Scripture reading – Joel 3

 

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Today’s Scripture reading concludes our study of the Book of Joel. A second devotional will follow and serve as an introduction to the Book of Daniel.

For context, I suggest that Joel 2:28-32 serves as the introduction to Joel 3. I indicated in the prior study that I believe Joel’s prophecies were announced when the Assyrian army laid siege to Jerusalem. Isaiah recorded that the LORD intervened and saved Jerusalem by sending His angel who smote 185,000 soldiers (Isaiah 37:36). Sennacherib, Assyria’s king, was forced to make a hasty retreat to his homeland, where he was later assassinated by his sons (Isaiah 37:33-38).

The “Day of the LORD” and the dramatic visions of calamity that will accompany that day were described in Joel 2:30-31. It will be the day of God’s judgment when He will take vengeance on the nations that abused Israel and Judah. With the assurance of God’s perpetual presence “in the midst,” Israel will know Him as “the LORD [their] God,” and the day will come when Israel will “never be ashamed” (Joel 2:27).

In my opinion, the “last days” began with Christ’s earthly ministry, and the prophecy of the outpouring of His Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28-30; Acts 2:16-20). Nevertheless, the events recorded in the closing verses of Joel 2 and Joel 3, will not be fulfilled until the close of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.

 

Joel 3 – The Judgment of the Gentile Nations

 

A Day of Reckoning for the Nations (Joel 3:1-2)

Joel 3:1 was partly fulfilled when the LORD moved on the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, to grant the Jews liberty to return to their homeland where they would rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3). Yet, the final fulfillment of Joel 3 will come to pass at the close of the Tribulation. The LORD promised He would one day gather His people from the nations (Joel 3:1) and exercise judgment on the Gentile nations for their sins against Him and His people (Joel 3:2).

A Day of Reckoning for the Nations (Joel 3:1-2)

An Enumeration of the Sins of the Gentiles (Joel 3:3-6)

The nations of the earth have forever been at war with God and His people. Yet, the sins of some countries have been so egregious that they are named explicitly for judgment: Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine (Joel 3:4), Egypt, and Sodom (Joel 3:19).

Because the sins committed against God’s people are an offense to Him, the LORD has passed judgment and determined the guilt of the Gentile nations. Tyre, Zidon, Philistia (i.e., Palestine), Egypt, and Sodom scattered the Jews with their persecutions. Those nations parted the land He gave Israel as an inheritance (3:2c). They enslaved the Jews (Joel 3:3a, 6), trafficked boys and girls as sex slaves, and placed little value on their lives (Joel 3:3). They spoiled the gold and silver of the land, and took away that which was the LORD’s (Joel 3:4-6).

 

Justice and Judgment: The Payment for Human Trafficking (Joel 3:4, 7-8)

The sins of the Gentile nations will be punished. They will receive the recompense (be repaid) in kind for the sins they committed against the LORD and His people (Joel 3:4). Joel foretold that the LORD would gather His people and restore them to their land (Joel 3:7). The nations that enslaved them would themselves be enslaved (Joel 3:8a). Their sons and daughters would be sold “to the Sabeans” (a caravan people of the southern Arabian Peninsula), and trafficked to faraway lands (Joel 3:8b).

 

Warfare of the Nations (Joel 3:9-16)

Through His prophet, the LORD summoned the nations to gather and prepare for war (Joel 3:9). Contrary to the Millennial kingdom and its peace (when the weapons of war will be fashioned into plows, Micah 4:3), the LORD commanded the nations to “beat [their] plowshares into swords, and [their] pruninghooks into spears” (Joel 3:10). Joel foretold that the countries of the world would assemble for battle (Joel 3:11), and the LORD will judge them “in the valley of Jehoshaphat” (its geographic location is uncertain, Joel 3:12).

Drawing a portrait of Himself as a farmer prepared for the harvest, the world’s nations were portrayed as ripe for the LORD’s judgment. Joel described the LORD coming with his sickle sharpened and ready to tread the nations underfoot like grapes in a vine press (Joel 3:13).

On that day, a multitude of the people will gather against Israel (Joel 3:14). Still, it is the LORD whose judgment will darken the sun, moon, and stars (Joel 3:15). Suddenly, He will “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” (Joel 3:16).

The Promise of the LORD’s Perpetual Presence

The Promise of the LORD’s Perpetual Presence (Joel 3:17-21)

Because of God’s judgment of the nations, the children of Israel and Judah will come to know Him as “the LORD [their] God” who dwells in Zion (Joel 3:17a). The city of Jerusalem will be holy, and no “strangers” (unbelievers) will “pass through her any more” (Joel 3:17b). The land will be fertile, the waters will flow. The River of Life will flow from “the house of the LORD” (Joel 3:18). He will avenge the wickedness of Egypt and Edom, for they were guilty of violence and shedding the “innocent blood” of the children of Judah (Joel 3:19).

Joel’s prophecy ended with the LORD promising Judah that the nation will “dwell forever” in the land, “and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (Joel 3:20). He will purge the people of their sins. He will forever dwell among them “in Zion” (Joel 3:21).

 

Closing thoughts

Our study of Joel began with a judgment of locusts (Assyria’s army) descending upon Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 1:4) and ends with the triumph of the LORD and the Jews restored to their land where the LORD will reign forever in Jerusalem (Joel 3:20-21).

There is a judgment day coming, not only for the nations but for all men and women. Are you prepared to be judged? Will your name be “found written in the book of life?” (Revelation 20:13, 15)

Revelation 20:15 – “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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