The Valley Of Decision: Part 2

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The Voice of Hope
The Valley Of Decision: Part 2

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The Valley of Decision : Part 2

Joel 3:9-17

The Next STEP (laid out for us regarding the events of the last days) is,

            The Presentation

            In verse 14, Joel raises the loud and prolonged cry, “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision.” Now, I want you to understand right away that these multitudes are not being called to this valley of judgment to make a decision. No, they’ve already made their decision to oppose God Almighty. The hordes that gather in this valley are there to receive the announcement of God’s decision against them! God is making the presentation of His decision and it is unmistakable. I think you’ll see that clearly as we move forward in the text.

            The word multitude is hamonim. It is a picture of a confused, turbulent, noisy mob. Isaiah 9:5 uses similar imagery as he introduces the coming Prince of Peace. He talks about confusion, noise, and garments rolled in blood. Certainly, an army of this size will generate a lot of noise and dust and confusion. And remember, in Hebrew, the repetition of the word, multitudes, strengthens the intensity of the meaning.

            Notice once again the appeal to agricultural scenes in verse 13. The winepress is full, and the vats are overflowing during the time of grape harvest. The picture of abundance portrays the great wickedness of the nations. God’s mighty ones (verse 11) are commanded to “put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.” The apostle John saw a similar picture in Revelation 14:17 to 20.

“Then 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, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So, the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.”

            At that place “outside the city,” in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, in this valley of decision, there will be a great slaughter. There, the blood will be running so deep that it will come up to the bridle of a horse. The word translated decision can also be translated as “trench” which could refer to the place where the blood will flow so deeply.

            When I think about these scenes, my mind goes to Genesis 6. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intentof the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So, God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” You know what happened after that, the flood of Noah’s day.

But after the flood was over, we read these sobering words in Genesis 8:21, Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” Did you notice what God said? Even after He cleansed the earth by way of the worldwide flood, man’s heart is still evil from his birth.

So, if indeed, this battle of Armageddon is taking place at the end of the Tribulation period, and if the Holy Spirit (called the Restrainer in II Thessalonians 2:7), is no longer functioning in the role He now has, then we can surely understand why God would say that the time was ripe for His judgment to fall on unbelieving humanity. There will be nothing to check the unbridled evil that is raging in men’s hearts.  

Further, these events will lead to cosmic disturbances. The sun and the moon will grow dark, and the brightness of the stars will diminish. This is a reaffirmation of the prediction in chapter two, verse 10. Jesus said in Matthew 24:29 and 30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” 

At this point in time, it will be too late for those who have rejected Messiah and His rule over their lives. These multitudes will be presented with God’s decision against them, and their destruction will be complete.

So, we have the steps of preparation for the event and the presentation of the verdict against unbelieving mankind. These lead us to the final step…

The Final STEP (laid out for us regarding the events of the last days) is,

            The Preservation

            Here, in verse 16, the scene changes. The focus shifts from what God will do to His enemies, to what He will do for His people, Israel.

The Lord will roar like a mighty lion from Zion and utter His voice in Jerusalem. Zion is His dwelling place and Jerusalem is His city. Numerous Scriptures in both the Psalms and the prophets refer to the Lord dwelling in Zion. In Daniel 9:19, the prophet cries out, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

When the Lord roars from Zion, His voice will shake the earth. The writer of Hebrews concurs with the prophet. “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27)

Yet, all of this noise and tumult won’t threaten God’s people. Instead, He will be a refuge for them. His redeemed ones will remain because they cannot be shaken. The verb root of “refuge” basically means to hide oneself. It signifies that the people of God will confidently seek security in Him rather than fleeing from the enemy in desperation.

He will be a stronghold for His people, a place of protection inaccessible to His and their enemies. In Second Samuel 5 we read these words describing King David. “And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).” Through the centuries, Jerusalem has changed hands numerous times, but when the King of Kings comes, He will become the stronghold for His people. He will never be displaced!

And what is the point of all this? God says, “when all of this takes place, then you will know that I AM the Lord your God.” The pronoun, I, is emphatic. God is emphasizing His covenant relationship with His people. Isaiah speaks of this time like this; “Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has made bare His holy arm In the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

Never again will Jerusalem be “trodden under the feet of the Gentiles,” because their time has been fulfilled as Jesus predicted in Luke 21:24. The fulfilment of this promise was what Jesus’ disciples, the Twelve, were hoping for at His first coming. During the time after Jesus rose from the dead until His ascension to the Father the disciples were still hoping for this. They asked Him in Acts 1:6, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus didn’t rebuke them for their question of their anticipation of this event. He just told them that the timing was in the hands of His Father. In this text, that time has finally come.

As I understand Scripture, this victory over the Antichrist and his demonic forces at the end of the Great Tribulation will usher in the millennial reign of Christ predicted in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. Satan will be cast by God into the bottomless pit and kept there until the thousand years are finished. He will then be released for one final attempt to deceive the nations.

“And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:19-21)

God promised that after all this, Jerusalem would once more be a holy city, no aliens shall ever pass through her again. Everything that could possibly defile the city will be removed. Listen to the words of the prophet, Zechariah. “In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be [ engraved with] ‘Holiness to the Lord of Hosts.’ Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.”

The full scope of the covenant God made with Abraham, way back near the beginning of recorded human history, will finally be completely fulfilled. Contrary to the teaching of many today, God is not finished with the Jewish people. The church hasn’t replaced them in God’s plan. As Paul so clearly points out in Romans chapters 9, 10, and 11, they have merely been set aside until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so, all Israel will besaved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

So, what are we to make of all this? What impact does it have on our lives today?

First, we see that God has been and will be faithful to fulfill His promises. He made an inviolable covenant with Abraham that was based solely on God’s name and His character. He promised blessing to the whole world through Abraham’s descendants. Likewise, He pronounced a curse on those who cursed Israel and dealt treacherously with them. If God does not keep His covenant promises to Abraham and His descendants, what guarantee do we have that He will keep His promises to us who are Abraham’s descendants by faith?

We also learn that, eventually, the day of grace will come to an end. There is a limit to God’s patience. The preparations are being laid for this fateful day. When it comes, the presentation of judgment will be given and there will be no escape. God will pour out His fury on the peoples of the world who have rejected His rule in their lives. At the same time, He will renew His covenant relationship with all those among Israel who embrace Messiah and He will preserve His people.

If you are a follower of Christ, this portion of Scripture should stir your heart to pray as Jesus taught us; “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I urge you to make that decision today, while there’s still time.

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