Valley of Decision - Inward Reality or Outward Show
TITLE: Inward Reality or Outward Show
Sermon Date: Oct. 15, 2023
TEXT: Joel 2:1-17
TASK: To warn believers of the coming Day of the Lord and to encourage them to sound the alarm.
TEACH: Illustration: Working at the sale barn as a teen.
TRUTH: Elsewhere in Scripture, when the trumpet is blown, it is by a watchman to warn of an approaching enemy army. Here it is blown not on the city wall but on the temple mount. It is blown not only in view of an approaching army but also to call the people to gather at the temple to appeal for mercy in view of the approaching day of the Lord.
The description in Joel is better understood as a picture of the heavenly army of the Lord since its effects are unprecedented and cosmic. The army of the Lord is like a human army in many ways.
I. Approaching Quickly.
Picture a military battle, the Lord speaks through the prophet (1), commanding that the (sopar) war trumpet, which was made of a curved rams horn, be sounded to warn the people of the coming army.
Sentries were stationed on the walls of fortified cities and when the alarm sounded the news was spread from place to place and the people gathered within the city walls for protection. But the enemy approaching is no ordinary army, nor is it a swarm of locusts this time, but the army of the Lord.
In Semitic thought it was customary to designate events of importance with the term ‘day’. These could be decisive events in Israel’s history or random events which took place in Israel that have symbolic value. This day of the Lord was anticipated by Israel as a day of Yahweh’s visitation. The text here in Joel is impregnated with cosmic metaphors, to refers to the decisive time when God acts to vindicate His people and set all things right.
It is a dreadful day (2)
The steady powering march of the enemy, swarming the walls Desolation let behind. This is God’s army come to destroy God’s enemies. No one escapes. Notice the features that accompany the day of the Lord: Darkness, gloom, clouds and thick darkness, anguish.
Throughout the Ot, God’s manifest presence is most often accompanies with causes of cosmic disturbances in heaven and on earth. Just as the death and resurrection of Jesus are accompanied by darkness and earthquakes.
When God leads His army the whole of the cosmos will be affected and we learn from v.11 that no one can remain unscathed by God’s final, fearful day. God’s future army will be unlike anything we have ever seen in the past, thus, Joel implements the term “like”. Zephaniah give the theme increased attention (1:7-18).
The army of the Lord is like a human army in many ways, with horses, Calvary, chariots, and warriors (4,5,7)yet its destructiveness is unique -like nothing before or after (v.2). It transform land like the garden. Of Eden into desert waster (v.3). It consumes everything in its path like a crackling fire consuming stubble (5). It is a fearful; sight, not only for the people in Jerusalem but also for other nations 96). Nothing will get in the way of the warriors as they swarm, over the city walls and engulf the city, entering the houses.
II. Prepare Immediately.
If no one can endure the day of the Lord the only hope I if God averts it. Joel appeals again for all the people to lament and now calls for them to repent from the heart.
The theological basis for repentance is the character of God, revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai and its based on the promise that repentance brings restoration. In Exodus, the statement of God’s character includes both his mercy and justice, but in its reuse here, God’s merciful side is emphasized. Of particular significance is that God relents from sending calamity, which is an application of forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. In Exodus, God declared he would wipe out His pele after their sin of making the golden calf. Yet He relented because of the appel of Moses, who pleaded with God not to make His people an object of scron among the nations. Joel hopes that God might once again relent.
Joel 2:13 emphasizes inward devotion and turning to God. God not only desires the redning of the garment but also the rending of the heart. This is the covenantal language that is found in Ex. 34:6-7.
True preparation is coming to Christ, coming to Christ, coming to Christ, you get it? We must come to Christ in deep traveal and agony of soul. We must live Corem Deo (before the face of God). It is the broken and contrite heart that God will not depise (see Ps. 51). This psalm is David’s penitential psalm. It may be fitly so called because it is a psalm by which I s manifest the unfeigned sorrow which he had for his horrible sin, in defiling of Bathsheba, and slaying Uriah her husband. After being confronted in his sin, David, bewails the depravity of his nature.
According to early English Puritan preacher John Bunyan, “There are four things that are very acceptable to God.
1. The sacrifice of the body of Christ for our sins.
2. Unfeigned love to God is counted better than all external sacrifices.
3. To walk holy and humbly, and obediently, towards and before God.
4. The sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart.
Bunyan continues by giving the signs of a broken heart. The broken-hearted person….
1. He sees himself to be what others are ignorant of; that is, he sees himself to be not only a sinful man, but a man by nature in the gall and bond of sin.
2. He feels the arrows of the Almighty and that they stick fast in him. He feels how sore and sick, by the smiting of God’s hammer upon his heart to break it.
3. He hears that which increases his woe and sorrow. You know if a man has his bones broken, he does not only see and feel, but oft-times hears the bone break.
III. Rest Completely.
Joel. 2:14 affirms the freedom of God. Hos sovereign and divine forgiveness. Yahweh is committed to His covenant while at the same time free.
If a man came a thousand miles to do a job, don’t you think upon arrival He would be willing to do it? Jesus Christ came from Heaven for this business; is He not willing to save sinner than sinners are to be saved?
A man must be sensible of his sins, before the kingdom of heaven of grace, mercy, and free remission, be brought near unto Him.
Yet, we can rest completely in the forgiveness of God. Why? Because it is based on His character: gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and He relents from disaster. It is actually the character of God that enable us to turn. c
TAKE-AWAY: (1) We see just how long-suffering and patient our God is with His covenant people. (2) We see that biblical faith involves making up our minds to be obedient to God. (3) We see that God is free and we are dependent on His forgiveness and mercy.
TIE-UP: Sale barn accident that resulted in death.