While reading this text, I was overcome with the words or our Lord speaking through His Prophet Joel. He writes to Him concerning His people, and I saw us, paralleling the text. Their actions had placed them into a weakened position.
Though designed to be lenders, they weren’t even borrowers; they were the tail and not the head, not above, but positioned as beneath. Though bearing the name of Yahweh, the living God, they benefited not from His presence, power and provision. Though in covenant with the Lord, their unwillingness to keep His commandments, left them out of favor with the Lord, placing them in exile from God’s gift to them, and under the authority of a Kingdom not verbally submitted to the authority of the Lord.
Waiting to hear from the Lord, Joel cries out a Word from heavens gate, the Word they had been waiting for came. A Word of restoration. A Word of reconciliation. A Word of recovery. A word of renewal. A Word burst forth from the Man of God, notifying the Elders, and all inhabitants of the land, God is moving. The suffering that had been experienced in the past and presence, would be a history referred to by generations to come as a reminder not just to fear the Lord, but to be obedient to His Word. The time would be a reminder to follow His commandments, and to love and serve Him alone, while not seeking the deeds of the flesh and putting idols before him. Though Yahweh is the one, true and living God, He is jealous of the man made gods that had captured his people, and because these gods were not living, the life of these gods were in the hearts of the people who foolishly worship that which was powerless, though in covenant with God.
God speaks to his people in the third chapter.
The Lord roars from Zion;
from Jerusalem He sounds forth His voice.
The heavens and the earth shake.
But the Lord is a refuge for His people;
He is a stronghold for the citizens of Israel.
I was shaken by our God, who Joel records will “roar”. The Prophet says “The Lord roars”!
I recalled the day, as I am sure many of you will, when you first heard the voice of the Lord. It’s that moment when you are walking across the earth, as a wild animal through the jungle. You wander through consuming all you can, taking advantage of every opportunity, as though every experience was designed for you. You waddled in the lows of sin, laying flat faced in the same pit the prodigal son worked in, riding the joys of sin as one hopped up on caffeine and sugar, and slowly loosing grip as you attempt to hold on to last nights high, eventually bottoming out into a pit of remorse and regret. Then in the quiet, as you navigated life either unaware of the presence of the Lion, or had yet to have a personal experience with the Lion, you hear the power of His roar bellowing throughout the land.
He walked into your life boldly, causing you to reshape your life, considering your ways, and not aligning them with His Kingdom rule. Understanding that law breakers of the circle, will be exposed to suffering as well as the shame that accompanies living outside of the law. His “roar” stems from the same place that spoke the world into existence. He recalls in the first chapter of Genesis that he simple spokes words, and there was, and now Joel says that this same God, filled with power, opens His mouth and “roars”. This Lion that sat in quiet, watching the destruction of His people and His creation, reaches a breaking point and cries out from the silence!
I sense that the Lord is growing tired of watching his people broken and suffering. He is tired of seeing us wasteful and neglectful. He cries tears seeing His Kingdom in ruins, and His people running about without concern for righteousness. He has been silent while people walk though His Kingdom leaning on a covenant, in which they are law breakers, depending on it to be their protection, while they experience the fruit of the evil one. He is tired of seeing us recite the lines of the adversary; loyal to his precepts, while the Word given to grow and prosper us sits idle bye, pregnant with potential, absent of a suitor. God is “roaring!”
How is He roaring? I know many of you are listening for His audible voice. Listen closely! God returns to His people via a Word from His Prophet. Joel stood flat footed in front of the people and recalled the Word of God to His people, not just reminding them of the covenant and what they could get from the covenant, but confronting them with how they ended up in their current predicament, and via the power of God’s Word which can’t return void unto Him. Oh that God’s Prophet would continue to stand firmly for and on the Lord’s Word. If only we could walk as a generation of servants, committed to pursue God and not worldly gains. If only our warriors would fight the fight of faith, not shortchanging God people for coins and bills. What type of roar would we hear? What type of roar is coming from our pulpits? Are they Words that make people cry out for God, or cry our to us? Are they Words that direct people to pursue Him, or chase possessions?
The Word shows us a pattern in the Spirit, that I want to highlight. He says “The Lord roars from Zion”. Who and what is Zion? Zion is His people. Zion are those that are submitted to His Word. Zion are those who are committed to live out His truth and carry forth His truth into the next Generation. God speaks His Word through His Prophet into His People, and the Word spoken will take root, and be returned unto God via His people; Zion.
Are you ready to roar?
Each week, hundreds and thousands of people fill the temple of God to worship God through psalm, petition Him through prayer, and be empowered through hearing His Word. The problem is not God, or His Word! The problem is Zion. We have apparently stumbled upon fallow ground, allowing the bird to eat up the seeds before they take root. The people of God lost all they had because they stopped living according to His Word, stopped confessing His truth, ceased to allow Him to order their steps, and thus found themselves in bondage. Sound familiar? We are favored, and suffering because we are not putting God in His rightful place.
God is ready to advance His Kingdom. He is ready to restore order to our families. He is ready to rebuild our communities. He is ready to prosper our businesses, but He must come first! Zion must not only have God in their hearts through a verbal confession, but must show forth fruit from a Word that has taken route in the heart of all who have heard.
In this, Joel continues, “from Jerusalem, he sounds fourth his voice.” This continues the above revelation, in that God is calling for Zion to sound out. Jerusalem is the city in which His people dwell. It is the central place where God’s house lay.
I saw people returning back to the house of God. Filling the seats, not to be entertained, but to be instructed. I see and army of thirsty people, eager to get beyond the milk and entertainment and tradition, but hungry for a relationship with the God that loved them so much, that He sacrificed for them, and kept them even while they were in bondage. I see Him wrapping His arms around those who have offended Him, and speaking words of life into their gate. I see His Words literally planted on the brains like seeds on rows in a field, taking root into the lives of all those who hear. I see Zion advancing as a unit, and not many parts, as His Word not just restores mankind’s relationship with God, but with each other. I know hear the voice of “the Lord roar from Zion,” and “from Jerusalem He sounds forth His voice.”
God reaches down with His hand into the smoldering ashes of our past fire for Him, searching for an ember. Just one ember from our past, in which He can renew and rekindle a fire. I see Him taking His Word, verse by verse, and laying it across our heart. With both hands, he shields the wind of the adversary attempting to blow out the growing flame. He leans over and breaths into our lives, slowly fanning, and adding on strip after strip, until the once smoldering fire, burst forth from our mouth as a raging fire from our tongues.
His voice cries out from Zion, moving from His temple, flows into the streets and begins consuming all in its path. Joel says, “The heavens and the earth shake.” Our God and His heavenly host are stirred up, preparing themselves to enter the land, breaking forth into the earthly realm, shaking the very ground on which the people of God advance. Our champion descend on His white horse, bearing a sword, bringing unity to between heaven and earth, laying to eternity all those who refuse to submit to the true and living God. Everything in caught with fear and trembling, even Zion.
But Joel gives us great news, and so too do I pass it to you. “But the Lord is a refuge for His people” As the Lord wages war with those who have not followed Him, consuming the land and all that dwell in it, Joel reminds us that “the Lord is refuge for His people”. His people will be saved. Those that bare His name are spared under the covenant set with Him. God will protect His children.
I love this because there are times when we are exposed to the same conditions as the world. It rains on the just and on the unjust. Famine comes through the city and all its inhabitants are affected. Floods run down the street, and house after house is consumed, “But the Lord”! We are often consumed with the sight or fear of immanent and perceived danger, “But the Lord”! I want to acknowledge that God is a refuge. In my own life, I have come through many circumstances, not equal to Paul, but a personal suffering of my very own, “But the Lord”, as I am sure you have.
We have all sat on the rocking boat, afraid of today’s wind, and tomorrows looming storm. We have all seen the clouds gathering and felt the moisture and coolness of the air as the seasons change and the storm draws near. We have heard the whistle of the tornado and fell the pull and push against our homes and vehicles as it destroys things miles away, and gives evidence of its ability cause lay to ruin all things in its path. And though facing destruction, we but our trust in the Lord to be our stronghold. He tells His people not to fear because its all a part of His plan. And while He tears down, He is also restoring and building up. He is placing His people back into their rightful state, calling them unto Him, as they advance through the streets.
I look around and see the infrastructure of all built being taken apart beam by beam, brick by brick. It seems the underground aqueducts are being exposed, and the citizens are reaching for buckets to retrieve their own resources. The roads that give us safe travel are now being held hostage, and the benefits of being a citizen of earthly kingdoms once again parallels Rome; pay tax and live. As we render unto Caeser, Jesus descended from His seat and said, render unto God that which is belongs to God. While man collects money to further feeding His flesh, God demands of man that which belongs to Him. You know, we were bought with a price. Our lives are not our own. And while man is satisfied with coins, God wont be satisfied until we surrender to Him our life!
He is ready to walk with us! I wondered to myself, What would happen is The Lord, The Prophet and Zion worked together. A strand of 3 is not easily broken I hear. The strength and harmony of each chord strummed at the same time, all fully working
together to bring about Kingdom and God’s will upon the earth. All levels and layers, working to full capacity to bring heaven to earth. All working to shake the very foundation of heaven and earth, making sure the truth of God was spread to the outermost parts of the earth. What if we all had a sense of urgency, and allowed the voice of God to boom from Jerusalem? What would happen if Zion once again walked boldly, not concerned about the response of a defeated foe?
Verse 17 says,
You will be convinced that I the Lord and your God,
dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain.
Jerusalem will be holy-
conquering armies will no longer pass through it.
Could it be that some of us are still not convinced? Hmp! “I the Lord am your God”! I hear Him say. All He has spoken will surely come to pass.