“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him—A grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:14-17 NKJV)
Here, in Joel 2:14-17, we have God’s call for repentance. According to the Prophet Joel, if we will repent and return to God, God might relent from His impending judgment and mercifully spare our nation. Instead of annihilation there might be salvation. Of course, all of this is contingent upon our repentance.
This explains the prophet’s call for a solemn or sacred assembly. Sacred assemblies are called for when God’s people realize their need to come together and collectively fall upon their knees in hopes of persuading God to relent from His impending judgment upon their land.
Notice, the PARTICIPANTS in a solemn assembly are the people of God. The PLACE for a solemn assembly is the house of God. And the PURPOSE of a solemn assembly is for you to truly repent and not just go through the motions, as the prophet makes abundantly clear—“So rend your heart, and not your garments.”
As we’ve pointed out repeatedly this month, revival in America must begin with personal repentance in individual hearts. Solemn assemblies are really not about: (1) what’s wrong with our country (2) what’s wrong in Washington D.C. (3) what’s wrong in Tallahassee (4) what’s wrong in our church, or (5) what’s wrong with other people. Instead, a solemn assembly is really about what’s wrong with me. Until we get right that which is wrong in our own hearts nothing will change in America!
Pray the prayer of the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).