Time for War

Joel 3:1–17 (NKJV)

3:1 “For behold, in those days and at that time,When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.

3 They have cast lots for My people, Have given a boy as payment for a harlot, And sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.

The Lord announces the plan for restoration of Israel and Judah.  He will bring them back from their place of captivity and exile.  He will also bring all the nations together to judge them for their acts of aggression against His people.

4 “Indeed, what have you to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia?  Will you retaliate against Me?  But if you retaliate against Me, Swiftly and speedily I will return your retaliation upon your own head;

5 Because you have taken My silver and My gold, And have carried into your temples My prized possessions.

6 Also the people of Judah and the people of Jerusalem You have sold to the Greeks, That you may remove them far from their borders.

7 “Behold, I will raise them Out of the place to which you have sold them, And will return your retaliation upon your own head.

8 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 people far off; For the Lord has spoken.”

The Lord indicts the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia specifically, and generally all those who worked against Israel and Judah, by delcaring His vengeance and retribution against them.  He charges them with taking His people’s children and selling them into slavery, even using them for barter.  He then says that He will do the same with their children.  

9 Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war!  Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up.

10 Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ ”

11 Assemble and come, all you nations, And gather together all around.  Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord.

12 “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.  Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow—For their wickedness is great.”

14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

15 The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness.

16 The Lord also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel.

17 “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.  Then Jerusalem shall be holy, And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”

This final, huge picture depicts the Lord waking up His people for war.  They will use their agricultural tools as weapons, and will watch as God judges the nations in the valley of decision.  He calls upon the weak to say (believe) that they are strong.  He will roar from Zion, and the whole earth will hear.  The heavens and the earth will shake, and all will know that the Lord is God.  Jerusalem will again be holy.  

While this is a very specific prophecy of restoration for Israel after their demise, it also speaks to the nature of God when it comes to His care and defense of His people.  Whether you were a Jew in the days of Joel, or whether you are a part of the last-days church, God is for you.  When you sin willfully and continually, you may walk in a place of trouble, but God will restore the repentant heart.  Don’t live in captivity, but call on the Lord and know that He will hear your cry and restore you.  He will judge the nations and exact revenge upon your enemies.  While Israel’s enemies were physical and human, the Lord today wages war on the enemies of your soul as well, fighting for you in the spiritual realm.  Believe, be restored and go to war, for the Lord goes before you!

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