Return to the LORD

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13 NIV

Here are some insights into this verse:

Heartfelt Repentance:

The verse begins with “Rend your heart and not your garments,” which emphasizes the importance of genuine, heartfelt repentance over mere outward expressions of sorrow. In ancient Israel, tearing one’s clothes was a common sign of mourning or repentance, but God is calling for a deeper, more sincere contrition.

Returning to God:

The call to “Return to the Lord your God” highlights the relationship aspect of repentance. It’s not just about feeling sorry for wrongdoing but about restoring and renewing one’s relationship with God.

God’s Character:

The verse outlines several key attributes of God’s character:

Gracious: God offers grace, giving us good things we don’t deserve.

Compassionate: He is filled with mercy and concern for His people.

Slow to Anger: God is patient, giving us time to repent and turn back to Him.

Abounding in Love: His love is plentiful and enduring.

Relents from Sending Calamity: God does not take pleasure in punishment and is willing to withhold judgment when there is genuine repentance.

Hope and Encouragement:

This verse offers hope and encouragement, reassuring that no matter how far one has strayed, God is always ready to forgive and restore those who genuinely seek Him.

Contrast with External Rituals:

By contrasting the rending of hearts with the rending of garments, the verse underscores the insufficiency of ritualistic practices devoid of true repentance. It challenges believers to move beyond superficial displays of piety to cultivate a sincere, inward transformation.

Theological Implications:

The attributes of God listed here are echoed throughout the Bible, reinforcing a consistent message of God’s enduring love and mercy, as seen in passages like Exodus 34:6-7 and Psalm 103:8.

In summary, Joel 2:13 calls for a deep, sincere repentance that goes beyond external actions. It encourages a return to God, who is characterized by grace, compassion, patience, and abundant love. It reassures believers of God’s willingness to forgive and restore those who turn to Him with genuine contrition.

–Diane (

Written by Diane Levy

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