JOEL CHAPTER 3.
The Salvation of Israel and the Destruction of His Enemies.
GODíS JUDGMENT UPON HIS ENEMIES. ó V. 1. For, behold, in those days and in that time, in the Messianic period which had just been described according to its outstanding features, with the Day of Judgment very prominent in the description, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, of the spiritual Israel, by the deliverance through Christ, of which the return of Judah from exile was but a type, v. 2. I will also gather all nations, with the great and mighty heathen nations, and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is here made the scene of the last great Judgment upon men, and will plead with them there, conducting a formal trial with them, for My people and for My heritage Israel, in the interest of the Lord's people, whom they have scattered among the nations, in the various oppressions and captivities which have struck the Lord's people from the earliest days, and parted My land, appropriating it or dividing it as they saw fit. V. 3. And they have cast lots for My people, after they had taken them captive, and have given a boy for an harlot, namely, as the price for which they secured the services of a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine, for the sake of a drunken debauch, that they might drink. The description is typical of the manner with which the Lord's enemies have ever dealt with the believers. V. 4. Yea, and what have ye to do with Me, O Tyre and Zidon and all the coasts of Palestine? that is, what object did they have in acting as they did, when not only the capitals of Phoenicia, but also the city-states of Philistia were showing such enmity against Him? Will ye render Me a recompense? seeking revenge for what they consider a wrong done them. They had neither cause to seek revenge nor occasion to carry it out. And if ye recompense Me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head, cp. Ps. 7, 17, v. 5. because ye have taken My silver and My gold, in the Temple-treasures and throughout the city of Jerusalem, and have carried into your temples, including also the palaces of their rulers, My goodly, pleasant things, His most costly possessions; v. 6. the children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, the Philistines being those who reduced the captives to slavery, the Phoenicians those who acted as agents in selling the Hebrew slaves, that ye might remove them far from their border, to be slaves in distant countries. V. 7. Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, delivering them from the masters to whom they had been sold, and will return your recompense upon your own head, so that their revenge would react upon themselves; v. 8. and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, when Tyre and Sidon were captured and their inhabitants either killed or reduced to slavery, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, who are mentioned as being the remotest nation toward the east, in the Arabian Desert, to a people far off; for the Lord hath spoken it. The imagery of this paragraph is based, at least in part, upon happenings of those days; but the application includes far more than this, for the Lord makes those incidents typical of the punishments which He intended for all His enemies.
JEHOVAH THE HOPE OF THE PEOPLE. ó V. 9. Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles, as they made ready to wage war against the Lord's people. Prepare war, consecrate the undertaking by means of sacrifices, wake up the mighty men, let them arouse themselves from their inactivity, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up, assembling for the campaign. V. 10. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning-hooks into spears, bending every effort toward the winning of their unholy war. Let the weak say, I am strong, as when warlike excitement takes hold of a whole nation. V. 11. Assemble yourselves and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about, for the Lord's people are ever regarded as occupying a central position in the earth; thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord, to meet the invasion of the enemies with a fearless countercharge, V. 12. Let the heathen be wakened, stirred up for warfare, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about, all the heathen nations of the world, since they all, by the time of the final Judgment, would have come into contact with the Gospel-message. V. 13. Put ye in the sickle, so the Lord shouts to His mighty champions, for the harvest is ripe, the crop of the world having reached its maturity. Come, get you down, stamping the vats of gathered grapes, for the press is full, the fats overflow, the earth being more than ripe for the Lord's Judgment; for their wickedness is great. Cp. Rev. 14, 15-18. V. 14. Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision, for with the preaching of the Gospel among all nations the hour of decision for them all is come, cp. John 3, 18-21; for the Day of the Lord, the final Judgment, is near in the Valley of Decision, bound to be revealed as soon as all men would have had an opportunity to learn the Gospel-message. V. 15. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. Cp. chap. 2, 31. V. 16. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, with a voice of thunder terrifying His enemies, and utter His voice from Jerusalem, in the Word which was proclaimed there for so many centuries; 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. "Zion, or Jerusalem, is naturally not the earthly, Palestinian Jerusalem, but the Holy City of the living God, in which the Lord will be forever united with His saved and glorified congregation." V. 17. So shall ye know that I am the Lord, your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain, in the midst of the congregation of believers. Then shall Jerusalem be holy, a true communion of saints; and there shall no strangers pass through her any more, only those who have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. V. 18. And it shall come to pass in that day, when the blessings of the Messianic period would be dispensed, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah, most of which were dry except during the rainy season, shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, cp. Ex. 47, 1-12, and shall water the Valley of Shittim, otherwise an arid desert. The description aptly shows the power of the Gospel-message going forth from the Church of Christ and bringing fertility even to the unfruitful places of the earth, to the hearts of unbelievers and godless people everywhere. V. 19. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, these two being representative of the Lord's enemies, for the violence against the children of Judah, the representatives of the Lord's Church, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. V. 20. But Judah shall dwell forever and Jerusalem from generation to generation, for the Church Militant will merge into the Church Triumphant. V. 21. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed, namely, through the atonement wrought by the Messiah; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion. The entire description clearly does not speak of a mere earthly, temporal glorification of Jerusalem and a corresponding desolation of Egypt and Edom, but the latter are types of the powers opposing the Church of God, and Jehovah is setting forth the blessings which the work of the Church is bringing to men, on the basis of the redemption brought about by Jesus Christ. Cp. Rev. 22, 2. The Lord is dwelling in the midst of His Church and revealing Himself as the King of His people, partly by the destruction of His enemies, partly by the perfection of His kingdom in glory.