The Book of Joel - The latter Rain is coming unto the Gay community


JOEL whose name means, "Yaweh is God" was a prophet in Jerusalem. There is no agreement on when Joel prophesied, except that it was after the Return, so somewhere from 400 to 350 BC. Nothing is known about his life, and there are no clues in the text. Containing only 70 verses, the Book of Joel is one of the shortest in the Old Testament, comprising only three chapters in our English translations. The first of two natural divisions, the earlier section (1:1-2:17) describes a terrible locust plague concluding with a plea for confession of sins. The second section (2:18-3:21), written in the form of a first-person response from God, proclaims hope for the repentant people coupled with judgment upon their enemies.

The prophet Joel is unique amongst the minor prophets, in that he was one of the last prophets and the prophecy he foretold is only partially fulfilled and perhaps to be fulfilled in our time. The prophecy that he foretold was for his future generations to remind them the coming of the terrible day of judgment of the Lord and to seek God with all their heart, soul and mind when the day of the Lord is at hand. Unlike the pre-exile prophets there was no need to mention the destruction of Israel's greatest enemy - the Assyrians and Babylonians. However, the prophet Joel gives us a most grim vision. as he looked into the future, he saw great calamity as there was never before in Israel worst that the fall of the Israel to Assyrians in 720BC or Judah to the Babylonians in 586 BC.

(Joel 1:4 NKJV) 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.(Joel 1:6 NKJV) 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.

In Joel 1:6, the locust plaque symbolizes a great army will come upon Jerusalem without mercy and they will leave everything bare. It is not very different from the scorch earth policy of retreating armies. The four waves of the locus represent a merciless invading army - who not only take the valuables and wealth, but also the livestock and the grain crops. The sacrificial grain and drink offerings in the temple of God ceased. Because priests could not find enough offerings for sacrifice, altars were empty. The returning exiles, comprising a small group in Jerusalem, centered their worship in the Temple. Sacrifices were important and the ceasing of the sacrifices so impacted Joel that he cried out in his vision for the priests to wail and lament.

(Joel 1:13 NKJV) Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail, 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.

In Joel 2:1, the vision so terrified Joel that he cried out as if to the future inhabitants of Jerusalem to blow the trumpet and sound the alarm for he saw that the terrible Day of the Lord was at Hand. The army was going to invade soon and destruction will be so great that Joel cried out to them in his vision to sound the alarm, to come back before God with all their heart with fasting, weeping and mourning before it will be too late.

(Joel 2:12,13 NKJV) "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.

God is not looking for an outward show of repentance by tearing of our clothing but that our repentance comes deep from a broken and contrite heart. When we make our decision to truly return to God, He will be merciful and gracious and will relent from sending His army against us.

The battle of Jerusalem finally happened in 70AD when Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its temple in August after a five-month siege. The total number of dead was over 1.1 million, for Titus besieged the city at Passover, when it was filled with visitors for worship; and there were only left 100,000 captives taken for slaves. The temple worship in Jerusalem was extinguished with the destruction of the Temple. The land of Israel was re-named Palestine. From that time, Jews were barred from Jerusalem. The Byzantine Empire continued the earlier policy, and Jews were not allowed into Jerusalem. The Turkish Ottoman Empire held onto power here the longest: from 1518 to 1917 when the British took over laying the foundation for the creation of modern Israel in 1948.

(Joel 3:1 NKJV) "For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,

For the last 2000 years, the book of Joel gives hope to the Jewish people in exile by prophesying in Joel 3:1, "for behold in the last days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem". Their faith was tested severely as they suffered discrimination and genocide in Europe. Following the 1967 Six-Day War Israel captured East Jerusalem and the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled and the Jews returned to Jerusalem. The judgment of God in Joel 3:2 against the nations that came against Israel remains to be fulfilled.

For the last three decades, Jerusalem, and Gays have been the hot and divisive issues. For example, it is claimed that Al-Queda targeted New York because it was the Jewish Financial Centre. The Palestinian-Israel conflict resolves around Jerusalem which both parties claim to be their capital. The rage in Jerusalem now is that Gays are marching in a pride parade in Jerusalem and for the first time Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths stands united on a common issue. We share a common background with the Jews as a most despised and outcast people group and as the Jewish people return to their homeland, I believed in the last days, God is sending revival, and freedom to the GLBT community. Are we ready for the latter rain of God? where God will restore all the rights that we have lost and turn the hearts of the GLBT community back to God.

(Joel 2:23 NKJV) Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you; The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month.

(Joel 2:25 NKJV) "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

There is only 5 churches in Asia serving a GLBT population of at least 100 million as oppose to the states where 2000 churches serves 20 million gay population. I believed in a God "of much" that God will send the latter rain of Joel 2:23,24 and out of the desert will come a great army that marches on through Asia declaring the Gospel of Peace and of Justice for all to our GLBT community. I am reminded of Jonah. as we are in an ocean tossing by drama week after week. Friends, it is the Spirit of God shaking us to new heights. God is asking us today, are we willing to move out of our safe closets into the raging sea? Are we willing to trust God in Faith, and declare (Jonah 1:12 NKJV) .... , "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. " I believe that we will enter the Promised Land and to take back all that the locust has eaten and come into the latter rain of God, God is asking us to move out of our closets and consecrate ourselves in these three areas:-

1) Offer ourselves as a living sacrifice

In Rom 12:1,2 Paul beseeched us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is our reasonable service and do not be conformed to the world but we renewed in your mind in the things of God that you may do the will of God. What fills our time today or govern our time, energy and occupation? For many of us, work takes up much of our energy and time. We offer ourselves up to our bosses and work day and night, 12 hour days. We are rewarded very well. Many of us have many houses and big cars and go onto good vacations overseas. There is nothing wrong with prosperity and I believe God wants to prosper us. But when work and good living becomes the reason for our existence, then they become our god and we can only offer what small areas left on Sunday for God's work. God wants our entire body, soul and mind and not just attention 3 hours a week.

Paul reminds us not to conform our selves to the ways of this world. Just because we are gays, does not mean that we are occupied with cruising for guys, going to saunas, massage centers, and one night stands. As Christians we are called to be different of a different Spirit. I would like to clarify that I am not against Saunas or massage centre . But these places should not be our major preoccupation. If we go monthly to Bangkok or Johor for our sexual needs, then go once every three months. If we frequent saunas 2 or 3 times a week, then go only once a week. There are no fast and hard rules. Paul calls us in 1 Cor 6:18 to "flee sexual immorality" and reminds us to in 1 Cor 6:19 to keep over selves clean as the temple of the Holy Spirit. If God were to do mighty works through us, we need to be clean vessels, holy and acceptable to God.

2) Renewing our First Love.

We praise God in Psalm 139:14, because we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". "Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well." Let us reconciled our faith and sexuality not only at an intellectual level but deep within our soul when we acknowledge how marvelous God has created us a Gay or Straight person. and not a curse nor a fallen nature. In Psalm 139:14, God saw us whilst still in our mothers womb and had great plans for us, "they are all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them". Each one of us has a destiny. I often hear Gays talking about their ministries in their former church, but the locust came and ate all our hard labor when we came out of the closet and declared our sexual orientation. We could no longer serve and soon left our churches.

I believe that God is asking us to come back to our first Love, to the time when we were so "on-fire" for God, passionate to do His will and eager to preach the Gospel. Many a times, the dramas of life and our struggles with our faith and sexuality have taken its toll on our passion and love for God. God is asking us to come back to our First Love. We are no longer the "young ones" anymore, but I believe that God will renew our youth and the weak will say I am strong.

3) Know Heart of God.

As Jonah prophesied through the city of Minevah, he was still doing it grudgingly, and not with a heart for people nor for the nations. Jonah could not see beyond his inherent prejudice and desires for the destruction of the Assyrians and was more concerned about the death of a plant rather than the salvation of the entire Nation. And God showed Jonah His heart in Jonah 4:11 "and should not I pity Minevah, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons" when Jonah only had pity "... on the plant which you have not labored, nor made it grow". How wide and big is your heart today!.

On a Saturday night, at Maxwell Market, you often see Gays out cruising and testing their gaydar. As a cute guy walked passed our table, you can see all eyes will follow in that direction. This is normal and part of our humanity just as my straight friends roam Geylang. We all have our own natural yearnings. But, do we see how God sees? In New Zealand in a TV report, it was highlighted that Gays were leaving the church droves and in Singapore the situation is likely to be the same. Do we see the GLBT people as God sees them, as a people group whom Jesus Christ died for, needing to receive the Gospel of the good news. Do you see the Holy Spirit nudging their hearts to know that God does not reject them nor consider their sexual orientation a sin.

Today, I am really preaching also to myself. I came to out of the closet more than 2.5 years ago. It was after an encounter at the Gay Sauna. I used to love going to Saunas especially the one at Neil Road. It was clean, it played classical music and I could find refuge where I could identify with PLU community. I stayed very much in the closet and kept to myself for a number of years. I was so closeted that I dared not talk to any Gay person at the sauna. One day, at the sauna for the first time I talked to another Gay person and only after he initiated the conversation. We shared about life, then we started to talk about God. He was an active member at the New Creation Church. That night, we shared from the depths of our hearts about our Christian walk and the struggles to reconcile our Faith and Sexuality. The six clobber verses we managed to understand as not referring to Gays. But as we shared deeper, we discussed whether God created us wonderfully for His purpose and we are not an aberration. As I started to share, the presence of God seem so strong and we ended the evening praising God with Hymns and Songs of Praise.That Night was my outing from the closet and I realized that there is a large people group out there yearning to know that in Christ they would not be denied. I would have to decide to come out of my closet if I were to be used by God as a blessing to them.

This day - (John 4:35 NKJV) "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" Look and see, our people are hungry, the fields are white unto harvest. They are hungry for their rights and dignity, they are hungry for Jesus, yearning for His embrace and acceptance. Today, I would like to invite you to join me to sing an old song. Some of us are struggling within although on the outside we look fine. But, on the inside, in our hearts, we question whether God really accepts us as Gays and Lesbians. There is a nagging doubt that we will never be good enough. Today, the only God I know, the Jesus I know is one who will never deny us. He said come to the waters and let Him take and wash away all your sorrows and tears.

For those tears I cried

Verse 1
You said you'd come and share all my sorrows
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending you away
But Just like you promised, you came here to stay
And I just had to pray

And Jesus said come to the waters and stand by my side
I know that you are thirsty, you won't be denied
I felt every tear drop when in darkness you cried
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I cried.

Verse 2
Your goodness so great, I can't understand
and dear Lord I know that all this was planned
I know you're here now and always will be
You love loosened my chains, and in you I'm free
But Jesus why me?


Verse 3
Jesus I give You, my heart and my soul
I know that without God, I'll never be whole
Savior, You opened all the right doors
And I thank You and praise You from earth's humble shores
Take me I'm yours!


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