The Cause for the Pain- Seeking Repentance in the Shadow of the Cross

April 9, 2009

Right now in my personal Bible study time I am going through the minor prophets with the help of commentaries by Mark Dever and James M. Boice.  In reading Boice’s commentary on the prophet Joel there came the following paragraph ending out the chapter on verses 1.1 through 1.20.  I found it incredibly pertinent for our situation as a country right now and thought it worth sharing in light of that and my recent discussion on corporate repentance (1 and 2):

This brings us to the bottom line, which is the point of Joel’s prophecy.  Both the delays in God’s judgment (the periods of grace) and the previews of judgment in such catastrophic events as locust plagues and earthquakes are for out good, that we might repent.

In America we have not seen many disasters of this magnitude.  But few would deny that times are not good and that even worse times may lie ahead.  We have not had earthquakes of the size of the one at Lisbon [in 1755], but our cities have been ravaged by blight and riot, by corruption and other forms of decay.  We have not been destroyed by locust, but we have seen our economy weakened by the declining value of the dollar, an intolerable balance of payments deficit and shortages of oil and other necessities.  We have had droughts.  Are we to make light of such things?  Are we to dismiss them and then merely go our normal way until even greater judgments overtake us?  Are we to say, “Such things just happen”?  Are we to blame Russia or communism or Iran or Islam?  No doubt God does use causes, and the opposition of these or other countries may be among them.  But the wise will see these things as having come from God and lead us in personal and national repentance. (The Minor Prophets: Vol. 1, James M. Boice, pp. 126-127)

Is this where we are right now?  Are we seeing the current economic and social strife lead to personal and national repentance?  Should we?  

I get scared because I think the church in America is experiencing all of this negative stuff, a poor economy, the war on terror, domestic disasters of flooding and fire, and we are deflecting it off of ourselves and onto others whose “sin” must be causing us.  Pain and suffering and death occur because of all our depravity and watching it go on in our own backyard should not cause a time of moralistic posturing; it should compel us to face up to the sin in our own lives, both individually and corporately, and repent of it to the glory of God.  

What better time than in the shadow of the cross, the weekend we celebrate the death and resurrection of the one who died for those sins, than to find ourselves on our knees asking for forgiveness of them.