The Lord’s Hand

The Lord's Hand

Gird yourselves and lament, you priests;
Wail, you who minister before the altar;
Come, lie all night in sackcloth,
You who minister to my God;
For the grain offering and the drink offering
Are withheld from the house of your God.
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the elders
And all the inhabitants of the land
Into the house of the Lord your God,
And cry out to the Lord.

Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is at hand;
It shall come as destruction from the Almighty.
Is not the food cut off before our eyes,
Joy and gladness from the house of our God?
The seed shrivels under the clods,
Storehouses are in shambles;
Barns are broken down,
For the grain has withered.
How the animals groan!
The herds of cattle are restless,
Because they have no pasture;
Even the flocks of sheep suffer punishment.

O Lord, to You I cry out;
For fire has devoured the open pastures,
And a flame has burned all the trees of the field.
The beasts of the field also cry out to You,
For the water brooks are dried up,
And fire has devoured the [c]open pastures.
— Joel 1:13-20.

Men, the grasses, grains, vines, and trees have been consumed by a judgment of locusts in Judah. Joel says that even joy has withered away. The prophet now calls for Judah to lament (mourn), for priests to wail, and for ministers to lie at night in sackcloth because there are no grain offerings. Joel calls for a national fast and for every person to assemble and cry out to God. Even the animals are groaning in desperation. The fields are dying, what’s left is dry, and wild fires have devoured the pastures. Joel cries out to God on behalf of Judah and all Israel.

In Joel’s time as well as our own time, we may look out our window and identify a problem, but we seldom recognize the Lord’s corrective hand. If His corrective hand is hard to see, discerning what to do about it further escapes us. Joel has identified their circumstances as an act of Gods hand, heard the Lords conviction, and called the entire region to assemble with a fast to pray and cry out to God.

Joel was not a political leader as far as we know, but he recognized the season and made a national plea on behalf of his people. What makes his voice any louder than yours or mine? Was there anything special about Joel that he would be heard more than you or me? We can look to history and see that Joel was not heard; the people were not convicted to the point of turning back to God. Joel didn’t know one way or the other but recognized what needed to take place and acted on it. Will you and I?

Move forward men, seeking the Lord’s counsel that He might reveal His ways, then we may respond as called. We should see some hint of the season we’re in, and be praying for our loved ones and neighbors. We should be mourning for those who are blind and calling for national repentance. We should be fasting to gain further understanding of our circumstances. Are we? Will we?

Vance Durrance

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Dry Bones

Dry Bones

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. — Ezekiel 37:1-2.

Men, everyone who reads the Word along with these devotions will recognize an immediate shift in language for ch. 37. Elsewhere we have read, “Again the Word of the Lord came to me saying:” before the Lord granted prophetic knowledge to Ezekiel. Here, we read, “The Hand of the Lord came upon me.” God’s hand represents a different value in His authority. I didn’t say greater or lesser, but different.

Elsewhere, Ezekiel has heard God’s Word, and recognized physical elements to use in his prophecy to the people, but here, Ezekiel is led out of his normal state of consciousness into a state where he perceives both the voice of God and the physical attributes of the environment shown to him in a very literal sense. He can see and feel physical things though clearly not in his normal state or place.

Ezekiel is set by God into a valley filled with dry bones. The Lord caused him to pass through the whole valley where he again acknowledges that there are many bones, and indeed they were very dry. The Lord then asks: “Son of man, can these bones live?” We might suggest “no” from our own time and normal cognition, but Ezekiel is not in his normal cognitive element. He recognizes that he is in the realm of God’s Spirit, where His authority and power are on display unimpeded by the laws of His creation.

There are 2 predominant interpretations for the dry bones. Some argue the bones are the slain Israelites of the siege that had recently decimated Jerusalem and all Judah. Others offer that this is metaphoric for the deadness of the persecuted church, perhaps through the time of Jesus when even the religious leaders were far off course.

V11 offers more clarity, but for now, move forward as we consider, the realm in which we inhabit is a very small place, and the Lord God is not contained within it. The Lord God sees, experiences, shares and creates from a place beyond our doubt or understanding. The Lord God is great and limitless beyond our comprehension.

Vance Durrance

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