15 January 2014

Joel 2:1-17

"Blow the trumpet in Zion" (vv. 1, 15)


Part of today's passage is one of the set readings for Ash Wednesday, and it is not difficult to see why.  Against the almighty power of God we are powerless to do anything , except to repent and open ourselves to God's great mercy.

The passage is structured around two summons - the blowing of a trumpet - but they are very different in focus.

The first gives notice of a crisis - the coming of "the day of the Lord" (v. 1). It is the sounding of an alarm on the walls of Jerusalem. And well should the alarm be sounded given what is about to happen - "a day of darkness and gloom" (v. 2), the foretelling of "a desolate wilderness" (v. 3). It reads that the coming of a devastating military invasion.

The intention is to provoke an strong and urgent response, and this is the reason for the second trumpet (verse 15) - to give notice of a fast and to call the people together (verses 15-16) without exception. It signifies a complete change of heart from ignorance, complacency and disobedience to a remembrance of who God is, what God promises and what is required of God.

And this remembrance of God is revealed again in verses 14, which is itself a reference to Exodus 34:6-7, when God passed before Moses on Mount Sinai on the occasion that stone tablets containing the ten commandments were replaced. (The previous ones had been broken by Moses when he saw the idolatrous behaviour of the Israelites - Exodus 32:19-20.) Here again is another chance for the people to turn (or return) to God.

To Ponder

  • What causes you to turn to God? Why?
  • In verse 13, the people are commanded to rend their hearts and not their clothing. How can you demonstrate repentance in your daily living?

Bible notes author

Ken Kingston

Ken Kingston preaches in the High Wycombe Circuit. He has worked for the Connexional Team since 1992 in a variety of roles and has been involved in 'Called by Name' and 'Time to Talk of God' amongst others.