By Chris Martin
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
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7 thoughts on "God’s Call for Repentance"
There was a time I was so occupied with my “hell on earth” that I didn’t really think or care about my eternal future. Sin was an obstacle that stood between God and I. God didn’t just pity me or feel some sense of moral obligation to call to “return to Me with all your heart”. It’s because He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Like Paul writes later in the New Testament “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance”. – Praise God!
How do you tear your heart ?
“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.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
Yet even now. In the boundless grace and mercy of God, there is never a time, a place or a moment where we can’t turn back and repent. Yet even now when Israel had given herself away to other gods and vain pursuits, forgetting their covenant, forsaking worship. Yet even now when I have become so worldly and focused on fulfilling my desires outside of the will of God, He calls me to repentance and return. May I mourn over my sin, change directions, and have my heart renewed in the fullness of His love!
You realize how far off the mark you are when you look and see the one who as became sin for your sins.
God has called us to living a life changed and worth living. He called us to turn away from our sin and to “change our hearts” from hard to repentant. He knows the judgement he has to give but he is so rich in mercy that He, more often than not, withholds that and instead shows grace. Why? Because a good Father wanted his child to be reconciled back to himself. He withholds his judgement, not consequences, because he sees the wayward child. I️ am the wayward child.
Father, Thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit as a helper. I confess that I have done my best to ignore his leading in my life at times. I have fed and strengthened the flesh in me and let the spirit starve. Change my heart Jesus. Spirit, you are not weakened by my negligence, you are only waiting for me to turn to you. Help me to do the things I know are right. Forgive me for my pride, for my reliance on my flesh. Tear my heart like the prophet says. Change it to be more like yours Jesus. Use your word, use the encouragement of others. Thank you for not abandoning me to my sin.
Day 3: I’m thankful for a God that reminds me of my place. Sometimes in a humbling way, sometimes in a way that builds me up. He wants me and you to be with him and in him as we walk about this earth. He calls us to repentance. He knows where we struggle and wants to meet us there. What a beautiful thing.
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