Don’t think the prophets were all about doom and gloom—there is more to prophecy than that. Joel 2:1-19 is a two-toned message. Joel began by trumpeting a warning of impending judgment in the form of a ravaging army from the north. However, he emphasized that God might still relent of evil and restore His blessing to Judah.
Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil.
Who knows whether He will not turn and relent
And leave a blessing behind Him,
Even a grain offering and a drink offering
For the Lord your God? (Joel 2:12-14)
In Joel 2:12-19 God offered Judah one last chance to get right with Him. Notice the action words: return to Me, fast, weep, mourn, rend your hearts, sanctify the congregation. If you hear a prophecy of impending flames of wrath, listen for the fire escape clause—God always provides a path to restored relationship with Him.
Isaiah 58:1-14 contains a similar appeal. The passage begins, “Cry loudly, do not hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet [shofar], and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Judah their sins.” The nation reckoned they were righteous and delighting in God. So why didn’t God answer them? Isaiah lays out the national hypocrisy—going through the religious motions while abusing their workers and ignoring the needy.
God took the definition of a fast beyond abstaining from food. If the nation would also end oppression and take care of the hungry and afflicted then God would answer her and she would reap the full blessings of His presence. Righteousness is immensely practical. When we turn (back) to God it will show in our lives.
The prophetic trumpet always offers a second chance.