“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.” – Joel 2:13
Many over the years have come to the conclusion that the Old Testament is full of judgment and represents an angry God, while the New Testament describes a loving Savior. These words here would prove otherwise. God has always been the Savior (Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4), and that has not changed throughout the history of man. God said, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
Knowing this, we are to “rend” our hearts to God and not our garments. What this “Great Witness” that went before us was encouraging was repentance, the turning away of sin, and it was God delivering the message through Joel. He was telling the people to be sincere in heart and not just outer appearance with a religious ceremony. God sees the heart and knows the difference.
When we know the character of God and who He truly is, it should motivate us to seek Him even more. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” The Lord intends to draw us close through His love.
Jesus is God incarnate and is the perfect sacrifice for our sins. It is a free gift of grace, yet it must be received and accepted by us. “The command to love God with our whole being,” writes Tozer, “has seemed to many persons to be impossible fo fulfillment, and it may be properly argued that we cannot love by fiat. The answer is found in the nature of God and of man. God being who He is must have obedience from His creatures. Man being who he is must render that obedience, and he owes God complete obedience whether or not he feels for Him the faintest trace of love in his heart.” Jesus did not say, “If you love Me, you will have a warm fuzzy feeling and butterflies in your stomach.” Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Jesus (Mark 12:30-31)