Addressing A History Of Sin In A Nation – Joel 2:12-29
By Angela Dixon
In part one of this article I covered how the long standing history of racism in this nation comes from a place of sin. Specifically it comes from the sin of self-worship. We looked at how the frenzy of colonialism that lead to destroying native peoples and enslaving Africans was not unlike a locust storm, both forces causing destruction that lasts for generations upon generations. I then began to outline the Joel 2 model for addressing a history of sin in a nation. As I previously stated, Israel went through many seasons of getting out of line with the Lord and needing to address their sin. I believe Joel 2 has a framework for how the Lord expects us to address our own sin, personally and corporately.
We ended last time by looking at WHO should be included in this process. It was made evident that God intends for everyone in the nation to participate. Next we will look at WHAT God is telling us to do.
What Is God Telling Us To Do?
Specifically, I believe God is calling us to Identificational Repentance as well as Individual (Personal) Repentance.
Identificational Repentance is putting yourself in the place of others who may have committed sins that you did not commit and repenting on their behalf, as if you did it.
Nehemiah repented of the sins that another generation committed. These sins occurred in a time before he was born, in another physical location from where he was. As a matter of fact, Nehemiah didn’t even live near the destruction that was the result of this sin. He didn’t have to look at it or deal with it if he didn’t want to. Yet, Nehemiah knew that the destruction that existed was a blight on God’s people and he knew it was disappointing to the Lord. So Nehemiah went about rebuilding the walls & gates. Even though he had nothing to do with the sin, he took responsibility for it. He knew SOMEONE had to own it and take initiative to correct it. As long as everyone was saying, “I didn’t do it, it’s not mine to clean up. It’s too bad what happened. I wish people could just get over the issue.”, the walls remained in ruin and Israel could not move forward.
We too must look at our own lives and ask God to show us what we need to own personally and what requires repentance.
I came across this article last fall which is a great message on how to deal with our history of lynching. It also talks about identificational repentance.
How Is God Telling Us to Do It?
WITH: FASTING, WEEPING & MOURNING
Not only is this the prescription mentioned in Joel 2:12-17 but Nehemiah also repented through fasting, weeping and mourning. (Nehemiah 1:4) Fasting, weeping and mourning are three specific things that have been mentioned repeatedly when a people return to God. They each have distinctly different roles and purposes.
Fasting– You quiet yourself to listen and HEAR the Father’s heart on the issue. One of the most important roles of fasting is doing the exact opposite of putting self and physical needs first. It is the opposite of rebellion. It is the opposite of self-worship. It is a humbling and submissive action. In addition, you set aside a carnal distraction to gain insight in the spirit realm. As you begin to intently focus on the Father, you can more clearly hear Him. A funny thing happens when you humble yourself; others start to seem more important. It’s easier to notice things you have missed before, once the Father re-calibrates your focus.
Weeping– You cry and literally FEEL the Father’s heart and emotions on the issue. When you feel the Father’s heart, you feel His emotions on the issue. There is a scene in the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Branch Rickey is speaking to an employee that is complaining about all the places that mistreat the team because of Jackie being with them. Branch Rickey says, “The word sympathy comes from the Greek word ‘to suffer’. When I sympathize with you, it means I suffer with you.” There are times where deep intercession simply calls for weeping or crying tears of intercession on an issue. It may even include allowing God to let you feel another person’s emotional pain on an issue. Although we are not called to live in a state of constant weeping, we must stop to allow weeping it’s proper place as we posture our hearts to align with the Father.
Mourning– You literally DO the Father’s heart on the issue. In the Old Testament “mourners” are referred to. These were not simply people who were sad at a death. They were paid professionals that knew how to act and conduct themselves in a way that expressed grief to the degree families deemed necessary. Mourners dressed differently and composed themselves differently. Their focus was no longer on themselves but on doing a service for someone else. They served those who had experienced loss. In modern times, mourners also serve those that experience loss. They feed them, they sit with them, they listen to them, they actively love them. Today, so many times the injured party, the one who has experienced a loss, is the Lord. We must become His friend and focus on what He is focused on. We need to conduct ourselves in a way that He deems appropriate on this issue.
Where is God Telling Us To Do It?
PUBLICLY, NATIONALLY, CORPORATELY
Joel 2:17 “Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the temple porch and the altar.”
In the days of the Old Testament temple there were specific areas where certain individuals could and could not go. The temple porch was as far as the general population could go. It was an open area where a corporate gathering could take place. The priests were permitted into the Holy Place, behind the curtain, where the altar was located. The command in Joel 2 is to call the priests out of the hidden place, from behind the veil, and into public repentance. This was so that the people could follow their lead. This also created a unity in focus and effort. The people would all conduct their act of repentance together. However, the key was that it was not simply an act.
Joel 2:13 clearly states “REND YOUR HEART AND NOT YOUR GARMENTS.” God was not calling His people to do a string of symbolic gestures. In that culture, people could make known their grief or displeasure by tearing their good clothes. They’d walk around with torn garments or make clothes out of sackcloth. It is the same today. God doesn’t want to see a lot of gestures. He wants our hearts. He doesn’t want to see a series of protests, Facebook posts, rallies, foot washing ceremonies or even political policies. These measures can have meaning but are empty without the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a truly contrite heart.
There are some significant moments happening in our nation today. The ugliness of racism is being pushed to the forefront of our culture like never before. Conversations are happening among people that have never had these conversations before. Racist behaviors are being shamed and identified, especially in areas of corporations and individuals committing injustice. Where you could once conduct yourself anonymously, with little concern for reprisal, you now risk losing your job should you be caught on video. Those sympathetic to the issue are no longer standing in silence. The temperature is heating up in our nation on this issue.
Three important venues have opened in the last few years. The National Museum of African American History & Culture opened in Washington, DC as part of the Smithsonian Institute. The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice just opened in Montgomery, Alabama, by the Equal Justice Initiative. All three of these provide a public acknowledgement, on a national level, of those that have been ignored and denied justice. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a memorial to victims of Jim Crowe era lynchings. Never has our country acknowledged this history. Never has there been a place to mourn and grieve this fruit of racism. The church in America has never taken a corporate focus on these matters. Now with such museums and memorials open, we have a space “between temple porch and altar”, if you will, to grieve our history of sin. (Notice how interesting the visual similarities between the temple porch and the lynching memorial are!)
Another “between temple porch and altar” moment happened on August 25, 2018. Many churches and believers gathered at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Stone Mountain is an actual granite hill that has a confederate memorial carved on the side of it. In 1915, a group of men, led by ministers, went to the top of its summit to relaunch the Ku Klux Klan as its influence was waning. In response to this history, the OneRace Movement lead believers to gather around the mountain, as some marched to the top to denounce what was done that day. In addition, they denounced the history and injustice of racism that has gone unaddressed. They repented and prayed for God to have mercy on this nation. For far too long we have been a byword among the nations, people have used our name to mock us because we have not loved one another well. Corporate efforts like these are being made to change that.
A new opportunity to “weep between temple porch and altar” has presented itself. In 1946 in Walton County, GA five lives were destroyed. Two married couples and a pre-born baby were killed by a mob of the Ku Klux Klan. This is known as the Moore’s Ford Bridge Lynching. This year on the anniversary weekend of this crime, these lives will be memorialized. There will be an opportunity to grieve this sin and to weep over it. This is a unique and special opportunity, specifically for white evangelicals, to make a public declaration that they will no longer look the other way. There is a community that is still very broken over this issue. To this day, no one has ever been charged for this crime. The investigation was not thorough or conclusive. Documents have been sealed, and the true story of this event is shrouded in secrecy and conjecture. There are still witnesses, family members and individuals linked to this case living. Many of them are still in the community. Yet there has never been any responsibility taken for this atrocity. The goal of the memorial weekend is to allow the fasting and weeping and mourning over this issue its proper place so that healing may occur. The Moore’s Ford Movement is hoping to have the truth to be officially told one day.
Christians from all over are being called upon, especially white Christians, to come be a part of the memorial. They are being asked to show that, like Nehemiah, though they do not have to look at it, they realize that it matters. This community needs to be ministered to in love and compassion. Romans 12:15 says to “mourn with those who mourn”. It is time for those that can stand in the place of the offender to advocate before heaven on behalf of the offended.
Jesus Himself stepped in and took on our sin, though He was sinless, to make way for our salvation. Even He struggled with doing it the way the Father prescribed. He asked the Lord to let the cup pass from Him if it could. In the end, Jesus, for the “glory set before Him, endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2) The glory that the church in America desires from Joel 2:25-29 ( “. . . . I will restore what the locusts have eaten. . . . I will pour out my Spirit on all people. . . “) can not be received until we take up our cross. We have to do the things that take so much courage we ask the Father to let it pass. Yet it is very apparent that we can not get to Joel 2:25-29 without doing Joel 2:12 first. This is how we begin to address the history of sin in a nation.
Information on the Moore’s Ford Lynching Memorial Event can be found here:
MOORE’S FORD LYNCHING MEMORIAL
Moore’s Ford Movement on Facebook
3L Clutural Intelligence Group Facebook
July 27th 2019 (Saturday) 10A-7P
1st African Baptist Church
130 Tyler St.
Monroe, GA 30655