Devotional

Meditate

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Joshua 1:8

Looking in my Bible’s concordance the words meditate, or meditation seem to be all in the Old Testament. One of the best-known examples of this would be God’s instructions to Joshua as God placed him in leadership of the Israelite nation, following Moses. Three times God tells Joshua there is nothing to fear; God calls him to be courageous ( Joshua 1: 6a, 7a, 9). The basis of Joshua’s confidence is two-fold. The promise – “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (1:9). As well the law would protect him. “Be careful to obey all the law….do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth” (1:7, 8).

What does it mean to meditate? Synonyms for meditate are  muse, ponder, and ruminate. While all these words mean “to consider or examine attentively or deliberately,” meditate implies a definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something, so as to understand it deeply.

In 1 Timothy 4:15 Paul uses the Greek word for meditation. He did this because he knew that it was not immoral for the Church member to do so and because he knew that they could relate to this language.

“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress”

Writing to the Philippian church he admonished them with a final thought: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Oh that the media today could be trained to bring us this kind of news! Our hearts grow weary hoping for some good news as wars and hatred, sex and violence , graft and corruption dominate the news. Satan has ways of drawing our thoughts far away from things that are holy.

Sadly Christians are sometimes led astray, hoping to have quick and easy devotions. Books have been written to give us just a thought for the day. Is this enough to know our God, to know either His character or His laws? David, known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), wrote about mediation at least twelve time in the Psalms.

He found God’s unfailing love irresistible (Psalm 48:9). Along with that He also praised God as he meditated on all His works and wonders (Psalm 77:12, 119:27, 143:5, 145:5). David mentions God’s precepts, decrees and statutes as worthy of his focus (Psalm 119:15, 48, 99).

I’ve just completed a study of the Pentateuch. The laws of the Lord are so detailed, covering every aspect of life. What does this tell us as we mediate? God cares about every detail of our lives – Jesus said that even the hairs of each head are known (counted) (Luke 12:7). When misfortune falls we want to know that God understands the minutiae of our situation. When we turn to Him, the Creator of our minds and bodies, we pray with confidence that He knows above and beyond what we can see with our mortal eyes and understanding.

Meditation is intentional. God told Joshua to “be careful” (1:7). The success of his mission would lie in his personal obedience to the law of God, if he took the time to ponder, to muse on what Moses had received from the lips of God, and had carefully written down. We know that God’s promises to Joshua held true. Because he made the right choices “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), his life made an impact on the nation he served. “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him” (Joshua 24:31).

Reflection:

What glorious truths do we miss when we scan over a scripture, rushing to get into our day? How exciting it is to find thoughts which permeate each moment of our day with the greatness of our God! These are the thoughts which prepare our hearts to share His presence, His love and His watch-care with others whom we meet during the day. May God bless you as you meditate!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Covenant

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Isaiah 59:21 **

Isaiah begins Chapter 59 with a wonderful statement. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save.” The question is : To whom does this remarkable hope extend? Is Isaiah talking to the Jewish nation or individuals of faith, or does he refer to all human beings?

Today many Christians live as the Jews did long ago. As God’s chosen people, Israel became exclusive, carrying the principle of separation from other nations out of the realm of faith. What do I mean? They forgot that households were blessed by the faith of the patriarchs. Foreigners within that household were drawn to the One True God by the wisdom of God working in and through the lives of His chosen people. In fact all in Abraham’s household (foreigners included) were circumcised as a sign of their covenant relationship with God. (Genesis 17:27)

Isn’t it thrilling to know that God extends His mercy and grace to all mankind! Looking at externals we often judge that someone is too hard, too far gone, too disinterested to be reached by the gospel. Recently I had the exquisite pleasure of listening to a young man, sharing quite unexpectedly with me how his life had been changed. He came face to face with Jesus! A drug addict around the age of 12, he continued down that path for 7 years until God got hold of his life. His tattooed body will forever hold a message of where he was, but the sparkle in his steady blue eyes tells where he is now. He was amazed to discover that God might use him to help his old friends and even his family, to whom he had always lied. Truly in this case “The Lord’s hand was not shortened”!

Isaiah describes those who were included in God’s covenant promise, categorizing their sins of injustice and evil. Repeatedly God notes the lack of truth, the propensity to lie: “Truth has fallen in the streets.” (:14) “No one calls for justice nor does any plead for truth.” (:4) ”Their feet run to evil and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are of iniquity.” (:7) Like the blind they walked in darkness. They growl like bears (:10-11)….and on and on.

However, because He is a covenant God, His mercy reaches down to those unable to help themselves. The Lord saw all of the darkness, evil and injustice, and was deeply displeased (:15). Knowing the utter helplessness of mankind caught in such a trap, His own righteousness came into play. With fury God scourged His adversaries in order to rescue His chosen people (:18).

Prophetically Isaiah writes “His own Arm [God’s]worked salvation for Him. Because there was no human adequate to mediate, God gave us salvation through the redemptive work of Christ, His Son! This Redeemer will come, even today, to those who turn from transgression! Imagine such mercy and grace!

For them, as for us, the covenant remains secure. “As for me, says the Lord, this is My covenant with them: “My Spirit is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants…..forevermore!” (:21)

Reflection:

Do Isaiah’s words mean anything to you today? Do you have salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord?

Are you resting in the assurance of God’s covenant, because you believe, and received Jesus as Lord?

Read John 1:12-13.

By Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

God Speaks to Joshua

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Joshua 1

Who was Joshua? The son of Nun, we know, but what was it that drew Moses’ attention to this young man? Preparing for battle against the Amalekites, Moses trusted Joshua to choose the Israelite warriors (Exodus 17:9-14). The Lord singled Joshua out when the battle was over, because God wanted Joshua to remember what He had accomplished through him that day (:9). Was this a sign of things to come?

From that time, Joshua was chosen by Moses as his aide, to accompany him to Mt Sinai where he received the 10 commandments. Moses also appointed him to guard the Tent of Meeting where God spoke face to face with Moses. Clearly Joshua had proven himself capable and trustworthy.

We find Joshua gradually being given increased responsibility. At the end of Moses’ life he was commissioned before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly (Numbers 27:17, 23). Passing the baton must have been a very moving experience for Moses who knew he would never enter the Promised Land because of the sin he had committed at Kadesh.

Joshua’s name meant “Yahweh is salvation”. He was a descendent of Joseph, one of the tribe of Ephraim. He had scouted the land of Canaan with Caleb and the other 10 spies who had given a negative report. After the death of Moses, the Lord spoke to Joshua directly. He had been accustomed to receiving the word of the Lord through Moses. Now Moses was dead.

The Lord’s first words confirmed his Divine appointment. “Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give….I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:2-3). As a warrior, Joshua was used to war. However, God’s promise “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life” must have been deeply encouraging (:5). Joshua may have remembered earlier experiences when God was true to His word. Now God was giving him a glimpse into the future of His people. WOW!

Moses had called the people to be strong and courageous. They were not to be afraid, because the Lord their God would go before them, never leaving or forsaking them! (Deuteronomy 31:6.) Now God Himself is making the same commitment directly to Joshua “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Three times God repeats “Be strong and courageous” (:6, 7, 9).

Today God calls us to be strong and courageous. Paul writes: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” (1 Corinthians 16: 13). Jesus, as He was leaving His disciples promised “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He had promised earlier that He would send a comforter, the Spirit of Truth, one who would live with and in believers, Christ-followers (John 14:16-17).

Joshua rose to fame because his life was totally committed to God. Just as God spoke to him, so God will speak to us through His word – the Bible, and even through others in our lives. We need to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit dwelling within. The Lord said: “Take Joshua….a man in whom is the Spirit” (Numbers 27:17).

Reflection:

In what way(s) would you like your life to resemble Joshua’s?

Is our response to God’s call “Here am I – send me”?

What is more thrilling than to remember those significant moments in our lives when God has used us to His glory?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Prone to Wander

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Lamentations 3

There is some good theology written into many hymn lyrics. One particular favourite links our human struggles with those of the writer of “Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing”. In May 1758, when he was only 22 years old, Robert Robinson penned “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for his sermon on Pentecost Sunday. In the following year of 1759, the lyrics of this powerful hymn were included in a small hymnal entitled A Collection of Hymns used by the Church of Christ. 

His loudest praise is for “streams of mercy that never cease”. Surely he had been reading Lamentations 3:22-23. “The Lord’s compassions never fail”, Jeremiah was inspired to record. In fact God’s blessings are new every morning, because He is a faithful and loving God! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed”. What a glorious truth!

Young Robinson recognized that his salvation was fixed upon the “mount of Thy [God’s] redeeming love”. Although Jeremiah calls himself “the man who has seen affliction” (3”1) he relies on the fact that “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (3:25). After all, Robinson’s testimony went like this: “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand’ring from the fold of God”. Amazing how he worked that truth into poetic form to be sung in ages to come by many believers for whom Jesus had “interposed His precious blood”.

He knew his Bible. It was to “grace” that he was indebted. It was God who daily bound his wand’ring heart to Himself. Jesus Himself assures us “No one can snatch them [His sheep – His followers] out of My hand….no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28).

Yet the struggles of each human heart are very real. Reading through the Bible there is no one who has not wrestled with temptation, no one who has not wandered, Abraham, Moses, David, to name a few. Yet they trusted in the God who “Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love” (Lamentations 3:32). The prophet then prescribes a remedy: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (3:40), lest today we find ourselves unforgiven because we did not repent. The prophet feared he had been cut off (3:54), but in the end “You heard my plea,…… You came near” and “You redeemed my life” (3:56-58).

We are only saved by the goodness of God who “binds my wand’ring heart” to Himself. In fact our salvation is sealed for what purpose? – to worship God in His courts above (Revelation 7:9-10). Our worship rises up as a sweet smelling sacrifice, spreading everywhere “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him [Christ]..…and blessing God because “we are to God the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

Reflection:

Through His Holy Word God reassures us that, though we are prone to wander, He is ever faithful to those who call upon His name for their salvation. We trust Him to exemplify the kindness to which He calls us, as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. He gives meaning and purpose to each of His children and through the power of His Holy forgiveness enables us to pass on to others all that we have received from Him – grace, mercy, peace, joy and love. Praise the Lord! (1 John 1:8-10)

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Isaiah Talks About Moab

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Isaiah 15,16

Moab in ancient days was a kingdom east of Israel, in the Transjordan highlands. The nation arose from Lot’s incestuous child by his eldest daughter, named Moab (Genesis 19:38). They were often at war with their Israelite neighbours to the west. However events recorded in the book of Ruth testify to occasions of friendly interaction between the two nations, from time to time at least between Bethlehem and Moab.

Perhaps because he descended from Ruth, a Moabite, we know David also had friendly relations. He committed his parents to the protection of the Moabite King when pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). However, once David became king he made the Moabites a tributary, while placing them under the rule of a governor. That was the end of all friendly relations.

One small incident remains to be told. When the Israelites were returning to the Promised Land from Egypt, the Moabites denied them passage through their land, causing them a long detour around, heaping God’s judgment upon themselves (Judges 11:17-18). In His judgment on them, God referred to Moab as His “washpot”, a place of accumulated filth (Psalm 60:8).

Israel suffered political upheaval under King Rehoboam. Under him the Moabites may have been absorbed into the northern kingdom of Israel, where they continued in vassalage until the death of Ahab. Eventually they refused to pay tribute, asserting their independence and making war on Israel. Later they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in his aggression against King Jehoiakim in Israel.

Isaiah and Jeremiah both refer to the burden that Moab had become (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48:42). Isaiah identifies their pride as an abomination to God, as well as their utter contempt for Israel.

At the time of Ruth we believe child sacrifices were still offered to one of their many deities. Chemosh was their chief god (2 Kings 23:13). Their religious influence reached as far into history as Solomon, who erected a “High place” for Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). Sadly this was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah.

Isaiah is given denunciations by God against other nations, Moab included. Some hold no hope…certain nations will be cut off forever, once God’s judgment falls. However, Isaiah records a couple of very interesting phrases regarding Moab. God says “My heart cries out over Moab.” (Isaiah 15:5). “My heart laments for Moab (Isaiah 16:11).

Reflection:

What is it about this particular nation of Moab, that created angst in the heart of God? (Jeremiah 48:36)

What is it about any of us that generates His great love?

Let us remember that the essence of God’s character is love. His heart is pained when He has to declare judgment, because His intention is for His people to walk with Him in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Creator God

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Isaiah 6:1-3

Outside my window is the most beautiful tree. Its graceful shape and glorious fall colours stimulate my very soul to worship the Creator! In every season this tree represents the genius of God’s design and reminds me of the glory of His Sovereignty over all creation. Our minds, so limited by time and space, find it hard to understand anything outside those limits; mankind is just beginning to grasp the expanse of our universe yet the reality of other universes is also beginning to dawn in recent times. This raises a question: Where was Jesus before the world began?

In His high priestly prayer Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him “in His presence with the glory I had with You before the world began” (John 17:5). How often do we limit the person of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the figure who walked our earth for 33 short years? Have you ever tried to imagine what His pre-incarnate glory was really like?

Isaiah had a glimpse of this glory. In fact, the whole earth, in his vision, was “full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). If we allow God to be God, we might just see Him outside of the part of creation we experience day to day. His presence not only fills the earth, a concept pretty hard for mere humans to understand, but also fills the universe, beyond what we can see.

Paul clarifies this picture. “He who descended”…this Jesus who came to us as a baby in a manger, “is the very one who ascended higher than the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (Ephesians 4:10). This Jesus, God’s “Son, whom He appointed heir of all things,” is the One “through whom He made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2). According to the Bible God’s “Son is the radiance of God’s glory” and He sustains all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). This is the Creator God whom John identifies as the “Word” (John 1:1).

When we worship the Holy Baby in Mary’s arms, do we give ourselves time to contemplate the Majesty that prevailed on the day when God declared His creation “good”? (Genesis 1:31). According to the Biblical record that declaration covered everything – the separation of light and darkness, the sky, the seas and dry land producing vegetation like my tree, the universe with sun, moon and stars, the bewildering variety of birds and fish, all living creatures, the crowning glory of which was man, made in God’s own image! What a quotable quote: “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26)!

I like to imagine that the majesty of Creator God appeals to every one of mans’ senses, as well as to the delight of knowing that He calls us into fellowship with Himself. What an honour it is to be called the child of Almighty God! The whole purpose of Creation was to mingle with His creation…and so we read that God walked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). He brought the woman He created, to the man (Genesis 2:22). He also brought the animals to the man to see what he would name them (Genesis 2:19). He was and is personally engaged!

Reflection:

Creator, sustainer – our Creator God is an awesome God! Will we allow Him to be greater than our comprehension can see? It was Satan’s desire to be like God which caused his expulsion from heaven. We have been given the privilege of serving God, but even in heaven we will not be like the One who is eternal, since we are created beings. Neither we will ever know all things, or have all power. Even Satan has to operate through his demon host, since he, as a created being, can only be in one place at a time. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, children of God can celebrate Creator God as He takes us on a voyage of discovery day by day! Hallelujah!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Important to God

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Isaiah 41:10

In today’s world believers need strength, perhaps more than ever before. I was thrilled by the challenge a pastor gave recently. It actually strengthened me in my resolve to share my Lord Jesus with the world! It was a simple statement really. Speaking about man made in God’s image, he reminded us that “You are important to God”. There it is – the gospel in a nutshell. If we ever needed an introductory statement, doesn’t that say it all?

Here’s the thing – your relationship with God, and mine, is founded upon a love beyond anything we can experience here between friends and family. We all disappoint one another, but God – never! Oh sometimes He has to rebuke us, which He gently does through the indwelling Holy Spirit, but if we are honest, in our heart of hearts we know more than rebuke is deserved. Rebuke is very different from condemnation because it gives us opportunity to repent….and God, Himself, gives us the strength to face the realities of conviction. He longs for fellowship with each of us because we are important to God.

Christianity is based on relationship, for that very reason. It is not just another religious ideology, but it an actual relationship with the one and only personal God, in whose image we are made. The joy this generates, gives us holy boldness to share the good news with others!

So what do we do with this information? How do we live out the gospel? Do we impose rules and regulations on others, standards that seem impossible to meet? Does God do that with us? For example I was brought up to believe that Christians do not smoke, so when I discovered a picture of my great grandfather holding a cigar, I was shocked – disappointed! Why, when I knew he regularly held church in his home during his 72-year marriage to my great grandma, would I allow something like that to colour my esteem of this dear grandpa? How quick we are to judge based on human standards!

The Pharisees spent a lot of time condemning folks who didn’t measure up to their ideology. Did they forget that every person, made in the image of God is “important to God”? Certainly they judged folks on outward appearances, something which Jesus Christ frequently challenged. In our scripture verse, Isaiah cautioned the Israelites not to be afraid, adding magnificent promises that God Himself is with them, as He is with those who believe and receive Him today. Furthermore “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Our strength doesn’t come from how we behave, but derives from His righteousness! Of course how we live reflects on what we say we believe about God. Does our lifestyle bring glory to His holy name?

Reflection:

God inspired Isaiah to record a picture of his own journey with God. “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me with a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Can you relate to that? Do others understand the joy that being “important to God” brings you?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Spectator or Participant?

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Joel 1-3

Often the Old Testament is overlooked in favour of the gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ. In dialogue with my grandson recently I was thrilled to learn he has become aware of the necessity of grounding ourselves in the teachings of the Old Testament. As well as disregarding the First Covenantal book, we often attempt to distinguish which are the “important” books of scripture, failing to recognize that each book has been written for the express purpose of teaching us to know and understand the heart and mind of our great and glorious God! With this in mind let us review what Joel has to teach us.

The Jews have been chosen as God’s representatives here on earth. Sadly they failed to appreciate the privilege of participating with God in His saving purpose for all humankind. God’s patience was tried from generation to generation until promised judgment finally fell upon His chosen people (Joel 1). Great suffering resulted, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Great witnesses came and went – Elijah, Obadiah and now Joel were sent by God to purify His people. It is worth noting Joel’s description of God. In Chapter 2:11 we find Him coming as the thundering leader of a great army – numberless, mighty forces who obey His commands! His purpose? “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God!” (2:27).

This God is described as jealous (2:18), vigilant over the nation He calls His own. Protective, pitying their weaknesses, God’s great heart of compassion can be seen; He has been slow to express His anger at their folly, demonstrating His love and grace repeatedly throughout centuries of time (2:13, 18).

How blessed we are to live in the age Joel prophesied would come when God pours out His Spirit upon all people – Jew and Gentile alike, whomever responds to His love (2:28). Paul writes about this: “For we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Apostle Peter preached from Joel’s book on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Peter concludes “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Joel reminds us that our God is determined to be our refuge, a stronghold in the day of trouble (3:16). Trouble assuredly will come, but God chooses to restore the years the locusts have eaten (2:25). This is the God we know to have been so merciful to us day by day, as we take three steps forward and two steps back! One day He will judge the nations (3:2), but in the end Sovereign God will dwell in Zion (3:21)….and there will be peace on His Holy hill, in Jerusalem (3:17).

Reflection:

The question Joel raises for you and me today is whether or not we have believed and received God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Will we participate in this peaceful coexistence with God, or have we just been spectators at the game of life?

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!

May the fire of our devotion light the way.

May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,

And the lives, we live inspire them to obey”

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Day of the Lord

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Joel 3

There is a lot of history as well as prophecy in this small Old Testament book. Beginning with a severe drought following invasions of locusts, as we have already glimpsed, Joel sees this as punishment from God for the sins of His people. He uses the picture of these locusts to illustrate a future invasion in the Day of the Lord.

Centuries later, John is given a vision expanding on what we learn from Joel about that Day. In Revelation 16 John describes the war of Armageddon, which consists of several battles. First there will be the campaign of the Antichrist into Egypt (Daniel 11:40-45). Zechariah explains the Lord’s second coming. ”A Day of the Lord is coming…Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations [who have been attacking Jerusalem], as He fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and the mount of Olives will be split in two” (14:1-4).

Joel is given a preview. When God sets out to restore Judah and Jerusalem, the nations will gather together in the valley of Jehoshaphat, which may refer to the Kidron Valley on the East of Jerusalem. Kidron is known by Jews, Christians, and Muslims as the Valley of Judgment. Jehoshaphat means “The Lord Judges”. Another name for this is the “Valley of Decision”(3:14). Here indeed is where the nations will be judged for their treatment of God’s people (3:2).

Leaving them in no doubt, God lists their offenses. They scattered God’s people among the nations and divided the land – “My land” declared the Lord (Joel 3:2b). They sold the Jews and introduced their children to prostitution (3:3). The Phoenicians and Philistines who were notorious slave traders swept all before them, people and even the sacred temple treasures. God then calls these primary offences to account, requiring all-out war (3:9).

However, faithful to His people, God has not left them without hope. He actually spells out how His Divine intervention will take place, in the midst of battle. “I will drive the northern army from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land….and its stench will go up” (Joel 2:20). God Himself will meet the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (3:12). After many generations, and centuries of time when pagans sat in judgment about God, finally He will judge them. Multitude upon multitude will gather on the Day of the Lord, to face the One whom they have rejected.

Reflection:

Jesus gave His listeners a preview of that day, signs we are looking for, as I write. He warns that God’s children should not be deceived by false prophets; when we hear of wars and civil unrest we are not to be frightened. He could have been describing the global chaos of our day. “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and [pandemics] pestilences” as well as cosmic disturbances (Luke 21:10-11). Family disruptions will end in estrangement or worse. “You will be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death” (Luke 21:16).

However, God once again gives us hope. Looking past the judgments which will surely come, His blessings will follow. He describes the Millennial reign of Christ. Remember, Joel doesn’t have the advantage we do today of knowing who the Lord [Yahweh] Jesus Christ is. Yet God gave Joel the vision of abundance which will bless the people who celebrate the consummation of the Kingdom of God. Judah and Jerusalem will celebrate as never before!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Our Jealous God

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Joel 2:18

“Then the Lord will be jealous” (2:18). What does it mean to be jealous?  Jealousy carries the particular sense of “zealous vigilance” and tends to be applied more exclusively to feelings of protectiveness regarding one’s own advantages or attachments. It is not to be confused with envy, which covets what someone else has (Merriam-Webster).

Israel had been chosen by God to be His particular people. Throughout scripture we see the trend of God’s desire, to build a Holy nation from which would come the seed of Abraham, promised to bless all nations. God’s love for Israel was longsuffering throughout generations of rebelliousness and rejection, Oddly enough, they envied the lifestyle of other godless peoples, failing to appreciate all they had in their God! His covenant was eternal but discipline, and even punishment, was sometimes required for “children” who were so wayward. Yet His zealous vigilance continued. Joel records some remarkable statements made by God in Chapter 2.

“I will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25 KJV). This reminds us of how Joel began, citing the desolation left behind repeated swarms of locusts! This promises that God’s judgment will pass. Israel’s jealous God takes pity on His people (2:18). This mighty Creator of all things views the helplessness, the weakness of His people, with compassion. Never again will they be such an object of scorn (2:19). In fact God will take on their cause, scattering the northern army into the desert (2:20).

Read Ezekiel 39 for details of this event, at which time “The Sovereign Lord declares…. The nations will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:7). “I will display My glory among the nations”(39:21). This will not be a happy time for the nations, but “the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (39:22, 28). Whatever the circumstances, in the end God remains faithful! God continues “I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord” (39:29).

Joel calls the people to rejoice and be glad (Joel 2:21, 23). The promise will remove their fear, filling them with hope. Men and women will receive God’s blessing as He pours out His Spirit on them all (2:28, 29). The wonders of their all-powerful God will be seen in the cosmos as well as on earth, but “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (2:32). When Joel wrote this he couldn’t have fully understood the import of his prophecy, but God gives us hindsight as we remember in Jerusalem, hundreds of years later, that promised deliverance came from Calvary (2:32). Zechariah prophesied the day would come when Israel would look on the One they had pierced and grieve bitterly for Him (12:10).

Reflection:

Who would want to live without the watch-care of our jealous God? Some prophecies have been fulfilled. Yet we still wait. As we have seen – “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful” (2:11). Yet we are reminded that God “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (2:13), creating an atmosphere of joy and gladness in a spirit of righteousness (2:23). What a day that will be when old men dream dreams and young men will see visions as God pours out His Spirit on His servants, both men and women! (2:28-29). Hallelujah!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)