From the Book of Joel
"The Judgment of Nations"
by Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Sermon Four: "There's A Great Day Coming - The Judgment of Nations" - Text: Joel 3:1-8.
Joel is one of the twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament. Joel's prophecy appears second in the canon's order of the twelve minor prophets.
It has been observed, that while the prophecy of Hosea reveals the heart of God, The prophecy of Joel reveals the hand of God. The course of history is determined by the hand of God, and is being directed to a culminating event known as "the day of the Lord." Joel warns the nation Israel of this coming great and dreaded day. Joel uses the phrase "the day of the Lord," to refer both to events in his own day, to events in the future, and a culminating event that will determine their eternity!
In Joel 1, the prophet Joel uses the recent destruction by an invasion of locusts, to picture the coming day of the Lord. The locusts served to teach them that God can use anyone or anything, even nature, to chastise His people. Joel urges his people to repent and return to the Lord. They must lament and weep over their sin, evidencing "godly sorrow," which leads to true repentance.
In Joel 2:1-27, Joel looks to the distant future, and speaks of an invading army from the north, that shall swoop down on Israel. He describes this army, comparing them to the locusts, and prophesying this future threat to their existence. Joel goes on in verse 20 to reveal that this army will be intercepted and destroyed by God, sparing Israel. Could Joel be speaking of the future invasion attempt made by Russia and her allies, described in Ezekiel 38-39?
Joel once again cries out for his people to repent both individually and corporately as a nation. They must rend their hearts, not just their garments! In verse 13b, Joel reminds them that God is "...gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil."
In Joel 2:28-32, we were taken by the prophet Joel to the end of the Great Tribulation, when those Jews who survived the wrath of God, will witness the second coming of Jesus to the earth. Recognizing Jesus as their Messiah, they will repent and receive Him into their hearts. Israel shall be saved! What a moment!
Sermon four: The Judgment Of Nations
Text: Joel 3:1-8.
Introduction: Presently, we are in an election year. In the next eight months or so, we will choose a President to lead this nation into the future. The candidates are being asked how they stand on issues such as abortion, national security, immigration, the war against terrorism, the economy, health care and more. These are all important, but what about Israel? How do the various candidates stand on our continued support and defense of Israel? Will America continue to stand with Israel? Is it important for us to do so? Our text passage reminds us just how important it is to bless and not curse God's people the Jews.
We can be sure that the Lord has not deterred one bit from His eternal purpose, which includes the Jewish people, nation, and the city of Jerusalem in particular. Isaiah 62:1-2 reads, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name." As noble as it may sound, Jerusalem is not destined to become an independent, international center for the three monotheistic religions of the world. God is determined to see a remnant of Jews who will cease to establish a righteousness of their own, but instead submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith! Only then will she fulfill her purpose to be a bright light and burning lamp of salvation for all the nations. During the Millennium, Jesus will teach and preach as He sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem! (Isaiah 2:3)
In verse 1 of our text passage, Joel returns to the end time setting with the phrases "in those days" and "...in that time." Verse 1 reads, "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem." Obviously, Joel is speaking of the time following the restoration and reconciliation of Israel. While Israel has been restored to her land, we must understand that presently, she has not as yet been reconciled to God. The Jews have not yet recognized their Messiah, Jesus Christ. This will not occur until the end of the Tribulation Period.
Once Israel has been saved or reconciled at the second coming of Jesus Christ (Joel 2:28-32), verse 2 prophecies that God will gather the nations of the earth to the "valley of Jehosphaphat." Verse 2a reads, "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat." There is a problem here, because there is no place in Israel by that name. The name "Jehoshaphat" however means the Lord judges. It is clear that the prophet Joel is describing a place of judgment. Most believe the location is between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, which has been called the Kidron Valley. At the return of Christ, the Mount of Olives will be split, forming a massive valley before Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:4 reads, "And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."
Verse 2 continues, "...and will plead (bring charges as a judge) with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel." This is what is known as The Judgment Of Nations, which is held on earth after the second coming of Jesus Christ, just prior to the Millennium.
Why are these nations being judged? The word "nations" in the Hebrew is (go'-ee) which speaks of non-Hebrew or Gentile people and nations. The same Hebrew word is translated "Gentiles" in verse 9. These Gentile people and nations who have survived the Great Tribulation, will have to appear before the Lord Jesus Christ to be judged according to the good or evil they have perpetrated against the Jews. Judgment on those who come against Israel and the Jewish people is a theme that goes all the way back to the call of Abraham. The Bible and secular history reveal, that whole nations have risen and fallen in relation to their treatment of the Jewish people. King Jesus will separate those nations who hate and persecute Israel, from those who stand with Israel, and they will be judged for their mistreatment of the Jewish people. God will cause the nations to come up against Jerusalem to reveal their true anti-Semitic hearts. Just as God has judged and purged His own chosen people Israel, God will then judge the nations.
We must remember that as Joel is writing, his people have just suffered a devastating plague of locusts. Israel is being judged for their disobedience, but what about those people and nations who are ungodly, those people and nations who are being used by God to chastise His people? In this passage, God assures His people that there is coming a day when these people and nations will be dealt with! What specifically was their crime?
These nations were guilty of scattering God's people. Verse 2b says, "...whom they have scattered among the nations." Beginning with their captivity by the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Jewish people have been scattered among the Gentile nations of the world. Under the Persians, there was a return to Judea, but it was small and short lived. With the coming of the Romans and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the Jews became sojourners in the Gentile nations of the world.
These nations were guilty of dividing the land that belonged to God and was promised to Israel. Verse 2 concludes, "....and parted my land." For nineteen centuries, the land of Israel has been divided and occupied by some fourteen nations or powers.
These nations were guilty of having a low regard for the life of a Jew. Verse 3. "And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink." A Jew's life was considered cheap by these people and nations. The Jews have been branded, persecuted, pursued, excluded from society, held responsible for catastrophes and murdered.
Tony Campolo tells a true story of a Jewish boy who suffered under the Nazis in World War II. He was living in a small Polish village when he and all the other Jews of the vicinity were rounded up by Nazi SS troops and sentenced to death. This Jewish boy joined his neighbors in digging a shallow ditch for their graves, then faced the firing squad with his parents. Sprayed with machine-gun fire, bodies fell into the ditch and the Nazis covered the crumpled bodies with dirt. But none of the bullets hit the boy, though he was splattered with the blood of his parents. When his parents fell into the ditch, he pretended to be dead and fell on top of them.
Several hours later, when darkness fell, he clawed his way out of the grave. With blood and dirt caked to his body, he made his way to the nearest house and begged for help. Recognizing him as one of the Jewish boys marked for death, he was turned away at house after house as people feared getting into trouble with the SS troops. Then something inside this Jewish boy seemed to guide him to say something that was very strange for a Jew to say. When the next family responded to his timid knocking in the still of the night, they heard him cry, "Don't you recognize me? I am the Jesus you say you love." After a poignant pause, the woman who stood in the doorway swept him into her arms and kissed him. From that day on, the members of that family loved and cared for that boy as though he was one of their own. "I am the Jesus you say you love." Those words were more correct than you might imagine.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus speaks of this future judgment described in Joel 3:1-3. "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: 32 And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats: 33 And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? 38 When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? 39 Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? 45 Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
In this judgment, nations and peoples will be classed as sheep people or nations and goat people or nations, based on their treatment of God's covenant people. In that day God will separate the "sheep people" and the "goat people." The "sheep nations or people" will be those who confess that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world. They will prove their faith in Him by their compassion for Gods people, the Jews. These sheep nations or people will be rewarded, sharing with Israel the bountiful blessings of the Millennial Kingdom. However, those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ, will prove their rejection, by joining in the battle against Jerusalem, or simply refuse to come to the aid of the Jews, will be judged as "goat nations or people." They will be excluded from the kingdom and will be eternally lost.
Verses 4-8 begins a parenthetical section. In verse 4, the Lord singles out "Tyre and Zidon" or Phoenicians, and the Philistines or "all the coasts of Palestine." "Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head." The land occupied by these people was given by God to Israel as an inheritance. When Israel failed to drive them out, they became a continual thorn in their side.
As the prosecuting attorney, the Lord Jesus Christ challenges these nations to come against Him or His people. In verse 4b, the Lord Jesus is basically saying, "What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and you cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? If you are, beware! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done."
In verse 5, God indites the Philistines for taking His treasures out of Judah, and dedicating them to pagan idols. "Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things." The phrase "my goodly pleasant things" refers to the furniture and articles from the Temple in Jerusalem. These items, the silver and gold as well as the people of Judah and Jerusalem, are all viewed as God's possessions.
Verses 6-8 continues, "The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: 8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it."
Most believe Joel is referencing the Philistine raid on the Jews in 845 B.C., when they took many Jews captive and sold them to the Phoenicians, who in turn sold them as slaves to the Greeks. The Greeks of the ninth century B.C. were the most notorious homosexuals and pederasts in the world. The demand for young people of both genders was extraordinary. This event remained in the memory of Joel's generation, and was therefore a handy example of such abuse.
Joel is stating in his parenthesis, God punishes anti-Semitism. Someone wrote: "Judgment is about the only aspect of God's plan of the ages that is plainly logical. The grace and mercy of God is not plainly logical. Salvation by grace through faith is not plainly logical. The high standing and destiny of the believer in Jesus is not plainly logical. Judgment, God simply giving those who reject Him what they deserve, is plainly logical. It is as if God says to the wicked, ‘You rejected the saving logic of heaven, so I will give you the plain logic of earth. You will receive what you deserve before the holy court of My justice.'"
Zechariah 2:8 says, "For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath He sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye."
How does this lesson relate to your life today?
1. It should encourage us to know that God keeps His promises.
2. We must always stand with Israel, especially in these last days. Keep your eyes on Jerusalem!
3. Judgment is coming! Be ready! The difference is knowing Jesus Christ! Are you ready?