The judgment of God! – Joel 3:1-3, 6-8, 9-13, 14-17, 20-21

The judgment of God! – Joel 3:1-3, 6-8, 9-13, 14-17, 20-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 22, 2016

None of us likes to be judged by anyone, and especially by God. In fact there is a societal heresy that thinks that God should never judge anyone. I oversee a blog that I have edited for over a decade now. It deals with my own comments on society, politics, theology, and I upload my sermons to it as well. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had folks argue that I could not counter their arguments because as a believer I could not judge them lest I be judged! This is utter hogwash. Jesus’ command to not judge others dealt with a hypocritical judgment without first taking care of one’s own problem in the same sin arena. We can in fact “judge” others by their words, actions, and deeds. And certainly God will indeed judge all people everywhere when he returns.

Joel had been up until now trying to get his people to repent and return to God. Now he focuses on all nations including Israel, those who had fought against Israel, and all other nations who refused to acknowledge the Living God. God is going to judge everyone whether we like it or not and whether we believe it or not the judgment of God is going to happen. Let’s discover what this means for us…

READ: Joel 3:1-3, 6-8, 9-13, 14-17, 20-21

There are many of us who would like to have a fresh start in life. Joel begins by telling the Israelites that this is exactly what is going to occur. In fact we discover that…

I. The judgment of God includes his restoration! (Joel 3:1-3, 6-8 NIV)

“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink… You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland. See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The LORD has spoken.

1. Whether the enemies of God, and thereby Israel itself, conceded it or not there would come a time of recompense for the crimes they had committed against God’s people. So God through Joel relates, “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (the Lord Judges).” The idea here is that all people everywhere would have to assemble before God. Why? The reason was that it was there God would “enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” This is personal as far as the Lord is concerned. He has not forgotten one crime against those he loves. Notice how often he uses the personal possessive “my” as in “my people Israel, my inheritance, my land”. One of the many crimes these nations had done was in selling God’s youth into perversion and the pornography of prostitution and sex slaves. Sound familiar? Today’s “progressive” politically correct society has sold our children into things like transgender identity, homosexuality, sexting, unwed motherhood, and the adultery of living together before marriage. In fact, these nations, these governments, had “sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks (goyim meaning non-Jews or non-believers), that you might send them far from their homeland.” It was a deliberate act to relocate captured youth to foreign lands in order to grow them into whatever conquering nation wanted them to become. Yet God was not blind, he knew what had occurred and who had done it to his own. He tells them, “See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” It was a certainty, for “The Lord has spoken!” The judgment of God includes his restoration!

EXAMPLE: God would bring his people home from far off places where they had been lead into captivity. This is a beautiful promise for us as well. We as believers are now the chosen of God, his people called by his name because of his Son Jesus. In fact we are his adopted children and he promises to return us to where we belong: to himself! It does not matter on what distant shore of sin we find ourselves, God desires we return to him. Why? We are the ones who have “washed” our robes in the blood of the Lamb, he has spread his tent over us, and never again will we hunger or thirst, and God will be our shepherd leading us to springs of living water where every tear will be wiped away from our eyes! (Revelations 7:14-17) This is God’s promise to his people! The judgment of God includes his restoration!

There is nothing better for an agrarian society than a good harvest. Yet here in Joel the final harvest they would experience would be one where…

II. The judgment of God includes his mighty army! (Joel 3:9-13 NIV)

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong!” Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD! Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow– so great is their wickedness!

1. We forget that there is a great war being waged every moment around us. Paul makes mention of it and here Joel is told to “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.” Interestingly this is not a message for a heavenly army but rather one for the people of God! We are to be prepared for battle, for a war, and we are to be ready for the attack! Least God’s people think otherwise we are commanded to “Beat (our) plowshares into swords and (our) pruning hooks into spears.” The harvest we are preparing for is not one of wheat, corn, or any other kind of agricultural crop; rather it is a harvest of men! In fact, God’s people are not to shrink back from their responsibility to fight in this conflict: “Let the weakling say, ‘I am strong!'” It is a cry for the men and women of God to put on their full armor that is forged from their everyday implements. Perhaps it is time for believers to stop mouthing words of spiritual pacifism, cash in their material goods and wealth, head for war and prepare for spiritual battle! God’s command to his people is to, “Come quickly” without any delay. Every believer from every nation is to assemble. Joel cries out for God to also “Bring down your warriors, O LORD!” God is with us! As never before God’s people need to be wake up from their spiritual slumber and realize that the judgment of God is now at hand. It has been since Jesus returned to his rightful place. Joel understood this as well. He knew his own people had become spiritually lax and so God uses him to tell them, “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.” Like some warrior of old who is trying to get his tired army moving in the right direction God is trying to motivate his people to stand, march, and fight! But this battle has eternal consequences: “Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow– so great is their wickedness!” God’s judgment has come and the judgment of God includes his mighty army!

EXAMPLE: In the movie The Patriot, the British thought that the middle of the Continental Army was made up of volunteer militiamen who would run at the first hard charge from the British regulars. And in fact they did, but it was all part of the plan to win the battle. The militia stood their ground just long enough to suck the British army into a full charge whereby they got up and ran, except when they had ran just over the top of the hill that the British were charging up after them on, the militia turned and fought with the help of the entire Continental Army. In that moment the tide of battle was won by the volunteer militia. In our spiritual battle we may forget we are never alone and in fact God is calling each of us to war. We are to “swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe” and the judgment of God includes his mighty army!

III. God’s judgment includes his pardon! (Joel 3:14-17, 20-21 NIV)

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her… Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.” The LORD dwells in Zion!

1. The battle for Joel was imminent yet interestingly there are those who would suggest that Joel was speaking of something to happen far into the future. This is not necessarily the case here. Joel was speaking to and prophesying about a judgment that was coming shortly to his people. He was letting them know that while they were in captivity God was still with them and he would judge them and their enemies because their enemies were his enemies. However the language is such that it also lends itself to a future occurrence. Divine judgment was going to happen and executed on the nations who opposed God’s people: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” With this judgment there would be heavenly signs that would occur, “The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.” The idea here is that God will make himself known and these nations will know it is him who judges them. However, no matter how awful that day may be for those being judged by God, his people have nothing to fear. Joel promises, “But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” Again, this promise is for the believer as well. God is our refuge. We have nothing to fear on the day of God’s judgment. In fact, God reminds Israel and us, “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her… Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.” The idea here is one of pardon. In fact the idea is one where God is going to pardon Israel’s bloodguilt because they had sacrificed their own for greed, to be accepted by their enemies, and because of spiritual laziness. God would be his people’s refuge and release. God’s judgment includes his pardon!

EXAMPLE: The judge could have sentenced the young man to several weeks in jail but instead he shocked the crowd by forgiving his crime and sentencing himself to serve several weeks in jail instead! Then he took off his robes, went down and kissed the defendant on the cheek. You see the judge was the boy’s father. Isaiah reminds us of God’s mercy when he writes, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:6-9 NIV) His forgiveness is based on who he is and how he responds to us as his people! God’s judgment includes his pardon!

Conclusion:

The judgment of God includes his restoration! The judgment of God includes his mighty army! God’s judgment includes his pardon!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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