Joel Chapter Three

 

Read Joel 3:1-8Israel’s Wrongs Avenged

 

v.1For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,”

 

            In “THOSE DAYS” in the beginning of this chapter refers directly back to the days when God will “POUR OUT MY SPIRIT” in Joel 2:28-32.  The release from captivity being promised is not that of their captivity from Babylon but rather their captivity by sin.  It is a Messianic prophecy, just as Isaiah provides in:

 

Isaiah 11:11 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.”

 

We see the similarities when we study this verse in conjunction with the words of Jesus when he declares:

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Luke 4:18

 

And of Paul:

 

But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Romans 11:4-5

 

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4:8

 

            Contrary to what some are teaching today this chapter is not applicable to the return of physical Israel from captivity, the restoration of the kingdom of David by Christ in a thousand year reign or to the physical existence of the political entity called Israel today.  Joel, in the latter part of chapter 2 is describing the coming of the Christian Age and the rest of this book of prophecy relates directly that occurrence.  Though he quotes from Amos James applies the prophecy of the spirit to come and the conversion of the Gentile people:

 

Acts 15:15-16And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:”

 

            The fulfillment of this prophecy began with the preaching of the good news, the gospel of Christ to the Jews at Jerusalem (Acts 2) whereby those who accepted the Word of God were made free from the captivity of sin.  It was extended to the Gentiles through Cornelius in Acts 10 and then in Acts 15 the full revelation is complete with Paul and Barnabas reports to the Jerusalem elders and Apostles of their work among the Gentiles.  The fact that this freedom is made available to all men or as Joel 2:28 “ALL FLESH” is further confirmed by Paul:

 

Romans 8:1-2There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

 

v.2-32I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 3And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.”

 

            The people of the northern kingdom of Israel and then later the southern kingdom of Judah were indeed treated as nothing more than property.  Slaves to be traded, sold, exchanged to satisfy whatever desire their captors might have.  We probably don’t think of it this way very often but if we allow ourselves to be held captive by sin our condition is no different.  As men we trade our moral values for a few moments pleasure, we trade our integrity for a few dollars that are used up very quickly, we trade our good name for friendships so called that are not and find ourselves being used by others for their purposes, and we could go on but the point is made.

            God will bring all of mankind from all ages into judgment.  The “VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT” is not a physical location but symbolic of that judgment.  All of God’s people that are or have been scattered among all nations and peoples will be brought together in Christ and released from their captivity in sin.  Men of God will carry God’s plea for the salvation of their souls and the people will judge themselves just as did the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia:

 

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46

 

v.4Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompense? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head;”

 

            It is a law of nature that we will reap what we sow.  When we sow wheat, we reap wheat, when we sow cotton, we reap cotton; we all understand the application.  This is also a universal law of God as it applies to the actions and works of mankind. 

 

7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7-8

 

We will indeed reap what we sow, if good then good will be our reward, if evil then evil (punishment) will be our lot, if not in this life then in the one to come.  The physical enemies of Israel, every nation that opposed her has disappeared from this earth, removed from the continuing history of mankind.  Joel in his prophecy uses Tyre and Sidon, the Phoenician people and the Philistines, who plagued Israel for centuries as examples.  The Philistines especially, raped and raided Israel during the time of the judges and then during the kingdoms but the last time that they are mentioned in scripture is in the prophecy of Zechariah.

 

v.5-65Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 6The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.”

 

            These two verses provide us with a list of some of the crimes that these nations committed.  They carried the gold and silver that God had provided to Israel to their own pagan temples for use in worshiping their idols gods; they captured and sold the children of Israel into slavery.  Like Joseph, they were then carried into foreign nations to serve and live, removed, not only from their families but also from the chosen people of God.

 

v.7-8Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompense upon your own head: 8And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.”

 

            Israel will be restored, not as a great nation of the world, powerful among men in human terms but as a spiritual nation, a nation of God to never again be overcome by any power, temporal or spiritual.

            Commentators admit that these few verses are difficult to understand.  Selling the peoples being punished to the children of Israel is a physical occurrence that never been recorded either in scripture or secular history, so consequently the application has to be spiritual in nature.  However this symbolism is illustrated by a very real people who traded in slaves and the misery of mankind.  The Sabeans were a people who lived in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, in what is today called Yemen and in parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea

 

Read Joel 3:9-17 – A Challenge to the Nations

 

v.9-10Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: 10Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.”

 

            God’s challenge to the nations, all nations of the Gentiles is to do their worst.  Prepare for war, turn their farm implements into weapons of war.  It is a call to the evil of nations to try to stand against God.   It is just the opposite of the description of the kingdom of Christ that we find in Isaiah 2:4 and:

 

Micah 4:3And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

 

v.11-12Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.”

 

            Joel calls the nations to “ASSEMBLE YOURSELVES” to gather all of their forces of war, to bring all of their mighty men and come to the “VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT” symbolizing the place of God’s judgment.  Just as we find in the prophetic Psalm concerning the coming Christ:

 

“THE LORD HATH SWORN, AND WILL NOT REPENT, THOU art A PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.  THE LORD AT THY RIGHT HAND SHALL STRIKE THROUGH KINGS IN THE DAY OF HIS WRATH.  HE SHALL JUDGE AMONG THE HEATHEN, HE SHALL FILL the places WITH THE DEAD BODIES; HE SHALL WOUND THE HEADS OVER MANY COUNTRIES.” Psalms 110:4-6

 

            In the valley of Jehoshaphat God would judge the nations and mete out the their punishment.

 

v.13 “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.”

 

            God’s description of his judgment uses two illustrations very familiar to students of the Bible and to those who understand the work associated with farming.  Both are common to other prophecies such as:

 

Isaiah 17:5And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.”

 

Isaiah 63:3-4I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”

 

            The world was like a field ripe, ready to be harvested, or a vineyard ripe ready to be picked.  The evil of mankind had grown worse and worse, it had borne its fruit, it had arrived at a point similar to that of the days of Noah; leaving God nothing else to do except to reap it.  We look out over the world today with all of its evil, with the sins of Sodom becoming not just an alternative lifestyle but an abomination protected by law, even from the Word of God.  We see all of the evils enumerated in God’s revelation and worse and wonder, “How long Oh God?  How long will this earth be allowed to stand in its degradation and sin.?

 

v.14-15Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.”

 

            Multitude upon multitude will be gathered at the seat of judgment, brought in this metaphor into the valley of decision.  Every man who ever lived will be present without exception:

 

Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

 

II Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

 

This is the “DAY OF THE LORD”.  When this judgment comes the sun will be darkened, the stars will no longer shine.  The earth and its universe will have disappeared because God will destroy it and time will end.

 

v.16-17The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. 17So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”

 

            The voice of the Lord will go forth out of Jerusalem, just as we see it doing during the ministry of Jesus and then in the establishment of the church that Jesus said he would build (Matthew 16:18).  The heavens and earth will shake but spiritual Israel, the kingdom of Jesus Christ will not.  We are further warned by God through the writer of Hebrews:

 

Hebrews 12:25-28See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:”

 

The nations of the earth will fall.  The earth itself will be destroyed.  But the spiritual house of Israel will be protected from this destruction by God.  The spiritual kingdom of Israel will stand, not only in judgment but forever, just as Daniel prophesied:

 

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Daniel 2:44

 

The children of God will be placed in a sanctuary, heaven, where no stranger will enter.

 

Read Joel 3:18-21 – Joy in Spiritual Israel

 

v.18And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”

 

            In spiritual Israel the blessings of God will be bountiful beyond the words of man to describe.  Here in Joel they are depicted as the flowing of new wine, milk and rivers of water running pure and clear.  All of these things will come to the house of the Lord, the kingdom of Christ, the church of our Lord just as the Holy spirit gives us through the pens of the New Testament writers.

 

II Peter 1:2-3Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

 

Ephesians 1:33Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

 

v.19Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.”

 

            Egypt and Edom, traditional enemies of physical Israel are used here to represent the emptiness of being without God, the wickedness of the world, the hopelessness of those who will not bow their knees to the Almighty, those who are outside of the kingdom of Christ.  God will bring desolation and utter destruction upon them.  Our king died that he might have receive the power to overcome death brought to the world of mankind by Satan.

 

Hebrews 2:14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;”

 

v.20But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.”

 

            But in the days of God’s revenge against Satan and men of evil, Judah, representing the remnant, those few that will serve God faithfully will dwell forever in that place that Jesus has gone to prepare:

 

John 14:2-3In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

v.21For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.”

 

            God will judge the world by judging the blood of those who oppressed and treated his faithful shamefully.  The saints, the children of God, the spiritual children of Israel will be victorious for they will dwell in Zion with God.  Joel ends his prophecy on this upbeat note of triumph and victory for those who have God with them: