Joel (Part 3) - The Day of Decision 16th May
- Please take the time out to read again Joel 3 together
So far in this series, we have seen Joel go from an event that has happened in the past, use it to look forward and encourage both a corporate and individual response of whole-hearted repentance, so that the blessings of a relationship with God can become a reality, and that a redemption of all ‘that the locust had eaten’ may be true. He has also launched into a third picture of how he will make the permanence of his promise that ‘never again will my people be ashamed’, giving us one of the clearest statements of expected ‘Promise of the Father’, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people
- To begin you might spend some together time thanking God for giving us Christ to make our redemption possible and for giving us the Holy Spirit. (You could sing ‘There is a Redeemer’)
We also looked briefly in part 2 at the apparent separation of two parts of the ‘Day of the Lord’ with Jesus in Luke 4 stopping at ‘proclaiming the year of favour of our Lord’ leaving the ‘day of vengeance of our God’ out when quoting from Isaiah 61. In the last few verses of Chapter 2 he describes spiritual events (which we know have happened) and events in creation (which are less clear whether they have happened) before ‘the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’ that he describes in Chapter 3.
- Just before leaping in, talk about what is described here as happening in the time between Pentecost and this ‘great and dreadful day of the Lord’ what happens? (2:32) [Salvation]
Joel uses the phrase ‘In those days and at that time’ – which is probably just another way of saying ‘and then – at some point’ – and he is trying to describe what he is seeing, looking forward. He brings us to a time and a place where a decision will be made – The day of decision.
(As an interesting reflection here, it is worth remembering that the ‘day’ of judgement – and the outpouring of the wrath of God is actually revealed at two points in history. It will be on the great and final day of Judgement when Jesus returns. It was also true on Good Friday when Jesus, on the cross, carried the wrath of God on his shoulders so that those who, during the Age of the Spirit, put their trust in Him, may not be condemned. See Romans 8:1. It seems therefore true to say that Jesus actually fulfilled all of the prophesy of Isaiah 61 in himself.)
Chapter 3 is again split into two parts, judgments (v1-17) and blessings (18-21) (c.f. also Isaiah 40:10-11)
- Who here is being judged? V2
- What is being judged against them? V2-3 – Sins committed against his people Israel (Scattered, Divided, Sold, Robbed) A quote from Josephus (a Jewish historian) helps picture what this may have been like when perhaps fulfilled, in part, by the Romans who “chose from the Jews the tallest and most beautiful & reserved them for triumph, and, as for the rest of the multitude that were above 17 years old, he put them in bonds & sent them to the Egyptian mines...those that were under 17 years of age were sold for slaves” ‘The war of the Jews; Book 6, Ch 9; Par 2’
Vs 2-3 describe a place, Jehosophat, which means ‘the Lord Judges’, and may or may not b
e a specific valley, and it is being used to help listeners picture a very large open place where all the nations can gather, seemingly stretching all the way down to Edom to the South East.
(Picture here is of the city of Megiddo from the hills (har) from which the name Armageddon (Har-Megiddo) is probably derived.)
- Read Ps 2:1-6 and compare Vs4-8. Is it sensible to pick a fight with God?
In verses 9-13 God seems to encourage them to ‘do their worst!’ Read Isaiah 2:4 and look at the context of the reverse of v10. C.f. Micah 4:3 for another similar form of words.
- Once the nations are gathered in the valley of decision, what do verses 15-16(a) say is going to happen?
- Whose decision is it? What does the decision involve?
- What is implication of the ‘But’ of v16(b)
- How does what Jesus has done fit into all of this? (See John 5:24; Rom 8:1)
This is about God’s decision, and his provision of the means by which His people will be saved. It is not the time when the peoples will be able to make their decisions. This has been covered back at the end of Chapter 2. This is about God deciding to reveal His wrath for the second time.
The consequences for the people of Israel are intriguing. Joel begins his description of a land left desolate by locusts. He finishes with a very different picture.
- Read again how he describes the way it will become. The scattered have been gathered v1&17, the divided have been reunited V20, the ‘sold’ are now free V21, and the once robbed are again wealthy V18.
- Please note that:
- mountains and hills usually are the least productive soils and yet...
- the Valley of the Acacias is a dry wilderness to the NE of the Dead Sea
- Why do you think Joel here mentions Egypt and Edom?
And God will be there...v21b – Look also at the end of Ezekiel 48 for a similar ending.
God’s desire that comes across throughout Joel is that He wants us in relationship with Him and receiving His blessings. The warning messages here are similar to those throughout scripture. There is a God to whom we will give account – and the day will come unexpectedly when we have to do that. Without Christ we will store up wrath for ourselves (Rom 2:5). But!! The great news of the Gospel is here to. If we repent – we will be saved and there will be a place where we will be – and God will be there. He will pour out his Spirit on his people and ultimately He will be our refuge
- Pray that we will live as those who know the truth of Jn 5:24 and Rom 8:1 and that the love of Christ will compel us to fulfil our role as watchmen