There will come a day when the fortunes of the Lord’s chosen people (Israel) will be restored. It would seem that Jerusalem was restored at the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C., but the Jews were again dispersed by the flattening of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Again it would seem that Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948. But both events did not fully involve what is foretold in Joel 3.
As noted, Joel’s prophecy telescopes to a future day, when the King of Kings finally settles all scores. In Joel’s day, Judah’s immediate enemies boiled down to the Philistines and the Phoenicians (Tyre and Sidon). But in the end, the whole world will stand on the neck of this tiny nation.
At a time known only to God, he will seek retribution. In his vice grip, the world will attempt to recompense for wrongs done, “but if you do recompense Me (he says), swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense on your head.” (v. 4)
This is how it will be done. He will cajole the nations to assemble for war in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, also called the Valley of Decision. This really means the valley of “judges” or “judgement.” He’ll say,
Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.”
Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations,
And gather yourselves there. (v. 10-11)
In this “valley” the Lord will roar (v. 16) and all Israel’s enemies will be harvested (v. 13), “and strangers will pass through it no more.” (v. 17)
There are at least three important truths in this passage.
- There will be a time when the Lord’s patience runs out. “This will be the day when the Lord will avenge the blood which he has not avenged.” (v. 21)
- There will be a time when he seeks retribution. “I will return your recompense on your head.” (v. 4)
- There will be a time when he doesn’t “care” anymore. “What are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon and all the regions of Philistia.” (v. 4)
We say “there is no justice in this world.” Actually, we’re all on the clock. And if we’re on the right side of justice, we will be blessed.
And in that day
The mountains will drip with sweet wine,
And the hills will flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water;
And a spring will go out from the house of the Lord. (v. 18)