Read Joel 1
Focus on verse 15
If you have lived at long enough to qualify as an adult in America you have likely faced a deadline that you felt ill prepared to meet. I have the type of personality that finds deadlines helpful. This is not to suggest that I “like” deadlines because I do not, however, this does not change the fact that I find them helpful. My default method of handling deadlines is to procrastinate long enough to allow the pressure of the approaching deadline to set me into a mild state of panic which then provides the motivation to get the job done. Understand that I am not recommending this as a preferred method of handling deadlines, simply observing that this is the method that I default to if I do not discipline myself to use a more controlled approach.
In today’s reading the prophet Joel warns of an impending deadline of sorts that the people of Israel understood as “the day of the Lord”. It was commonly understood to be the day that God would judge the surrounding nations and restore Israel as the ruling empire in the region. Joel’s message has a new twist, however, in that it includes Israel among the nations that will be judged by God for the evil they have committed.
Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes. (v. 15)
The interesting thing about deadlines is that if one is well prepared for them, they are not frightening at all. In fact when one is prepared it may well be a day to look forward to. It is only a terrifying event for those who feel they are unprepared for the event.
This would be true of the day of the Lord as well. For those people who have made their peace with God by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as their payment for their sin, the day of the Lord is an event they can anticipate with joy as it promises to be a day of celebration. On the other hand for those who have rejected God by rejecting the work of Christ as valid for them, for these this is a day of terror, for they will be required to bear the consequences of rejecting God’s free gift of eternal life.
It would seem the bottom line is that a deadline is only a thing to dread if one is not prepared to meet it. The question that remains then is – are you ready? If you suddenly found yourself standing before God and He would ask you why He should let you into His heaven – how would you reply? Would you have a reply? I am not certain that this is the exact scenario of how the day of the Lord will come about, but I do know that if we do not have a ready answer to the aforementioned question – it is highly possible that we are NOT ready.
If on the other hand we can answer with confidence and integrity that the reason God should allow us to enter His heaven is that we have trusted in the work of Jesus Christ for our eternal life, and that we have accepted His free gift of eternal life, there is a very good chance that we already do look forward to the day of the Lord as a day of celebration. If this is true of us, it will also be evident in the way we live our life in terms of our attitudes and actions toward God and others. It is not our good works that causes God to accept us; rather, our good works are the verification of our gratitude to God for choosing us to be the recipients of His grace.