God’s people called for repentance – a recognition that they had turned from God, and that a turn toward God was warranted. They showed great power in coming together. When they gathered as a people united with a common goal, they could turn the tide of their great misfortune and once again find themselves in God’s good graces.
Here in the Twin Cities, MN (perhaps this is going on where you live, too), churches are uniting across denominations to provide sanctuaries for immigrants in need of support. They are doing this in response to fears of threats of deportation and the ripping apart of families. In a time and culture where church has a reputation of being increasingly irrelevant in the lives of busy citizens, this is a show of incredible relevance and necessity. God’s people have once again gathered to unite with a common goal, a turning toward God by turning toward God’s people.
Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God! Grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.
Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes. Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seed shrivels under the clods, the storehouses are desolate; the granaries are ruined because the grain has failed. How the animals groan! The herds of cattle wander about because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep are dazed. To you, O Lord, I cry. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flames have burned all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals cry to you because the watercourses are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.