Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. ( Joel 3:9-12)
Joel’s final vision is a high definition picture of the geopolitical situation in our day. It is my belief that the prophet is seeing the UN, and pronouncing judgment upon it and all who stand with it. All of the Nations of the world are being summonsed to Judgment in the valley of Jehoshaphat, (“Jahweh Shall Judge”), because of the way they have treated God’s chosen people.
The four counts of the indictment, are that the nations have ; 1)scattered God’s people, 2) Parted the Land, 3) They cast lots over the people, and 4) they have sold out the innocent for wine, as a harlot would do.
Then the LORD singles out two regions which have featured prominently in recent times, as being troubled spots, seeking to destroy Israel, “Tyre and Sidon” (Southern Lebanon, and “Philistia” which is called “Gaza”. In both places Muslim terrorists have established “States” from which they have steadily bombarded Israel for years with Rockets, number in the tens of thousands!
Now, in the passage I opened with, we hear the “Taunt Prophecy” in which the LORD calls upon the nations to gird themselves and prepare for War… with Jawheh himself! God would make war with those nations which have proven themselves to be his enemies!
The LORD even goes so far as to invert one of the most widely loved and idealistic scriptures of the Old Testament. In Micah and Isaiah, we are told of the day when men would beat their swords into plowshares:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-5)
… And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Micah 2:3)
Outside of the UN headquarters in New York City is a Park and in that park is a famous wall which has the Isaiah inscription on it. Even the World loves these passages and the vision of peace and hope they offer. People who know almost nothing else in the Bible, would recognize this scripture and resonate with the peace it promises.
But, God inverts the scripture here, when He challenges the nations to war. He taunts them to gird themselves and to turn tractors and fishing poles into tanks and rifles. He tells them to convince themselves that they are strong enough , “Let the weak say,’I am Strong…’ “. This is not an encouragement, it is a Divine taunt.The Judge of the universe is awakening the Nations for their final war…. but it is with Him that they are called to fight.
In the Prophetic imagery, harvests are either happy pictures or terrifying scenarios. For example a wheat or grain harvest is a happy time, a time for joy, celebration and feasting. The wheat harvest typifies the gathering of the saved out of the world and into the safety of the LORD’s heavenly ‘barn’.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.(Psalm 126:5-6)
The harvest of grapes portrays something different , though. Usually the harvest of grapes in prophetic imagery, and the stomping and crushing of grapes portrays the terror of Divine Judgment upon mankind.
Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.( Joel 3:13-14)
The dreadful day of harvest has finally come and multitudes find themselves in the “Valley of Decision”, not realizing that at this point the decision has already been made, the judgment has been cast, the sentence is soon to be executed. It is this passage which inspired the beautiful but terrible lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”,
My Eyes have seen the glory of the Coming of the LORD,
He has trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, He hath loosed the fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword, His Truth is Marching On...
The Book of Revelation also draws from this imagery,
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. ( Revelation 14:15-20)
The day of the Lord hastens towards us, I pray that you my readers are making your calling and election sure, (Make sure you are saved biblically, right with God), Shalom.