This Scripture passage gives a clear description of repentance, “Turn to Me …. Give Me all your hearts.” God hates sin and evil (Psalm 45:7) because sin breaks His heart. He wants all people to turn to Him and away from their sins. God wants no one to fall into judgment and condemnation (2 Peter. 3:9).
For the Israelites during the time of the Prophet Joel, destruction would soon be upon them if they continued to sin. The Prophet Joel, whose name means “The Lord is God,” called on the people then and today to repent of their sins and turn to God. God is full of mercy, compassion and filled with unfailing love (see also Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 145:8; Jonah 4:2). He is freely willing to forgive if we turn to Him (Joel 2:13). God wants to love, care, and protect for His people and not punish them.
In the Old Testament, people tore their clothes as an outward sign of sorrow, grief, and mourning (e.g., Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31; 2 Kings 19:1). However, this outward sign would be a meaningless and useless ritual, unless the heart is broken in true repentance, remorse and a broken heart over sin. The Prophet Joel told the people then and today that God does not want just an outward display of repentance and remorse for sin without true and wholehearted inward repentance (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 23:1-36). God through the Prophet Joel told the people He wanted genuine and wholehearted turning from sin and evil. In Hebrew, the heart is the center of thoughts, faith, and will.
Be sure your attitude towards God is correct, not just your outward actions. With true and heartfelt turning to God, He will send an outpouring of His forgiveness and blessing. But this blessing and forgiveness would come only if we genuinely give up our sins. Moreover, true repentance leads to the only escape from God’s judgment and wrath. So, no one should be afraid to come to God in honesty and humility because He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and full of kindness. Moreover, God can bring blessings from the most tragic and traumatic situations (Roman 8:28–30) if we will only turn from our sins and trust Him.