Key Verses: Joel 1:14,19a
Declare a holy fast;
call a sacred assembly.
Summon the elders
and all who live in the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
and cry out to the Lord.
…O Lord, to You I cry out!
When in trouble “CRY OUT!” There are two ways to do this: (1) In a sacred assembly together with the elders (leaders of the church) in fasting and prayer. And (2) In our personal prayer times. According the the prophet Joel, when hungry and thirsty, even the “beasts of the field” (cattle, etc.) “cry out” to the Lord! Cattle will “bawl” when they are hungry or thirsty.
Joel reminds his hearers of a time in the past when chewing, swarming, crawling locusts descended on their land and stripped away in hours every vestige of plant life. The people had no refrigeration, no freezers, and no canned foods such as we have in today’s developed world. Yes, they probably had stored in advance some grain products and dried foods, but they were in big trouble! These people knew what to do! No doubt they had sung Psalm 50 from their hymnbook, the Psalms. The Temple worship leader, Asaph, had composed a song of worship in which God says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).
The theme of disaster runs throughout Joel’s book. There are the locust plagues, famine, raging fires, invading armies, and fearful phenomena in “the heavens” (cosmos). But Joel does not give way to despair. Hopeful promises from God are interspersed between pronouncements of the judgments which the people have brought on themselves.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, I am blessed with food and drink in abundance; some of these provisions are the result of modern technology along with the plants that You have created. But modernity has also brought with it bigger troubles than ever, it would seem. I think about today’s world and I cry out to You! I pray the promises You have made to humanity and to me personally. As Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, reminded me, You said, O Lord, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). I cry out to You in the Name (the Person) of the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). Amen!!!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
The “Crossroads” ministry has received well over 10 million telephone calls from people crying out to the Lord, with the help of our prayer partners. Through the years, we have referred to Jeremiah 33:3 as God’s telephone number. I’ve called 1-866-273-4444 (our 24/7 prayer line) from home, on the road, and even from my office upstairs, when I was President, to the Prayer Ministry Centre in times of trouble. What a blessing! Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
When Joel says that even the beasts of the field “cry out” to the Lord, I thought of the many times when, as a teenager, I would do chores for a local farmer. I would arrive at the barn to find the cows bawling for their morning supply of hay. I would oblige them and while they munched contentedly, I would help to milk them. There is a branch of philosophy that says, “Learn from the animals.” Many times over the years I’ve “bawled” and would “cry out” to the Lord! The way I bawled did not sound like the cows, but it surely was an indicator of the fervency level of my prayers. James wrote, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much!” (James 5:16b). The righteous part I leave for God to judge, and I claim that promise from God.
Yours for “crying out” loud, if we feel we need to (and we don’t bother others too much!),