Sanctify a Fast = A Call to Action
October 12, 2018
Chapter 1:11-15 11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. 12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. 13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. 14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD, 15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
Verses 11-13 – This is speaking from a spiritual standpoint. The vinedressers and the husbandmen were those who cared for the souls of the people. This is saying that those who were supposed to be watching for the souls of the people have fallen down on their job. The wheat symbolizes the believers in Christ. It would be a terrible shame for those who had accepted Christ as their Saviour to be lost, because they had not been guided correctly by their ministers. The fall of Judah could be laid solely at the feet of the spiritual leaders. They did not teach the people the terrible dangers of falling away from God. They not only, allowed their people to fall into false worship, but were guilty themselves. Ministers now, and priests then, were supposed to watch and warn of any danger. They should have preached about the danger of worshipping false gods.
The throne of Judah was alternating at this time between good and wicked kings. One king would fall away from God and encourage the worship of Baal and Asherah. His successor would then lead the nation in revival and would go forth to purge the land of pagan idols and altars. But the fact that there was one revival after another proved that there was something fundamentally wrong with the heart of the people. Revival and reform presuppose there’s been a period of apostasy. Revival after revival indicated that the revivals that were occurring were not genuine – they were not going to the heart of the people; only their outward religious forms. The king might be sincere in his devotion to the LORD, and because he was king, he possessed the power and authority to command the destruction of all evidence of paganism – but political mandates don’t make for genuine heart conversion on the part of the common man.
The picture was bleak, for even the deep roots of the trees could not withstand the torturous treatment administered by the locusts, especially when accompanied by an extended drought. This is speaking of a time, when the joy of the people has withered away. None of the trees produced fruit. There is a curse upon the fruit and vegetables, as well as on the people. The judgment of God has fallen upon them. There is no fruit on the vine. All of the above trees have symbolized God’s people at some time, when the blessings of God was upon them. The trees with no fruit, also, symbolize the fact that God has taken His blessings away. Man’s joy and delight had departed from all segments of society; none had escaped the grasp of the locusts. The joy that normally accompanied the time of harvest had been replaced with despair.
The time had arrived for true repentance which was to be led by the priests and ministers of the LORD. They were to lead the way – to show to the people – to demonstrate to them what it means to show humility and penitence to the LORD whom they have forsaken. Prepare and be ready to raise up lamentation and mourning; and gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn. They were to come into the house of the LORD, and there lie all night, in the sackcloth girded; sending up prayers to God, with weeping and lamentations, that He would avert the judgments that had come and was coming upon them. They were to gird themselves with the sackcloth of mourning. Being gird with sackcloth was an outward expression of the sorrow of their hearts. They were to pray night and day. The daily sacrifice has been taken away. In their time, this meant the loss of daily fellowship with their God. In our day, this means that all symbols of Christianity have been taken away. Notice the mention of ministers here, which makes me believe these warnings are for their immediate future, and for our day, as well.
Verses 14-15 – “Sanctify ye a fast” = a “Call to Action”. The prophet called the priests to take action, first by example (verse 13), and then by proclamation (verse 14). As the official leaders, it was their duty to proclaim a public fast so that the entire nation could repent and petition the LORD to forgive and restore them. Here they were admonished to consecrate a fast, denoting its urgency. The fast was used to show the LORD the sincerity of the prayers being prayed. The assembly was not to be one of joy, but sorrow. This is a call of prayer by all of the inhabitants of the land to reach God.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
“The Day of the LORD is at hand” – This is the “first time” that “theme” of the Book of Joel is mentioned. Later in the book (Joel 2:18; Joel 3:1, Joel 3:18-21), the Day of the LORD – which is when God pours out His wrath on man, results in blessing and exoneration for God’s people and judgment toward Gentiles.
Ezekiel 30:3 For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.
However, here Joel directs the warning toward his own people. The Day of the LORD is speedily approaching; unless sinners repent, dire consequences await them. Destruction from the Almighty. The notion of invincible strength is foremost; destruction at the hand of Omnipotent God is coming.
Again, this had a near fulfilment. There is coming a Day of the LORD at the end of the Gentile age.
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
Once that last Gentile surrenders their life and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of their lives, the trumpets sound, the dead in Christ rise up first, and we that are alive will rise up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The judgment of God was upon them for the sins in their lives. The wrath of God will fall upon the disobedient, in our generation as well. It is bad to fall into the hands of the devil or Satan, but it is much worse to fall into the hands of God, when He pours out His wrath.
We know well today the damage that is done to the cause of Christ by those who profess His name, but deny His Lordship over their lives and ambitions. God calls the people to genuine repentance.