Tear your heart, not your clothes.
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Joel 2: 12-13: “Yet even now,” declares YHWH, “turn to me with ALL your heart, and with fasting, and weeping, and with mourning. And TEAR your heart, NOT your clothing, and turn back to YHWH your Elohim.” For He shows favour and is compassionate, patient and of great loving-commitment, and He shall relent concerning the evil.
This powerful word presents two instructions in restoring a relationship with YHWH Most High. The first is to turn to YHWH with ALL your heart. All encompasses everything, nothing is excluded, or hidden – it is everything. This indicates that we need to make sure that come to Him with an undivided heart, an uncluttered and unobstructed attitude (the prefix un- means not to be). To turn to YHWH implies that you are focused on Him, facing Him, and presenting yourself before the Father. This implies that you need to be in a place where you strip off preconceived thoughts, removed from the world, and be in the presence of Holy presence of YHWH. Bringing yourself before Him in fasting and weeping, demonstrating repentance, humbly acknowledging your dependency on His love, mercy and grace.
Verse 13 instructs us to “tear your heart, not your clothing“. To make sense of this instruction it is necessary to consider the Jewish religious custom of ripping clothing as an external demonstration of great sorrow, repentance or shame. However, the sincerity behind this custom was only known to the person shredding their clothes, in other words this custom may have been done out of a religious expectation, rather than sincere repentance. However, YHWH does not look upon the outer of man, but He considers the heart of man. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read, “But YHWH said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him, for not as man sees, for man looks at the eyes, but YHWH looks at the heart.” And is a great reminder to check the motives for our actions that may not match our heart.
This also reminds us that repentance needs to be a matter of the heart. Ask the Spirit of YHWH to convict you of old hurts, and sin, that hinder a living, loving relationship with YHWH, and others. The neglected issues that you considered dealt with, but are harboured still (forgive but not forget). YHWH calls for true repentance, not words mumbled because they were expected – a tearing our clothing. YHWH wants us to worship Him in spirit and truth, not by following customs and traditions that are physical demonstrations. In verse 13 a third dimension is added – ‘And tear your heart..’ reminding us to come into His presence where we bare all. We need to rid ourselves of the ‘ME’, and preconceived ideas of what we should do to worship. We need to be in a place of complete honesty, complete brokenness, removed from doing what others do, or expect us to do. There is a song ‘Losing my religion’ by Lauren Daigle that I would encourage you to listen to. Lauren sings about stopping the “masquerade”, and really seeking Him. (https://youtu.be/Uw6_g0aTwt4)
Tear your heart before YHWH. Go into a quiet place, be in His presence, draw near to Him with weeping and break open your heart – let every part of your heart be open before Elohim. Hidden sin are chinks in your armour that allows the lies of the enemy to stunt spiritual growth. The voice that whispers, “You’re not good enough, you use to do…”, not only stops your walk, but nurtures disbelief of how He values you. This brings doubt regarding the love and promises that are yours, a child of a lovingly-committed Father. The way to rid your heart of these things is to tear your heart before YHWH.
Once you have a broken heart, then Father is able to heal and restore it. Redemption follows in verse 13, “…and turn back to YHWH your Elohim, for He shows favour and is compassionate, patient and of great loving-commitment, and He shall relent (forgive) concerning the evil.” This verse describes YHWH Most High as a loving, forgiving Father, who desires a spiritual, intimate, raw, and one-on-one relationship with you. He desires to bless you. In Joel 2: 19 we are promised a reward: “And let YHWH answer and say to His people, “See I am sending you the grain and the new wine and the oil, and you shall be satisfied. And no longer do I make you a reproach among the nations.”
Joel 2: 28 “And after this it shall be that I pour out My Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men dream dreams, your young men see visions.”
Coming to Him, tearing your heart before Him in spirit and truth, unlocks and unblocks a relationship. This restored relationship allows a new anointing in the Spirit, a deeper understanding and relationship of the Father’s love. Maybe you have been feeling spiritually numb, and your prayers seem to be like bouncy balls that hit the ceiling and then the floor. Perhaps you are discouraged and although you have been doing “religious” things, you feel spiritually disconnected to Him. I want to encourage you this morning to go to a private place, and take three steps:
Step 1: Come before Elohim with a raw, open heart.
Step 2: Tear your heart before Him – the real you in spirit and truth. Nobody else is watching or listening, just a loving Father. Do this in obedience and out of love, and a dependency on Him. Don’t make it a reaction to a message or sermon. Strip off all teachings by man, and approach the Father as you – no masquerades.
Step 3: Turn back to YHWH, receive new grain (Understanding of His Word), New wine and oil (anointing of the Holy Spirit, sustenance for the race). Verse 28 refers to the pouring out of His Spirit on flesh. This is generously given, not dropped out or dribbled out but poured out to all who seek Him, who tear their heart.
Be encouraged, be alive in Him. Know that when you are forgiven and cleansed, you are healed. He a plan of good, and not for evil, to give you expectancy and hope. A life aligned with His will brings glory to the Father through the Son.