Lent Devotional: Joel 2:17

by Jonathan Haefs

Joel 2:17 (click here)
Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17)

Why should God have mercy on me?

That is not a question we typically ask… and why would we? I mean, of course, God should have mercy on me! I’m pretty special after all. Don’t I deserve a little mercy? Doesn’t everybody?

All too often we put ourselves at the center of the universe, expecting God to do the same. And, if he doesn’t revolve around us… if he shows us anything other than mercy and grace… then he needs to justify his actions to us! This is why people object to biblical pictures of judgment. How dare God judge humanity! Who does he think he is? He must answer to us!

Yet, the assumption of the entire Bible is exactly the opposite! God is at the center of the universe. We revolve around him. We must answer to him… and we have much to answer for.

In fact, Scripture’s honest assessment of rebellious humanity is that there is actually NO reason in mankind that God should have mercy on us… but there is a reason in HIM!

This is why the prophet Joel calls the priests to pray for God to have mercy on his people, not because they deserve it, but because of who God himself is! He is their covenant God who rules and reigns over all. And if the nations conquer them… then perhaps the nations will profane God’s name saying, “Where is their God?”

So Joel calls the priests to pray for mercy, not because the people deserve it, but because God deserves to not have his name profaned!

Is this how we pray? God show us your mercy, your goodness, your grace… so that all may see the greatness of your name! This is why he saved us… to the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-6)!

And wonder of wonders… this is actually where we will find our greatest joy! Our ultimate joy is not found in God revolving around us, but in us revolving around him! It is only in glorifying him, lifting him high that we will find full, forever joy!

Why should God have mercy on me? For his glory!… and that is my joy!

*All previous devotionals may be found at 
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.