|"Last Judgment" by Peter Von Cornelius|
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Joel 3:1-21
TO CHEW ON: "But the Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
but the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel." Joel 3:16
Here, as we come to the last part of Joel's prophecy we see another side of God as He gathers the nations for judgment. Like prophets tend to do, Joel has leaped ahead in time. He goes from talking about God's punishment of Judah (his audience) to a time in the future.
Yesterday he spoke of a time ("...afterward...") when God would pour out His Spirit on everyone. Today we see another event connected to that time ("For behold in those days and at that time..." [referring back to Joel 2:28-30]). It's a gathering of nations for judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
Where is this place?
Jerry Cook, writer of my Bible's study notes on Joel, says, "In Jewish tradition this is thought to be part of the Kidron Valley between the temple and the Mount of Olives. 'Jehoshaphat' means 'Yahweh is Judge.' This, therefore, may be a symbolic place of judgment and decision rather than an actual place in Joel's mind" (New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1167).
Joel sees the nations gathering there for God's verdict on their roles in history and specifically their relationships to Israel.
God shows Himself a ferocious judge. He will "roar." [Sha'ag a word used to describe the roar of a lion or the rumble of thunder. A word study in my Bible says that though sha'ag is used occasionally to describe angry, growling men, most of the time it describes the roaring God does as He goes to battle—here against Israel's enemies.]
These days God is rarely depicted as roaring, fierce, and terrible. We are familiar with the Good Shepherd image of Him, or the unconditionally loving friend, or the dispenser of unlimited grace. And He is those things. But He is also a God who roars. I sometimes wish that I could live one day with the Israelites as they gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai and experienced this roaring, flinty-fierce side of God. I'm sure it would smarten me up in my own often casual approach to Him.
It would also probably give me new eyes with which to see my unsaved family members, neighbors and friends. A comment in my Bible describes a possible reaction to Joel's image of the Valley of Decision: (Joel 3:9-16): "Cry out to God, and ask Him to give you spiritual eyes to see the multitudes of people still in the valley of decision" (New Spirit Filled Bible, p. 1169).
PRAYER: Dear God, please forgive me for my so-often casual approach to You. Help me to see You accurately and order my life in a way that acknowledges Your holiness and justice as well as Your love and grace. Amen.
MORE: "Worthy" sung by Paul Wilbur
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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