Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joel 3: 1-3

The Nations Will Be Judged
1"For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
2I will gather all the nations
And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat
Then I will enter into judgment with them there
On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
And they have divided up My land.
3"They have also cast lots for My people,
Traded a boy for a harlot
And sold a girl for wine that they may drink.

The scene changes in Chapter 3 as we would seem to open on a courtroom of sorts. Our heading "The nations will be judged" implies that there is judgment coming down. God pretty much speaks that very thought when He says, "Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people...." (vs 2).

Speaking still of the final Day of the Lord, this closing chapter of Joel explains what judgment will come upon whom. Although God speaks of restoration for Judah and Jerusalem in the first verse, He quickly shifts focus to "the nations." He will gather them all in one place--the valley of Jehoshaphat, which means "Yahweh judges."

The cross-references for verse 2 suggest a number of things happening at this time. Per Isaiah, "...They [the nations] shall come and see My glory." (66:18) Per Micah, "...He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor." (4:12) Zechariah probably has the most pronounced agenda: "For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city." (14:2) The battle referred to by Zechariah is the battle of Armageddon, led by the Almighty against those nations who are not His people.

The phrase "I will enter into judgment with them" requires a closer look. The King James says "will plead with them," which would seem even more confusing. The Amplified Bible says, "will I deal with and execute judgment upon them for [their treatment of] My people...." God being God, His judgment is not going to be brought with room for witnesses and closing arguments much less a jury. 'Plead' is much stronger than our legalistic use of it in English.

"Accordingly, when God is said to 'plead with' man..., the meaning is that God states His side of the case and not at all that He supplicates man to repent. And this statement by God is a judicial act that of course admits of no reply." [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

God begins speaking of the charges against the nations in verse 2, noting how His people have been scattered and divided up, lots have been cast for them and they have been traded for goods and services, as it were, for the nations' living of the abundant life. A cross-reference for verse 3 brings us back to Obadiah 1:11, and Edom's watching idly as the nations cast lots for Jerusalem, running off with the wealth of the people. Remember what happened to Edom?

But God's final plan was not such that His people would be forever lost. Note the love of the Father in verse 2, calling Israel "My people" and "My inheritance" ("My heritage" in the King James). For His Name's sake, God is not going to accept anything less than that which is surely His own. These are the people who are in relationship with God, who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and live that way! "To live is Christ...." That is their MO. The battle is yet to come, but His people would not receive that as their final judgment. Those who truly called on the Lord as their God would be saved.

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left."
--Matthew 25:31-33 [and quite a few more verses beyond]

God's last spoken words in Joel.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Joel 3: 4-8

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

1 comment:

Carmen said...

The word 'plead' certainly is confusing. The Amplified provides much clarity.

It is an act of fairness and kindness that God would tell them where they've gone wrong--though they will be judged. Good post Sue!