A Holy and Just God (Joel)

A Holy and Just God (Joel)

Scripture: Joel 2:11, Joel 1:1-20
Date: 04/20/2013  Lesson: 3
"God can use crises to make His people sensitive to both their dependence on Him and their need for spiritual renewal and reformation."

The Power of a Positive No! by Joe Crews

The Power of a Positive No! by Joe Crews
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church right here in, currently, sunny Sacramento, California on the west coast of the United States of America. The reason we say that is because we have an extended international family, so we want you to know where we are in case this is your first time tuning in. And if it is, extra special welcome. It is no mistake that you are tuning in and you are going to be part of our program today. We are singing songs that you write in every week and you send in your favorites and so - we're going to do that right now.

Pull out your hymnals - those of you at home - we already had them out ready to go here in the sanctuary. #202 - 'Hail him the King of glory'. These requests come in every week from across the country and around the world - our radio listeners, our viewers, live on the website at 'saccentral.org', or on the various television networks. So, today, #202 - 'hail him the king of glory' is a request from hezron in brazil, francis in California, dorothy in Georgia, leo and dorothy in Michigan, dinan and howard in Mississippi, jamie, jenny, sandie and vernon in North Carolina, and God's emissaries chorale in thailand. #202 - We're going to sing all three stanzas.

'Hail him the King of glory'. Thank you so much for those requests that you send in and we're doing our best to sing those for you. We now have almost 20,000 requests that have come in since April 2004 when we made it available on our website for you to send in your favorite songs. We have sung a lot of those - don't worry - you're not waiting for 20,000 songs. But it is so nice to hear from our online family.

We're doing something a little bit different. If you are on Facebook, you would have seen an ad that I put up on central's Facebook page this last week and we encourage you - we want to get to know who you are. We want to see your faces and so if you go to Facebook you search for Sacramento central seventh day adventist church - you can post your pictures of your group watching online - let us know where you're watching from, say 'hi', and I have a question that someone posted on our page this week and you can ask a question to the central study hour music team and we'll do our best to answer them if it's central related. If it's theological then we will let the pastors handle that and you can actually contact amazing facts. But here's our question from steven, who is watching from england and his question is, 'how much time does the team spend practicing and preparing for each service and how do you deal with things if one of the scheduled team is unavailable at short notice?' Great question steven.

On Wednesday, that is when I go through The Song list and I pick the ones - I always try to find, as we're working our way through the hymnal we already know that next week is 48 - and so we pick the first song that we sing on the air and we go through and find out how many requests have come in - what's the most popular one so we don't end up with 200 people requesting the same song, and then I send those out to everybody. So the team has them by Wednesday and the audio file - in case it's a new song and they need to learn it - and then we come together on Sabbath mornings - 8:45 - and we have sound check and we go through our songs. And so that is what we do and if someone is sick, well we pray that they're not and if there is then I make calls and e-mails and get someone on the stand-by list. And so, it's working. Otherwise the angels just join with us and so that is what we do.

So thank you for your question, steven. Anybody else out there, if you have questions go to our Facebook page and post them and we want to get to know you. And so I want to see pictures this week of those of you who are extended family who we can't see your faces so we want to get to know you. So look for Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. So if you have a favorite song that you want to sing with us - and it's not just for our online - for those of you here too.

Go to our website, 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and send in your favorite song and we will sing those together. #47 - 'God who made the earth and heaven'. I saw this song coming up and I was so excited when I saw - I didn't recognize it by the title 'God who made the earth and heaven' but if you look on the right side it's the welsh title and that is how I recognized it because this is a beautiful welsh song. I had this one at my wedding and I looked everywhere online to find the music for this not knowing that it was right here in the hymnal. #47 - Okay, this is from ndong in gabon, elisio in Mexico and joyce in kenya.

We're going to sing all four stanzas - 'God who made the earth and heaven'. Father in Heaven, you are with us all through the day, all through the night. Sometimes our days feel like nights. Like the words of this song say, you are with us all the time and you are with us until you come in the clouds of glory and we can cast our crowns at your feet and then you will still be with us for eternity. Father, may we be ready.

Come and live in our hearts. Fill us with your spirit. Be with us as we open up your word and we study together. May we be shining lights in this dark world for you. In Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by chris - pastor chris buttery. He is our family life and evangelism pastor and he's bringing us the lesson this morning. Well good morning. Good morning. Good morning.

Am I on? Can you hear me? We are on. Good to see - now I'm on - good to see you this morning. Is that me? Am I scratching? Was that - is it the cat? I - we've got it - we've got it all sorted out and - wonderful, beautiful songs sung again this morning and you all sounded - not you all - all of you sounded - sounded good and - just so glad that we could be together - gather together and study God's word in this setting. What a - what a wonderful Sabbath morning. Great - great place to be on Sabbath and we're going to go into our lesson here, of course, again this morning.

We're looking at major lessons from minor prophets and we are on lesson #3. We're in the book of Joel and certainly there's a lot of good things we're going to get into here in just a few moments. Before we get into the lesson, however, I want to definitely welcome not only those that are here, but those that are viewing online or on tv or listening by radio and we want to make a special offer available to you. It's a little sharing book entitled 'the name of God' by our very own Pastor Doug Batchelor. It's offer #779 and you can call in to receive this offer by calling 1-866-study-more or -866-788-3966.

We want to make this little book available to you. A lot of questions relating to God and his name and is there a specific name we should call God? And pastor Batchelor tackles that and looks at the nature of the name of God, examines how Christians should relate to the name and addresses the controversies surrounding the name of God, so it's a great - great special offer. Special offer #779, so please call in to receive your copy. Our memory text this morning as we get into our study of the book of Joel and - is found in Hosea - that's not found in Hosea - what am I doing? It's found in Joel chapter 2, verse 11 and it says, "the Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful.

Who can endure it?" If we were to summarize the book of Joel, we would summarize the book of Joel by suggesting that the prophetic day of the Lord is approaching. We're going to talk a little bit about the day of the Lord and - which will be a day of judgment for those who refuse and rejected Jesus and his truth - saving grace - but it will be a day of deliverance for God's faithful people - those that serve him and follow him with all of their hearts. Much advice, interestingly enough, is offered in the corporate world on how to become a somebody when you might be a nobody and if you find yourself on the ground floor and you want to work your way up to the top, there are certain things you want to do in order to make that a - become a reality. After all, nobody wants to be a nobody - you want to be a somebody - at least so they say. Some of the suggestions include - that is, scaling it to the top - having money, - I'd fail right there - having street credibility, making a big move, being an expert, taking risks, having a spiel - that was kind of a strange one - the idea behind that was always have something unique to say - something different to say or even look unique - whether it be your hair or whether it be your clothes, just be unique - have a spiel, and so the list goes on.

Have a lady with significance is another one. Talking with people and having power - most people I know, though, would probably shy away from wanting to be in the limelight - not coveting prestige or power. Joel - Joel, apparently, was a nobody and, by that, I mean we don't know much about Joel - his family, his history - all of a sudden he appears on the scene as a mouthpiece for the most high God. That speaks volumes in and of itself. Joebody - Joel is a somebody - not in the corporate world sense, but in the Kingdom of God sense.

In understanding the qualifications of individuals that God calls to do an important work, we can be pretty sure that Joel possessed some of those very qualities - humility, meekness, energy, and trust in divine power. Just a little bit about Joel is his name. I guess we know his name and we know his father's name. His father's name is - was pethuel - and you read that in Joel chapter 1 and verse 1. Joel's name means 'yahweh is God' - 'yahweh is God' and if we talk about Joel's ministry - the context in which he appears on the scene, he probably occurred - and there are varying debates or questions as to when Joel actually appeared on the scene, but it's likely that he appeared around the early years of josiah, king of judah when assyria was becoming a has-been nation and Babylon was becoming - was still pretty insignificant at that time.

This may be why these - that may be why these kingdoms aren't mentioned in this particular book - the book of Joel - why no king is mentioned either. No king is mentioned in the book of Joel - why no king is mentioned may be related to the fact that josiah came to the throne as a child. Remember, he came when he was eight and therefore lived under a regent, perhaps. This period is also substantiated by tyre and sidon - those two countries - cities - they were mentioned in the book of Joel in chapter 2 and their hostility toward judah in the last decade of history, which occurred about the same time as this particular period - and also by the mention of the Greeks - the Greeks are mentioned in the book of Joel. The Greeks didn't have any particular substantial role in history until about the 7th century b.

c. - Around the same time as Joel. Now if these things were the case, then Joel's prophecies came after Israel, that is, the northern kingdom, went into assyrian captivity and about years prior to judah being besieged by the terror of the east, king Nebuchadnezzar. Joel - it would also mean that Joel would be a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. So just giving us a little bit of context helps us understand the times that Joel lived and why his message was so important and pertinent at that particular time.

Josiah's grandfather was wicked king manasseh. The Bible has a lot to say about king manasseh. It's recorded in the Bible that he made judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err and to do worse than the heathen, according to 2 Chronicles chapter 33. Why would king manasseh be considered to have done worse than the King - than the nations of the heathen or the heathen nations? Because it's not necessarily suggesting that king manasseh did worse things - I don't think there could be worse things done than the nations surrounding Israel at that time. There were pretty wicked - pretty vile things that were done.

It is suggesting that manasseh knew better - knew the true God and knew better and still practiced idol worship and all of these atrocities and, therefore, made him - made Israel sin worse than the heathen. Fortunately, during the time of the previous king, before manasseh, hezekiah, many had developed spiritual strength and, therefore, they were able to resist and stand against some of the prevailing iniquity. Sadly, though, manasseh silenced many voices of opposition and the Bible says he shed much innocent blood. The prophet Isaiah - Isaiah there it is - the prophet Isaiah - the prophet Isaiah was one of them after fifty faithful years of bearing God's word to the southern kingdom of judah. Manasseh did turn his heart over to God later in his life, after being taken captive by a band of assyrians, but his repentance came too late to stop the tide of atrocities witnessed in judah.

Among those whose life was shaped beyond recall by manasseh's influence was his son, ammon, who was the next king. His reign only lasted two years - after he was killed by his own servants. Josiah was ammon's son. Josiah was ammon's son and at the tender age of eight he was crowned king of judah. Despite his father and his grandfather's vile influences, the Bible records that josiah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.

And this comes as good news to those who feel that their past and their heritage has a stranglehold on them and that to live any differently than what they've observed and been taught is an impossibility. If God's grace can reach down into the vileness and wickedness of josiah's family tree and rescue him, then God's grace is able to do the same for you and me today, amen. No doubt about it. There is no excuse because God's grace is sufficient. 'Where sin abounded, God's grace did that much more abound.

' Well, the book of Joel is basically divided into two parts: chapters 1 - chapter 1 through chapter 2, verse 17 describes a devastating locust invasion followed by a drought. And then chapter 2, verse 18 through the end of the book - chapter 3, verse 21, or thereabouts, highlights God's promise of restoration to divine favor. That's really the basics of the book of Joel. The national disaster experienced by judah is used by Joel as an appeal for repentance and there's several appeals throughout the book of Joel and we'll look at some of those - and it also provides a dissertation on the day of the lord - what the day of the Lord actually looks like. So, in short, disaster strikes judah when locusts attack leaving every green thing bare.

Joel seizes on this opportunity of judgment to proclaim God's message. Although the locust judgment has been devastating, it's nothing compared to the day of the Lord when God will destroy his enemies and vindicate his people. That's a basic summary of the book of Joel. You know, I learned - as I was reading through the book of Joel and studying the lesson and preparing, I was led to see this: God allows trouble to lead us to repentance so that we might be filled with his spirit propelling us into service and experience safety and security only in him. We'll talk a little bit about that here this morning during our study.

So turn with me to Joel chapter - Joel chapter 1 and we're going to be on Sunday's lesson - 'a national disaster'. Really, this chapter is about the dangers of disobedience - the dangers of disobedience. In verse 2 we're told, "hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?" The judgment that was coming on judah was so great that it couldn't be paralleled. As a matter of fact, the only other time in the Bible that I understand this type of declaration was made, was made with regard to the ten plagues that fell upon Egypt. There was nothing to be paralleled to those devastating plagues.

Verse 3 - it says, "tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation." The judgment was so great that it couldn't be paralleled and the judgment was so great that it could not - never be forgotten by the next generation. It was to be told to them. It was to be delivered to them - not just as a part of casual conversation, but a tool to use in discussion in teaching the children about not only God's judgments and what brings God's judgments, but also about God's tender mercy - what brings God's mercies, you see. So what is this destruction? What is this devastation? Verse 4 of chapter 1, "what the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust has left the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten." Some commentators suggest here that the locusts - these four different types of locusts or stages of locusts could be likened to the palmer worm, which is a cutting locust. Then you have a swarming locust, then the canker worm, which is an unwinged type of locust and then caterpillar and it's - most commentators just can't figure out what that thing is and, therefore, I'm not even going to attempt to try.

But irrespective of what they are and whether there are different ones or not, what we notice here is that whatever was left by one was ravaged by the other and what was left by the one who ravaged was completely annihilated by the next. I mean, this - this was complete and utter desolation and destruction. It's interesting, in Proverbs chapter 30 and verse 27, the wise man says, "the locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks;" and you'll notice, throughout the imagery in the book of Joel - the imagery used regarding the locusts - referring them to - likening them to an army and certainly they were that way. The locusts have no king yet they advance in rank. No one to round them up.

No one to gather them up. No one to produce a rallying cry, they just March and when they March it is trouble. God uses small things to get our attention. And it works - that's right - and it works. The small things - well, let's go on to verse 5 - it goes on to say, "awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it has been cut off from your mouth.

" The judgments are so severe here in the book of Joel that they even arouse - they're called to arouse the inebriated. It's just like God to cut off those comforts that are abused for luxury and excess - food and fuel for base lusts. The more we place happiness - it's interesting, this is another lesson for us here - the more we place happiness in the gratification of our senses, the more we feel when those things are removed. So here folk are dependent upon - on grapes - the grape of the vine and, of course, fermented in that case. But just think about the joy of sipping on fresh grape juice - how wonderful that is - it's not so much a luxury anymore.

You know, when I grew up, we had to drink water all the time. My cousins were drinking soft drinks or pop - they were drinking all type - cordial - we don't call that cordial here, you call that kool-aid - they were drinking all types of stuff but no, no, no we grew up on water. Man, we felt like we were missing out. Now if we're dependent on those things - pepsi and seven-up and coca-cola and kool-aid - imagine the day when that stuff is removed and you're not used to drinking water. Jesus said - not your kool-aid will be sure but your water will be sure.

The more we place happiness in the gratification of our senses, the more we feel when they are removed. If we - in a special sense, I think this is a call where God is saying, 'if they won't hear my word' - he's talking to the drunkard - 'if they won't hear my word then maybe they'll heed the rod.' And so God startles judah and gets their attention. Verse 8, "lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth." The loss of essential foods are equated to the loss of a new husband. The more - of course, the more we're whetted to creature comforts, the harder it is to part with them. You can see the lessons that we can learn from this - this powerful little book.

There is so much in here that we just don't have the time to cover it all. Look at verse 10, look at what happened: "the field is wasted, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails." The field is laid waste. Grain, of course, is a - was a staple - made - making breads and different things. The new wine was saved when the old was finished and oil was an essential ingredient in food and also was fuel for light. And so, when these things were diminished and these things were gone, destroyed, annihilated, and - by the way, when the locusts came through and ravaged - I mean, they ravaged everything to the point where even the topsoil was damaged.

And when you start damaging the soil and damaging topsoil, it takes some time and even years to - to replenish and to create healthy soil, once again, for growth. And so, when they came through this was a complete disaster - it wasn't just temporary. A little - you know - tornado comes through or winds blowing off leaves and fruit dropped to the ground. This was complete devastation - it would take years for judah to regain all that had been lost here. Certainly God was using these means and methods to get their attention to lead them to faithfulness to him.

Psalm 104, verses 14 and 15 says something very interesting. Psalm 104, verses 14 and 15 - and while we're looking at some verses here, someone has Deuteronomy 28, verses 38-47 - it's a big one. Alright, you're up for the task I take it? Alright. Awesome. We're going to get to you in just a moment, but we're here in Psalms 104, verses 14 and 15.

The Bible says God "causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth," - now notice the three things that he mentions: the wine and wine that makes the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man's heart. Three essential ingredients. These things were taken away from judah through the pestilence of locusts and these were three staples that highlighted God's favor upon his people. So God's people were basically being punished for lack of recognition and gratitude toward God for these provisions. In verse 12 it says - in Joel chapter 1, verse 12, "the vine has dried up, and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also," - which is the date tree - where dates grow - "and the apple tree, all the trees of the field are withered; surely joy has withered away from The Sons of man.

" Not only the necessary foods became scarce because of drought but so did foods of commodity. Can you imagine if devastation hit the west coast - especially here in California? We were driving up from - through New Mexico/Arizona up through southern California to get here when we - when we pulled in here on December the 6th. Passing through just orchards of pecans - is it pecans? Pecan - pecan - pecan? Pistachio - pistachio, there it is - almonds - all types of orchards we were driving through. Selma - isn't that where the - isn't that the raisin capital of the world? I'll be staying away from that place - I don't like raisins. But you've got a lot of wonder - a lot of wonder going on in this region.

Imagine if devastation hit here, what it would do not only for the state of California but across the states and countries where this food that's grown in abundance is exported. It's an amazing thing to consider. Habakkuk chapter 3, verses 17 and 18 says, "though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls - yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Look at the contrast here. Here in Joel chapter 1 and verse all these things are cut off and it says at the end of verse , 'surely joy has withered away from The Sons of man' - but Habakkuk just kind of turns it all around. He says, whether there is no fruit tree, whether there is no oil, whether there is no wheat or grain, yet there be no herd in the - no cattle in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the God of my salvation.

' If we're placing our confidence in things and production manufacturers and the skill and labor of individuals, we're placing our confidence in the wrong place. We give God thanks for individuals that are doing a great job to provide the foods that we enjoy, but we should place our confidence in God who provides all these things, right? Amen. If these things are removed - and some of us have experienced, perhaps, something like that. We don't have the commodities we perhaps once enjoyed. We still give God thanks and joy in the God of our salvation.

Deuteronomy chapter 28, verses -47 talks about the results of disobedience - it gives us some context to what we're reading here - how God warned Israel, through his instrument, Moses, what would happen if they disobeyed him. Thank you very much. Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.

Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume. The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: and they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of the heart, for the abundance of all things;" thank you very much. Well read - long passage there but, basically, we understand here when we read the book of Joel and we see the devastation coming upon his people. It's not like they didn't know. It's not like they didn't understand the dangers of disobedience. One thing we've also got to understand here this morning is that God's not an arbitrary God.

The judgments that came upon judah, God didn't just say, 'okay, I'm cracking the whip and I'm just completely upset and I'm losing control here.' And boom! - Sends in locusts. God is not arbitrary. He's not mean or vindictive. Breaking God's law is like breaking the laws of nature. If I defy the law of gravity and I think I can fly from the pinnacle of this roof, it ain't gonna be pretty - I won't be teaching any more Sabbath schools, that's for sure.

If we - if we break the law of gravity there's going to be consequences. If you break God's law there are consequences. In essence, when a person or a people step away from the protection of God's law, they make themselves exposed to the enemy and the enemy, then, has his day. He has - he toys with people and with God's people when they remove the protection that surrounds them and prevents harm from coming to them, you see. So obedience is a good thing.

It's not a negative thing. We don't obey because we have to obey, we obey because we love God and we know that these things he asks from us are good for us and better us and cause us to give him honor and glory. Well, we move on to Monday's lesson - 'blowing the trumpet'. Blow the trumpet - this was - this chapter, for me, I think I'd like to call this 'a call to repentance' if I were to rename the chapter. Really we're looking here at Joel chapter 1, verses 13 through chapter 2, verse 17.

We won't go through all of it, but in verse 13 it says, "gird yourselves and lament, you priests; wail, you who minister before the altar; come, lie all night in sackcloth, you who minister to my God; for the grain offering and the drink offering are withheld from the house of your God." So the minister - or the priest - who served at the altar, who attended the things of God, who normally called to rejoice and to sing, are called upon to mourn. Why? Well, ultimately, the lack of produce meant a lack of offerings. A lack of tithes and offerings brought to the storehouse would mean 1) there would be nothing to offer for the meat and the drink offerings - symbols of Christ and his righteousness. And #2, the priests would, essentially, become unemployed. All in all - all in all the mourning was encouraged because the rites were about - and the ceremonies were about to come to an end, which meant that there would be no more daily reminders of God's plan of salvation for the people.

Worship would be closed down. The church doors would be shut. So ministers and priests mourned for what's come upon the land and they were especially to mourn because of the lack of piety among God's people. Look at verse 14, "consecrate" - it goes on to encourage - "consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord." Hmm - plenty of tears had been shed because of the destruction of the land and now they're directed toward repentance and toward humiliation before God. This is - this is serious.

Now, if you compare this verse with chapter 2 and verse 1 - jump down there - "blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain!" - It's like an enemy is about to invade upon a city and so priests blow those trumpets - let - let us - let the people know that trouble is coming. This is - this is a serious call to - not arms, but a serious call to prayer. Compare also with - yes - verse 16 and verse 17 of chapter 2: "gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, 'spare your people, o lord, and do not give your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them." This was a call to repentance - a time to consecrate for a fast - a solemn assembly - bring everyone together - the men and the women, the children and the babes - everyone was to come. At a time of serious national peril there was a call for a sacred assembly.

There was a call for repentance. There was a call for prayer. There was a call for fasting. There was a call for families and members of the church to come together to cry unto the lord. And what we do is to be done for him - not just for show.

Verse 15, chapter 2, "blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders," - if you go back to chapter 1 and verse 15 it says, "alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the almighty. So here is where we're introduced to the day of the Lord. Now, right away you know that the day of the Lord is equated with what? Destruction. Right away you know it's equated with destruction. As a matter of fact, the day of the Lord is mentioned twenty times in the writings of the old testament prophets.

It's always used as a time of divine judgment upon a city or nation as opposed to just a person. So when you read about the day of the Lord, it's with reference to a group of people - a nation or a town or city. Contrasting the day of the Lord with what we might term 'the day of man' or as the Bible calls it, the day of salvation or an acceptable time, which is the time we're living in now where God's mercy lingers waiting for people to respond to his grace. Conversely, the day of the Lord is a time when, historically, the probation of a city or a nation, was closed and ultimately, when the destiny of men was forever fixed - was set in stone. The day of the Lord against judah was a day when the nation was no longer permitted to continue in its rebellious ways.

God drew a line in the sand, he said, 'that's enough.' The same was - it was the same for the northern kingdom, it was the same for Egypt, it was the same for edom, and it was the same for other nations. So what happens to a city or a nation during this time - during the time of the day of the Lord - is similar to what happens when human probation closes prior to the return of Jesus Christ. The day of the Lord on the cities and nations serves as an illustration - as Zephaniah chapter 1, verse 14 tells us - as an illustration of the 'great day of the Lord'. When probation closes, the seven last plagues fall and then Jesus comes to rescue his people. That's what the day of the Lord is about.

It's pretty simple, isn't it? The day of the Lord in the old testament referred to close of probation on cities and nations because of prevailing iniquity - they just reach a point of no return. They were never going to turn to the Lord. They were sowing their oats and it was going to be just very challenging, very difficult - and God said, 'that's enough.' And the same will happen one time very soon - even in this day - before Jesus comes human probation will close. Grace will no longer be available and that's why we need to make our calling and election sure today, friends. Amen? Sure.

Look at chapter 2, verses 12 through 14 - we read, "'now, therefore,' says the Lord, 'turn to me with all your heart,'" - now that this devastation has come - now that - now that you've called a solemn and sacred assembly - "'now, therefore,' says the Lord, 'turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and he relents from doing harm. Who knows if he will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him.'" This is a call to repentance. In essence, it's suggesting here that the nation had sinned as a nation and, therefore, there was a call for national repentance. There's always room for corporate repentance and certainly room for personal repentance as well.

What is - what is true repentance? If you would look in 2 Corinthians - we're not going to go there - chapter 7 and verse - and, by the way, I do have a Bible text - Romans 2:4 - someone has that for us this morning - Romans chapter 2 and verse 4 - great. Thanks eddie. Fantastic. Romans chapter 2 and verse 4 - we're going to get to you in just a moment. What is true repentance versus false repentance? Corinthians chapter 10 talks about true and false repentance.

False repentance is when somebody is sorry because they got caught or they're sorry because of the consequences that they're - that they're enduring. True repentance, however, is a sorrow for sin in that it has hurt the great heart of God and it's a turning away from that sin, you see. That is true repentance. That's why the Bible writer says, 'rend your heart and not your garments.' Of old you would rend your garments if you were - if you were - if you'd sinned - if you were beside yourself - great grief for personal sin - anger, even, toward yourself that you could do so foolishly. Repentance is a call for contrition and humility.

That's what it means to rend your heart and not your garments. In the Matthew henry commentary he says, 'when we are greatly grieved in the soul for sin so that it even cuts us to the heart to think how we have dishonored God and disparaged ourselves by it, when we conceive an aversion to sin and earnestly desire and endeavor to get clear of the principles of it, then we rend our hearts for it and then' - I like what he says here - 'and then God rends the heavens and comes down to us with mercy.' Man, what an awesome thing - rending the heart not the garments and God will rend heaven to bring you mercy and to bring you salvation. What a wonderful thing. What happens when we truly repent? There's a change that takes place in the heart. The Holy Spirit comes in and leads us in the way everlasting.

Is it God's intentions that judgment brings us to repentance? Well, we could certainly say yes. We've been - we've been reading this here this morning. God's judgments aren't certainly - are not certainly to lead us to repentance, they're to get our attention. And in getting our attention we turn our eyes toward God and it is God's goodness that leads us to repentance. Psalms 130, verse 4 says, "but there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.

" Romans 2, verse 4. Romans 2, verse 4, "or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" So, rightly understood, instead of emboldening us to continue in sin, God's goodness is the most powerful inducement to repentance. If you feel - for just a moment - if you feel at any time a little cool - a little calloused - to the grace of God, just spend time looking at God's goodness. The best place to look at God's goodness is in the life of Jesus. No better place to go to look at the life of Jesus than the four gospels and next to that you've got to crack open that monumental work called 'the Desire of Ages' - what a powerful book that is.

Soaking in the goodness of God, leading us to repentance and contrition and humility of heart to allow God to do the work he needs and wants to do in our hearts in preparation for an eternity with him. Tuesday's lesson talks about the gift of God's Spirit and there are allusions - or not - I shouldn't say allusions - there are allusions - when we talk - when the Bible writer talks about - in verse 23 of chapter 2 - talks about the former and the latter rain, there are allusions to the Holy Spirit when he refers to the former and latter rain. And God promises when there's repentance and where there's revival and reformation he'll heal the land - he'll restore what's been lost - and that's what chapter 2 and chapter 3 - chapter - the last part of chapter 2 and most of - all of - chapter 3 is really about. God restoring - restoring what has been lost because of disobedience and he promises the former and the latter rain. In verses 28 and 29 of chapter 2 God says that he'll pour out his spirit upon all flesh in the last days.

Now, a partial fulfillment was met - of this prophecy - in the day of - days of the apostles. Peter - you remember - quoted from Joel on the day of pentecost and he said, 'this is being fulfilled in your ears'. As the Holy Spirit was poured out on them they spoke in different languages. Great power attended their work. Many were converted and were baptized and God says that he will pour out his spirit upon all flesh.

He made a partial fulfillment then, in the days of the apostles, but it will meet and have its final great day just prior to the day of the Lord. Look at verse 31. We get the context here, just so we understand. All these - he talks about the Holy Spirit being poured out upon all flesh, sons and daughters prophesying, old men dreaming dreams, young men seeing visions. Also on my maidservants and - 'menservants and maidservants I will pour out my spirit in those days.

' What days? Look at verse 31. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord." Now we know - we've already studied briefly what will - reviewed what the day of the lord is about. This is a direct reference to the close of human probation - the seven last plagues - and the return of Jesus Christ. And so God says, prior to this my spirit will be poured out and a great revival and a corresponding reformation will attend - attend my people and the work will be done. In the - in that excEllent piece called 'the Great Controversy' we're told that this prophesy is to meet its final accomplishment in the manifestation of divine grace which will attend the closing work of the gospel.

So, in other words, we ain't seen anything yet. But our call here today is to ready our hearts daily to receive more of his spirit - the former rain - the teacher of righteousness who is Jesus so that we might be ready for greater outpouring. You know - you know there was - on one particular new year's day, the tournament of roses parade - there was a beautiful float that was following down the road and suddenly it sputtered and it quit and stopped moving. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas.

The amusing thing was that this particular float represented the standard oil company. With all of its vast resources they were out of gas. What a shame that the church has at its disposal the vast resources of the Holy Spirit and yet we sputter along because we've not availed ourselves of his mighty power. He is the third person of the Godhead - a representative of Jesus Christ on the earth and he brings power to our lives. Well, time could be - we're coming to a close here.

We - Wednesday's lesson talks about proclaiming God's name and calling on the name of the Lord - and this isn't a call to try to figure out exactly what God's name is - whether it be yahweh or jehovah or God or lord - no. Jesus reminds us that his father - The Father's name is hallowed. If his name is hallowed I would be more careful to use it - much like I would not be inclined to use queen elizabeth's name all the time just at whim. Anyway, when the Bible mentions God's name, it's referring to his person and his character and when we're called to call upon the name of the Lord we're encouraged that we will be saved. I'm going to jump over a couple of Bible verses.

One of you won't be able to read a verse here, but I want to run down to Thursday's lesson and leave us with some encouragement this morning. Chapter 3 of Joel talks about God's - God's willingness to restore the land. Verses 1 through 15 is a picture of desolation coming to those who hurt God's faithful people. God is going to stand up for his people. Verse 2 talks about the valley of jehosephat where God will judge the nations - where he will enter into a legal controversy with - with the nations.

Now, if Israel had expanded her borders it would have invited the anger of the surrounding nations, but God would have intervened. Israel failed - it's a very important point here we need to understand, so now we need to look for the fulfillment of these predictions, as mentioned in Joel, of these predictions in principle in the church today. The conflict described here in this chapter describes - described here - will take on the nature of a desperate attempt by satan to destroy the remnant as referred to in Revelation chapter 12 and verse . We're told in 'great controversy' page 656, 'as he, satan, influenced the heathen nations to destroy Israel, so, in the near future, he will stir up the wicked powers of earth to destroy the people of God.' But again, God will intervene on behalf of his people. At the second coming the wicked will be destroyed and after the thousand years, later raised to meet the second death.

Some - someone's got psalm 32, verse 7 - okay brother - fantastic. Michael's got that. We're going to get to you in just one moment. Psalm 32, verse 7. Let me read for you a couple of verses that encourage us.

"At that time" - Daniel chapter 12 and verse 1 - it says, "at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over The Sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book." And in psalm chapter 9 and verse , "the Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." What wonderful promises we have, from God's Word, that God will protect us and keep us. Psalms 32, verse 7, Michael, thank you. Psalms 32, verse 7, "you are my hiding place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

" Amen. There were some pioneers making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that they had opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west stretching for miles across the prairie and soon it was evident that the dry grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them at great rapidity. They'd crossed a river a day before but it would be impossible to go back before the flames got to them.

One man only seemed to have understanding as to what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them and when a space was burned the whole company moved back behind it. As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in horror, 'are you sure we will not all be burned up?' The leader replied, 'my child, the flames cannot reach us here for we are standing where the fire has been.' It's a picture of the believer who has found refuge in Jesus. A poem says, 'on him almighty vengeance fell, which would have sunk a world to hell. He bore it for a chosen race and thus becomes our hiding place.

' If we have found refuge in Jesus today, we will find that we will have refuge in him when trouble - lots of trouble - will come. We need to know what's coming but we don't need to fear what's coming because Jesus is mighty to save and we have made him our lord and our Savior. Amen? Sure. For those watching online or on tv we want to - or listening on by radio, we want to make sure you call in for your - our free offer here this morning. It's 'the name of God' by Pastor Doug Batchelor.

It's offer #100 - sorry - 779. You want to call -866-study-more or -866-788-3966. We're so grateful that you joined us today, thank you for studying here with us this morning in the sanctuary. God bless you today.

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