NKJV - 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.
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The word in this passage is "rend," not "render." It was the custom of ancient Jewish people (and other nearby cultures) to vigorously tear one's clothing as a visible sign of deep emotion. Whether it be anger, grief, contrition or any other intense, overwhelming emotion, the rending of your clothes was an outward sign of your inward feelings. But many customs can become purely habits that are done without any serious thought. When they are not genuine expressions of our inner feelings they can become just a show we put on for others to see. In Joel 2:12-17 the LORD calls upon his people to genuinely repent over their sins. He doesn't simply want to see an outward display of tearing clothes, but a genuine sorrow over their sin. This is why, in verse 13, he says, "Rend your heart and not your garments." He is not forbidding them to tear their clothes, but what he really wants is deep, heart-felt contrition over sin.
I agree with Galen's answer. Sadly, since mankind has not changed in the millennia since this was written the issues of Joel's day to this day are still the same. "Nothing new under the sun". This is why when we are dealing with the lost we need to get to the heart and not just an easy believism. Far too many will say a phrase or walk an aisle or whatever current act/word/phrase is current today [is this not today's version of rending a garment?] without true conviction or repentance.
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