“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—
a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.” (Joel 2:1-2)
The Day of the Lord, a day of darkness and gloom. But it is not armies that come marching against us, but our sin. It has darkened our souls and threatens to extinguish the light that is our faith and belief. What can we do?!
“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
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?
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.
Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples, Where is their God?’” (Verses 12-17)
There is a rhythm in Christian life – sin and confess, sin and confess, sin and confess. But there needs to be a time when we sit and face squarely our sin, and feel the deep need to confess. And when we have purged ourselves of all sin, and have confessed all our faults, missteps, and mistakes. Then, and only then, can we feel the deepest sense of God’s forgiveness.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:1-3)
There are times and days to confess what we have done to each other, the sins we commit person to person. These may be such days; but these are also the days to consider what our sin has done to our relationship with God and our Lord Jesus.
“Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.” (Verses 4-5)
It is human to sin. Our nature is such that we are not perfect, and even the smallest of imperfections looms large when we come face to face with God.
“You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.” (Verses 6-8)
It hurts to be faced and confronted by our sins. But the greater hurt would be to hide more and longer from our sins. And in facing our sins, and the fear that comes from being confronted as a sinner we find release in our Lord.
“Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Verses 9-17)
May you beloved reader enter into this time of Lent ready to encounter God and Christ in new ways, and may your faith be renewed and deepened. Selah!