Wednesday 16 December 2020

Bible Book:

But the LORD is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. (v. 16)

Joel 3:9-16 Wednesday 16 December 2020

Psalm 39


Our courts and parliament work on adversarial principles. While it is assumed that justice requires truth, a judgment is about proving one side right and the other wrong.

As this passage begins an assumption has been made that ‘the nations’ are wrong and that the God of the Hebrews is right. The nations are warned to prepare for war. The biblical image of "beating our swords into ploughshares" is reversed. There is an assumption that the nations will be judged and the outcome is predetermined. But like someone using a microscope we need to pull back and look more widely to get perspective. Joel 2:28 states: "Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions."

 While Joel is offering judgment, it is not devoid of hope. When the ‘Day of the Lord’ comes, such judgment will be real, but it will be set against a backdrop of God’s Spirit being poured out on all people. That presumes that all will, to use the language of an evangelist, ‘be counted as righteous’. Judgment and mercy are in balance.

What the nations do, what we do, how we live our lives, how we treat one another – all are of eternal significance. We enhance or spoil our lives and those of others by the decisions we make and the actions we take. But there is a bottom line "…the Lord is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel" (v. 16). And even in the day of Joel, intentionally or prophetically, ‘Israel’ is not just the people of the Hebrews or those of the Jewish faith today, for the promise of acceptance is not just for some, but that spirit of acceptance will be "poured out on ALL people" - that means you, me and the ones we label ‘other’. Universal salvation?

To Ponder: 

  • Do we believe that "all people can be saved" and, if so, how do we live as though this is true?
  • In our conversations how can we collaborate with those who don’t agree with us?
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