Joel 3:14-18

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the Lord is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. So you shall know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it.

In that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Wadi Shittim. Joel 3:14-18

The Bible readings for this week come from the “Taking Faith Home” bulletin insert that we use every week. (Available from Milestones Ministry.) Clearly, they are making hay on the two sides of Advent – anticipating Jesus coming again as we remember Jesus’ birth. I get that.

So today’s reading from Joel was clearly chosen because it refers to the “day of the Lord” and it says “But the Lord is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” And we, of course, include ourselves among those people.

Here’s the problem I have with that. Notice that these are vss. 14-18. Listen now to the verses that come right before them, vss. 9-13, “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the warriors. Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.” Come quickly, all you nations all around, gather yourselves there. Bring down your warriors, O Lord. Let the nations rouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the neighboring nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.”

Really? Is that what we are still about? Visions of putting together our own personal army of holy warriors ready to stamp out the grapes of wrath and purify the world around us because of “their” wickedness? I’m thinking that such holy warriors are the problem today, not the solution.

To me, the value of this vision is to remember our own darkness, our own tendency to recreate God in our own image, where we always end up the “winners” over against the “losers” who are everybody else not like us. The darkest moments in the history of the church look like the church acting that way. The temptation is always there for us. A temptation well worth resisting.

God is in charge of the end. God will take care of that. Our task is to live out of love in the meantime.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, your children are all over the place in how we see our lives today and how we anticipate the future. Give us wisdom and discernment, give us the capacity for honest self reflection. May the hope of your future give us hope in the journey we now walk. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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6 Responses to “Joel 3:14-18”

  1. kirk Says:

    I Agree A Men

  2. Georgene Says:

    Thank you. So much hatred seems to be coming from many. God is about love.

  3. Anon Says:

    Excellent. Always appreciate your thoughtful, critical, “big picture” comments.

  4. Lynn Says:

    So agree with you! Good word!

  5. Kara Says:

    Psalm 147:10-11
    His pleasure is not in strong horses
    Nor his delight in strong soldiers;
    He takes pleasure in those who honor him,
    In those who trust in his constant love

  6. Dave Armstrong Says:

    “God is in charge of the end. God will take care of that. Our task is to live out of love in the meantime.” Well said! I agree 100%

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