I. IT IS A MEETING CALLED ON ACCOUNT OF COMMON SIN. All the people of Judah had sinned grievously, and they were now summoned together on that account. No subject is of such urgent importance as this. Sin, this was the root of all the miseries of their country. It behoved them to meet together in order to deliberate how best to tear up this upas, how best to dry up this pestiferous fountain of all their calamities.
II. IT IS A MEETING COMPOSED OF ALL CLASSES. The young and the old were there; the sad and the jubilant; even the bridal pair; the priests and the people. The subject concerned them all; all were vitally interested in it. Sin is no class subject. It concerns the man in imperial purple as well as the man in pauper's rags.
III. IT IS A MEETING FOR HUMILIATION AND PRAYER. "Let the priests and the ministers weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord!" It was not a meeting for debate or discussion, for mere social intercourse and entertainment; but for profound humiliation before God.
CONCLUSION. No meeting in England is more urgently demanded to-day than such a one as this. - D.T.
Sanctify a fast.I. IT MUST BE AN ASSEMBLY WHICH SHALL BE SOLEMN IN THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT MEETS. "Call a solemn assembly." In all probability these words refer to the legal purifications which were enjoined upon the people prior to their entering upon the worship of the temple. They are also indicative of the moral purity and earnestness which should especially characterise a penitential assembly. All who attended this meeting were to be washed from the defilement of their past sin, and were to come and bow before the Lord in a renewed condition of soul. This was not an assembly to inaugurate social reform, to advance scientific research, or to determine a political policy; but to manifest a deep sorrow for national apostasy, and to turn aside the peril which had been awakened thereby. This meeting was not to vaunt the prowess of the nation, hut to confess sin before God; and surely only a solemn mood would avail at such a time. How beneficial would be the effect of such an assembly.
II. IT MUST BE AN ASSEMBLY IN WHICH EVERY CONCEIVABLE AID TO REPENTANCE SHALL BE REGARDED. "Assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet."
1. There was the pathos of sorrowful old age. Here is old age in tears because of the sin of the nation, and because of the evil of which it is guilty before God. The elders were present. They have known the nation long. They are concerned for its welfare. They are deeply moved by the judgments with which it is visited.
2. There was the pathos of imperilled childhood. The children of the nation were present at this meeting; not even infants were exempt from attendance. And would not the thought of the danger to which these innocent babes were liable, and their piteous cries, lead their parents to humiliation before God?
3. There was the abandonment of domestic festivities. The bridegroom went forth from his chamber, and the bride out of her closet, in order that they might attend the meeting thus imperatively called. The newly-married were not to be exempt from this penitential assembly. The most innocent festivities of life were to yield their joy to the refreshing and saving tears of repentance.
III. IT MUST BE AN ASSEMBLY IN WHICH THE MORAL LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE SHALL SUSTAIN THEIR APPROPRIATE RELATION. "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar." The priests are to utter in public before God the inward feeling of the nation. This was a Divine arrangement. It was conducive to order. It was promotive of repentance. And so in the penitential assembly the moral leaders of the people must intercede on their behalf before God.
IV. IT MUST BE AN ASSEMBLY IN WHICH THE MERCY OF GOD SHALL BE EARNESTLY SUPPLICATED. "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?" The priests were not only to weep; they were also to pray. Tears without prayers are vain.
1. The prayer of the priest is for mercy. They ask God to spare their undeserving but repentant people. They make no excuse.
2. The prayer of the priest remembers the covenant of God with His people. They plead that God will save His people and His heritage. In our prayer of repentance we may plead the Divine Ownership of us and the Divine interest in us. Each soul is the heritage of God.
3. The prayer of the priests desires the glory of God. The Jews were the people of God. Thus the priests plead .that national salvation may take away from their wicked enemies the opportunity of reproaching the Divine name.Lessons —
1. That national assemblies should be frequently called to confess sin before God.
2. That they should combine all classes of individuals.
3. That they should be arranged by the ministers of the Gospel.
4. That they should prayerfully seek. .the glory of God.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
I. BY A CONFESSION OF SIN. When we confess, we should begin with confessing that sinfulness of our nature which is the root of all the sins of the world. We should proceed to confess the sins of our time, the first and greatest of which is the want of faith, or the neglect of Christianity. This want of faith is naturally followed by a neglect of Divine worship; for who will worship as a Christian, that does not believe as a Christian? When we are considering the sins of the age, it is hard to know where to begin, or where to end.
II. A RESOLUTION OF AMENDMENT. Not by the devotion of a single day, but by a continued sense of the "terrors of the Lord" upon our lives and actions. While we have the light of the Gospel, let us value it, and walk by it.
III. A DEPENDENCE UPON THE GOODNESS AND MERCY OF GOD. Penitents in the worst of times have everything to hope. What obligations then lie upon you at this moment, to be serious, to be sorrowful for past sin, devout and humble, constant in the worship of God, and sincerely devoted to His service for the time to come.
(W. Jones, M. A.)
Homilist.Men are constantly assembling themselves together for one purpose or another, — political, commercial, scientific, entertaining. But of all the meetings none are so urgent as the one indicated in the text.
I. IT IS A MEETING CALLED ON ACCOUNT OF COMMON SIN. All the people of Judah had sinned grievously, and they were now summoned together on that account. No subject is of such urgent importance as this. Sin, this was the root of all the miseries of their country. It behoved them to meet together in order to deliberate how best to tear up this upas-tree, how best to dry up this pestiferous fountain of all their calamities.
II. IT IS A MEETING COMPOSED OF ALL CLASSES. The young and the old were there; the sad and the jubilant; even the bridal pair; the priests and the people. The subject concerned them all. All were vitally interested in it. Sin is no class subject. It concerns the man in imperial purple, as well as the man in pauper's rags.
III. IT IS A MEETING FOR HUMILIATION AND PRAYER. It was not a meeting for debate or discussion, for mere social intercourse and entertainment, but for profound humiliation before God. Conclusion. No meeting is more urgently demanded to-day than such an one as this.
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