A Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
Hand the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith  

continuing the thrust of the 1901 Constitution of the Presbyterian Church of Australia


From Facts to Acts, From Scene to Scenario with Joel

Part II

from Joel 2:28-3:21




We have looked at Joel in terms of FACTS AND FIGURES,  WORDS AND DEEDS,  MESSIAH AND SPIRIT, where now we are lodged, and have before us the last part,





Glorious in heaven, the eternal word of God (John 17:1-3, Philippians 2, John 8:58), He discloses to all His incorruptibility to the uttermost even in our most vulnerable place as man, and His illimitable love, which before rendering rebellion its doom, takes it upon Himself, ready to give it liberally where the heart receives Him AS HE IS (Romans 10:9, 3:23-27, Titus 2-3, John 8).

Not as a tyrant but as a Substitute He comes, as a mandated man of mercy, whose OWN righteousness is to be smitten just as our unrighteousness is borne by Him (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), so that we might be borne aloft, sitting in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), covered, pardoned, changed, not paraded, not deleted in spiritual life, and left lamentable, but borne by our Saviour, the Lord each of His children to the place prepared (John 14, II Corinthians 5:1ff.). What a teacher for righteousness is He, what coverage does He give in His lesson. Does He not say it (Matthew 20:28),  

"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant;
even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to,
but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."

With His people, there is to be a "covenant of peace" (34:25) and He will  make "My hill a blessing, and I will cause showers to come down in their season: there shall be showers of blessing." In that day, which in its prelude is now, the day before "the great and awesome day of the LORD," (Joel 2:31), "whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." It is not to be novel; it is still based on what God symbolised through Mt Zion, and activated by personally coming there (Joel 2:32).



From this in Ezekiel, we now pour into the scenes of confrontation and final judicial desolation on the earth, .  where they are, as Joel 3:10 caustically sets it, to  "beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears." This imagery of zeal for battle, and zest, is however saddened by the utter irony within it. It is, as for salvation, so for ultimate deliverance, useless to do such things, make such self-based efforts, since if God is not for you, what is NOT against your outcome! Persecutors of the past, for Israel, are given recognition and punishment is appointed (Joel 3:7-11), but in this finale of clash, "multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!" is the clouded confrontation. Astronomical disturbance is clear, the sun dark. God, as in Isaiah 66, Deuteronomy 32, will act with overwhelming might and "roar from Zion" precisely as in Micah 7.

He will however "be a shelter for His people," Joel 3:17, now as in Zechariah 12, turned in the nation to and for Him. The "valley of decision" is one of decisive battle, where the hopes of the afflicting bulls stampeding are met by the act of God at length, with superior power in judicially meeting their actual weakness, after such a return to saving faith in Israel, so that there is indeed a decision! When the LORD shall "utter His voice from Jerusalem: the heavens and earth will shake," but even then, He is for HIS people "a shelter".  Take-over plans from hell aborted, there will be a millenial time of blessedness (as in Isaiah 59), and Egypt with its delusive power earlier against Israel, and later in hopes of diplomacy, will not escape (Joel 3:19 cf. Daniel  11:42).

Such coming confrontation moves to its ultimate in Revelation 19, and as elsewhere in this topic, so often  touched in the Bible, so we learn in a parallel passage in Habakkuk, 3:13, "You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with your Messiah, You struck the head from the house of the wicked, by laying bare from foundation to neck."

What then is the position ? Just as Joel 2:28-32 takes us spiritually to the climax at the end, so Joel 3:9-17 brings to international confrontation, Israel at that predicted time being moved to faith, with the Lord.  In this, as in Zechariah 12-13, comes a final showdown with what becomes a simple clash: aspirant and marauding unbelievers against the God of creation-redemption.  The result is not in any doubt, as all breathe by His designs and continued maintenance; but to conjure out of this as do some Pentecostal people, some spiritual experience of submission to the Lord before His people, it is such a misconfiguration of both the sequence and the situation in Joel, as to become like a new hair arrangement for a woman whose home is being destroyed by the nerve gas sarin, alas, the sad latter part, all too literal in Syria of today!

So is the Jerusalem contest, one beckoning to many powers and thoughts, resolved categorically (Joel 3:13,16), the spiritual realities of Zechariah 12:10ff. becoming as there, intimately related to the battle raging. This appears as a background; but no dream, no vision, is the battle itself!

As to the Jerusalem context, here in Joel, it is neither to be dismissed figuratively in this history lesson, nor is it to be given locational pre-eminence totally: it brings neither pre-eminence to the nation Israel (Isaiah 19), nor dismissal of the covenantal provisions of the Lord (Genesis 17:7-8,  Micah 7:18ff.) to it. It is highly specifically in Jerusalem, scene of Calvary (Zechariah12:6), that His power again plays. Then as all is fulfilled on earth, so in heaven. The Jerusalem which is above becomes gloriously featured in Revelation 20-22, as the earth at last disappears together with the heavens, leaving the incandescent splendour of the scene where spirituality is mingled with a new body and a new heaven and earth; for then, the former things have passed away.