“The Word of the Lord” came to God’s people through the prophet Joel in a time of overwhelming distress. Jehovah spoke to the “elders” and all the “inhabitants of the land.” They were facing a trial from a horde of locusts “like a powerful army drawn up for battle.” Agricultural losses threatened everyone’s existence.
It was in this time of need that God brought a very clear message to His chosen nation calling them to “awake,” to “lament,” to “be ashamed,” to “consecrate a fast,” and to “call a solemn assembly.” All of these communal actions of heartfelt worship would constitute a “cry” to the Lord of Glory. With earnest mourning for their sin, they would acknowledge before God that their only hope was in His grace. God’s discipline of His covenant people was a taste of the coming “Day of the Lord” since “destruction from the Almighty” was truly “near” them.
What does it mean to “call upon the Name of the Lord,” a concept that is central to this ancient book and plays such an important role in New Testament preaching? Surely Joel 1 helps us to understand the meaning of these important words. This phrase is not primarily a plea for an inner change of heart on the part of a solitary individual, although that great work of God is necessary for all people everywhere to escape from the final judgment of Jehovah. Joel insists that we need more than a private religious experience. We must come together as the assembly of the Lord in the integrity of God-centered worship.
The cross and the resurrection of Jesus give gathered Christians hope that the ultimate Day of the Lord will bring much blessing from the Almighty for His beloved family. By the death of our Redeemer all divine justice that stood against us has been satisfied. Because the Messiah was raised from the dead, we now find great assurance that we shall participate in a new world of eternal blessing. We must still wake up from our spiritual sleep and repent, but through faith in our Substitute we can approach the end of all things with a confident expectation that all will be well for the community of worshipers who truly call upon the Name of the Lord.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, we must listen when You sound the alarm to Your people through Your ambassadors. Will we give attention to Your word of warning? When You call us to receive Your fatherly care and discipline, we need to humble ourselves and return to You. Thank You for Your Word. We should wail over our sin and mourn because of the trouble that we face. Hear us, O Lord, when we gather together in a solemn assembly and call upon Your Name.