Joel - The Day of the Lord - Greater Things Yet to Come: Chapter 3:1-21
For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it. "What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border. Behold, I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for the Lord has spoken.
Proclaim this among the nations: Consecrate for war; stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am a warrior."
Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down your warriors, O Lord.
Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great.
Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.
So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it. And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim.
Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the Lord dwells in Zion.
Joel's final chapter looks to the future restoration and prosperity of Judah, and the punishing repayment of the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat for what they did to God's people. This sets up the Day of the Lord as a day of decision, and as the day when God reestablishes Jerusalem at the center of His covenant people forever. Worthy to note, that the day of decision does not always mean a time where our decisions matter - it's usually the opposite that is true. The Day of the Lord most often represents a day in which it is only God's decisions that now matter.
However, as we read this chapter you can't help but notice that most of these things that have not yet happened. These are not small or insignificant things, but rather, they are great big things! Only things that God can and has promised to do - greater things, greater things yet to come.
Joel faced a world in which the terrorists had won. His country and his people were devastated. God told him not to worry, but to continue to trust Him. Joel warned of an imminent Day of the Lord, but also foretold of a coming Day of the Lord was at hand, a day that would be a day of decision. So Joel gives this final summary of his message for God's people. His focus is on now the future, not the present. He looks to the time when “the Lord will be living in Zion." That can happen because of God's pardon (Messiah). In his grace and love and to fulfill all his promises, God will find all the sins he has not pardoned and he will pardon them. This Day of the Lord will bring salvation to God's people—a salvation marked by his eternal presence with them. Only made possible by God's mercy, pardon and forgiveness.
The final Day of the Lord will bring victory and pardon for God's people, but that day of final decision will also bring lasting judgment on the enemies of God's people. God will live in Zion among his people.
As we said earlier, the day of the Lord always demands a decision. But this time the decisions would be the final Day of the Lord (in this case, the last judgment.
Promised Judgment of Israel's Enemies and the Deliverance and Prosperity of the Land (3:1-21)
• God has not restored the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem (3:1).
• He has not judged all the nations (3:2).
• Jerusalem is certainly not holy today (they are still looking for the Messiah) and with all the political chaos in Jerusalem today, there is no way anyone could think 3:17 has been fulfilled. When it says “strangers will pass through no more” it means there will be no more invasions on Jerusalem. Just as recently as this year there have been bombings and rocket attacks claimed by terrorist Palestinian and Hamas groups, so this certainly has not been fulfilled.
• The reference to beating plowshares into swords implies that there is a peace in the land that is temporary and they will resort back to war. This sounds to me like the peace in the first half of the tribulation which is broken by the man of sin in the middle of the tribulation (3:10).
• The millennial kingdom introduced and described to a global audience. It will be a utopia. There is also another promise to the Jews. It says, “Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem for all generations.” (3:20-21)
With these promises and more to come we should be certain of a few important things...
• There is a Day of the Lord yet to come.
• That Day of the Lord will center around His unfulfilled promises to the Jewish people.
• All believers and followers of Jesus will be included in the fulfillment of those promises.
• For those who are in Christ Jesus, we know that we are fully prepared for the great and mighty Day of the Lord.
• The Day of the Lord does not mean doom and disaster for us.
• God has a plan for world history in which he rewards his faithful people and judges those who disobey him and mistreat his people.
• God is the judge of every nation and every person - whether they believe in Him or not.
• God will protect his people when the Day of the Lord comes.
• We are assured in Christ that greater things are yet to come.