The Lord utters his voice before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?
"Yet even now," declares the Lord,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful,
slower to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
When I read something like this, I fall in love with the Lord anew, and Scripture should produce that response in the believer--like reading a love letter or old note--it should remind you of your original love, adoration, or pleasure in another person and renew it. This passage is so short, but it is so revealing as to the attributes of God:
- His kingdom is grand and his forces, mighty (his camp is exceedingly great)
- His works and actions are epic (the day is great and very awesome)
- He longs for reconcilation, and he offers the solution for accomplishing it (return, fast, weep, mourn, rend).
- He is gracious--giving good that is unmerited.
- He is merciful--witholding punishment that is deserved.
- He is patient (slow to anger)
- He is full of consistent, rich love in abundance. (steadfast love)
- And when catastrophe and pain befall his people, whether it be as a result of useful intended discipline or simply the "reaped" result of their own sinful sowing, he hurts with and for them (relents over disaster)
Don't you see it?
Too often, I fail to. So often we all lose sight of this, of his goodness in spite of our recitative spiritual harlotry. Our confessions and our repentance does not include fasting, weeping, or mourning; we say we're sorry and go about our lives like it is no big deal, but hurting a God this Good is a big deal. If one wrongs a righteous person, we are so quick to judge and rebuke them for it (behind their backs, anyway), but when we spit in the face of a God this good, we shrug our shoulders and say "Whoops. Sorry." Oh, how reading this leads me back to a place of humility before a mighty God.
God is grand; God is wonderful. This God is my God, and I adore him.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.