“The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders, Â And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, Or even in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation. What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; And wail, all you drinkers of wine, Because of the new wine,Â For it has been cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against My land, Strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white. Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth For the husband of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering Have been cut off from the house of the LORD; The priests mourn, who minister to the LORD. The field is wasted, The land mourns; For the grain is ruined, The new wine is dried up, The oil fails. Be ashamed, you farmers, Wail, you vinedressers, For the wheat and the barley; Because the harvest of the field has perished. The vine has dried up, And the fig tree has withered; The pomegranate tree, The palm tree also, And the apple treeâ€”All the trees of the field are withered; Surely joy has withered away from the sons of men. Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail, you who minister before the altar; Â Come, lie all night in sackcloth, You who minister to my God; For the grain offering and the drink offering Are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land Into the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty.â€ (Joel 1:1-15 NKJV)
Today and tomorrow weâ€™ll look at the need and purpose of a solemn or sacred assembly. Weâ€™ll begin by showing why a solemn assembly is now needed in America.
In Joel 1:1-15, we are given the PREREQUISITES of a solemn assembly, all of which add up to the dire and desperate spiritual straits of a nation facing the impending judgment of God. Unfortunately for us, all of these prerequisites are present-day realities in todayâ€™s America, proving to the spiritually astute that divine retribution now hangs over this nation like the sword of Damocles.
The first prerequisite proving the need for a solemn assemble is fruitlessnessâ€”â€œthe harvest of the field has perished.â€ Though the plight of the American farmer is well know in our day, the fruitlessness which speaks more to the dire and desperate spiritual condition of our country is that of the church, which the Scripture identifies as â€œGodâ€™s fieldâ€ (1 Corinthians 3:9 NIV).
The second prerequisite proving the need of a solemn assembly is defeatâ€”â€œFor a nation has come up against My land, Strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has the fangs of a fierce lion.â€ Today, the church in America is losing the spiritual battle for the immortal souls of men, being primarily populated by carnal Christians who are overcome and oppressed by their â€œadversary the devil [who] walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devourâ€ (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV).
The third prerequisite proving the need for a solemn assembly is the fact that there are no sacrifices or offerings at the house of Godâ€”â€œWail, you who minister before the altar; Come, lie all night in sackcloth, You who minister to my God; For the grain offering and the drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.â€ In Americaâ€™s contemporary churches there is a lack of â€œliving sacrificesâ€; that is, of those committing themselves to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2). There is also a lack of spiritual sacrifices, those of true worship and praise (Hebrews 13:15). And who can deny the lack of â€œincenseâ€â€”intercessory prayerâ€”being offered up to God from the altars of contemporary churches (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4).
Finally, the absence of joyâ€”â€œSurely joy has withered away from the sons of menâ€â€”is a prerequisite proving the need for a solemn assembly. If you compare the amount of joy and gladness to the amount of gripping and grumbling in todayâ€™s church youâ€™ll have a good idea of just how imminent the judgment of God is upon our nation.
Pray that the church in America will wake up to the signs of Godâ€™s impending judgment upon our land and begin crying out to God both day and night.