Joel 2:31-3:8--2:30 "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of YHVH. 32 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of YHVH shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as YHVH has said, among the remnant whom YHVH calls. 3:1 For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. 3 They have cast lots for My people, have given a boy as payment for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink. 4 Indeed, what have you to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia? Will you retaliate against Me? But if you retaliate against Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your retaliation upon your own head; 5 because you have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My prized possessions. 6 Also the people of Judah and the people of Jerusalem You have sold to the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their borders. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place to which you have sold them, and will return your retaliation upon your own head. 8 I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off; for YHVH has spoken."
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke returned to the land after God commanded His army to leave. We know that the blood and fire and pillars of smoke were even greater than before. But, the "blood and fire and pillars of smoke" were the result of the animal sacrifices. The fact that God had restored the sacrifices of grain and animals and blood was good for the people of Judah. It meant that they now had a way to cover over their sins. Of course, sometimes, a little freedom isn't such a good thing. After all, why did the blood and fire and pillars of smoke return? Because the people were bringing sacrifices. And why were they bringing sacrifices? Because they were sinning. Which would God prefer: a person bringing an animal sacrifice? Or the person not needing to bring an animal sacrifice? Let's allow the Scriptures to answer that question. Psalm 51:17--The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. Hosea 6:6--"For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." And He would later say through the prophet Isaiah, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” says YHVH. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats...Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them" (Isaiah 1:11-14). God would rather we not have to bring a sacrifice to Him, then to continually weary Him with our dead bulls and goats. He would rather we enter His presence with praise, than enter with blood.
But, He would one day bring an end to these sacrifices, so that all nations would be able to entreat Him for mercy and forgiveness. All nations would be able to live in holiness to YHVH, and He would dwell within them and be their God. That neither circumcision would be necessary, nor sacrifice. But, verse 2:32, it shall come to pass that These words would be echoed by the apostles Peter (Acts 2:21) and Paul (Romans 10:13), who quote the Septuagint and say/write, whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. And who, exactly, is that Lord? Of course, it is Christ. Now, I wasn't planning on doing a study of the deity of Christ, but like I always say, God laughs at the plans of men. Hold your place here in Joel, and turn to Romans 10. Because Paul demonstrates the deity of Christ without actually coming out and saying, "Jesus is God." And no, for all you who have ever had dealings with Jehovah's Witnesses, the Bible does not contain the exact phrase, "Jesus is God." But, we find the fact that Jesus is God all throughout the NT. Here is one example.
Romans 10:9-13--if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. What does he say in verse 9? If you confess...the Lord Jesus. This is not negotiable. The modern heresy that is so popular today, that we can separate confessing Christ as Savior from confessing Him as Lord, is truly an abomination. No one can be saved apart from confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. We do not make Him Lord--He already IS! Acts 2:36--"This Jesus whom you have crucified, God has made Him both LORD and Christ." So we confess Jesus as Lord. Verse 11. Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. Believes on who? Jesus. John 3:16--"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in HIM...will have everlasting life." Acts 16:31--"Believe on the LORD JESUS CHRIST and you will be saved." So what Lord is it we are called upon and commanded to believe and confess? We are called upon to believe and confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD. This is the promise to all nations, verse 12--For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. Sensing a pattern here. Who is this "Lord of all?" Acts 10:36--The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is LORD of all. Philippians 2:10-11--that at the name OF JESUS, every knee should bow...and that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father. So every tongue will confess--whether in love or in agony--that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is, indeed, Lord of all, and verse 13--whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
Who is Lord? Jesus. That's what Paul has been saying, even if you go back to verse 1 of Romans 10. This whole section is about Christ. Christ is the end of the Law (Romans 10:4). Christ is Lord. Christ is Lord over all. And if you call on the name of the Lord Christ you will be saved. It is faith in Christ that leads to salvation. Who did Paul say we must confess as Lord in verse 9? The Lord Jesus. Let's keep going to Romans 10:14--How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? Who is it that people must believe in? Christ. Paul's unbroken theme for this entire section of his letter to the Romans is about proclaiming the name of Christ, believing in Him and confessing Him as Lord. And whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
Now, flip back to Joel 2:32. Whoever calls on the name of YHVH shall be saved. What have we just finished looking at in Romans 10? That Paul is letting it be known that Jesus Christ is Lord. That whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and if we want to make it even clearer to the reader or listener, whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. Yet God says through Joel that whoever calls on the name of YHVH shall be saved. Can there be a clearer display of the deity of Jesus Christ than this?
Can there be a clearer display of the mercy of God than this? For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as YHVH has said, among the remnant whom YHVH calls. Hold your place again, and turn to Romans chapter 11. Here we see Paul giving a picture of the Jewish people embracing Jesus as Messiah. Romans 11:1-7--I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, "LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? (see 1st Kings 19:10, 14) But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal" (see 1st Kings 19:18). Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Poor Elijah. Sitting all alone in the cave, feeling sorry for himself, thinking that God was too weak to save His people. Thinking that all of Israel was doomed. Thinking that he would be the last Jew who would ever worship God.
But what did God tell him? He said, "Hey, look, I've still got 7000 men who have not deserted me." And Paul is letting it be known that God has not finished building the body of Christ with Jewish believers. Look at the end of verse 1--I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. He expands this identification with Israel in Philippians 3:5--circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee. What nation were the apostles from? Israel. What nation was the Lord Jesus born into? Romans 9:3-5--I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites...from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. Paul was an Israelite. Jesus was, in flesh, an Israelite. Has God cast away His people? Certainly not! Verse 5, Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
So why don't Jews accept Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah? Skip ahead to Romans 11:11-12--I say then, have they [the Israelites] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! The Jews have not believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ of God for one simple reason: so that the Gentiles may be saved through faith. Will the Jews be forever disbelieving? Romans 11:25-26--For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins" (see Isaiah 59:20-21). One day, light will come to the Israelites, and there will be a massive revival in Israel, just before the return of the Lord Christ. Back to Joel.
Chapter 3 verses 1 and 2. For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. Much speculation has been spent on properly defining where/what is meant by the "Valley of Jehoshaphat." Some say it is meant to be the valley that was later given this appellation. I would have to respectfully disagree, since that was not so named until some 300 years after the resurrection of our Lord. If it is meant to be applied to the valley where God overcame the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites (2nd Chronicles 20:11-22), then this would be the Valley of Berachah (2nd Chronicles 20:26). Others believe Joel to be speaking of the Kidron Valley.
But still others hold to a view I tend to gravitate towards. That this "Valley of Jehoshaphat" is none other than the Har Megiddo, where God the Son will come and judge the nations--not with mercy or compassion--but with a sword. For the name Jehoshaphat means "YHVH judges." In the very last days--and I have not studied the chronological order of the occurrence of these things, so don't let that sidetrack the conversation--light will come to the Israelites, so that many will worship Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of God. Another significant event will occur when the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt. Israelites from all around the world will descend on Jerusalem, and establish residence there because the animal sacrifices will return, with the resultant blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The Antichrist will sit as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2nd Thessalonians 2:4). The seething, blaspheming, Antichrist-worshiping Gentile nations will increasingly rage against Israel, will seek to utterly destroy them, will give away the land to the highest bidder. They will rage against God and against His Christ. They will dare God to come down and do something about it...........and He will. Revelation 19:11-16--Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself....Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron...And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And thus, God will gather all nations, and He will bring them down to the Valley, and He will enter into judgment with those who have scattered His people among the nations and those who have divided up His land.
And what will be the charges He will bring against those who ravaged His people and divided His land? Verses 2-8. "On account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. They have cast lots for My people, have given a boy as payment for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink. Indeed, what have you to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia? Will you retaliate against Me? But if you retaliate against Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your retaliation upon your own head; because you have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My prized possessions. Also the people of Judah and the people of Jerusalem You have sold to the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their borders. Behold, I will raise them out of the place to which you have sold them, and will return your retaliation upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off; for YHVH has spoken."
A two-fold revelation. In the immediate context, God speaks of the nations who carried away the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and sold them and got whatever they could out of the deal. For which God was so very patient in exacting His vengeance upon such vile men. It is said that when Jerusalem was overthrown in 70 AD,
Titus disposed of the prisoners, whose number reached 97,000 in the course of the war, in the following manner: Those under seventeen years of age were publicly sold; of the remainder, some were executed immediately, some sent away to work in the Egyptian mines, some kept for the public shows to fight with wild beasts in all the chief cities of Rome; and only the tallest and most handsome for the triumphal procession in Rome (compare Josephus, The Jewish Wars, vi. 9, 2, 3). And the Jews who were taken prisoners in the Jewish war in the time of Hadrian, are said to have been sold in the slave-market at Hebron at so low a price, that four Jews were disposed of for a measure of barley.--From Keil & Delitzch, Commentary on Joel 3:2-8.
But it is not only for the Israelites that God will recompense the nations. We are all--those who believe in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior--Israelites. This is a great truth. A truth that we should all understand, for God has promised to ransom Israel. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God (Romans 2:28-29). There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:28-29). Romans 11:26, 29--And so all Israel will be saved...For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Matthew 1:21--"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." Does God make a promise and go back on it? He has even promised those who have lost their lives for the sake of the Lord Jesus that He will avenge them (see Revelation 6:9-10, Revelation 19:2).
We have His word that these things will happen. The end of verse 8, "...for YHVH has spoken." Do we need any further evidence than the fact that God said it? What will the Postmodern or the Emergent have to answer in that day? They who do not believe that simply trusting in the word of God is enough. They who seek some higher truth. As if there is any! There is NO higher truth than that which comes from God. And there is no other truth than that which God calls truth. You may say, "Oh, but look at all these laws of logic! Look at all these laws of physics and mathematics and..." so on and so forth. What? You think man makes a truth and God has to live by it? Who are you, O man, to question God? If it is a truth--of physics, of mathematics, of economics, of geometry, of logic--then it is only because it has been decreed to be truth by God. For apart from Him, there is no truth.
Why does the physical world obey the laws of physics? Because God orders things to act in a certain way. Why does 2+2 ALWAYS equal 4? Because God ordered that numbers whould behave in a certain way. Why does a certain amount of money, earning a certain amount of interest, over a certain amount of time, compounded at certain periods, earn a certain amount of interest? I suppose you will say "Because that's what banks and lending institutions have determined." And you would be so wrong that the distance between your assertion and the true reason could not be measured by human measurements. Meausre the distance in light years--you will be no closer to the truth than the ant crawling across the sidewalk will come to the farthest reaches of our galaxy. That money earns however much interest it does because God has determined that those numbers--calculate them however you will--can only equal one fixed number. Whatever laws of truth we think that we have invented--at their rock bottom and foundation, exist for one simple reason--"...for YHVH has spoken."
And if it is YHVH who has determined the truths of the physical world, how much more has He determined the things concerning Himself. What, you think some guy over in Rome, sitting in a big chair and surrounded by his acolytes dressed in cardinal red, determines what the Scriptures mean? You think it is the woman in Revelation 17:1-2 who holds the last word on who enters Heaven and who doesn't? No mere man determines anything of God. Only the word of God is sufficient to speak of the things of God. "...for YHVH has spoken."