Monday, July 19, 2021

2021.07.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 3:16–21

Read Joel 3:16–21

Questions from the Scripture text: In addition to the Yahweh’s nearness in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14-15), from where else does Yahweh do what in Joel 3:16? What effect does this have on what parts of the creation? What is He being for His people in this way? What is He being for whose children? What will they know about Him (Joel 3:17)? Whose is He? Where does He dwell—what is its name, and how else does He describe it? What does this do to Jerusalem? Who will not pass through her again? What will the mountains do in that day (Joel 3:18)? And the hills? And the brooks? From where will a fountain flow? What will it water? What will be a desolation (Joel 3:19)? What will be a desolate wilderness? Why? What have they done? But what will happen to Judah (Joel 3:20)? And Jerusalem? For how long? How/why—what happens to their guilt (Joel 3:21)? How?

There’s nothing that we can offer God by which to escape His judgment (Joel 3:1-8) and no power in us by which to endure His judgment (Joel 3:9-15). So, how can it be that believers come into such perfect protection, peace, possession, purity, pleasure, provision, permanence, and presence? By God’s free atonement of His people. The blessing He gives us is perfect…

Protection, Joel 3:16a–c, Joel 3:19. The roaring of Yahweh is infinite danger for His enemies, regardless of origin. But its origin here is important: Zion, Jerusalem. The power that petrifies them is the power that protects His people.

Peace, Joel 3:16d–e, Joel 3:17d. This is the great reversal of coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ. All of the power that once struck terror into you now shelters and strengthens you. Here is shelter that cannot be penetrated, strength that is always more than enough, and both of which will never cease.

Possession, Joel 3:17a. The believer is his Beloved’s, and his Beloved is his. Here is the great promise of knowing union and communion (fellowship) with the living God: “So you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.”

Purity, Joel 3:17b–c. Whatever belongs to Yahweh in a covenantal sense is holy. If He personally identifies Himself with Zion, then the mountain itself is holy. If we are His Jerusalem, then we must be holy. When He appeared before Moses or before Joshua, the dirt itself became so holy that footwear had to be removed. And He commands us to be holy because He is holy. Here in Joel 3:17 is the implication that He Himself will give the required holiness. And if this is our hope, we should strive for it as well.

Pleasure, Joel 3:18a–c. The land is described to be gushing, oozing, flowing not only with bare necessities but with rich luxuries of wine and milk. Truly, Yahweh will have restored what the locusts had consumed.  And with the provision of holiness, there will not even be the danger of drunkenness or gluttony—only physical manifestation of and enjoyment of God’s great goodness to His people. He created us with bodily capacity for pleasure so that we might be pleased with Him in every pleasantness. And the ultimate expectation that He sets before His people is that our final state will overflow with rich pleasure in this area.

Provision, Joel 3:18d–f. In a land that depended on two brief rainy seasons, here is a super-abounding promise of provision. But it is made even better by the personal nature of that provision. There was never a river in or by Jerusalem during the biblical record, but here (as with the temple in Ezekiel and Eden itself in Genesis 2) the water flows out from the place that God has made the center of His people’s experience of Him. The picture is that the luxuriant gifts of the first half of the verse are produced by this new way of watering that comes from the second half.

Permanence, Joel 3:20. A new age is truly in view, for Judah and Jerusalem had dwelt under continual threat of covenant curses that included the removal of rain and climactically of exile. But the provision in Joel 3:18 neutralizes the danger of the drought, and the permanence in Joel 3:20 eliminates the possibility of exile. Here is the everlasting covenant, a final day in which the church has been purified and glorified; there is no longer any mixture or lacking in her, and there is no longer any possibility of an exiled people or a removed lampstand. 

Presence, Joel 3:21. “For Yahweh dwells in Zion” is the ultimate explanation of each of these other blessings. He Himself is His own greatest blessing. He would be without any of the others, and all of the others are ultimately ways by which to enjoy Him. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy HIM forever.

Why will this be true in Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:20), when it is most surely and horrifically not true for Egypt and Edom? It is not because Judah is not guilty of bloodshed. The translation of Joel 3:21 is difficult, because it says, “I will acquit of bloodguilt those whom I don’t not-acquit.” He forgives His people by determining not to condemn them. 

In order for this to occur, Christ had to be condemned in our place, so that we might be vindicated in union with Him. But, He tells us in Joel 3:21 that He will give us all this blessing by putting us into a position in which His justice will DEMAND these blessings for us. He Who did not spare His own Son, will most certainly and freely give us ALL things together WITH HIM (cf. Romans 8:32)! 

What blessings are you already enjoying that are smaller foretastes of each of these blessings? How can they be actual blessings to you, instead of occasions for sin, or goodness that testifies against you on the last day? How does this affect the way that you should be enjoying them? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion”

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