Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Last time we looked at bringing our problems to the Lord because he cares for us and wants to help us (though he wants us to actually reach out to him first). We have a good God; a God who wants the best for us and wants to give us the best. Just yesterday I read in Deuteronomy 8:10-14,
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Now yes, God does ask us to obey him and to praise him- but check out the order of things. The Lord gave to Israel first and only asked them to appreciate his work after it was done. That’s God’s order, it’s not that we love him so he takes care of us; no, he loves us and we respond with thankfulness. As it is written, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is God’s love that is meant to inspire our love for him and others. Anyway, today’s message is about the Lord’s abundance; hopefully the Holy Spirit can speak to your heart through these words.
Alright, now where were we? Ah yes, Israel was screwed and God was reaching out to them through the prophet Joel. We read,
The Lord will reply to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and oil,
Enough to satisfy you fully;
Never again will I make you
An object of scorn to the nations.
I will drive the northern army far from you,
Pushing it into a parched and barren land,
With its front columns going into the eastern sea
And those in the rear into the western sea.
And its stench will go up;
Its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things.
Be not afraid, O land;
Be glad and rejoice.
Surely the Lord has done great things (Joel 2:19-21).
The Lord’s response to Israel’s crisis? “I’ll fix it.” But even more than that, he notes that he is already sending the grain, wine, and oil. That means that it’s already in process and the work as already been done; before Joel and Israel reached out to God for help. The Lord can do this because when he moves, it isn’t limited by time. Therefore, when he answers your prayers, he’s also already answered them a long time ago. He shows his ability to act outside of time in Isaiah 46:10,
I make known the end from the beginning,
From ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
And I will do all that I please.
So even as you pray today, God is getting the ball rolling toward answering your prayer maybe even as early as the beginning of the earth. This isn’t true only for assistance and for receiving things from the Lord. Your forgiveness was also already enacted through Jesus’ death on a cross. The Bible notes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This means that already all of the work it takes for you to be forgiven has already been done. There is nothing you can do to help your salvation; as it is already completed- all you need to do is to accept his forgiveness and then your already-enacted holiness is applied to you. Paul continues in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” It doesn’t get much better than that, upon trusting in Jesus, your sins are washed away and you receiving a limitless forgiveness; because you’ve already been forgiven.
The key to unlocking all of the goodness of God in your life is to trust him at his word. God continues in Joel 2:25-27,
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-
The great locust and the young locust,
The other locusts and the locust swarm-
My great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
And you will praise the name of the lord your God,
Who has worked wonders for you;
Never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
That I am the Lord your God,
And that there is no other;
Never again will my people be shamed.
I love this part because God says that not only will repentance bring forgiveness, but even if you’re under the curse of God, the curse will be cut off and all that was lost during the period of suffering will be returned- and even more. We have a God of abundance who wants to shower his people with gifts- pending they are willing to be his people. Jesus taught,
So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33).
Once you’re under God’s umbrella, the whole system changes. Instead of having to fight and work to achieve things on your own, the Lord will bend time and space to help you because he knows you need it.
And to receive the mercy and the abundance of God all you have to do is to call on him for help. We read,
And everyone who calls
On the name of the Lord will be saved;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be deliverance,
As the Lord has said
Among the survivors
Whom the Lord calls (Joel 2:32).
That’s all, just call on the Lord and he’ll come in and start fixing everything. Paul explains how to receive Christ in Romans 9:9-11,
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
That’s all it takes to be saved. What do you do beyond that? Reach out to the Lord all the time through prayer. Paul teaches us, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). God answers prayers. Trust him to do so when you pray; for it is written, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). God helps those who trust him for help.
The Lord will let you try to dig and work yourself out of whatever your problem may be (physical needs, struggles with sin, emotional issues, etc), but when you rely on him he’ll lift you out of your troubles. That’s what David did, and his testimony has stood the test of time:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
And gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
And put their trust in the Lord (Psalms 40:1-3).
The Lord will give you reason to praise him if you trust him to do what he says he’ll do. And that’s what faith is. We read, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). When it feels like hope is gone, look to the Lord and trust him to pull you out of it and set your feet on solid ground. Isaiah 59:1 states, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear to dull to hear.” Do what Israel did, and turn to the Lord with all your heart and you’ll soon find out that the amazing provision of God is already on its way.
Rock on God!