Joel 2:12-17, Zephaniah 1:7, Romans 5:18-21
Toward the end of Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi and his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, face off on the shores of a sea of lava on the molten planet of Mustafar. You may remember the scene—it’s one of the only good ones in the prequels.
Obi-Wan pleads with Anakin. He knows he has the higher ground, that Anakin has no chance of defeating him. And so in an effort to prevent Anakin’s self-destruction, Obi-Wan begs him to stop, saying, “You were the chosen one! It was said you would destroy the Sith, not join them!”
In the book of Joel, we see the people of God rebelling against His compassionate rule yet again. A plague of locusts has stolen the wine and grain that the people of God rely on for the sacrifices of atonement they make to Yahweh. “The day of the Lord is near,” God says through Joel, and with the day of the Lord comes the righteous judgment of all people (Joel 1:15). But in the face of imminent judgment and destruction, God cannot let His people stay where they are in their rebellion.
And so once again, through His prophet Joel, God calls out to His people: “Turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God” (Joel 2:12-13a). The Lord is pleading with His people to repent and return to their rightful place, worshiping Him as His chosen people.
Like a loving Father with a wayward child, God’s heart breaks for His rebellious people. In His justice, He cannot withhold His judgment, and in His grace, He calls them to repentance. “Who knows?” the prophet writes, “He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind him, so you can offer grain and wine to the Lord your God” (v.14).
Even when we trust in the finished work of Christ to free us from our slavery to sin, we still rebel against the goodness of God. Even as we grow in Christ’s likeness, we forget that the day of the Lord is coming and that we will face judgment. But in love, the Holy Spirit within us cries out, reminding us of who we are as children of God, and calling us to repentance. “For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster” (v.13b).
Tear your hardened heart, and let the grace of God soften it, making it whole in Christ.
Written by Chris Martin