“Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
• Rend • to tear (something) into pieces
In Joel chapter 2, it begins by describing the pending destruction that is coming for the land of Judah because of their wickedness and disobedience. We (you and I) are like the land of Judah in this passage, because we are born into sin and we fall short of the glory of God. We make mistakes and sin on a daily basis. Before we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, we too, are heading for calamity. Then starting in verse 12, Joel tells the people in the land of Judah (and us) what they need to do [repent].
I love how verse 12 starts with “Even now”, because it emphasizes that even in the middle of our mess, we can still turn to God and He will be faithful and compassionate towards us!
In verse 13, Joel is expressing to the land of Judah that God wants your hearts, not just your torn garments and outward cries. When we sin and do something against God, we need to repent and turn back to Him. As followers of Christ, what breaks His heart should also break ours; and this includes our sins.
When (not if, but when) we fail, God is faithful and full of grace. After the people turned from their sins and selfish ways, back to God, it says in verse 18, “Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.” Then it goes on to speak of the blessings that God poured out on His people in place of the calamity that was intended for them because of their sins.
Don’t miss the key that turned everything around; the people repented of their sins. When they did this, God was faithful and forgave them. This same option is available for you and I. When we stumble and we fall, we must repent and ask God for His forgiveness. This mercy and forgiveness comes from a personal relationship with Jesus. “And everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved”. (Joel 2:32)