Lent – Day 2
It’s Not Too Late!
To begin your journey through the Lenten season (and every Saturday during this study), you will learn about common spiritual disciplines that many followers of Jesus practice during Lent. You will begin today learning about lament. These disciplines are valuable tools to draw near to God when they come from a heart seeking to do just that — rather than a heart which hopes to justify itself through these works or simply check a box on its Lent “to-do” list. We hope these insights will encourage you and help connect you to the Father throughout these 40 days.
“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 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 a drink offering for the LORD your God?” Joel 2:12-14
During a time of prosperity, the people of Israel let down their guard and descended into
a period of moral depravity and pagan worship.
So God Almighty caused a plague of locusts, fire and drought to come on the land as a warning that judgment was on its way. Then God sent the prophet Joel to tell the people to turn back to Him. He told them it wasn’t too late.
Repetition provides emphasis. Twice in this passage, God says to return to Him. Twice the prophet appeals to “your heart,” which is the seat of the mind, emotions and will.
The solution to sin and moral decay is to repent and return. When you repent, you acknowledge your wrongdoing, consider the weight of your misdeeds, turn away from bad behavior, and turn toward God.This action is not a surface showing of mock regret but a true change of belief and attitude. The grief, weeping and mourning described in Scripture reflect that change.
One way to express this sorrow is to fast — that is, to give up food for a period of time to help you to focus on God. Ask God to search your heart and reveal anything that violates His standards. Then ask for forgiveness and the help of the Holy Spirit to change.
“Rend your hearts, not your garments.” Keep this practice private. Many Jews would tear their clothes to display their mourning in public. Jesus said they had their reward. Your fasting should not be a show for others, but a special time between you and the Father Matthew 6:16-18
History tells us that the Northern Kingdom of Israel did not repent and was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was devastated by the invading army, but King Hezekiah turned to the Lord, and Jerusalem was saved. God’s call to repentance still stands. Which choice will you make?
Pray that God will help you to fast, weep and mourn during Lent. Use a time of fasting to ask God to reveal any unconfessed sin, habits or attitudes in your life that need to change, or anything keeping you from drawing near to Jesus Christ.
For more on this topic, read Matthew 6:16-18, Psalm 139:23-24, and Isaiah 57:15