Book of Joel: The Valley of Decision

THE VALLEY OF DECISION    Joel 3: 9-16

Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack.

Hammer your ploughshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.

Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat (‘God has judged’).

There I, the Lord, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all.

Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.

Come tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.”

Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the Valley of Decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.

The sun and moon will grow dark and the stars will no longer shine.

The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel.


THE VALLEY OF DECISION    Joel 3: 9-16

The Book of Joel was probably written around the time of King Uzziah of whom Isaiah speaks… We cannot be sure.

Joel‘s writing is strikingly similar in tone to a number of other prophets that lived around this time, such as Amos.

  • Joel’s name means: “The Lord is God” (Elijah has a similar meaning)

The national situation

  • The land was materially prosperous but spiritually impoverished

Purpose of Writing:

Joel’s prophecies focus on three major events. The first event is the invasion of locusts. Judah is being devastated by a vast horde of locusts that destroys everything—the fields of grain, the vineyards, the gardens and the trees.

  • Joel symbolically describes the locusts as a marching human army and views what is happening as divine judgement that is coming against the nation for its rebellion against God.

Swarms of locusts are irresistible and not only devastate crops but also kill the animals and people that rely on those crops.

The second major event prophesied by Joel is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit… Peter states in Acts Chapter 2 that it took place on the day of Pentecost.

  • (See notes on the theme of “Pentecost” for further details.)

The third major event prophesied by Joel takes place at the world’s end in the Valley of Decision

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Do you remember making decisions as a child and young person?

  • In the sweet shop! Choosing friends to play with… Who to invite to your birthday party… Which subjects to take at school?

And you heard your parents discussing decisions that they had to make, most of which went over your head!

As you grew older, you had to make some serious decisions…

  • Whether to stay on at school or find a job
  • Which job to get or, if you were fortunate, which career to follow
  • Whether to marry or not… and which person
  • How to use your money effectively

On June 23rd 2016, the United Kingdom made a crucial decision about whether or not to remain in the European Union… To REMAIN or to LEAVE… The majority voted to LEAVE

  • It has been described as the most important decision for a generation.
  • The two sides made claims and counter-claims about the merits of remaining or leaving

There are many different types of Election held in different countries … The one thing that they have in common is that people have to make a decision about which way to vote …

When we get to the Polling Booth, the moment of truth arrives… Where to make our mark… Where to place our cross?

There is something of a parallel situation when it comes to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ

  • Note that opting out or not voting is a decision… It’s a decision not to decide!
  • When someone says that he or she will ‘think about the claims of Jesus Christ’ and does nothing about it, that person has, in fact, made a decision…
  • She or he has declined God’s offer of new life in Jesus the Messiah (Christ)

Now let’s fast-forward to the end of time… Joel speaks of multitudes in the Valley of Decision on the Day of Judgement but please note:

  • First, a multitude consists of large numbers of individuals
  • God is principally interested in each person… not in an ethnic group or a church or a nation

It is true that Joel was addressing Jews as a wholebut their response still had to be person by person

In fact, Joel’s prophecy was intended for two audiences (as is often the case with prophecies):

(1) The Jewish people of that day, who had turned their backs on the Lord and would suffer an ‘invasion’ by an army of locusts

(2) People remaining on earth at the end of time on the Day of Judgement… We are focusing on this second audience

  • Notice that large numbers of people are waiting in the valley… They are marching into the valley fully armed… but the battle belongs to the Lord
  • They imagine that their human resources will carry the day!
  • But the Valley of Decision is not about their decision!
  • This ‘army’ don’t realise that they are waiting for God’s decision about their lives!

The Hebrew word refers to a divine decision not a human one.

  • We all have choices and decisions to make during our lifetimebut on the Day of Judgement in the Valley of Decision, God makes the decisions

Note, however, that the people present on that day will not include followers of Christ… God has other, better plans for them!

  • Furthermore, those who deliberately reject Christ during their lifetime, who refuse to accept the existence of God and scorn the truth of the Gospel, have already made their decisions; God does not need to decide about their fate

So if the multitudes in that Valley don’t include believers or anti-Christs (whose eternal fate is already sealed), we must conclude that the multitude consists of those who have not or could not respond to Christ’s invitation

  • We don’t know how Jesus Christ will judge those killed through abortion or the many babies and children that die in infancy
  • We don’t know how He will judge those who have never heard the Gospel or whose brains are undeveloped
  • We don’t know how He will judge people whose home backgrounds were so depraved that their minds were twisted and damaged while young

We don’t know everything there is to know about how God will deal with people on that final day

What we DO know is that the Day of Judgement in the Valley of Decision is a reality, just as much as the locust army was real and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost really happened.

This fact is not a threat or an attempt to terrorise people… but it is intended to underline the truth that if we do not decide about God today, He will decide about us at the end of time!

  • Make certain that you will not be found as one of that multitude in the Valley of God’s Decision on the Day of Judgement?
  • Decide to follow Jesus Christ TODAY… for otherwise, who knows when you might find yourself in the dreadful Valley of Decision.

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