it

When Repentance Seems Too Late and God Seems Too Far

[Music]

[Music]

we are continuing in our series of some

of the Minor Prophets a series we called

Little Big Shot so if you weren't here

last week we're gonna be doing Joel

open-eyed mayhem Zephaniah Haggai over

the summer into September these are

books that are more unfamiliar to us

typically than familiar to us so these

are probably not and your top 5

devotional lists that you do you

probably have a lot of promises coming

out and maybe a few and actually Joel's

actually reference the fair amount in

the New Testament but we have our few

verses that remember and the rest of it

sort of becomes a blur these books can

feel a bit and accessible to us because

of the situation they're in the language

that they use and yet these books carry

great relevance to us these are God's

words that he inspired for people then

and us now so while maybe unfamiliar and

a bit inaccessible these are very

relevant for us so if you have your

Bibles with you open up to Joel chapter

2 and if you're new and you're thinking

my word where is Joel go about 3/4 of

the way through your Bible and you'll

find it it's between Hosea and Amos

which may also not help you very much

but that's where you'll find it so and

just keep going and don't be embarrassed

now for those of you that are

electronically driven user skip right

there right you just hit something and

can act like I knew right where it was

no you didn't you're cheating see Joel

chapter 2 if you missed last week's

message was on Joel 1 I encourage you to

go back and listen to it

because I think it's important that you

get the picture of the book and

understand its intent this is a short

book in one sense you could read this

all together and you could almost

summarize in a way a message we're

unpacking a little bit more but I want

you to get a picture of the book and the

intent of the book last week's message

was entitled when God shouts and we do

want to pay attention when God is

shouting and he is shouting through the

book of Joel so Joel chapter

to beginning in verse one and we're

gonna read through verse 17 I've been

told this morning's message when

repentance seems too late and God seems

too far which is probably the longest

tile I've ever had for a message when

repentance seems too late and God seems

too far Joel chapter 2 blow a trumpet in

Zion sound an alarm my holy mountain

that all the inhabitants of the land

tremble the day the Lord is coming it is

near a day of darkness and gloom a day

of clouds and thick darkness like

blackness there is spread upon the

mountains a great and powerful people

there like has never been before will be

again after them the years of all

generations fire devours before them and

behind them a flame burns the land is

like the Garden of Eden before them

behind them a desolate wilderness and

nothing escapes them their appearance is

like the appearance of horses and like

war horses they run as with the rumbling

chariots they leap on the tops of

mountains of the mountains like the

crackling of a flame of fire devouring

the stubble like a powerful army drawn

up for battle before them people are in

anguish all faces grope it pale like

warriors they charge like soldiers they

scale the wall they March each on his

way they do not swerve from their paths

they do not jostle one than their each

marches in his path they burst through

the weapons and are not halted they leap

upon the city they run up run upon the

walls they climb up into house as they

enter through the windows

like a thief the earth quakes before

them the heavens tremble the Sun and

Moon are darkened and the stars withdraw

their shining the Lord utters his voice

before his army for his camp is

exceedingly great he executes his

execute his word is powerful

for the day of Lord is great and very

awesome who can endure it yet even now

declares Lord return to me with your

with all your heart with fasting with

weeping and with morning and ran your

hearts and not your garments return to

the Lord your God for he is gracious and

merciful slow to anger and abounding in

steadfast love and he relents over

disaster who knows whether he will not

turn and relent and leave a blessing

behind him a grain offering and the

drink offering for the Lord your gone

blow the trumpet in Zion consecrate a

fast call a solemn assembly gather the

people consecrate the congregation

assemble the elders gather the children

even nursing infants let the bridegroom

leave his room and the bride her chamber

between the vestibule and the altar let

the priest the minister of the Lord weep

and say spare your people Lord and make

not your heritage a reproach a byword

among the nations why should they say

among the peoples where is their God

Lord again bless the reading and now the

preaching of this word this text God

that even if it does feel remote to us

may it be near to us as you are near to

us as your spirit is near to us God may

we hear your words respond to your words

see the grace in your words the warnings

in your words the inducements of your

words go please bless your people today

I pray in Jesus name Amen

we have probably all experienced the

time when maybe your favorite sports

team may be a team you then play

root it for you fall way behind in the

game and then you mount this furious

rally and you're just coming back and

see all the momentum changes and then

you only fall short cuz you'll run out

of time

remember coaching a game in high school

and my team we were down I think 17

points at halftime first third quarter

started and and we just it just was

getting from bad to worse and we were

down like 27 points and I called timeout

and just said the guys look we're gonna

full-court press the rest of the game

and we're either gonna be blown out and

lose by 50 we're gonna Mont now to come

back well sure enough didn't we man have

come back I mean in the crowd I mean the

crowds it just changed as bucket after

bucket steal after steal and there was

just this drama I mean people are just

starting to stand it was it was like an

NBA game at least in my mind and I was

the coach and it was just and they just

watch

and yet we fell a bucket sure 27 down to

a bucket short it was too little a

little bit too late you think about that

in sports all time these rallies that

just fall short it's too late they were

too far behind when you get older they

start to encourage you to do more and

more medical tests why because they want

to discover something wrong before it's

too late

I was just that the doctor this last

week for my physical my annual physical

that I have every three years

and and of course there's tests and and

all different things coming along I was

like hey we want to discover this before

it's too late I'm like I don't want to

know until it is too late I don't I want

to want to know like on my way out you

know and that's what I want to find out

hey buddy let's go what before it's too

late

I don't know if you're aware but just on

May 30th of this year two boats in the

Danube River in Hungary collide smaller

boat overturned 28 people drowned to

death some of the survivors here was

their comment the rescuers came too late

people were in the water trying to stay

on top but help came too late have you

ever felt it was too late for you or too

late for someone you know too late it

just feels too late to some degree that

is where Israel was in Joel in chapter 1

we looked at this great Locust invasion

I actually had an email this week that

there was actually a ladybug invasion in

California that showed up on the rather

weather radar so imagine a locust

invasion that would be massive and then

I talked about one in the States that

bigger than the size of California so in

Chapter one we have this great locust

invasion that was followed by drought

there's real disaster being brought one

by to Israel and it's being brought on

by God deliberately and then in Chapter

2 I believe what we have here is the

ongoing description of the locust swarm

believe that that's how I would read

this text and it's very dire I mean we

read in verse one blow a trumpet in Zion

sound an alarm on my holy mountain let

all in Hamlin

tremble for the day the Lord is coming

verse 2 a day of darkness and gloom like

blackness verse 3 fire devours before

them and behind them flame burns and and

then you describe the land the land

prior to them coming was like the Garden

of Eden

after a desolate wilderness and none

escaped and then we see who's behind all

this well it's the it's the Lord look at

verse 11 the Lord utters his voice

before his army God's the one who's

causing this disaster his camp is

exceedingly great he rescued his word is

powerful for the day of the Lord this

great theme this day of the Lord is

great and very awesome who can endure it

that is the backdrop that's what's

happening in Israel there is judgment

coming and it's to God's people

eventually the day of Lord will judge

God's enemies but right now this was at

and towards God's people he is the one

behind it and it is dire and you almost

wonder for Israel is it too late have we

gone too far and it's God now abandon us

but then we get to verse 12 and folks do

not miss verse 12 and in fact I think

you find the comments and the this

thought of verse 12 throughout the Bible

where there's the description of

disaster or problem and then you would

have but God you have the great

interruption oh this disaster they

deserve they deserve it no doubts and

yet you get to verse 12 and says this

yet even now yet even now declares the

Lord return to me with all your heart

yet even now he's saying this this is

what the prophet saying this was God

saying to the nation of Israel with all

their indifference to God all the

rebellion against God all of God's

judgment on there

it wasn't too late and he wasn't too far

he wasn't it wasn't too late and he

wasn't too far they were indifferent to

God for years they were rebellious to

God this is the history of Israel God

blesses they take for granted they

pursue their own pleasures their own

desire their own glory God judges they

they go into disaster they eventually

repent and return and God's rescuing

them over and over again but here the

question is oh is it too little too late

just God too far and Joel 2 says no no

God is not too far and it was not too

late I look just look and look at three

things this morning gonna look at them

briefly the call to repentance the

character of repentance and the

incentive for repentance first the call

to repentance look at verses 12 and 13

yet even now declares the Lord return to

me with all your heart with fasting with

weeping and with mourning and rend your

hearts and not your garments return to

the Lord your God for his gracious

merciful slow to anger and abounding in

steadfast love and he relents over

disaster there's call to return and

please notice it is an urgent call to

return to God verses 15 and 16

blow the trumpet folks when they blew

the trumpet in Zion this was dangerous

coming this was to gather the people to

garner the people to grab their

attention blow the trumpets this is what

they would have done when invaders were

coming blow the trumpets gather the

people here it is blow the trumpet in

Zion consecrate a fast call a solemn

assembly gather the people

concentrate the consecrate the

congregation and then look what he

saying

assemble the elders gather the children

even nursing infants let the bridegroom

leave his room and bridal chamber the

newlywed couple leave your honeymoon

this is urgent

drastic times call for drastic measures

serious saying calls for serious

response and so there's this call to

repentance it is an urgent call folks

this tells us God God is not only real

he is serious oh he is close and he is

loving but he is serious he is holy

Israel never approach God casually not

on Mount Sinai after his great

deliverance think about the great

deliverance of Israel from Egypt what a

god we have 10 plagues part the Red Sea

all for us because he's made us his

people he loves us he said it's

affection on us oh but when God's will

Mount Sinai they tremble and they don't

touch the mountain the temple speaks of

something of the holiness of God and the

great thing in the New Testament we have

access into that most holy place because

of Christ God is serious so folks we

don't want to be casual when he pursues

us we do not want to be casual when God

pursues don't delay repentance and it's

not too late to repent there is this

significant call this is significant

Israel oh you have gone far but it's not

too late you have rebelled you have

lived as though I don't exist

you have loved other things but it's not

too late but don't delay don't delay

Christian brothers and sisters please

don't delay today is the day today is

the day we have this great call for

repentance secondly the character of

repentance now is there a call for

repentance we now what that look like

people say what does that mean right is

repentance so it's a religious word and

we're just trying to think what would I

would I get on the street you know you

have those interviews in the street

where somebody's carrying a mic and they

ask you the question

you know what's the gospel what do you

think about Jesus what about this and

you ask questions

so what's repentance I wonder how the

world would answer what does it mean to

repent

well actually this text gives us some

clues of things that go into repentance

when we repent with all our heart look

at again at verse 12 yet even now yet

even now even at this late moment in the

game even with all that's going on even

now yet even now declares Lord return to

me with all your heart and notice what's

this expression heart fasting weeping

morning and by the way rend your hearts

not your garments so there was a

religious practice that you know what

when you're going through something you

just go through motions you rip stuff

you wear sackcloth but that can just be

external God's not interested in

religious duty alone apart from a heart

a genuine heart so rend your hearts not

your clothes what's God going for it for

here sincerity Oh repentance must start

with sincerity with with a heart that is

fully engaged listen to what David

writes in his great penitence Psalm and

Psalm 51 where he is confessing after

folks he must have had the same question

did I go to

I went from lusting to a woman to

adultery with a woman to murder to

covering up a murder and lived it seems

without conscience for a year we have no

evidence that he was feeling guilty he

takes another man's wife into his home

and then marries her tries to make

everything seem right he covers it all

up and then Nathan comes to him thou art

the man you want her for David oh my too

late

and then he pens Psalm 51 this wonderful

Psalm that gives us so much hope for the

repentant and here's what he says the

sacrifices of God are a broken spirit a

broken and contrite heart O God you will

not despise so what does repentance the

character repentance look like well it

looks like sincerity it's with all your

heart

HP marked by your heart not by and

therefore I went to church for this many

weeks I did these many things I said

these types of prayers you don't go

through a checklist check check

what did my pastor or priest tell me to

do check check check

did it oh no what about your heart have

you rent is your heart has your heart

been effective so sincerity secondly

with humility look at verse 14 may go in

the verses you look at it first raise a

question - whoa look what it says who

knows whether he will not turn and

relent

who knows that's not a maybe God will

respond maybe you won't that's not

what's being said here it's being said

here's I don't go to God thinking I've

done my religious duty and then start to

demand from God that he do his part God

I did my part you better give me my life

back

God I did what I'm supposed to do you

know I went and I did the offerings I

went through the duty and now hey you

owe me I said I'm sorry

you owe me forgiveness because God does

not owe us anything by judgment and so

there's not this thing of hey I've

cleaned up my act I said I'm sorry I'm a

better person I've done my penance I've

done this now God you owe me I want

forgiveness

I want restoration it's know who knows

there's humility in that phrase it's not

demanding God doesn't owe folks I think

that's where when Peter preached in acts

2 and he said you along with evil men

put him to death that crowd didn't say

ok we're sorry now God they were like

what shall we do they were they were

humble

there wasn't a okay God it was Oh God

have mercy and if you do it's undeserved

I could never merit it I could never

convince you I can never argue it you

into it

Lord I just say please it's the posture

of humility so the character offends

sincerity humility and then motive for

God's glory even when we sin folks this

is not about our conscience being

disquieted this is not just about

troubles in our life there's not about a

sense just a person

peace I think you will get personal

peace but that's not the goal there is

something else and we see it really in

verse 17 between the vestibule and the

altar let the priests the ministers Lord

weep and say spare your people Lord and

make not your heritage a reproach a

byword among the nations why should they

say among the peoples where is their God

here we're seeing theirs they're linking

their sin and their desire for

forgiveness of sin and their repentance

all to the glory of God my sin is bone

has been offensive to God my shame has

brought a reproach to God I want God to

get glory so even my repentance has a

gob word focused to it similar thing is

said in Psalm 79 9 here in this place

help us oh god of our salvation

why why help us for the glory of your

name deliver us and atone for our sins

why for your name's sake so you know

what happens with our forgiveness oh it

turns back to how what a god we served

let me tell you about those of you in

the world who besmirching ignore him let

me tell you about this God that has

forgiven one like me and there's a

god-sent earnest to this picture of

repentance so we have the call the

urgent call for repentance it's not too

late we have the character of repentance

and finally we have the incentive for

repentance the incentive for repentance

look at verse 13 the second half return

to the Lord your God

for he is a guru for he is gracious and

merciful slow to anger and abounding in

steadfast love and he relents over

disaster return to God before we get a

description of God do you see the word

return to God you know what that says

God's not too far he's near so you think

it's too late

let joel encourage you these people may

have rebelled for decades ignored for

decades think it's too late

Oh Joel says no no and you think God's

too far he's he's at the doorstep return

to me return to me

it's the prodigal father the son has

gone has spurned the love of the father

has indulged himself ends up in a pigsty

and yet where's the father he's on the

he's looking he's near he's moving and

when he sees he runs God is near not far

so folks it's not too late and he is not

too far but then look at the aliens got

near look what it says about God look at

the why do we turn to God why why return

to a king why well wouldn't depend on

the king why return to a ruler ruled has

Authority they demand allegiance

obedience fealty loyalty why return to a

ruler a king well it depends on the king

turns on the world

and this is where God is so different

than any political figure we could ever

imagine

any King we could ever imagine because

here's our God the creator of the

universe speaks it into existence man is

indifferent to him or rebellious to him

both sometimes at the same time ignoring

as if he does not exist and what's he

say Oh

return to the Lord your God why here's

the incentive for he is gracious and

merciful slow to anger and abounding in

steadfast love does that sound they're

all familiar depends how long you've

been a Christian fens how you've been

reading through your Bible but you know

where that echoes that goes something

very powerful very essential very core

to the very being of God and how he

relates to his people you know where

it's coming from exodus 34:6 remember

Moses is on the mountain God show me

your glory tell me your name it's this

great bold request on a memo now where

he is trembling and that many others

thundering and lightning clouds it is an

awesome experience being a mountain in a

thunderstorm you do quake a bit but he

asked this request and then here's how

God reveals himself to Moses the Lord

passed before him and proclaimed the

Lord the Lord a God merciful and

gracious slow to anger and abounding in

steadfast love and faithfulness

Joel return the Lord your God gracious

merciful slow to anger and abounding in

stead

fast love this also echoes David's

prayer in that great penitence Psalm

Psalm 51 what does David say how does he

start

how does he start have mercy on me O God

according to your steadfast love

according to your abundant mercy blot

out my transgressions the revelation of

God in Exodus 34 Oh does that open the

keys and open the wind doors and windows

this is the this is the God that you're

returning to and this is why you return

to him this is God who relents from

disaster who blesses and actually

blesses the repentant heart he is

merciful gracious merciful slow to anger

and abounding in steadfast love folks we

don't know anyone like this

God is unique in his ability to love

those that have gone too far but it's

not too late and he's not too far see

folks do you see what's happening here

our repentance is really grounded in his

character not in our effort we need to

be sincere but our repentance it is

grounded in his character why do I

repent

well my repentance is fueled by the hope

of grace mercy and love I know the God

who I'm going to to ask forgiveness from

do you know him and you know him that

way

where do you see him as a taskmaster and

boy there's more religious duty for you

to do to make it back are you asking

yourself is it too far to or too late

and is he too far bugs this text screams

at us no oh it's an urgent call here's

what it looks like but you know what all

that it's all grounded in his character

see why do I return to that King oh he's

the absolute sovereign whether I

recognize it or not he doesn't answer to

me I answer to him but you know why I

return he's gracious merciful slow to

anger and abounding in steadfast love

and he relents over disaster folks it's

not too late and God is not too far he

is here he is gracious he is merciful he

is loving so hear him return to Him

let's pray

or how surprised I've been in Joel

shouldn't be surprised probably speaks

to my immaturity to be surprised the

Lord this book oh that you inspired and

you are bringing to us through this

summer God thank you for your kindness

thank for what you're showing us about

your heart or please may we respond more

planes may we see both the warnings and

the shouting and and the judgments the

Lord may we hear even more the grace the

mercy and the love and may we return to

our Father who is in heaven I pray this

in Jesus name Amen amen

[Music]

you

[Music]