Saturday

“For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgement with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations.” (vv. 1-2)

Joel 3:1-16 Saturday 28 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 95


Background

This section paints in the detail of "the great and terrible dayof the LORD", which was referred to in Joel2:30-31. The rest of the chapter, which is not part of today'spassage although the second half of verse 16 introduces the theme,likewise expands on the salvation of those who call on God, takingup Joel 2:32. "All the nations" will be judged,but neighbours that have been particularly troublesome for Israeland Judah - Tyre, Sidon and Philistia (verse 4) are mentioned byway of example.

The judgement is said to take place in the valley of Jehoshaphat(verses 2, 12), but this is not a matter of geography and probablydoes not concern the earlier king of Judah of that name. Rather weshould note that the name means 'Yahweh (or "the LORD" in manyEnglish versions) has judged'. Notice too, the similar phrase"valley of decision" in verse 14. The judgement emphasises thedivine decision regarding those nations who have divided God's landand sold God's people, actions which show total disregard of God'sright of possession. The Mediterranean ports of Tyre and Sidon werecentres of slave trading with other parts of the Greco-Romanempire. The looting of temple treasures is another crime mentionedand again the significance is not so much on the theft itself buton the attitude to the God whose property they are considered tobe.

From verse 9 onwards we read in more poetic terms a call toexecute the judgement prophesied in the earlier verses. Thereversal in verse 10 of familiar verses from Micah (Micah4:3) and Isaiah (Isaiah2:4) about re-forging the weapons of war into agriculturaltools is particularly striking. The harvest imagery of verse 15 isa common metaphor for judgement and is carried into the NewTestament (eg Matthew 13:36-43; Revelation 14:14-20).


To Ponder

  • The coming judgement on the nations is portrayed as a payingback of the specific wrongs that have been done to Israel. Howadequate do you consider this Old Testament notion of appropriatejudgement to be?
  • The trading of young people for prostitution and other kinds ofslavery referred to in verse 3 remains rife today. How can today'spowerful nations more effectively declare God's judgement on thisdehumanisation of children of God?
  • "The Lord roars from Zion" (v. 16). In what ways might God'svoice might be heard more loudly in world affairs today?
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