Monday, May 2, 2011

Israel Delivered by Her King- a commentary on Joel 3

In the previous chapter, we read about the dire predicament God's people were in, and the only hope for escape. If the people of God repent collectively in sacred assembly, then God will send revival and deliverance. This repentance followed by deliverance includes both the church and Israel. Joel 3 is a description of the final battle that is fought in Israel and how the Lord delivers her.

The Timing of  This Invasion
Vss 1-2 tells us the timing of this invasion of Israel by an international coalition. It happens “ in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will ALSO gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” It happens in the same season that God returns the Jewish captives from the nations back to Israel. He also gather the Gentile nations to Israel to the battle of Armageddon.

Why does He gather together in Israel all of the Gentile nations? “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. ” The text says that all of these nations have divided the land and scattered the people. When has God both gathered the people back to Israel? When have ALL nations scattered the Israelites. The answer cannot be the Babylonian captivity, as only the nations within the Babylonian Empire participated in that dispersion. It cannot be the Roman occupation either, as only nations within the Roman Empire participated in that dispersion. It is only after the Jews reclaimed the land only to have it carved up through the so-called Middle East Peace Process that modern nations like Brazil, Japan, and the United States can incur guilt for dividing up the land and people of Israel.

Prophecy Against the Palestinians (verses 4-8)
There is a prophecy against the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, Philistia, and Edom. The prophecy is against the people who occupy these ancient land rather than the ancient people. Tyre and Sidon would include Lebanon and the Golan Heights, and Philistia would include both the West Bank and Gaza. Edom would include the West Bank and Eastern Jordan. These areas todays are the areas that have concentrated Palestinian populations.

God asks of them in verse 4 “Will you retaliate against Me? But if you retaliate against Me, Swiftly and speedily I will return your retaliation upon your own head;” The Palestinians are plotting to retaliate against God for bringing Jews back to the land. They are planning to disperse the Jews again. They are planning to sell the Jews “to the Greeks” (verse 6) At no time in history have the historic Philistines or Edomites sold them to the Greeks, but the term 'Greeks' is being used here as a reference to the Gentile nations. Modern day Palestinians are using propaganda and diplomatic tools to draw into their conflict with Israel the gentile powers who will carve up the land.

In verses 7-9, we see the judgment of the Palestinian people. They will become a dispossessed people. Because this battle is just before the Millennium, the Palestinians will be stateless people during the Millennium.

The Call to the Battle of Armageddon
Verses 9-21 is the call to the nations to the Battle of Armageddon. In this passages several signs accompany this battle to confirm that this war ends with the Battle of Armageddon. Each of these signs are also described in parallel passages that place these events near the time of Armageddon

  1. In verse 13 we read a passage that parallels Revelation 14:14-20 : “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow”.
  2. In verse 15 reads in a way that parallels several end-time passages: “The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness.
  3. In verse 16, we read that the “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.”, Paralleling several end-time passages.

In verses 18-21, there will be eternal blessings on Israel. There will be physical blessings on the restored Israel, and God will complete the process of restoration. God forgives Israel of blood-guilt not previously forgiven. Israel is chosen and restored not because she has merited it, but because of God's grace.

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