"Turn to God"

03/07/2016 12:49

LISTEN TO THIS MESSAGE

Date: 3 July, 2016

Text: Joel 2:12-21

Title: Are You Turned to God?

 

Introduction:     

 

Joel is a prophet who is preaching to the Kingdom of Judah. His message dealt with current events as well as prophetic future.

 

Joel's message was of a judgment that was coming from the Lord both through a nation that would invade and destroy like a plague of locusts.

Joel 1:4-7

4  That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.

5  Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

6  For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.

7  He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.

 

quote: Unger's Commentary "The hostile Gentile nation, which was predicted to invade Judah and was compared metaphorically to the locust invasion, was said to be strong -irresistibly ravaging everything in its path - and without number, as both the Assyrians and the Chaldean would prove to be." He says as well with regard to future prophetic fulfillment of this judgment "The Lord will annihilate Israel's latter-day foes. 20a. I will remove the northern army, literally, 'the northerner' indicating that the 'north' in relation to Palestine is not merely the direction from which the invader comes, but it is also his native land, namely, 'the Assyrian' prefiguring the last-day northern coalition headed by Russia."

 

exp. We've been studying Revelation on Thursday night and have seen that the 6th trumpet judgment was an army coming from the other side of the Euphrates (Russia, China, Isis) 200 million strong (literal or symbolizing innumerability) that would invade as part of God's judgment onthe world.

 

Joel - is warning Israel and all people that there is a need to wake up to the certainty of the judgment of God.

 

Like Ninevah - Israel and all of mankind have a choice when faced with the judgment of God.

1.) They can continue in their way and be destroyed.

2.) Or they can turn to the Lord in repentence and see Him stay His hand of judgment.

 

When the prophet Jonah went into Ninevah - His message was of judgment - but judgment was delayed because the people TURNED FROM THEIR SIN UNTO GOD.

Jonah 3:4  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

 

5 ¶  So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

6  For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

7  And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

8  But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

9  Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

 

BECAUSE NINEVAH TURNED TO GOD IN REPENTANCE, GOD SPARED THEM HIS JUDGMENT AT THAT TIME.

 

Joel challenged them to repent AND FIND GOD'S MERCY - 1:8 ¶  Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. 13  Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

14 ¶  Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,

 

We have further instruction from Joel which spells the way in which men are to turn unto the Lord. Our message this morning is very simply, "Turn to God." Are you turned to God? Have you ever turned for salvation? Have you turned away from God?

 

I. How men turn to the Lord.

            A. You turn without reservation.

12 ¶  Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart,

ill. Lot's wife only partially followed the Lord when coming out of Sodom. She appeared to be seeking "salvation" but was really looking back with fondness on the world. She was warned not to be half hearted and to look back. She looked anyway.

Ge 19:16, 17  And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.26  But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

exp. Lot's wife should realized that what she was longing for was what had incurred the wrath of God. But, she just would not let go of Sodom.

ill.  Riding the "flying fox" zip line at Blair Drummond Safari park. You can't hold onto the post and zip accross the wire. To get on your way, you have to let go. What if you had to go accross because a forest fire was coming behind you. Is it worth perishing because of an unwillingness (FOR ANY REASON) to let go?

app.  Is there something keeping you from turning unto the Lord? You have to turn to Him with all your heart. Is that thing worth eternity in Hell? Safety is on the other side. Can you not trust God to give you grace to let go and follow Him.

            B. You turn with sincerity and sorrow.

and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

question: Would you think me sincere in my sorrow - if I won't eat, can't laugh and am crying?

ill.  Have you seen the faces of the fans of the teams who have been knocked out of Euro 2016? Do you have any doubt that they care about the success of their team?

exp. Does God have any doubt as to your concern for the success of His work in your life?

Paul preached this kind of "works" repentance  - Ac 26:20  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

app. If you or I are in ernest in our search for God, there ought to be evidences of our sincerity.

            C. You turn with internal conviction.

13  And rend your heart, and not your garments,

exp. Having said that, God is not just interested in an outward show. They could tear their garments and appear sincere to everyone but God.

Unger "Joel urged the people to tear their hearts in deep inner penitence, and not merely tear their garments in a superficial display of mere outward emotion."

ill. When Samuel was seeking the second King of Israel he received instruction from the Lord about his choice. - 1Sa 16:7  But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

song: "Do you really want revival? Do you really want God's power? Do you really want His Spirit to control your life this hour? Oh, repent and turn to Jesus, seek His face and humbly pray, Do you really want revival? Are you willing to obey?

exp. That last question is a heart question? Are you serious? Are you THEN GOING TO DO WHAT GOD SAYS TO DO.

Mt 15:8  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

app. If you really want to turn to God, you must be willing to do what He says to do.

            D. You turn your back on the world.

and turn unto the LORD your God:

exp. If you are facing Jesus, the world is behind you.

I John 2:1515  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Note: Churches today are trying to say that you can love Jesus and just stay the same.

2Co 6:17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

app.  If you would turn to the Lord, you must decide to turn your back on the world.

note: It is worth it as that is where true life really begins.  2Co 6:17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

 

 

II. Why men turn to the Lord.

            A. Because of who He is.

exp. Joel has been speaking freely about the wrath of God. Israel could get a wrong picture of God as if He was someone who just loved to destroy and was unforgiving. And so He tells them about God....

...for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

question: Do you like a second/third/fourth/fifth chance? Would you enjoy working for a boss who was unforgiving when you messed up and who would immediately punish you for any mistakes on your job. 

exp. Sin isn't a mistake - it is a choice. And whether it is doing something we shouldn't or not doing something we should - WE HAVE ALL BROKEN GOD'S LAW AND DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED WITH SEVERE PUNISHMENT. (HELL)

Ro 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

ill. If I worked for a very kind boss and you messed up and wept because you thought you'd be fired. I would love to come up to you and say, "Don't you worry. You know you messed up and if you will just be honest with the boss, he is a VERY GRACIOUS MAN AND WILL NOT ONLY FORGIVE YOU, HE WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN HOW TO SUCCEED AT YOUR JOB.

app. I'm so thankful that I can say to us again this morning, we have a very kind boss as Joel has reminded us "...for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." If you will own up to your transgression, His character is such that HE WILL FORGIVE YOU AND RESTORE YOU TO HIMSELF.

            B. Because of what He does.

14  Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

exp. God's judgment had resulted in their inability to worship God because they didn't have the crops necessary to give a meat or drink offering according to God's law. BUT a restored harvest of God's blessing would give them the fruits of the field from which to offer the firstfruits to God as an offering.

ill.  Young man who promised his mum in Dundee that he would visit a Moody and Sankey meeting in the States. He cabled here, "I found Christ." She responded "praise the Lord!" That mum rejoiced because her son was now right with God.

app.  Are you right with God? Can you truly worship Him? If you come to Him, He'll put you where you can rightly worship Him.

 

III. "Who" of men need to turn to the Lord?

            A. The congregation as a whole.

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

16  Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,

exp. The trumpet called to the multitude that it was time to seek the Lord as a group. Those who heard the call and responded formed the congregation.

ill. This is an OT text to the Children of Israel - but I can't help thinking that this is a good picture of the church. The church (ecclesia) is the called out assembly. They heard the voice of God and responded by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They assemble together often to seek God corporately.

Hebrews 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

app. How often should you be in church? As often as possible. The "assembly" is an important part of a church. Without assembling the church ceases to exist.

question: How old do you have to be to be part of the group who is called upon to seek the Lord?

            B. People of all ages.

assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts:

exp. From the leadership of the nation to the children and even nursing infants were to be there. These infants could do nothing but attend. But, they did not keep their parents from attending. They were always used to attending themselves.  etc.

note: By the way - children learn much more quickly than us adults.

ill. Steve Anderson  - attending French lessons and dropping off their two year old at a neighbors house for the day. They were greeted in French by their son when they arrived to collect him.

exp. The younger that children attend church the better.

app. There are many excuses people have BUT NONE ARE ACCEPTIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO TRULY TURNING UNTO THE LORD.

            C. Individuals no matter their excuse.

let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

ill. Bridegrooms were exempt from military service for one year after their marriage. The new wife and groom were to come assemble as well - THERE WERE NO SUCH EXCUSES IN SEEKING AFTER THE LORD.

exp. What is more important than seeking God? (nothing) Excuses that were even given by God to men were invalid when it came to this solemn turning to God.

question: Can you imagine what Joel would have said to someone who was so unconcerned about the judgment coming that they could ignore the trumpet and miss the solemn assembly.

app.  There will be times when we are tempted to miss the assembly of the congregation for reasons which God will not condone. It is best if everyone attends the assemble to seek after God.

 

IV. When men turn to the Lord.

17  Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?

exp. The priests had nothing to offer to God. They were to weep and plead for the glory of God to be seen again. The enemies of God were reproaching the living God.

question: We are living in a day when people are saying, "Where is their God?" Do you care? God's priests did.

1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

app. Are you burdened about God's glory - that is what happens when men turn to the Lord!

 

 

conclusion: Like the Ninevites - Israel could have blessing instead of judgment - IF THEY WOULD TURN TO THE LORD.

18 ¶  Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

19  Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:

 

God can do great things in our day as well! But, He does so with people who turn to him.

1.) Have you turned to God? WITH ALL YOUR HEART?

2.) Is there anything keeping you from turning to God?  WILL YOU REPENT?

3.) Do you not know that God is willing to forgive you and restore you?

4.) Are you willing to join the assembly of those who want to seek God?

5.) Will you plead for God to take away His judgment and give his blessing?

 

THEN WE CAN SAY, WITH JOEL....

21  Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.