I. THE COMING DESOLATION OF THE LAND IS DESCRIBED IN CHAPTER ONE.
A. The land is to be wasted and withered.
B. This is just the foreshadowing of the future day of the Lord and the battle of Armageddon.
II. GOD'S CALL FOR REPENTENCE, THE ONLY HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.
A. Turn unto God with all your heart.
1. A couple Sundays ago we spoke on the problem of a divided heart.
a. So many of you have a heart for God, that is indicated by the fact that you are here today.
b. But the problem is that you also have a heart for the world, and during the remainder of the week, there will be little thought or place in your life for God.
c. You have one foot in the row boat and one foot on the dock, Part of your trust in Jesus, and the rest in your wall street stock.
2. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet and declared that "You shall seek Me, and shall find me in the day that you seek Me with all of your heart."
3. In the Law the people were commanded to serve the Lord with all of their heart and soul.
4. The problem with so many people is that they have made a place for God in their heart, but it is not the first place. God comes somewhere down in the list in their priorities.
5. The call here is to turn to God with all your heart, a half hearted repentance will not do.
a. Well God I am sort of sorry for what I did, and I sort of want you to help me.
b. James tells us that it is the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man that truly avails.
c. The conditions in our nation are extremely desperate, but the people of God are not yet desperate in prayer.
d. Satan has us so busy trying to just get by, and our minds operate by T.V. That the ship is taking on water and going down fast, and we do not even know it.
e. Jesus warned that the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things would choke out fruitfulness from our lives.
B. God called on the people for fasting, and weeping and mourning.
1. The purpose of fasting is to deny the flesh, not just of food, but of all the cravings of the flesh.
a. Through Isaiah, God complained that the people on the days that they fasted sought pleasure.
b. Our flesh craves pleasure, we desire to be entertained.
c. If you should announce to God that you are going to fast on Wednesday and not eat any food, yet you spent the whole day watching movies on T.V. The denial of food from your body, might have beneficial effects as far as losing a little weight is concerned, but you can be sure that no spiritual value will come from it.
2. To resort to God in the time of trouble is very wise. With many people prayer is the last resort, they have tried everything else and nothing has worked, now they will try God. That's fine, if you want to prolong your grief and sorrow, try all your ideas, and schemes before going to God.
a. Many car dealers advertise, try us first, I have heard others say come to us last, after you have shopped every where else come to us and we will beat their deals.
b. Some people have learned to go to God first, others it is always last, after everything else has failed.
3. Fasting, weeping and mourning represents a real desperation before God. God will surely respond to such seeking.
C. Rend your hearts and not your garments.
1. They had an interesting cultural practice in those days, and that was to show their grief by ripping their clothes. They would hear of the death of a loved one, and they would wail and tear their clothes.
2. God is saying that He wants a broken heart more than torn clothes.
3. With many people it is all an outward show, a lot of weeping and wailing and outward demonstration, but there is no real change in their heart.
D. Turn to the Lord your God.
III. THE REASON TO TURN TO GOD.
A. For He is gracious and merciful.
1. If your children are in great need, and they come tear fully to you for help, if it is in your capacity to help them you surely will.
2. How much more is our heavenly Father willing to help His children who come to him with broken penitent hearts.
3. God is gracious, this is a part of His character that is declared and manifested throughout scriptures.
a. The Bible tells us that He delights to give good gifts to His children.
b. He receives pleasure doing special things for His children.
c. How often I am blessed and surprised by the grace of God.
d. The story is being told by a couple who I believe are in the Rolling Hills Covenant church in the Palos Verdes estates of a little kitten.
4. Don't you know that the Lord took great delight in that. I can hear the angels chuckling over that one.
B. He is also merciful. He will not punish you as you deserve. He will be merciful to you.
C. He is slow to anger. Very patient, and longsuffering. He gives every opportunity to repent.
1. Don't mistake His patience for blindness or ignorance. He sees, and He knows.
2. Don't mistake it for approval. God can never approve of sin.
D. God is of great kindness.
1. I see the kindness of God manifested in Jesus as he alleviated the suffering and sorrows of the people who were plagued by disease, sickness and infirmities.
a. To the lame man at the pool He said, "Would you like to walk?"
b. To the widow of Nain following the funeral procession as she wails because her only son is to be buried, He stops the procession and commands the son back to life and presents him to his mother.
c. Oh the great kindness of God.
E. It repents Him of the evil. By this is meant, He does not want to bring evil judgment upon the world.
1. God said that He had no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
2. Many times we have pleasure in the death of the wicked. When a vicious killer is executed, who tortured his victims, we say he deserved it, he had it coming, and we delight that the world is rid of such a person.
3. His reluctance to bring judgment does not mean that He will not bring judgment, He indeed will judge the world and sinners. If you do not repent of your sin, you cannot escape the judgment of God.
IV. "WHO KNOWETH IF HE WILL RETURN AND REPENT."
A. The nation has been slated for judgment. Maybe it is not too late. Maybe judgment can be averted.
1. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, let's seek the Lord with all our hearts.
2. Let's fast and pray.
3. Let us turn from the world to God.
4. Who knows, maybe we can yet be spared, for God is gracious and merciful.