Friday after the Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Joel 2:1-11 (NKJV)
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand:
2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.
3 A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them.
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like swift steeds, so they run.
5 With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before them the people writhe in pain; All faces are drained of color.
7 They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; Every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks.
8 They do not push one another; Every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down.
9 They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; They climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness.
11 The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?
Mankind is conceived in sin, and thus, born with what is called the “Old Man” or “Old Adam” (one might call it man’s original nature). This Old Man is totally absorbed with himself, that’s why we are so constantly inwardly turned. Self-satisfaction, self-justification, autonomy (or being a law unto oneself) and expecting everything to operate so that the self can live comfortably—these are all the marks and desires of the Old Man which exist within everyone’s flesh. Suffering (and especially dying) are constantly avoided—because the Old Man is all about surviving, for himself (at enmity against God and careless of neighbor).
Joel’s prophecy (in chapter one) is about locusts and devastation. That devastation theme continues in chapter two—preparing man for the Day of the LORD. Reminiscent of the Book of Revelation, devastation is both judgmental and preparatory (a call to repentance). Although all parts of the world (and we believing/baptized Christians) might not have to deal with a plague of locusts to remind us of living in a fallen world that has judgment coming upon it, suffering (through other forms of devastation) abound nonetheless.
Sinful flesh wrestles with such devastation and suffering because of the uncomfortable judgment aspect of its message. By the power of God’s Holy Scripture, we, believing/baptized children, are renewed in our thinking so that we are prepared for the Day of the LORD. We are reminded of the text in St. Luke, where Jesus speaks about the Last Day with “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” But speaking to His believers He concludes, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
We pray: 1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (Psalm 51:1-12)