Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 31 2019 - Joel 2:18-32 – The Day of the Lord

Today's reading provides God's people with a message of hope. Joel had called upon "the priests who minister before the Lord" to intercede for the people of God (2:17). Today's reading recounts the Lord's response to their prayers.

The Lord promises that he will drive away those who have invaded his land (v.20). The land will recover and animals will again graze in its pastures and its trees will again bear fruit. The people of Zion will rejoice in the Lord their God as threshing-floors are filled with grain and vats overflow with new wine and oil (vv.23-24). The Lord will restore to them the years that the locusts have eaten (v.25). When the Lord visits them in mercy and salvation, they will be able to say that the sufferings of the past have been overwhelmed by the goodness and generosity of their God. Furthermore, the Lord's blessing poured out on his people will lead others to see that he is the living God and to trust in him for themselves – they will no longer be the objects of mockery and shame.

So this prophecy of restoration leads into even greater promises of blessing. In days to come the Lord promises that he will pour out his Spirit "on all people". His Spirit will no longer be given to a few prophets, enabling them to declare God's word; his Spirit will be poured out on young and old, male and female. The very fabric of the created world will be shaken as:

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. (vv.31-32)

On the Day of Pentecost the risen and ascended Jesus Christ poured out his Spirit on those first few disciples hidden away in an upper room in Jerusalem. They immediately spilled out into the streets and began speaking to the crowds who had travelled from many nations to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. All heard the disciples speaking in their own native language. The crowds were "amazed and perplexed" (Acts 2:12), and asked what on earth was happening. The apostle Peter, animated and emboldened by the Spirit of God, quoted these words from the prophet Joel to explain that the great and glorious day of the Lord – the day long spoken of by the prophets – had actually arrived. The fabric of the universe had been shaken by Jesus' death and resurrection, empires were crumbling and a new kingdom was being established and everyone who now calls on the name of the Lord – the Lord who is Jesus – will be saved.

And that is just what happened on that momentous day. Three thousand called on the name of the Lord that day and were saved. Countless thousands, millions and even billions have called on that name since that day and they also have been saved.

Saul the Pharisee came to see that in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the great Day of the Lord had broken into the middle of human history. He fell in submission and worship before the exalted Lord Jesus and was transformed by Christ into his Apostle, Paul, who took this gospel message round the Jewish and pagan Mediterranean world of his day. And this was his message – quoting from Isaiah and from this chapter of Joel in Romans 10:12-13:

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

And we too have called upon that name and have been entrusted with the good news that Jesus Christ is this world's rightful and coming Lord.

Lord Jesus, help us to understand the earth-shattering nature of the redemption you accomplished for us through your sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. May we, like those first disciples, be filled with your Spirit and empowered to tell others that they too may believe and be saved.

Aug 31 2013 - 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 – Seeing the unseen

Paul has been speaking to the Corinthians of the costs of his ministry. As we saw yesterday, he has seen the glory of Christ and longs that others might come to see what he has seen and come to a knowledge of the living God. Paul has travelled the Mediterranean world, intent upon sharing this treasure. This has proved no easy task. This is how he describes it in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

What keeps Paul going when he faces such trials and discouragements? “We fix our eyes”, he says, “not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (4:18). Paul’s life and conduct are shaped by unseen realities. He is not living for present comfort but for future glory. He has his eyes fixed upon Christ and the glory that will be his when Christ appears. So he lives by faith and not by sight (5:6). His goal is to please his Lord in everything he does, whether in life or in death. His decisions and actions are shaped by the knowledge that he will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to hear his Lord’s verdict on his life and receive the reward that flows from the use he has made of all that Christ has given him (5:10).

This is what keeps Paul going. He does not lose heart, even though he feels himself wasting away (4:16). He remains confident in his ministry and makes it his constant goal to please Christ (5:6,8). He considers the trials and persecution that he faces “light and momentary troubles” for they “are achieving … an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (5:17).

I find these words of the Apostle a tremendous challenge. To what extent does the unseen world to come shape my present life and conduct? Have I become too comfortable with this present age and detuned to eternal issues? I need to be reminded that this present age, with all its fashions and treasures, is passing away – like an old and broken clay jar. That does not mean that this present world is unimportant. On the contrary, through the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ God has affirmed his love and purpose for this present creation. His intention is not for its destruction but for its preservation, transformation and glorification – “that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”. It means that I am to have the eye of my faith fixed upon that world to come and to be living for that world and not for present satisfaction. I am to invest in what will last.

We pray that God’s kingdom may come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There are costs to the work of the kingdom. It cost Jesus his life. He calls us to follow him; to die with him so that his resurrection life may touch and transform the lives of others.

Lord, help me to live by faith and not by sight. Help me to have my eyes fixed on Jesus and, in all things, to live to please him who lived and died and lives for me. May eternity shape how I live now, even as how I now live shall shape eternity.

Peter Misselbrook