Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Joel 1:14
Imagine what would happen if Joe Biden stood up and said, “we have all collectively sinned against God and I am declaring a month-long fast. We need to pray to the Lord for forgiveness.” Half the country would denounce him (some just because of his politics) and the other half would call him crazy. Or, imagine if Joel Osteen showed up at his Houston megachurch wearing only a burlap sack. He would walk to the microphone and say, “I want you all to join me in this. We have sinned against the Lord and we need to humble ourselves. Take off your fancy clothes and put on sackcloth like me.”
Imagine if Cardi B did that. Or Tucker Carlson, Anthony Fauci, Jerome Powell, or any other well-known figure in public life. Imagine if your pastor did it. Let’s be real: the likelihood of anyone except your pastor doing this is pretty small. And, to be frank, I don’t even expect any of my pastor friends to do it any time soon. It would seem like a gimmick in our culture, like some publicity stunt to get attention. That isn’t what Joel was telling us to do.
Imagine if you or I, me or you, did that.
Instead, Joel was telling us to declare a fast and cry out to the Lord for forgiveness, for His mercy. It’s not to draw attention to ourselves, or even to draw attention to Joel’s message. It’s to turn our eyes towards God and ask for HIS attention, for His message into our hearts. It’s because we need to be humble. It’s because we’ve sinned so badly that God has removed His favor from our lives. God isn’t some wish machine: ‘I pray and He blesses me;’ that isn’t His character. But, when He warned His people for centuries that they were setting themselves against Him over and over and over, eventually His patience ran out. When that happened, God removed His favor and let the consequences of sin run their course.
The same thing happens in our world. Joe Biden (and others, and me, and you): are you listening?
What should we do when we’re in mourning that our sins have come home to roost? Fast. Declare a fast. Deprive ourselves in worship and humility. Gather the leaders and have them publicly repent, cry out to God for mercy. Then, let each of us follow their example. Exchange our proud clothes for rags and pray humbly. Stop feasting and start fasting.
For more reading: 2 Chronicles 20:3-4, Hosea 4:1, Jonah 3:8, Joel 1:14
Lord, thank You for blessings. I confess my sins to You and ask for Your mercy.
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