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Joel 3

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 2, 2014


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Joel’s prophecy came when the land was hit by an invasion of locusts, followed by a drought. Joel saw this as a punishment for the sins of the people.

He also saw this locust invasion as a picture of a bigger invasion, one that would come during a time known as “the day of the LORD”.

The day of the LORD is the Tribulation period which ends with the return of Jesus.

One of the things we talked about last week is that it could be very, very soon.

There are two particular concepts regarding interpretation of prophecy that we ought to be acquainted with.  These are things common to many of the prophetic passages in the Bible.

Prophetic telescoping – where a prophecy skips through time at the drop of a comma.

When Jesus began His ministry (Luke 4:16-22), He came into the synagogue at Nazareth and read from Isaiah 61, and afterward said “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.  What’s fascinating is that Jesus didn’t read the entire passage from Isaiah, but was careful to stop at the “comma” that separates the prophecies of the first coming with the prophecies of the second coming.

Double fulfillment – where a prophecy may have more than one fulfillment.

The prophets declared that Elijah would come before the Messiah.  John the Baptist fulfilled that prophecy, but only partially, only before the first coming.  There is still an Elijah to come.
We’ve already seen a double fulfillment in play.
The locust plague of Joel 1 would become a picture of the future invasion of the Assyrian army.
It would ALSO be a picture of the demonic locust plague of Revelation 9.  And perhaps more…

3:1-3 Coming Judgment

: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.

:1 When I bring back the captives

The last days will be characterized by the return of Jews to Israel.

Israelis have a term that refers to the return of Jews from around the world to the land of Israel.  The term is “Aliyah”.

The Bible says it would happen in the end times:

(Zec 10:8–9 NKJV) —8 I will whistle for them and gather them, For I will redeem them; And they shall increase as they once increased. 9 “I will sow them among the peoples, And they shall remember Me in far countries; They shall live, together with their children, And they shall return.
When Israel was declared a nation in 1948, its population was around 1 million people.
Since 1948, over 3 million Jews have immigrated to Israel.
Today, Israel’s population is at 8 million, of which 6.1 million are Jews.
Over the last few years something interesting has happened in terms of the Jewish population around the world.
For the first time in 2,000 years, the country with the greatest population of Jews is no longer the U.S., but Israel.

:2 the Valley of Jehoshaphat

God will gather all nations into this valley.  Where is it?

Hinnom Valley

This is a valley on the south side of Jerusalem.
It is also known as “Gehenna”.

New Valley

(Zec 14:4 NKJV) And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.
Play New Valley map clip
There will be a large new valley created when Jesus returns and the Mount of Olives is split in two (Zech 14:4), perhaps extending to the Dead Sea.

Tekoa Valley

2Chronicles 20 describes a time when King Jehoshaphat was being invaded by a coalition of Ammon, Moab, and Edom.
Jehoshaphat watches these enemies kill each other in a valley that runs from Tekoa to the Dead Sea at Ziz.
Even though this valley isn’t named after Jehoshaphat, it is associated with him.
The enemy armies are marching up the western side of the Dead Sea near En Gedi.  Jehshaphat is told to go to the wilderness of Tekoa and that the enemy was going to move up into the mountains from the Ascent of Ziz.  There is a valley that runs from Tekoa to the Dead Sea at Ziz.
God told Jehoshaphat to just trust Him, and he would bring victory.  As Jehoshaphat and his people stood looking down into the canyon, the enemy armies turned on each other and wiped each other out.

Kidron Valley

Play Kidron map clip
This is a more traditional view and tied to why there are so many graves in the valley.
The valley starts in Jerusalem and eventually runs into the Dead Sea.
The suggestion is that this is the valley in 2Chronicles 20 where Jehoshaphat saw his enemies defeat each other (though I think that valley is further south).

Unknown location

Perhaps the point is not about the location, but the meaning of the name.
Jehoshaphat means “Yahweh has judged”
Wherever this is, it’s where God will gather and judge the nations.

Jezreel Valley

Play Jezreel map clip.
This is where the battle of Armageddon takes place. More about this later.

:2  enter into judgment

judgmentshaphat – to judge, govern, vindicate, punish (as in Jeho-shaphat)

There are two possible ideas here, which might be different aspects of the same event.


One of the traditional views is that this is speaking of the time when all people are resurrected and stand in judgment before God.
For some reason, this is why one of the most popular places to be buried is in the Kidron Valley.
The thinking goes that God will resurrect those buried in the Kidron Valley first on Judgment Day.
Jesus told a parable about judgment.
(Mt 25:31–46 NKJV) —31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Note the nations will be gathered and judged, like Joel is describing.
Play Soul Shepherd – Sheep and Goats clip.
33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
The righteous are identified by their good works.
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In one sense, you could even make the case that this “judgment” is based on how the nations have treated Israel, Jesus’ “brethren”.


Proof of salvation

Judgment here is determined by how we treat others.
This almost sounds as if we are saved by doing good things to other people, but it’s not.
We are saved by trusting in Jesus.
One of the ways of telling whether we are really saved or whether we are just faking it is whether our lives produce good works, and those good works will look like helping others.
I have a hard time telling the various citrus trees apart.  I think that a lemon tree looks a lot like an orange tree.  I think their leaves look like each other.
The best way to tell an orange tree from a lemon tree is to wait and see what kind of fruit the tree produces.
Fruit proves what the tree already is.
Your salvation is based solely on whether or not you trust Jesus to save you from your sins.
The proof of whether or not your faith is real is the kind of life you live.
If your life does not produce good works, then something is wrong and perhaps your faith is not real.


This “judgment” may even look like the Battle of Armageddon.
Armageddon is not just about war, it’s about God judging the nations that have gathered together against Jesus at His Second Coming.
We’ll see this later on in the passage.

:2 divided up My land

There will be judgment for “dividing” the land. 

Historically this could be seen as referring to the nations that had once conquered the land of Israel – Assyria, Babylon, and Rome, or perhaps those nations that “divided” the Jews (like Germany).

I wonder if there isn’t some kind of a warning for us as the Israeli Palestinian peace talks are getting revved up.

It is an extremely complicated venture.
Some of the issues have to do with land – how much of the land will Israel give to the Palestinians, and whether they give away half of Jerusalem to the Palestinians for their new capital.

One of the issues of the coming judgment will have to do with “dividing” the 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.

:3 given a boy as payment for a harlot

NAS – “traded a boy for a harlot”


These are some of the horrible things done to Israel.

3:4-8 Tyre … Philistia

: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;

:4 Tyre and Sidon … Philistia

Tyre and Sidon were the two main cities from which the Phoenician Empire arose.

Play Tyre Philistine map clip
Tyre and Sidon are located in modern Lebanon.
The Phoenicians were some of the world’s best ancient merchants, even trading in slaves.
The Phoenicians were a seafaring people, establishing colonies throughout the coastlands around the Mediterranean.
The Philistines were a people who established themselves along the coastland of ancient Israel in places like Gaza.
The “Palestinians” get their name from the Philistines.
It goes way back to ancient Egypt, describing a people called the “Peleset”, the Philistines.  The Romans used this term to name the land “Palestine”.

: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.

:6 remove them far from their borders

The Jews have been scattered throughout the world.

: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 the Lord has spoken.”

:8 sell them to the Sabeans

The Sabeans are the people of “Sheba” (like “Queen of Sheba”).  We typically connect them to modern Saudi Arabia.

The Sabeans, like the Phoenicians, were merchants (Eze. 27:22-23)

(Eze 27:22–23 NKJV) —22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah were your merchants. They traded for your wares the choicest spices, all kinds of precious stones, and gold. 23 Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Assyria, and Chilmad were your merchants.

There was a partial fulfillment of this prophecy in history

The people of Sidon were sold into slavery in 345 BC (by Antiochus III) and Tyre and Gaza were enslaved by Alexander in 332 BC.

But this prophecy also speaks of God dealing with Israel’s enemies in general.

(Ob 15 NKJV) “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head.


Righting the wrongs

One of the aspects of God’s judgment is about turning wrongs to right.
Can you imagine a world when everything that is “wrong” is turned right?
Play “Footlocker All Is Right” commercial
This is part of what God’s judgment is all about.
For us as believers, we ought to be sure we are making things “right” with others now.

We have a chance to give people a glimpse of what “right” looks like when you choose to do it.

When God’s judgment comes, He will force things right.

3:9-16 The Battle

:9 Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up.

:10 Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ ”

:10 Beat your plowshares into swords

We are more familiar with the verse that refers to life AFTER Jesus returns and rules:

(Is 2:4 NKJV) …They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.
The United Nations has a statue in their garden with this inscribed on the base.
The idea is that when Jesus returns, men will take their weapons and turn them into farming implements.

But it happens when Jesus returns, not through the U.N.

But Joel’s verse is just the opposite.

This is about the nations preparing for war, global war.  This will come before the other verse will.

:11 Assemble and come, all you nations, And gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord.

:11 Your mighty ones

mightygibbowr – strong man, brave man, mighty man

When Jesus returns, it will be with God’s army:

(Re 19:14 NKJV) —14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

:12 “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

:12 the Valley of Jehoshaphat

Here again we see this valley mentioned.  We are about to find out what it’s all about.

:13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow— For their wickedness is great.”

:13 Put in the sickle

John also speaks of a sickle and a winepress.

(Re 14:17–20 NKJV) —17 Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
This is a harvest of judgment.
The picture is that of the whole nation of Israel being covered in blood.

John tells us who is actually treading the grapes in the winepress:

(Is 63:1–6 NKJV) —1 Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?— “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes. 4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come. 5 I looked, but there was no one to help, And I wondered That there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; And My own fury, it sustained Me. 6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, Made them drunk in My fury, And brought down their strength to the earth.”
(Re 19:15 NKJV) 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. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
It’s Jesus, coming to judge the nations.
This is the battle of Armageddon in the Valley of Jezreel.

:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

:14 decisioncharuwts – strict decision, decision

:14 multitudes in the valley of decision

I’ve heard this verse used to talk about how we need to make a decision for Christ – and I’m not sure that’s a bad way to use this verse.


Judgment is coming

This is about God making the decisions, God judging people.
By the time of these events, it will be too late for you to decide about Christ.
Over the last seven months I’ve learned a little bit about our court system, as imperfect as it is.

There’s a fellow we’ve been involved with who was guilty of several felonies and a handful of misdemeanors.  Enough to land him in state prison for about four years.

I’ve learned that you better treat the judge with respect.

I’ve watched cocky street gang members shook to the core when the judge raises his voice and they realize what the judge is capable of doing.

He can send you to prison, or he can set you free on probation.

Even if your court date keeps getting postponed, one thing is for sure – you will be judged.
The Psalmist wrote,
(Ps 96:13 NKJV) For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.
The sad truth is that we are ALL guilty and worthy of judgment.
(Ro 3:23 NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
There is only one way for you to make it through the judgment, and that’s to turn your life over to Jesus.
Jesus is the only one who has paid the penalty for your sins.
(Jn 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
If you allow Jesus to pay for your sins, then you will not perish.  Are you ready to face God’s judgment?

:15 The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness.

:15 The sun and moon will grow dark

Last week we talked about solar and lunar eclipses.

But this also talks about stars not being as bright.
Perhaps this isn’t speaking of eclipses, but some sort of atmospheric interference, like ashes from a volcanic eruption.

:16 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.

:16 Zion … Jerusalem … Israel

Make no mistake.  When Jesus comes back, He’s coming back to rescue Israel.

3:17-21 The Blessings

:17 “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”

:17 no aliens shall ever pass through her again

This isn’t talking about UFOs.

It’s talking about foreign nations having control over Jerusalem.

:18 And it will come to pass in that day That the mountains shall drip with new wine, The hills shall flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord And water the Valley of Acacias.

:18 mountains … wine … milk

Wine and milk speak of agricultural prosperity.

I don’t think we need to take this as particularly literal.

Wine flowing means the vineyards are producing.
Milk flowing means that there is plenty of feed and water for the cows.

:18 all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water

The land of Israel is in a desert region.  Water is a crucial resource.

:18 A fountain shall flow

The spring of Gihon was the only reliable source of water in ancient Jerusalem.  It is located about 4/10 of a mile south of the Temple Mount.  The Gihon Spring was channeled to empty into the Pool of Siloam, and it also emptied into the Kidron Valley (the blue line).

What Joel is describing is a new water source in Jerusalem, coming from directly under the Temple.

Ezekiel described the same thing:

(Eze 47:1 NKJV) Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.

:18 the Valley of Acacias

This valley is the area around the Dead Sea.

Ezekiel also describes the river flowing into the Dead Sea.  (Eze. 47:7-10)

Play Fountain map clip

The river flows from the Temple Mount and then either down the Kidron Valley or that New Valley through the Mount of Olives.
Ezekiel says the Dead Sea will be “healed” and there will be fish swimming in it.

It could be flowing down the Kidron Valley, which runs between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, but then eventually flows south and east into the Dead Sea.

(Eze 47:7–10 NKJV) —7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. 8 Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. 9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. 10 It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many.

Another possibility has to do with the prophecy from Zechariah (Zec 14:4) and the splitting of the Mount of Olives.

It would form a valley that will run east and west, providing a possible channel for a river to flow to the Dead Sea, perhaps along the route of Israeli Highway 1.
(Zec 14:4 NKJV) —4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.

:19 “Egypt shall be a desolation, And Edom a desolate wilderness, Because of violence against the people of Judah, For they have shed innocent blood in their land.

:19 Egypt

We are familiar with where Egypt is.

Egypt’s desolation doesn’t mean they disappear.  Egypt will be around during the Millennium (Zech 14:18-19).

(Zec 14:18–19 NKJV) —18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

:19 Edom

Ancient Edom is currently located in the southern area of Jordan.

:20 But Judah shall abide forever, And Jerusalem from generation to generation.

:21 For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted; For the Lord dwells in Zion.

:21 I will acquit them of the guilt

(Joe 3:21 NLT) I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the Lord, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.”

Paul says that it will be in these last days that the Jews will turn to Jesus as their Messiah, and they will find forgiveness.

(Ro 11:26–27 NKJV) —26 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; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

:18 A fountain shall flow

There is going to be a day when Jesus will rule and reign on this earth and it will be good.


Keep going

Until that day comes, we need to keep going and not give up.
Here’s a commercial that came out three weeks ago and already have 15 million hits on YouTube.  It’s about a kid from Fullerton who will be playing in the Superbowl this afternoon.
Play Duracell Derrick Coleman commercial
Trust the power within (Jesus).  Keep going. The Fountain is coming…