Sound the Alarm

Somebody said, “The problem with being a prophet is that nobody likes them.” That made me laugh. Prophets, those who hear the Lord’s Word and speak on His behalf, are given an unenviable task of calling for change and pointing out failure. We love the comforting words of the Gospel, the worshipful words of the Psalms, don’t we? But, oh those prophets.  They go on and on about judgment, death, and destruction.  Do you, like me, tend to leave them unread, unheard?  They do have a message for 21st century Christians: hard words, but important words, that make us sit up and take notice of the ways of our Holy God.

In my Scripture reading this morning, I went to one of those books, the work of Joel. He left us a little book, just 3 chapters, full of thunderous sermons. He lived in Judah about 800 years before Christ. The nation experienced a plague of locusts that stripped fields bare, leaving people and livestock on the brink of starvation. In those locusts, Joel saw a foreshadowing of a far worse plague, the invasion of foreign armies that God would allow.

He saw the decay of faith and, moved by the Spirit, cried out – “Sound the alarm in Jerusalem! Raise the battle cry on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a great and mighty army appears. Nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again.” (Joel 2:1-2, NLT)

As much as we may recoil from that type of words, we need them in our time, too. America, much like ancient Judah, hates those who raise their voices to call for a return to the Lord. “Shut up. Go home. Tell someone else your bad news.” But, the truth is, an alarm needs to be raised, a prophetic warning of the destruction that will inevitably follow rejection of the ways of the Lord God. When we are consumed with ourselves, without spiritual vision and values, we need brave souls who know God’s voice and fearlessly sound the alarm.

As I read Joel’s message I saw words of hope, too. He speaks of God’s faithfulness, His desire to save those who will turn to Him, leaving sinful ways. “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” (Joel 2:12-13, NLT)

It is a terrible mistake to take stock of our spiritual poverty and decide that there is no future, that we are headed without remedy for the junk heap of history.  Instead of exclusively railing on the failures ‘out there’  I believe the better choice today is for Christians to return to prayer, to genuine repentance, so that they can lead the way to spiritual renewal.

This nation I love is intoxicated with Self, staggering like a drunk, consumed with pleasure, many of us bent on doing our own thing with no thought to what is ‘right’ or ‘just’ or ‘good.’ Our worst sins are Self-will and disregard of God. Justice is compromised. Corruption is rampant. We are indulgent of ourselves, in most every way imaginable.

Americans who enjoy unparalleled wealth and power have made things their idols, a materialistic people. We are pleasure mad, chasing happiness in ever more diversions. Should anyone even suggest that it might be wise to pause and reflect, that we could benefit from humility, that God waits for us to ‘come home,’ there are only insults and dismissive words for that prophet. 

My prayer is that God, the Spirit, will place the spirit of the prophets in His people, that we will let His words come alive in us, that we will, ourselves, turn to Him, leading the way to repentance. Then, we will be able to turn the corner from judgment to hope. “Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rains he sends are an expression of his grace. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with wine and olive oil.” (Joel 2:23-24, NLT)

The words of Joel I love most promise the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who refreshes us like spring rains renew the earth. 

Here is a word from the Word. May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us.  ““Then after I have poured out my rains again, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike. “I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon will turn bloodred before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.

And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. There will be people on Mount Zion in Jerusalem who escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.” (Joel 2:28-32, NLT)


Send Revival Start With Me

We’re looking to Your promise of old
That if we pray and humble ourselves
You will come and heal our land
You will come
You will come

We’re looking to the promise You made
That if we turn and look to Your face
You will come and heal our land
You will come
You will come to us

Lord send revival start with me
For I am one of unclean lips
And my eyes have seen the King
Your glory I have glimpsed
Send revival start with me

Matt Redman © 1996 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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