In perilous time like these, is the church powerless to do anything? Are we to sit and wait for Christ to return? Or, are we called to take drastic action of some kind? When all around us the world is trembling, with men’s hearts failing them for fear, are we called to take up spiritual weapons and do battle with the adversary?
The prophet Joel saw a similar day approaching Israel, one of “thick darkness and gloom.” According to Joel, the day of darkness that was approaching Israel would be one such as never seen in their history. The prophet cried, “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from Almighty shall it come” (Joel 1:15).
What was Joel’s counsel to Israel in that dark hour? He brought this word: “Therefore…saith the Lord. Turn ye even to 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. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him…?” (Joel 2:12-14).
As I read this passage, I am most struck by two words: “Even now.” As gross darkness fell over Israel, God appealed to his people: “Even now, at the hour of my vengeance—when you’ve pushed me out of your society, when mercy seems impossible, when humankind has mocked my warnings, when fear and gloom are covering the land—even now, I urge you to come back to me. I am slow to anger, and I have been known to hold back my judgments for a season, as I did for Josiah. My people can pray and petition for my mercy. But the world won’t repent if you say there is no mercy.”
Do you see God’s message to us in this? As his people, we can plead in prayer and he will hear us. We can make requests of him and know he will answer the sincere, effectual, fervent prayers of his saints.