This is a last day chapter.
This is the chapter of abandoned farms.
The hour of the greatest exhibition of brute force the world has ever seen.
The time of the huge heathen deluge.
The swift period of universal mental delusion.
The book of Joel opened with the command to " tell," then to " cry aloud! " but it closed with the thunder of God from the stellar deeps.
I. The Resurrection of the Dead (Joel 3: 1, 2)
Verse 1: "In those days, and in that time, [In what days, and in what time? — The time brought to view in the preceding verses (Joel 2:30-32), when "the sun shall be turned into darkness . . . before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come."] when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem." All those who under the new covenant belong to Judah and Jerusalem. (See Heb. 8: 8.)
Verse 2: "I will also gather all nations, . . . and will plead with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel." This proves that when God speaks of Judah and Israel, He refers to " His people." To " bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem," is to raise up in these last days His elect from the greatest of all captivities,— the grave. Therefore:
a. The mighty voice of the Lord sounds forth. Joel 3: 16.
b. Those in the graves hear His voice. John 5: 28.
c. " The heavens and the earth shall shake" (Joel 3: 16), whereby the graves are opened.
d. The reapers go forth to the harvest, which " is the end of the world. . . . The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend." Matt. 13:39, 41.
" And will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat."
a. Into that valley, by the brook Kedron, Asa (1 Kings 15: 13), Hezekiah (2 Chron. 30: 14), Josiah (2 Kings 26: 6, 12), brought and burned the idols of Judah.
b. Through that valley they dragged Jesus to judgment and crucifixion. On the farther side stood the Mount of Olives, from which He ascended, and where the angels proclaimed His return from heaven. Acts 1: 11.
c. In that valley, when Edom, Moab, and Ammon assembled to cast God's people out, God turned their swords, every one against his fellows, and none escaped. 2 Chron. 20: 22-25. Then, on the fourth day, God's people assembled there, and called it "Berachah,"— the valley of blessing.
d. Joel sees these scenes re-enacted on a grand scale, before the end of the world. All the nations of the world, to the last impenitent and unregenerated, and united under Antichrist, planning to sever God's people from His worship and to disperse them. Their motive is religious hatred.
e. In that valley God will " plead " with these nations for His people. Terrible will be that pleading. It was terrible on Pharaoh and his host, on the antediluvian world filled with violence, on Sodom and Gomorrah, on the four world empires. But now, in the time of Antichrist, the tribulation shall be without precedent. Dan. 12: 1.
Sacrileges Making Armageddon Inevitable (Joel 8: 8-8)
Verse 3: " They have cast lots for My people; and have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink." (See Rev. 18: 2.)
a. Thus the nations of strength agree beforehand to reduce God's people to slavery. " And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Rev. 13: 16, 17.
b. "They . . . cast lots." One was to give a boy for vice, and another to sell a girl for drunkenness. This is as it was in the days of Noah. (See Matt. 24: 37-39.)
c. Tyre and Sidon were to have the furniture,— the material things of God's buildings. (See verses 4 and 5.) We see here how highly prized by God were these institutions, that He would accept no recompense for their outrage.
d. Therefore, these blind Pharisees were forsaken, because they were filled with soothsayers from the East,— the peace and safety heralds. (See Isa. 2: 6.) They were permeated with Oriental negation higher criticism, modernism, and evolution.
e. Therefore, the three unclean spirits, the spirits of devils, went out to gather the kings of the earth to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (See Rev. 16: 13, 14.) No wonder the prophet hurries us on to visualize this world-wide gathering of the clans—
"Proclaim Ye This Among the Gentiles: Prepare War!"
Verse 4: Those nearest to God's truth are the most resentful to it. As Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia were next to Jerusalem and the temple, so in the capital of the greatest Protestant nation in the world, at the center of the last message, the image to the beast will be legalized, and there will the mark of the beast be enforced.
Verse 5: God's temples were His lighthouses, His "goodly pleasant things," the salt of the earth. How Heaven-daring in impiety was it, (1) not only to refuse that glorious lead, but (2) to seek to destroy God's center, so as to obliterate from the earth the house of His name.
Verse 6: This bitterness extended to the people. God's elect were reported, not because they were injurious, but because of hatred to their religion.
Verse 7: "I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them." There is no history to fit this case. Therefore, it refers to the great future restoration. God could as easily have prevented the deportation of His people, as to bring them back; but they would not have been tested, nor the venom of their enemies displayed.
Verse 8: For this injustice, God would send Zion's enemies into distant captivity. (See Matt. 25: 41, 45.) Jehovah could have sold criminal nations direct to distant captivity without using Judah as an intermediary. But who were more fit to be associated in judgment than those who had undergone the malice of God's foes?
III. Armageddonl (Joel 3:9-15)
Verse 9: Here is brought to view the greatest exhibition of brute force the world has ever seen.
a. "Prepare war "— literally, " hallow war." "Whosoever killeth you," said Christ, " will think that he doeth God service." John 16: 2. Religious hatred always invents some slogan to justify aggression. Religious passions will cause Armageddon.
b. "Wake up the mighty men"—arouse all brute might!
Verse 10: "Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears."
a. Plowshares are to be beaten into swords. This is the hour of abandoned farms. Already New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana have over three hundred thousand abandoned farms. These are not " rundown " farms; they represent good soil, good buildings, et cetera. The boys and girls do not want to farm. They prefer the cities, with their " movies " and pleasures. When the spirit of sensationalism takes hold, it is impossible to get down to good hard work.
b. The weak say, " I am strong." This is the hour of universal mental delusion. It is, as stated by Dr. E. B. Pusey, " the closing scene of man's rebellion against God. It is their one universal gathering, . . . the sick to forget his weakness, and put on a strength which he had not."
Verses 11 and 12: "Assemble, yourselves, and come, all ye heathen: . . .thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord." This is the hour for the huge heathen upheaval. Armageddon will witness four great gatherings: (1) The angel armies from the skies, as in Joel 2: 1-10; (2) all the nations of the earth to battle; (3) all the fowls of heaven to eat their flesh; (4) all the righteous dead, raised at Christ's appearing, to immortality.
Verse 13: "Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: . . for their wickedness is great,"
a. " The harvest is the end of the world," as Jesus said. Matt. 13: 39.
b. " The harvest is ripe." We have reached the maturity of all earthly things.
c. " Wickedness is great." Earth's inhabitants have filled up the measure of their iniquity. (See Gen. 15: 16.)
Verse 14: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision."
a. Multitudes from the Orient. " That the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." Rev. 16: 12.
b. Multitudes from the Occident. " And he [Balaam] took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim [the west]," Num. 24: 23, 24.
c. Throngs upon throngs, throngs upon throngs, are in the valley of Jehoshaphat. " Jehoshaphat " means "the judgment of God." This is Armageddon; this is " the day of the Lord."
Verse 15: By the immense numbers of the glorious, angelic host, " the sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining."
IV. The Millennium and Eternity (Joel 3: 16-21)
Verse 16: " The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of His people."--
a. Christ shall descend from heaven with a shout (1 Thess. 4: 16), and then shall Antichrist, with his myriads, be destroyed by the brightness of His coming. 2 Thess. 2: 8.
b. When Moses saw Mt. Sinai shaking and rolling its billows of flames to the sky, he said, "I exceedingly fear and quake." Heb. 12: 21.
c. In the terrible hour, now before us, God will be " the hope of His people."
Verse 17: "Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more." Dogs, whoremongers, and sorcerers are without the city. There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth. Rev. 22: 15; 21: 27.
Verses 18-21: "In that day . . the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk." By the words " in that day " Joel would make a fresh beginning. True to the keynote sounded in chapter 1, he has carried us down from generation to generation, especially through the scenes of the last days, to the day of the Lord. Now, the rejoicing saints, victorious, shall feed on the glories of " that day." Egypt and Edom, typifying this earth, shall be ruins,— a desolation and a desert, because they " have shed innocent blood." But for one thousand years in Jerusalem above, and after that, when the Holy City descends, for eternity, the church of God shall enjoy her eternal possessions.
"Jerusalem, our mother, we thy children now groan and weep in this valley of tears, hanging between hope and fear, and, amid toil and conflicts, lifting up our eyes to thee and greeting thee from far. Truly glorious things are spoken of thee. But whatever can be said, since it is said to men and in the words of men, is too little for the good things in thee, which neither eye bath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man. Great to us seem the things which we suffer; one of the most illustrious citizens, placed amid those sufferings, who knew something of thee, hesitated not to say, Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. We will then rejoice in hope, and by the waters of Babylon, even while we sit and weep, we will remember thee, O Zion. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, I do not remember thee, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Oh, blessed, longed-for day, when we shall enter into the city of the saints, whose light is the Lamb, where the King is seen in His beauty, where all tears are wiped off from the eyes of the saints, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor pain; for the former things have passed away. How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! . . When shall I come and appear before God? when shall I see that Father, whom I ever long for and never see, to whom out of this exile, I cry out, Our Father, which art in heaven? "— Quoted in "Pusey's Minor Prophets," Vol. I, pp. 220, 221.
Takoma Park, D. C.