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Joel 2:10-13 & meaning...

Turn 

to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. Tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to Yahweh, your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and relents from sending calamity.

Joel 2:12-13

Context

They rush on the city.

    They run on the wall.

    They climb up into the houses.

    They enter in at the windows like thieves.

Joel 2 [10.] The earth quakes before them.

    The heavens tremble.

    The sun and the moon are darkened,

    and the stars withdraw their shining.

Yahweh thunders his voice before his army;

    for his forces are very great;

    for he is strong who obeys his command;

    for the day of Yahweh is great and very awesome,

    and who can endure it?

“Yet even now,” says Yahweh, “turn to me with all your heart,

    and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”

Tear your heart, and not your garments,

    and turn to Yahweh, your God;

    for he is gracious and merciful,

    slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness,

    and relents from sending calamity.

Who knows? He may turn and relent,

    and leave a blessing behind him,

    even a meal offering and a drink offering to Yahweh, your God.


Meaning:

  • Cosmic Upheaval:

Earthquakes and Trembling: The description of "the earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble" paints a picture of unprecedented cosmic disturbances. The magnitude of these phenomena signifies the gravity of the moment, emphasizing its significance in the divine narrative.

Darkened Sun and Moon: The mention of "sun and moon grow dark, and the stars lose their brightness" adds to the apocalyptic imagery. This cosmic dimming contributes to the sense of awe and divine intervention, setting the stage for a transformative encounter.

  • Call to Repentance:

Rending of Hearts: In response to these extraordinary events, Joel implores the people to "rend your heart and not your garments." This call goes beyond external displays of mourning, urging a deep and genuine repentance that involves the very core of one's being.

Return to the Lord: The repeated refrain "return to the Lord your God" underscores the central theme of turning back to God in sincere repentance. It suggests a relational aspect, calling for a reorientation of hearts and a renewed commitment to a covenant relationship with God.

  • Compassionate God:

Gracious and Compassionate: Despite the awe-inspiring events described, Joel emphasizes the compassionate nature of God. The passage portrays God as "gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness." This attributes a merciful character to the divine response, inviting the people to hope in God's compassion.

Relenting from Calamity: The assurance that God is "relenting from sending calamity" conveys a willingness on God's part to show mercy and spare the people from the full consequences of their actions. It reinforces the message of hope within the call to repentance.


Practical Application:

Authentic Repentance: Joel 2:10-13 challenges believers to go beyond external rituals and engage in authentic repentance. It encourages a genuine turning of hearts, acknowledging wrongdoing, and seeking restoration in the context of a personal relationship with God.

Hope in God's Compassion: The portrayal of God as gracious and compassionate offers hope to those in the midst of challenging circumstances. Believers are encouraged to anchor their trust in God's character, relying on His mercy and lovingkindness even in times of turmoil.


Cross-References:

Exodus 34:6-7: "The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.'" The description of God's character in Joel 2 echoes the revelation of God's attributes to Moses, emphasizing divine compassion and forgiveness.

Psalm 51:17: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." This verse aligns with Joel's call to "rend your heart," emphasizing the spiritual significance of a contrite and repentant heart.


In conclusion, Joel 2:10-13 presents a compelling narrative of cosmic upheaval, calling for a profound response of repentance and a turning of hearts toward God. It reveals a compassionate and merciful God, inviting people to hope in His forgiveness and steadfast love.


PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible