For then, in those days and at that time,
Joel’s prophecy still concerns the time period connected with it shall come to pass afterward mentioned in Joel 2:28. This is the broad period of the Last Days, initiated by the Ascension of Jesus and the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.
–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)
when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, 3 and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.
This is a judgment of all nations. Joel was written at a time when a terrible plague of locusts brought the judgment of God upon the people of God. At a time like that, it is easy to think “God, You are dealing harshly with us, but what about the ungodly nations? We may be bad, but they are worse. Don’t you care about them?” God assures Israel that the nations will be dealt with.
God’s complaint against the nations is that they have mistreated His people. Primarily, this has in view the way the nations treat Israel, but also extends to how the nations treat the Church. When God’s people are mistreated, God notices and will avenge it.
4 What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. 5 For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. 7 But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. 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 nation far away; for the Lord has spoken.
When others hurt God’s people, God takes it personally. Remember what Christ said to Paul on the road to Damascus: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9:4). And what He may do might be amazing and astonishing to us!
Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat
Joel issues an ironic invitation to those nations who will be defeated by the Lord. (The Reformation Bible)
9 Proclaim this among the nations:
stir up the warriors.
Let all the soldiers draw near,
let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”
Though the nations come against God and His Messiah with every weapon and the most positive frame of mind, it is all for nothing. They will be plucked like a ripe harvest and crushed in judgment.
11 Come quickly,
all you nations all around,
gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O Lord.
12 Let the nations rouse themselves,
and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge
all the neighboring nations.
Psalm 2:1-6 (NIV)
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
13 Put in the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
for the wine press is full.
The vats overflow,
for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes,
in the valley of decision!
But the deciding here will not be for us to do; it will not be our decision. It will be the Lord’s decision. He is the Judge of all the earth.
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
16 The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth shake.
The power of God Almighty! — compared to the weaklings who are trying to tell themselves “We are warriors.” It reminds me of a phrase which appears in James Weldon Johnson’s sermon “The Prodigal Son”, which was published in his 1927 book of sermons, God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse.
Your arm’s too short to box with God.
But the Lord is a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
The Glorious Future of Judah
17 So you shall know that I, the Lord your God,
dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall never again pass through it.
18 In that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the stream beds of Judah
shall flow with water;
a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
and water the Wadi Shittim.
19 Egypt shall become a desolation
and Edom a desolate wilderness,
because of the violence done to the people of Judah,
in whose land they have shed innocent blood.
20 But Judah shall be inhabited forever,
and Jerusalem to all generations.
21 I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty,
for the Lord dwells in Zion.
God will show mercy to His people, and grant them forgiveness. This prophecy of Joel, which began with the desperate plague of locusts, ends with a promise of restoration and redemption.
HERE is “The Day of the Lord” — written by Joe Romeo, sung by Jud Field. What glorious wonders God has in store!