12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; 13 tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.
Joel is an interesting book. It mentions no kings or external events to help scholars date its writing, and we know nothing about the prophet “Joel, Pethuel’s son” (Joel 1:1) or about his father. Yet Joel’s profound, heartfelt appeal for repentance echoes for every generation of God’s people. Our God, the prophet said, is “very patient,” “ready to forgive.” God’s mercy is always there, but we can only claim it honestly when we truly turn away from what is wrong in our lives.
“Tear your hearts and not your clothing” may sound odd. But “in the ancient world people would tear their clothing to show that they were sorry and wanted a change of circumstances…. Joel urges people to make sincere and lasting changes and not simply outward signs.”* That was also a key to the message Jesus, John the Baptist and the apostles preached. In your own life, what’s the difference between simply trying to look sorry and genuinely choosing to change? Have a great week.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006