First Day of Lent, Ash Wednesday
Posted on February 17, 2021 byunder
Scripture: Joel 2:12-19 (NKJV)
2:12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him—a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room.
17 let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should 7rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people.
19 The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.
The text appointed for this holy occasion of Ash Wednesday is indeed very fitting for such a solemn day that starts the Church’s season of repentance known as Lent. Through the prophetic words recorded in Joel we hear our gracious, merciful Lord calling us to repent and turn back to Him so that He might deliver us from sin, death, Hell, and the devil. In chapter two the prophet Joel bids his people see in the horrendous locust swarms devastating the land the inception, or dawn, of God’s approaching last visitation. This divine visitation bids men return to the Lord and find deliverance in Him.
The prophetic vision, no longer fixed on the present plague, also pierces into the future. Joel gives a full-scale depiction of the approaching Day of the Lord, the signs that herald its approach, the standard by which its divine decisions will be made, and the finality of these decisions for good or ill. Throughout this prophetic book we are shown that the only way home is faith that calls us to our Lord’s precious Means of Grace. These blessings deliver, strengthen, guide, and fulfill the promise of faith, delivered purely through grace.
Prayer: Almighty and Everlasting God, who hatest nothing that Thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent, create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of Thee, the God all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.