Joel 2:12 (NLT)
12 That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”
On verses 12-17: The day of the Lord will be a dreadful day for those who have rejected God. That is why God Himself in verse 12 says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping and mourning.”
That is also why Joel implores his people to “return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (v13) Echoing what God has already said in verse 12, Joel calls his people to fast (v15), to gather together (v15-16) and to pray and intercede for the people (v17) and to plead for God’s mercy.
What can we learn from this?
Turn to God while there is still time. Is there something God wants you to do that you haven’t done yet? Don’t wait until tomorrow to turn to God, since you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. You are always better off turning to God and obeying Him today than to wait for tomorrow.
God does not delight in punishing the wicked. While God’s justice and holiness demand that sin be punished, God’s heart is that every person be spared from the day of the Lord.
So when people say, “How could a loving God send people to hell?” they’re misunderstanding the situation. It’s not that God wants to send anyone to hell. Rather, those who go to hell and who suffer God’s wrath are those who had ample opportunity to receive protection from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ, but who refused and in so doing chose hell for themselves.
No matter how much God loves a person and despite how much God tries to spare that person from wrath (including sacrificing His Son to die to pay for their sins), it is still up to that person to decide whether or not to accept God’s mercy expressed through Jesus Christ.
God will not force that person to return to Him. That is why here in Joel 2 God has to plead with people to return to Him, rather than just making them return. Our God wanted a world where true love and true choice were possible, so He respects and upholds our decisions, even when He knows those decisions are wrong.
Heavenly Father, I pray that those around me who do not yet know You would turn to You while there is still time. I pray we would not take Your patience for granted. If there is something You want me to do, help me to do it today, and not wait till tomorrow. Thank You that I am always better off obeying You today than delaying my obedience until tomorrow. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!