Weep over your sin! – Joel 1

Weep over your sin! – Joel 1
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 8, 2016

My mother was a small bundle of fire that one did not cross. She is the one who made us march out into the yard and cut a switch off the lilac bush for our own whoopin’. If you do not know what a “whoopin'” is then you do not understand punishment. Her philosophy that is sadly lacking in our day and age was the punishment should fit the crime. We were never sent to our room, given a time out, or restricted from watching TV. Our punishments were dealt with immediately and a spanking consisted of only a couple of swats. In fact, we were expected to take our punishment and not “carry on” about it. Mom would remind us to stop our crying or she would “give us something to cry about”. She knew we had to weep over the wrong we had committed or we would not quit doing it. Being remorseful was part of what was expected. One had to weep over their sin.

We live in a day and age where far too many think that no one should face the consequences of their actions. This is not biblical. Joel, the son of Pethuel, the second of the twelve minor prophets, was, as is said, of the tribe of Reuben, and city of Bethoran. Joel prophesied in the kingdom of Judah; and it is the opinion of some critics that he did not appear there till after the removal of the ten tribes and the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Whatever the date, Joel foretold of events which would occur to the nation of Israel if they did not repent of their sin. Events so horrific that he had to describe them in terms his readers could understand. He was God’s messenger who desired that the Jewish people weep over their sins. Let’s find out what that means for us this morning…

READ: Joel 1:1-20

Good mothers try to impart wisdom to their children. Wash your hand before eating and after using the restroom, brush your teeth in the morning and before bedtime, get to bed early, exercise, do not watch too much TV or play too many video games, and eat all of your food; but what about morals? Good mothers teach their children about morality. Mothers know from their own experiences that ungodly behavior leads to personal destruction. Joel teaches us that…

I. Sin has devastating consequences! (Vv. 1-7)

The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.

1. Joel saw himself as a herald who came and spoke the truth to the people. So, his message begins, “The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers?” Joel’s message was from God. It was his word for the Israelites. They were to “listen” and respond to God’s question, “Has anything like this happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers?” After they had listened and understood what was about to occur, they were commanded to “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” God was going to use natural catastrophes to punish his sin-hardened people, “What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.” Starvation was a very real threat to this era. Food was dependent upon the weather, soil conditions, and whether vermin ate most of the crop or not! They understood what locusts could do to a crop. Yet, they were inebriated, drunk, in their contentment of personal sin toward God. So Joel tells them to, “Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips.” They would soon be sober! These locusts would snatch the “new wine” from their lips as they tried to drink it! However, these were not insects but rather “A nation” that “has invaded (God’s) land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness.” And like all invading armies of that day they would totally destroy everything and anyone in their way: “It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.” Sin has devastating consequences!

EXAMPLE: My mother would warn us over and over to be wise in the people we picked as our friends because she knew that “bad company corrupts good character.” Even if we maintain a friendship in order to gain some self satisfaction we will suffer from an ungodly one. Sin rubs off and soon we are making excuses for our own ungodly behavior instead of getting rid of the evil influence in our lives. The Israelites had allowed themselves to become lazy in their relationship with the world around them. Inter-marriages with others who did not honor the Living God, acceptance of worshipping false gods, and the acceptance of personal sin in the lives of their own priests had become common place. Personal and societal corruption and perversion was excused and venerated. Sound familiar? God would not be mocked; they were going to suffer the cost of the sin. Sin has devastating consequences!

My mother used to tell us that “Anyone can be sorry, but being sorry isn’t enough.” Like little children who are caught disobeying, the Israelites were quick to tell God they were “sorry” but their actions spoke volumes concerning the truth. Joel prophesied that…

II. Sin causes grief unless we repent! (Vv. 8-14)

Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the husband of her youth. Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the LORD. The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails. Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree– all the trees of the field–are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away. Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.

1. How sad is it when someone young dies, but how truly horrendous when a newly married bride does not even get to be with her new husband before he dies! God tells the Israelites through Joel that they were to “Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the husband of her youth.” This bride did not even get to share her marriage bed before her husband was taken from her and the Israelites were going to experience that kind of grief for their sin! In fact their “Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the LORD. The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails.” This means they could not do their daily sacrifices for their sin! This would be like Jesus telling us today, “I no longer want to or will hear your confession of sin!” In fact their sin was so great it was going to affect everything! Joel declares, “Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree– all the trees of the field–are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away!” They would experience spiritual and physical famine! We think we are so smart when we sin. We make all kinds of excuses for it and then disaster strikes because of our sinful behavior. What is the answer to our sin? What was the answer for their sin? Joel tells them, “Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly.” Their priests were to confess their sin and humble themselves before God all night! They were to “declare a holy fast” where no one ate or drank but instead spent their time in confession in a “sacred assembly” and contrition before God for their sin! Perhaps it is time for the churches of America to “Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.” Sin causes grief unless we repent!

EXAMPLE: The little boy stood outside of the classroom cry his lungs out. When asked what was wrong by a passerby he sobbed, “The teacher made me stand outside of the room!” When asked why he did not know why. Yet with further investigation it was learned that he had not only spoke out loud and out of turn in class but had made a snide comment to the teacher in front of the class, and she had therefore asked him to stand outside of the room for a moment. When asked what he should do in order to return to the classroom, he refused to respond. He knew he needed to apologize but he was unwilling to admit he had been wrong. When he got home his mother made him return to the school with her and tell the teacher he was sorry for disrupting the class. It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but it was one I never forgot. Sin causes grief unless we repent!

In our day and age we actually think we should not have to suffer any consequences for our actions that we should in fact be allowed to do whatever we want when we want to. My mother would say that this is just “stupid thinking”. Sadly, we see the results of unbridled our lives. Joel reminds us that…

III. We will suffer for our sin until we repent! (Vv. 15-20)

Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes– joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. To you, O LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the open pastures.

1. Just like a runaway train that cannot be stopped, the day will come when the results of ungodly behavior will be judged. The train wreck will occur. Joel laments, “Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.” Do we actually think we will not have to pay for our bad behavior? Do we think God will turn a blind eye? Can’t we see for our self the effect sin is having on our lives, the lives of others and our nation? The sinful Israelites couldn’t and neither can we. This is why Joel incredulously asks, “Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes– joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering.” Like meth addicts sinful people love their sin so much they can look at what it is doing to their lives and others and still not care! Yet the result of our addiction will catch up to us. The only answer is for the addict to stop abusing and stay sober. The only answer for the sinner is to recognize his sinful condition turn to the Lord and walk with him! Joel tells God, “To you, O LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the open pastures.” We will suffer for our sin until we repent!

EXAMPLE: My mother could not believe it when my father fell ill due to heart disease. He was a young man in his 30s, had hunted, hiked, and fished for decades. It resulted in years of poverty for our family. My mother became the main bread winner, working at manual labor jobs because of her lack of education. And what truly hurt was the fact that it could have been all avoided if he had not smoked. My father was never without a cigarette and smoked from two to three packs a day. It created weakened heart muscles and hardened arteries. We all tried to get my father to quit but nothing worked and he refused. He died at the age of 51 years leaving a wife and three children. We will suffer for our sin until we repent!

Conclusion:

Sin has devastating consequences! Sin causes grief unless we repent! We will suffer for our sin until we repent!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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