Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Joel 3: 9-12

9Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men!
Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up!
10Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, "I am a mighty man."
11Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations,
And gather yourselves there
Bring down, O LORD, Your mighty ones.
12Let the nations be aroused
And come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat,
For there I will sit to judge
All the surrounding nations.

God's Word tells us that there is a time for war and a time for peace. Joel is pronouncing a time of war, as he continues forward with the theme of the judgment of the nations in chapter 3.

We have seen the word nations used throughout this chapter, and we know it refers to those who are not God's people. In verse 9, the King James uses 'Gentiles', referring to foreign nations--those for whom God is foreign--and the Hebrew translation of the word can refer, figuratively, to "a flight of locusts," [Strong's] which would seem quite appropriate given what we have already read in Joel.

Verse 10 deserves to be read carefully. When I first read the verse, I recognized the words. But, although the words are in perfect context here, this was not the phrasing with which I was familiar. This is because God has used these same words--different context and directly opposite phrasing--in other prophecy (Isaiah, for instance)! Again, Joel says that the nations need to prepare for a time of war, not peace. The instruments of agriculture would be transformed into instruments of battle. How apropos, in this story of land destruction and famine, that God should call for that which transforms the soil and allows for the production of a harvest to be used in a battle that would end quite differently than the trial that befell Judah!

Verse 10 concludes with an oft-used comparison between the weak and the strong. Though the foreign nations would no doubt present themselves with grand armies and fine weaponry, it will be Judah who will stand strong in that day of judgment, with God raising up the frail.

"'In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them....'"
--Zechariah 12:8

As we discovered last time, God is raising up His people to carry out His punishment upon the nations for their evil deeds. A cross-reference for verse 11 is Isaiah 13:3--"I have commanded My consecrated ones, I have even called My mighty warriors, my proudly exulting ones, to execute My anger." Let us be reminded that Judah is not in this position as a reward for good deeds, but because Judah was a chosen nation. Not a chosen nation that was without sin, but a chosen nation that recognized and honored its God, repenting of its sin and returning, by grace, into God's presence, redeemed and restored.

The nations, meantime, are called to gather at Jehoshaphat (which means, God's verdict). Though they are "surrounding," they are powerless. This judgment will be the ultimate.

"Before the LORD, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth
He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness."
--Psalm 96:13

Harvest metaphors continue to be twisted in the Day.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Joel 3: 13-17

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...

I love your observation on the utensils used for war and the contrast in Isaiah 2. I also love God's faithfulness to Israel because they are chosen, not because they are perfect! In reading this weeks portion of scripture here, I couldn't help but notice how God 'invites' them to come while he awaits them. Brrrr. Good post, Sue!!