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.
 Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the LORD your God,
and cry out to the LORD.
 Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
 Is not the food cut off
before our eyes,
joy and gladness
from the house of our God?
 The seed shrivels under the clods;
the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are torn down
because the grain has dried up.
 How the beasts groan!
The herds of cattle are perplexed
because there is no pasture for them;
even the flocks of sheep suffer.
 To you, O LORD, I call.
For fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness,
and flame has burned
all the trees of the field.
 Even the beasts of the field pant for you
because the water brooks are dried up,
and fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness.
(Joel 1:13-20 ESV)
The weep and mourn and then to consecrate themselves to the Lord.
Why? Because they haven't been offering their sacrifices to God. They have been wihholding them. (that's a deliberate act you know). It's not just neglect.... it's a withholding.
They are to fast, and gather together, everyone is to come.
I read this and think...how often do we do this as a people? How often do we come together and tell the Lord that we are sorry...sorry for all the ways in which we do not do as we aught? I have NEVER in my life seen people do this as a community. Yes. We have our Sunday morning prayers of repentance. But that's the minister praying on our behalf and how routine does that become? Is it really heartfelt? Is this something we should call for as a people of God? I know i would feel VERY uncomfortable... but perhaps that's the point? Our uncomfortableness points out our very need for God.
They are to cry out to the Lord for he is indeed near.
Call out to the Lord. Not just call out.. CRY out. That shows need you know. If you just call you are hollering for attention. If you CRY out you are showing your need and desperation.
The day of the Lord is near.
Do we live in the reality of that? Knowing that Christ could return at any moment? I know that I am frequently just living my life. Not concerned about the Lord's imminent return. How about you?
I know the Israelites were dealing with another nation coming to destroy them due to their lack of obedience to the Lord God. But for us the reality is... the Lord is returning!!!!!! Does it matter to us? Really? In our day to day lives does it matter that the Lord will return? And if it does matter... are we prepared and ready and waiting?
Do we live in the joy and gladness of the Lord?
Or have we become like the grain and the beasts? Shrivelling up and being confused because what we need to survive isn't there anymore? Are we a people suffering because we have forgotten the importance of God in our lives?
Let us indeed call and cry out the Lord.
He will help us and deliver us from the fires that devour, from dried up streams.
Be renewed in him.
Weep and mourn for your ignoring of him.
Cry out to him for your salvation.
Won't you join me in this?