Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joel 3: 18-21

Judah Will Be Blessed
18And in that day
The mountains will drip with sweet wine,
And the hills will flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water;
And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD
To water the valley of Shittim.
19Egypt will become a waste,
And Edom will become a desolate wilderness,
Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah,
In whose land they have shed innocent blood.
20But Judah will be inhabited forever
And Jerusalem for all generations.
21And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged,
For the LORD dwells in Zion.

And here we are! The closing verses of Joel and a happy ending as the section subhead suggests: Judah will be blessed.

Such a beautiful series of pictures. We start with sweet wine flowing from the mountain. My study Bible has a note that says this literally means "freshly pressed out grape juice." I cannot help but think back to Chapter 1 and the swarm of locusts that almost did in the residents of Judah, and caused the wine drinkers to wail "...on account of the sweet wine that is cut off from your mouth." (Joel 1:5) Through their repentance and His mercy, God restored the fruit of the vine--literally and figuratively.

"...The hills will flow with milk." I've been blessed with the unexpected joy of studying the exodus of the Israelites through Priscilla Shirer's study One in a Million. Had no idea how many parallels I would see between Joel and Exodus. But, should I have been surprised? Joel's prophecy is steeped in references to the fulfillment of God's covenant with His people, one of which was made through Moses.

"So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey...."
--Exodus 3:8

The Promised Land is synonymous with "milk and honey." God's words in Joel reassured that the promises of His care and provision, and the ultimate security of God's reign over the land of His people would be there.

Finally, water flows everywhere! From a land with famine and drought to a land of rich abundance and water. The valley of Shittim is worthy of note, with its significance back in the days of the exodus. Again, from my study Bible: "Known for its acacia trees [BTW, the wood of acacia trees was used to create the ark of the covenant and other parts of the tabernacle, back in the days of Moses], the valley was situated on the northern shores of the Dead Sea and served as the final stopover for Israel prior to her entrance into the Promised Land. This valley is also the place to which the millennial river will flow." Christ's coming to reign will be as a spring from the house of the Lord.

Although our passage is a blessing and comes with God's perfect justice, it does not come without bad news for some. Joel speaks of Egypt and Edom, specifically. The Israelites were ill-treated slaves in Egypt for years and years and years. God's miracle of the Red Sea crossing with Pharoah's crew's demise was a mere preview of the justice that He will carry out upon that nation. Edom, as you'll remember from our study of Obadiah, is completely obliterated:

"Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever."
--Obadiah 1:10

Verses 20 and 21 conclude with God's establishing the place of Judah/Jerusalem as part of His Kingdom. It is the finish to an amazing race, a true journey! And if there were any doubt as to whether God had completely forgiven them their sins, note verse 21 in the New International Version: "'Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.' The LORD dwells in Zion!" (emphasis mine)

This was a message to be shared and passed down to the generations. This was a time for Judah that had come and gone--with devastation and renewal--and a time with blessing that is yet to come. And the hand of God is ever present and the mercy of God is there, when hearts are where they should be.

"Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him, even a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?"
--Joel 2:14, God speaking

Who knows? The only One who can truly know! Will we let His Word fill our hearts, as the brooks of Judah will flow with water?

Moving forward to our next prophet--Jonah! 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Introduction to Jonah

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...

It is amazing how there's so many similar threads throughout the whole Bible that all seem to tie together. It is so beautifully written. Only God could have done it!