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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

REND YOUR HEART

Joel 2:12-13 Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

The prophet Joel, guided by God, prophesied in the Kingdom of Judah. Of the exact time, no one seems sure. However, we find Joel's prophecy warning of plagues of locusts, drought, and famine. These were to take place due to the wickedness of Judah. As in many other prophesies, they were exhorted to pray, fast, and repent so these calamities would be averted. They were warned to change their ways.

Ezra notes in Chapter 9, how the children of Israel mingled with the inhabitants of Canaan, worshipped their idols, and took their sons and daughters as husbands and wives. In verse 3, of this chapter, Ezra wrote, ...when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished.

In Esther, we find that, through the instigation of Haman, a decree was issued to kill all Jews, young and old, little children and women. All Jews were to perish. When Mordecai, the uncle of Esther, heard of this decree, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry (Esther 4:1).

These are two sincere examples that note the rending of clothing as an outward demonstration of sadness, remorse, penitence, and mourning. However, in many cases, the outward demonstration took on a hypocritical religious air. In Ezekiel 33:31 it says that the Israelites hear Thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. In Matthew 23, Jesus warns that the scribes and Pharisees say, and do not. (A)ll their works they do for to be seen of men (See Matt. 23:3-5). We have many examples of such hypocrisy in the bible.

Knowing of such hypocrisy, God indicates, in the lesson text, that He expects more than just the outward demonstration of repentance. He wants repentance to come from within the heart. God wants repentance of the whole person, not just that portion which can be seen ourwardly.

Repentance is a Returning to God - And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods ...and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only (1 Sam. 7:3). Repentance is Being Converted - Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19). Repentance is Being Sorry - Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

God loves you and wants your heart-felt love in return. Not just an outward show of godliness, but a devoted love that comes from within. The parable of the one lost sheep of the flock of one hundred is a good example of God's love. When that lost sheep was returned to the fold, there was rejoicing in heaven. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (See Luke 15:3-7).

If, as a Christian, you are not walking with God today, you need torepent and turn away from your sinful way of life, receive God's promised forgiveness, and return to God and follow His ways. You need to change your inner self, not just your appearance. You need to rend your heart, not your garments!