Tuesday, August 21, 2007

21/08/07 Tuesday in the week of the 12th Sunday after Pentecost

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 Holy Apostle Thaddeus of the Seventy
Kellia: Joel 1:14-2:11 Epistle: 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5 Gospel: St.

Judgment & Restoration ~ Response to Judgment: Joel 1:14-2:11,
especially vs. 2:11: “The Lord shall utter His voice before His host:
for His camp is very great: for the execution of His words is mighty:
for the day of the Lord is great, very glorious, and who shall be able
to resist it?” In Joel 1:1-14, the Prophet described a plague of locusts
that awakened his heart and enabled him to receive “the word of the
Lord” (Joel 1:1). In turn, that which he heard impelled him to cry out
to his fellow countrymen: “Hear these words, ye elders, and hearken all
ye that inhabit the land.” (Joel 1:2). However, as his prophecy
developed, it became clear that the message was more than merely a plea
to “hear, awake, and be confounded” (Joel 1:2,5,11). Since the “word”
that Joel received came from God, he perceived that it was, in effect, a
command from the Lord Himself. The people were to “wail, lament, and
gird on sackcloth” (Joel 1:5,8,13) - to “sanctify a fast, call a solemn
assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the
house of the Lord your God; and cry to the Lord” (Joel 1:14). God’s
judgment revealed to the Prophet in a natural disaster was actually a
Divine command, requiring a response.

The present verses (1:14-2:11) continue the earlier passage (Joel
1:1-14), being connected by their sharing verse 14. This verse is the
Lord’s command to gather before Him for fasting and prayer in His
temple. The pattern of Joel’s presentation moves from a natural
disaster, to Divine judgment, and an expectation that God’s People
respond. The pattern is classically Biblical, and reveals how God
communicates with His People. Thus, when the two passages are read as
one, three truths emerge: 1) When a Prophet writes, it is the Lord Who
is speaking. 2) Catastrophes of this present life are windows for
glimpsing the Great Day of God’s final judgment. 3) Those blessed who
hear of the Great Judgment, also recognize the Lord’s demand to obey Him.

But do not overlook the demand - read the two passages on the basis of
the first verse of the Book of Joel - “the word of the Lord which came
to Joel.”

While one may read, “Joel teaches” or “the Prophet calls upon us to
cry,” yet putting aside what seems apparent, the meaning clearly is “the
Lord teaches” and “God calls upon us to cry.” Both forms of speech are
appropriate, for the Prophet was not as a mindless recorder nor a
“soulless pen” in the Divine hand. We are to pay attention to Joel as a
Spirit-filled, holy man of prayer, one whom the Holy Fathers call a
“true theologian,” a Prophet having Divine authority.

It was purity of heart in the Prophet that enabled him to be a clarion
voice for God, to be one through whom the Spirit of the Lord speaks.
There was little interference from Joel’s own ideas. Hence, the Prophet
moved easily from describing a local natural disaster to a declaration
of “the day of the Lord” (vs. 1:15), to a proclamation that ultimate,
Divine judgment is very near.

Reading the present passage thoughtfully we find it very difficult to
separate the temporal and the eternal. Is Joel calling the people of God
to sanctify a fast simply to seek amelioration from the ruinous
consequences of a disaster in which a swarm of locusts stripped the
countryside? Not entirely. He is calling God’s people through all time
to tremble for “the day of the Lord is near...a day of darkness and
gloominess, a day of cloud and mist” (vss. 2:1,2). On the Prophet’s
lips, historic events become transparent to reveal the grand, eternal
plan of God.

Therefore, Brethren, let us heed the Prophet, for his call from God is
for us as well as for the people of Joel’s generation. The Lord utters
His voice, “go in, sleep in sackcloths...Sanctify a fast, and cry
earnestly to the Lord” (Joel 1:13,14). Repentance must be our way of life.

If I think upon the multitude of my evil deeds, I tremble for the
terrible Day of Judgment. But trusting the compassion of Thy mercy, I
shout to Thee, Have mercy upon me, O God.



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