I continue to ask the Lord to help me grasp the message of the prophets, so as to apply it to our day. If God’s word is relevant for our day, the question I ask, “What are the prophets saying in 2020. Amos assures us “The lion has roared – who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken – who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:8)
In two places Jeremiah (6:13-14 and 8:11-13) refers to prophets and priests giving false assurance of peace – “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” The NLT says, “They offer superficial treatments for my people’s moral wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.” The Message says, “My people are broken – shattered – and they put on Band-Aids, saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll by just fine.’ But things are not ‘just fine.'”
We have endured another long and contentious political campaign season. We have been bombarded by message from both sides, telling us of solutions that will work for our nation. The slogans and supposed solutions are beyond belief. They are lies. It just doesn’t fit with a biblical worldview. We need help. The prophets call us back to God. But are we listening.
The notes in the “Bible Speaks Today” Bible (BST) give this analysis. “There is something astonishingly perceptive and perennially relevant about Jeremiah’s analysis….it is a terrible thing to mislead God’s people into falsehood, complacency and immorality, to be chaplains to the unrepentant and to collude in the culture of lies.”
“From the least to the greatest” meaning all of society wants to benefit materially. Add to this impulse in culture, spiritual leaders (prophets and priests) who are not being truthful. The results is a culture captivated by lies in both religion and politics. “When such collusion between those who peddle the lies and those who profit from them becomes established, it poisons the whole culture with greed.” BST)
What is sad in our day is the lack of moral integrity in our public dialogue. Outrageous moral statements are made, obvious immoral behavior receives approval and there is endless character assassination of political opponents. There is no longer any “social trust,” observes David Brooks. Biblical moral values are not even tolerated.
Jeremiah asks, “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all, they do not even know how to blush” (6:15). The Message says, “There’s no hope for them. They’ve hit bottom and there’s no getting up.” Then God says, “As far as I’m concerned they’re finished.”
When I think of those who have established the dominant narrative in our culture, which continue to echoed throughout the dominant media, I think of hardened hearts that refuses to respond to the Spirit of God, when confronted with the truth of Scripture. Are we now beginning to experience the wrath of God upon our society. Paul give us a warning, “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves” (Rom. 1:18 NLT).
Men, I beg you not to be drawn in by those who show no concern for the moral and spiritual condition of our nation. When a person blushes, they are uncomfortable with their position for fear of being exposed. This is no longer the case in our public discourse. So beware. Don’t be influenced by all the posturing from those who seem to have the right answers. They are lying to you. Jesus give us fair warning, “”Watch out that no one deceives you” (Mark 13:5).
These are words of the prophet Joel, calling for repentance, knowing that God’s judgment was near. It has been difficult to either date or trace the prophecy of Joel to a person or place. “The events described in it are, at one and the same time, unprecedented and timeless. The message of Joel is, therefore, relevant to any situation in any generation. What can it say to us?” (Bible Speaks Today)
Joel warns of judgment. “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it” (2:11). The land trembled as does America today. As a nation we have turned from God. Do we hear the warnings? Who can save us? “I don’t see our nation able to go much further unless we repent and call upon the name of Almighty God,” observes Franklin Graham.
Joel saw judgment coming in the form of an invasion of locusts. God was giving warning that conditions were ripe for judgment. “Joel had the courage to talk of God’s direct and personal involvement in current affairs and to assert that he and he alone had the answers to the national crisis” (Bible Speaks Today). For us the question would be, “Where are the locusts today in our technologically brilliant but ethically bankrupt society?” (BST)
Joel alerts the people to prepare, “for the day of the lord is coming” ( 2:1). “He is emphasizing as strongly as he knows how that the great and terrible day is imminent” (BST). It might not be the final judgment, but it will mean present judgment and change. “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” (2:11). The nation needed to wake up and pay heed. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming” (2:1).
Men, I believe the trumpet has been sounding. Darkness is descending on our nation. Outright rebellion against God’s moral standard is being openly flaunted, while politicians on both sides bombard each other in ever despiteful language. I often wonder if there is any hope for the healing of our nation.
Joel’s answer is clear. It is a matter of repentance and returning to God. Men, instead of getting caught up in the heated rhetoric of the dominant narrative of our day, especially during this electoral period, Joel tells us to “cry out to the Lord.” I do that continually throughout the day, knowing only God can healing what is displayed daily on TV.
God is looking for a change in heart. Are we prepared for what is coming. “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning'” (2:12). “Rend your heart, and not your garments” ( 2:13). This is soulful behavior, not just talk, motivated by anger, fear and frustration. God is looking for heart felt, passionate crying out to him.
Why would God listen to men, when the culture is being stiff-necked. Because God cares about the condition of our nation, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…” (2:13). Can God be persuaded. “Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse” ( 2:14 – MSG).
It could be that God might, “repay you for the years the locust have eaten” (2:25). God is able to send a mighty “awakening.” “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (2:28).