None Exempt from Showing Repentance
JOEL’S prophecy forcefully indicates the importance of having a clean standing before God. The Israelites were guilty of serious sin and, hence, needed to repent to avoid experiencing calamity. Outward expressions of sorrow were not enough. What Jehovah God desired was a heartfelt recognition of sin. The prophet Joel declared: “Rip apart your hearts, and not your garments; and come back to Jehovah your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and he will certainly feel regret on account of the calamity.”—Joel 2:13.
Since all were sinners, age exempted no one from being among those assembled at the temple in humbling themselves before Jehovah God. Even the infants needed to be there, and the joy of a wedding day was not to interfere with the supplication for God’s forgiveness. The prophecy of Joel states: “Gather the people together. Sanctify a congregation. Collect the old men together. Gather children and those sucking the breasts together. Let the bridegroom go forth from his interior room, and the bride from her nuptial chamber.” (Joel 2:16) In keeping with the spirit of these words, a person should let nothing become more important in his life than having a clean standing before the Creator.
Since sucklings are born sinners, parents have the serious responsibility of maintaining a proper standing before God so that their little ones will be viewed as holy or clean.—Compare 1 Corinthians 7:14.