Joel 3 and the Future of National Israel

September 7, 2015

Especially in our day when many people who name the name of Christ deny that Israel has any future as a nation, we must allow Scripture itself to give us God’s perspective about the ultimate future of the nation of Israel. Joel 3 is one of many passages that plainly show what that future will be.

Divine Judgment against All Nations

The prophet Joel records God’s fixed determination about what He is going to do in the future on behalf of national Israel:

Joe 3:1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

 2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

The Lord here promises that there will be a time when He will restore Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:1). When He does so, He will also bring all the nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat to judge them for what they have done to His people Israel (Joel 3:2).

Because there has never been either such a restoration of Israel or such a judgment on all the nations in the history of the world, we can say with all confidence that this passage is a divine promise concerning events that are yet future. A closer look at the precise teaching of this passage fully confirms this interpretation.

The Lord specifies that His people who are in view in this passage are His heritage whom the nations have scattered among themselves. It is beyond ludicrous to see this statement as somehow figuratively speaking about the Church—the nations have never scattered the Church among themselves.

Furthermore, God specifies that this judgment will be on nations who have parted His land (Joel 3:2). The parting of the land in view here refers literally to Israel, and it is impossible to make this teaching about the Church.

God further elaborates the sinfulness of the nations for which He will judge them on that day:

Joe 3:3 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.

 4 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;

 5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

 6 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.

Trying to apply these statements to the Church makes no sense; it is clear that God is speaking here about the nation of Israel.

Divine Blessing on the Nation of Israel

Beyond emphatically declaring the certainty of divine judgment in that day on all the nations for what they have done to the nation of Israel, God profoundly highlights how He will bless His people Israel in that day:

Joe 3:16 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, and the strength of the children of Israel.

 17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

They will come to know Him as their God who dwells in their midst on His holy mountain (Joel 3:16)! Jerusalem will then be sanctified in a way that it has never been in its entire history (Joel 3:17).

Moreover, God’s blessings on the nation of Israel will abound throughout their land in that day:

Joe 3:18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

 19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

 20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

 21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

Again, close attention to the precise statements in this passage show that it is ludicrous to try to make these statements somehow figurative language that applies to the Church.

First, God promises that at this time He will make two nations desolate because they have unjustly killed His people. This is clearly prophecy concerning what will happen to actual geographical locations and not figurative teaching about who knows what.

Second, He promises that Judah and Jerusalem will dwell forever, and ties their doing so to His cleansing their blood that He has not yet cleansed. When the Lord avenges the blood of His people that the nations have wickedly shed, He will pour out the fullness of His blessings on His people, the nation of Israel!

Conclusion

God is not through with the nation of Israel. He has not abandoned them as a nation. He will gloriously restore them to their land and bless them with incomparable blessings that have never been theirs.

Regardless of however many believers may insist emphatically that the nation of Israel has no future, God has purposed that Israel as a nation will have a glorious future ahead of it, and it will be so!

Rajesh

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