This text falls into three parts as we will see, but more than that, it is the challenge that faces every human being alive today, for as you recall this chapter is in a context of Final Judgment. Each person at one point or another faces a decision; repent and turn to God, or refuse and deal with the consequences.
The first part of this section is comprised of 2:12-13a:
“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Verse 12 is God’s invitation to repentance, and then 13a takes us beyond the Old Testament acts of contrition into something much more vital and real: “Rend your heart.” Of course grief and lamentation were demonstrated by the tearing of a person’s garments as an outward sign of their regret and sorrow; God doesn’t care about outward signs, He is calling for an inward change of heart something real.
2:13b-14 is a sort of inducement to repent, reminding the people of God’s love for them, His mercy and graciousness. It even goes so far as to suggest that God may reward them with blessings in place of perils…
2:15-17 give the methodology of repentance for the people. Everyone should return to God; Joel lists several classes of people to illustrate this (2:16). They should earnestly pray to God asking for His forgiveness as they repent and turn back to Him.
Up to this point, it almost seems as though Joel were once again speaking of the assembly he called for in chapter 1, but let’s not be hasty; God’s reply is in the next section. As you will see next time, Joel suddenly begins to speak in the past tense, a sure sign that he is speaking in a transcendent sense. This transcendent tone is indicative that what is happening in the text is for all time.