Joel 2:12, 13--Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
the use of a word to modify or govern two or more
words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different
sense or makes sense with only one." Basically, it means using a word to modify several words, but each in a different way. "The cold numbed his body and his emotions" would be a zeugma.
Here, the zeugma applies the word "rend" to "heart" and "garments." You can literally rend your clothes, but if you did that to your heart, you would die, and that's not what God means. In this verse, God is calling for repentance form Israel. Back then, when they knew they had sinned or something was wrong, they would literally tear off their clothes, cover themselves in ashes, and cry out to God with tears, prayer, and fasting. Much more than we do now, I must say. But why would they go to such extreme lengths? Because their heart had been broken by their sin. They knew they had offended the One and only, holy, righteous, perfect God of Heaven who gave them life and love, even when it was undeserved.
However, there are always the people who say they're sorry but don't really mean it. That's the case with the people here. They would sin, put on this dramatic act of repentance, and then go right back to their sin. That is not what God wants; that is exactly the opposite of what God wants. If you do that, you are simply mocking Him and taking Him for a fool. And there will be consequences.
But in this verse, God is telling us, "I don't want a show; I want the real thing. I want it from the heart." It doesn't matter how good it looks out the outside, if you don't mean it in your heart, it's not going to help you, and nothing's going to change. "For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
God does not want an outward showing; that's not what pleases Him. He wants our hearts to truly be broken by our sin. And we should all have a broken heart. Every one of us has sinned against the God of Heaven, the One who died and took our punishment upon Himself. He wants us to humble ourselves, come to Him, ask Him for forgiveness, and turn away from our sins. And we need to do it often. Even if you're saved, you still sin because you're not perfect. That doesn't mean you lose your salvation, but it does hurt your relationship and walk with God.
Thankfully, like the verse says, God is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness". He is patient with us, far beyond what we deserve. His love holds back His wrath and punishment. So take a look at yourself today and the way you've loved and served the One who loves you more than anyone else. Ask yourself this question: Do I have a broken heart?