to death – the grave – despair and ashes. Lie in that reality. Let it be your clothing.
- “Cry out to the Lord.” (Joel 1:14) Repent out loud. Pour out your heart, your sins, your barrenness, your inability, your need, your hope, your falseness and your despair before the Lord. Keep on crying out.
- “Prioritize the Lord’s paradigm.” (Joel 2:16) As you continue to listen to His Word, let Him reveal His righteousness and His righteous ways to your heart. Dialogue these righteous ways among the company of the repentant ones until they become agreed upon values and priorities.
- “Gather and tell your children.” (Joel 1:3) Establish an agreed upon paradigm for teaching yourselves, and your children the right order of the Lord. This is where your repentance becomes your new cultural narrative that emphasizes the mercy and the right order of the Lord.
Each element on the wheel points to a relational reality that is important for us to follow in the repentance process. These elements are like lights in the cabin of an airliner that’s filled with smoke and plummeting into the ocean. They are practical steps to help us corporately respond to the Lord while we’re experiencing the emotional destabilization (think 2020+) that comes with being in a “time of trouble” (Psalm 27:5). It’s vital that we know how to come to Him “without one plea” in wholehearted truth, and not in a superficial, or self-saving spirit.
Beloved, HIS mercies are sure. Though we come with real fear of the Lord, we can also come with great confidence that the ugliest truths about ourselves are embraced and forgiven by the blood-drenched cross of His Son.
The acid test that tells us we’ve given ourselves to this thorough, naked work of repentance is that when we get up from the cross our hearts glory in HIS MERCY – and not in our RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Beloved, our King is coming. Like the generation of John the Baptist, our family – the people of God – urgently need to stop feeding the strongholds of self-justification and pride and engage the Lord in the radical work of contrition and repentance.
This is the only ground that will remain through the (Hebrews 12:26-27) shaking that is intensifying around us.
JSB • September, 2021