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Lenten Reflections 2021: The Sign of True Restoration is the Recognition of God’s Unique Sovereignty and His Presence

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

By  @johnvinod  | February 25, 2021

Let us read once again chapter two of the book of Joel and focus on verse 27:

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame (Joel 2: 27 ESV).

This verse 27 concludes the section 2: 18-27 that brings the message of restoration and salvation for God’s people who have been through the ravages of the locust plague and prepares for the next section. The tiny book of Joel is a theocentric book meaning its focus is not on the plague itself or its devastation; rather its purpose is to draw attention to the biblical God, his restoration, and the salvation of his people.

Therefore, after repentance and renewal, Joel wants to make sure that the Israelites knew who is this God, Yahweh, who brings them out of a plague and restores their soul, bodies, and their land (see verse 18). This was necessary to remind and underscore because people are prone to forget once they receive what they have been praying for. The book of Psalms is also replete with such reminders at different periods.

Joel switches to the first person as he writes what God said: “You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,…” They were to recognize the presence of the Almighty God in their midst. This reminder is the same that the prophet Ezekiel had used numerous times in his book. They also needed this important retelling because during the calamity, most people assumed that God had abandoned his covenant people. The cessation of continual offerings (see 1:9-10) and other Temple rituals had heightened this belief. Therefore, Joel reminds that in reality it is the people who had violated God’s covenant through a disobedient life. But because God is merciful, in his graciousness, he has accepted their petitions and brought about their deliverance.

So, as they move forward in their new life, they need to recognize that the Almighty God is indeed in their midst. This recognition and practice of the continual presence of God would also help them live a holy life yielding to the demands of his law. It will help them resume the continual worship and offerings at his holy Temple.

Second, verse 27 emphasized “that I, the Lord [Yahweh] am your God and there is none other.” They needed this notice because they should never entertain the thought that their salvation was possible without Yahweh. The tone and words are very emphatic: I, the Lord, am your God! The verse continues to stress that Yahweh God is the only God and “there is none other.” His sovereignty is unrivaled and cannot be shared with any other deity. Such a strong reminder was considered necessary because the Israelites had slipped into idolatry and fertility cults of all sorts and even their priests had become corrupt defiling the holy Temple.

Third, verse 27 concludes saying, “And my people shall never again be put to shame.” The combining of “I, the Lord, am your God” with the phrase “my people” brings back the significant covenant relationship of Yahweh God with the people of Israel. People should acknowledge they had broken the covenant. Joel joyfully declares that the covenant relationship has been restored. And they should now recognize that through his salvation, Yahweh has restored the covenant. Therefore, they must make sure now that their lives align with the covenant requirements and its laws. The uniqueness of Yahweh God, his absolute sovereignty, and his enduring presence among his people are the most important privileges of the covenant relationship. Everyone who knows this God should recognize and delight in them.

Friends, today, for us who are in the middle of a pandemic, Joel has a clear message of hope of restoration and salvation. However, there are conditions for this to become a reality, which we have discussed earlier (please see my previous posts in this category of devotions). Once these conditions are met, we, too, can rejoice in the new relationship and new life that God promises. We too can enjoy the privileges of being in a covenant relationship with the unique and sovereign God. And those of us who do recognize and live in the sovereignty of God, continually practicing the presence of this Triune God in our lives must also share this good news with others who live in fear today. Are you sharing? Will you share?


For a paperback, please contact vinod@vinodjohn.com
Published inDevotionsLenten Devotions 2021Lenten Reflections 2021

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