For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,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.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. (Joel 3:1-3)
At the end of his vision, The Prophet Joel suddenly saw a clear picture of the world situation which looks an awful lot like the world we find ourselves in today.
He opens with a timing element; “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem…”.
This prophecy is slated for the time when God would bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. The nation of Judah, whose capitol was Jerusalem, went out of political existence in 70 AD. The Romans dismantled the nation, destroying Jerusalem, killing almost a million Jews, and obliterating the temple in Jerusalem, ironically on the same calender day, that the Babylonians had done so in 587 BC, Tish Ba’Av, the ninth of the month of Av.
The nation went out of existence in 70 AD, and remained so until May 1948. All of this was predicted by the prophets;the destruction of the nation and the restoration of Israel as a sign of the last days.
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.(Hosea 3:4-5)
Joel 3 is explicit, this vision is post 1948.
Furthermore the prophet distinguishes Judah and Jerusalem. The international community spends a good deal of time striving over the situation in the MIddle East. One major problem is the status of the city of Jerusalem. Israel has declared that Jerusalem is it’s capitol, but almost all of the nations of the world refuse to place their embassies there.
John Kerry, the secretary of State of the United States recently condemned Israel for allowing JEws to pray on the Holy Temple mount, declaring that ,”…only Muslims could pray there”.
The other subject of much international strife, controversy and even war is Judea. One would never know it, because the international Media almost universally refuses to use the name for the region that God gave to it, instead referring to it as “The occupied Territory”, “The West Bank” and even “The Palestinian Authority”. On the contrary, that chunk of land carved out of the eastern part of Israel and designated by the nations of the world as the state of Palestine, is actually called Judea and Samaria.
Consider that in the definitive teaching on the end-times by the Saviour himself, in MAtthew 24, Jesus cites universal plagues and miseries, such as “False Christs”, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, and wars. These dangers will be universal, applying to the entire world.
But suddenly Jesus narrows down to one region in his warning;
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:(Matthew 24:16)
Something so dreadful is going to break out over the conflict over Judea, that Jesus warns those who live there in the last days (The settlers), to run for their lives, and warns them not to go back in for their coats when they see a certain sign spoken of by Daniel happen.
Next the Prophet proclaims ” I will also gather all nations…”The literal possibility for this aspect of the prophecy is only recent, for at no other time in human history has there been even a possibility for the “gathering of all nations” since the Tower of Babylon judgment.
All nations have indeed been assembled into a congress, the United Nations which arose, like Israel, out of the aftermath of World War 2 in the late 1940’s. As Psalm 2 predicts,
“…the kings of the earth and their rulers take counsel together against the LORD and His Christ…”.
Next the Prophet mentions the Valley of Jehoshaphat– “… and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat… “.
This is to be understood on three levels.
First of all there is a “Valley of Jehoshaphat” and it is in the Holy Land. God is drawing all nations into the conflict over the Holy Land.
Secondly, the prophecy calls attention to the name Jehoshaphat and the meaning of the name, “Jahweh shall Judge”, ie God shall judge the nations of the earth.
Finally we are meant to recall the story of Jehoshaphat, and the siege of Judea and Jerusalem in the days of King Jehoshaphat, in which after Israel’s repentance and a national day of prayer and fasting, the instruction was given not to fear the combined gentile armies of Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites.
This is the battle where Judah, at God’s command, marched the Priests out front of the army, with instruments instead of weapons, and Praising the goodness of the Lord ! the enemy turned upon itself and was routed.
We are told that at that time God will plead for his people, “…and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel…” This is not a prediction that God will ask the nations to’ go easy on Israel’.
Rather this is legal language, God is going to slap a lawsuit upon the Nations, he is serving an indictment, for this is the court of Divine justice!
Next we will take a look at the four counts of the indictment which God is bringing against all nations…