Look Beyond Judgment

KEY VERSE: “The LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” — Joel 3:16

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Joel 1:14-16; 2:12, 13, 26-29

THESE words of the Lord, through the Prophet Joel, were not spoken in a general way, but are related to a very specific event, which is prophetically proclaimed in this book some twenty-six hundred years before its actual occurrence. What is described is a time of worldwide preparation for war among the Gentile nations of the world. “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all men of war draw near. … Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.” (Joel 3:9,10)

Only in very recent times have the weak nations been freed from the domination of the strong, and able to assert themselves as a voice in world affairs. This situation has been furthered greatly by today’s alignment of governments, both weak and strong, into political and economic groups, hostile to each other, within which the problems of even the smallest country can pose a threat to the major powers and thus imperil the world. This, too, was prophesied. “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about. Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down.”—vs. 11

These dynamic changes in world affairs, according to Joel’s prophecy, involve the process by which the Lord’s judgments are expressed against the nations. They are referred to here as being brought up to the “Valley of Jehoshaphat,” also called the “valley of decision.” “For there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about”—Joel 3:12

The Valley of Jehoshaphat was a ravine of not very great size, which separated the eastern wall of Jerusalem and the temple from the Mount of Olives. This low area was one of the chief burial sites around Jerusalem, containing thousands of tombs, among which was that of King Jehoshaphat. Obviously, this is not a place where the multitudes of the nations of earth can literally be contained or brought to trial. But symbolically they are represented as being gathered there. Other Biblical references to this time of judgment tell us that it ends in Armageddon. This cataclysmic final expression of Jehovah’s judgment is depicted in Joel’s prophecy as the Lord roaring out of Zion, and uttering his voice from Jerusalem. (Joel 3:16) Literal Zion, the ancient typical place where God spoke, overlooking the valley of Jehoshaphat, well represents Jehovah’s authority now centered in the agency of Christ, through which he utters his voice of disapproval, and the present heavens and earth gathered in the valley of decision are shaken and pass away.—vs. 16

But “the Lord will be the hope of his people.” This hope is well founded in another prophetic picture which, as a sequel, extends beyond the time of Joel’s prophecy and reveals that out of Armageddon comes world peace! This is the familiar kingdom prophecy found in the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. There the Lord is described as placing his feet “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 towards the west, and there shall be a very great valley and half the mountain shall remove towards the north, and half of it towards the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains.”—Zech. 14:4,5

In the aftermath of Armageddon, to the fear-stricken and despairing multitudes of earth left in the figurative valley of Jehoshaphat, suddenly and miraculously, through God’s great power, a way of salvation opens before them—a bright new hope for peace through the kingdom of peace (Mount of Olives) which God establishes “under his feet.” As the influence of the new government under the control of earthly princes, the Ancient Worthies, begins to expand, the valley is seen to grow wider and is enlarged to accommodate all who seek refuge in its wonderful haven of blessing and safety. Even the tombs of the valley of Jehoshaphat (Jehovah-judged) will be opened, and being swallowed up by the “valley of the mountain,” new life in the resurrection will be given to all the dead.

“It shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:8) The heavenly Jerusalem, Christ and the church, as earth’s divine rulers will be a new source of everlasting life, which will flow out from them to all the world.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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