Valley of Decision - Israel, the Church, and the Last Days
TITLE: Israel, the Church, and the Last Days
TEXT: Joel 3:1-22
TASK: To encourage believers concerning the events of the last days.
TEACH: OK, for all both of you still reading: In the prequels, Anakin Skywalker is prophesied to be the one to "bring balance to the force." In Episode III, after he pushes back against the Jedi Council's assignment to spy on Chancellor Palpatine, Yoda speculates that the prophecy could have been "misread."
It's important that only in this episode do the Jedi claim that "bringing balance" means "defeating the Sith." By this point, their arrogance has clouded their ability to spot the traitor(s) in their midst and they are overconfident about their place in the universe.
The conclusion I think the movie wants viewers to draw is that it was actually Anakin's son, Luke, who would fulfill the prophecy
TRUTH: What are we to make of all this devastation and war? What does the Bible have to say about it? Was this event prophesied in the bible?
The first thing I want to address is the true nature of prophecy. Prophecy is very different from history. It is not intended to give us a knowledge of the future, analogous to that which history gives us of the past. This truth is often overlooked. We see interpreters undertaking to give detailed expositions of the prophecies of Isaiah, of Ezekiel and Daniel and of the Revelation, relating to the future with same confidence with which they would record the history of the recent past. Such approaches always lead to miss interpretations.
The recording of certain important events is so situated as to produce in the minds of the people of God faith that they will certainly come to pass. Enough is made known of their nature and of the time and mode their occurrence, to awaken attention, desire, and secure proper effort with those who are concerned about being prepared.
The utter failure of the OT saints in interpreting the prophecies of the first advent of Christ should teach us to be modest and diffident in explaining those which relate to the second coming.
Thus, it follows, that prophecy makes a general impression with regard to future events, which is reliable and salutary, while the details remain in obscurity. (Charles Hodge) Therefore, the intent is not to establish an elaborate timeline nor to identify every point of symbolism. To do so will cause one to miss the major emphasis.
Israel and the Church
The is large acceptance in our modern evangelical day to hold Israel and the church as two distinct groups of people. This view, along with the belief in a pre-tribulation rapture, is one of the driving forces behind dispensational theology. Those who hold to this view believe that God has a covenant with Israel and then a different covenant with the church. But what does the Bible teach? (see Ephesians 2:11-22; 1Peter 2:4-12)
“For behold, in those days and at that time…” What day and time is Joel referring to? The word “for” (gar) connects us back to the previous verses in chapter 2. Here we have the promise of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the cosmic description of events at Christ Parousia. Therefore, it appears “in those days” refers to the time between Christ ascension and second coming
What is it that God promises to do in these days?
I. Restore His People
A. In a lesser and immediate sense this was fulfilled in the return from the Babylonian exile. However, in a greater and ultimate sense it will be fulfilled in the end-time gathering of God’s people.
i. Though the bondage of God’s people may be grievous and very long, yet it shall not be everlasting. The Lord will provide for the ultimate redemption of His chosen people. God allows the enemies of His people to prevail only for a time then judgments comes upon them.
B. The fuller expression still awaits the return of Christ when He “will make all things new.”
II. Judge the Nations
A. The nations will meet the same fate as Tyre and Sidon. The name “Jehoshaphat’ means “Jah” (a shortened term for Yahweh) judges and is intended to be symbolic, since there is no valley by that name in Palestine. Later it is called ‘The Valley of Decision.”
B. We know that Sidon was destroyed by the armies of Artaxerxes of Persia in 343 and that Tyre fell to Alexander the Great in 332.
i. They scattered the people of God.
ii. They divided up God’s land.
iii. They sold the people of God into slavery.
iv. They have taken silver and gold.
c. The fuller expression of judgment still awaits the return of Christ. (see Matthew 25:31-46)
III. Gather His People
A. I believe to one extent as Matthew Henry did when he wrote, “There shall be abundant divine influences and the gospel will speedily into the remotest corners of the earth.” However, I believe it points to the coming of Christ and ushers in the eternal state.
Matt. 24:29-31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Mark 13:24-27 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
1 Thess. 4:15-17 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
2 Thess. 2:1-4 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sit the in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
IV. Jerusalem made Holy
A. The city of Jerusalem/Zion will stand at the center of a renewed world. Where the locusts had stripped the land, now prosperity will flow in abundance.