Joel 3:1-12 – Judgment for Our Enemies

the word ENEMY

Read Joel 3:1-12

In our previous reading, Joel speaks of a time when those who call upon the LORD will be saved. This prophecy seeks to alert all the enemies who ever harmed God’s people that their judgment is at hand. They were not going to get away with their abuse of God’s loved ones. The time was coming for “pay backs.” God said to the enemies of his people, “I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done.”

We see here the example of God gathering all nations together in one place. The word Jehoshaphat means “the LORD judges,” so this was probably a symbolic reference, not necessarily a physical location. Can we assume that God still judges those who abuse us?

The theme of God as Judge runs through throughout the entire Bible. The psalms and prophets speak of it, and even Jesus speaks of the final judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus shares great words of wisdom as he explains what we can expect when “the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. for judgment day.” (verse 31)

Imagine being judged for something you did because you thought it was the right thing to do. Maybe you even felt “led” to do it. I think of the armies of the world (from Assyria and Babylon to name a few) whom God used, out of his anger, to defeat his people. Those armies were likely to attack whether God intervened or not. However, their victory was won because God gave them the power they needed to crush Israel and Judah.

Had God’s anger not been burning red, he would have much rather empowered his own people to successfully fight back. In Joel’s prophecy, these same armies will be punished for the “success” God helped them achieve! They were not immune to God’s divine discipline. I believe our own enemies will also fall into this same judgment.

Starting at verse 9, God’s voice seems to be calling the nations to prepare for war. It’s “all hands on deck” to fight. Farmers are called to fashion their tools to fight. Even the physically weak are not “sitting on the bench!” What kind of a war is Joel talking about? A holy war commissioned by God himself? Is this a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled?

It appears that here, to “judge” not only means to hear the evidence and deliver a verdict but to also carry out the verdict. This will be done in the final battle. This judgment scene is handled by other prophets with more of an apocalyptic slant. I feel sorry for those found guilty.

This passage was a little tricky, wasn’t it? There are promises of restoration woven in to give hope. Judgment is nothing to fear if you have lived a life that honors God. We love a God who is full of mercy for those that love him. James 2:13 gives us something to ponder. “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Lord, thank you for your justice. It means I don’t have to worry about what my enemies do to me; you will take care of them one day. My focus needs to be on being loving and merciful to others. Help me be more like you so I can do a better job of that. I do not fear judgment but look forward to the day I meet you face to face. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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