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.
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.
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.
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.
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
2) Renewing our First Love.
3) Know Heart of God.
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