Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, July 17, 2021

2021.07.17 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 verse 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”

Friday, July 16, 2021

2021.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:4–5

Read Philippians 4:4–5

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle command them to do (Philippians 4:4)? In Whom? When? How does he reinforce this command? What new command does Philippians 4:5 add—what ought they make known to whom? Why?

The apostle here commands us to rejoice. How is that possible? Scripture here corrects the lie that rejoicing must be caused by feeling good. True, Christian rejoicing is not produced by unreliable and unstable good-feeling; true, Christian rejoicing is produced by our perfectly reliable, perfectly stable Lord. That is how it is possible to command rejoicing. That is how it is possible to rejoice always.

When things are going pleasantly, our joy is not to be in that pleasantness. Rather, we should think about the Lord Who has given that pleasantness. And how He gave Himself for us on the cross. And how He has risen again and reigns, and how He will return for us in the last day. And even more, how He has done all of this in order to give Himself to us forever and ever, and that He has already given Himself to us by His Spirit!

However pleasant our circumstances are, it is never enough to outweigh our being “in the Lord” as cause for rejoicing! Even if the demons submit to us, we are to rejoice instead that our names are written in heaven (cf. Luke 10:20).

Of course, circumstances are not always pleasant. But, even the most unpleasant circumstances can’t dislodge a particle of those wonderful truths of the reality of a believer’s being in the Lord. He can still rejoice in all of them, and he still is commanded to rejoice in the Lord! Always!

But the constant nearness of the Lord enables us to do even more than maintain and express a joyful heart. It also enables us to respond fittingly, kindly, gently to men in every circumstance. It is true that Jesus may return for us at any moment, and that this is good reason to seek always to be treating others as we would have Him find us doing. This is one part of what the apostle indicates in Philippians 4:5.

To understand the verse fully, however, we need to read it in the context of Philippians 4:4. He is already nearby, by our union with Him and by His Spirit’s indwelling us. Those who are inhabited by Christ’s Spirit, and united with Him to Whom we are being conformed, should constantly exhibit the fruit of that Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22–23) and the character of that Christ (cf. Isaiah 42:1–4, 2 Corinthians 10:1).  

The Lord Jesus is near us to give us His sweet fellowship. The Lord Jesus is near us to press us into His sweet form. The Lord Jesus is near us to give us the sweet freedom to glorify Him and serve others. 

When we let our reasonable/fitting gentleness be known to all, we display that Jesus is near to us.

How do you keep mindful of your being in the Lord and His nearness to you? In what circumstances has this produced surprising joy in your heart or surprising gentleness toward others?

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction I Will Give to You” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Fitted for Glory in the King of Glory (2021.07.14 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 24)

We exist to glorify God and enjoy His glory, but we are disqualified from it and unfit to enter. God's solution is for Himself to become a Man with the very worthiness of God, so that we are received into glory in the King of glory.

2021.07.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:5–19

Read Luke 21:5–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What did some (ignoring Jesus’s lesson from Luke 21:1-4) speak about in  Luke 21:5? What does Jesus call the temple and the donations in Luke 21:6? What days does He say will come? What is the first question they ask in Luke 21:7? What is the second question? With what command does He respond in Luke 21:8? What will people claim to be? What aren’t they to do with such people? Of what else will they hear (Luke 21:9)? How are they not to respond? But what will not come immediately (which event they had confused with the destruction of the temple)? What will be happening during this not-the-end period (Luke 21:10)? What other five things (Luke 21:11)? What events should the disciples be more personally focused upon (Luke 21:12)? Why will these specific events happen to them (Luke 21:13)? And what should the apostles, during their period before the types of things in Luke 21:10-11, do when they are about to be put on such a trial (Luke 21:14)? Why not—what promise does Jesus make about their testimony (Luke 21:15)? How will they come into these arrests, imprisonments, and trials (Luke 21:16)? How should they expect the culture to respond to their ministry (Luke 21:17)? What will be true, even if they die as Luke 21:16 had said (Luke 21:18)? Making good use of this knowledge, how are they enabled to act (Luke 21:19)?

The disciples miss what Jesus is saying about what has been devoted to God and how it ends up being used (Luke 21:5). Jesus had said that the poor widow put her life in, which is far more valuable than the beautiful stones that can be purchased a couple pennies at a time. So, He reminds them of what He’s just said a few days ago: God’s about to wipe all this out (Luke 21:6, cf. Luke 19:41–44). We’re so easily distracted from what lasts and matters!

The distraction continues in their questions in Luke 21:7. They’re making two great mistakes: (1) focusing upon what God intends to do Himself, rather than what part God gives them to do in it, and (2) assuming that the destruction of Jerusalem is going to come at the end with His return. The second error, He’s going to tackle in Luke 19:20–38 as He distinguishes the predictable and escapable destruction of Jerusalem from His own unpredictable and inescapable return.

The problem of wrong focus is the subject of our portion this week: the apostles have an assigned role upon which they need to be focusing. He begins in Luke 21:8-11 by saying not to be fooled by earthly claims or even apparent heavenly signs into thinking that the end has come. But even before such claims and signs inevitably come, something else that comes first: persecution (Luke 21:12) and testimony (Luke 21:13).

They need to be focusing neither upon the fall of Jerusalem (which Jesus implies comes after the apostolic period, which puts a back-end on that period of 67 A.D. and the beginning of the siege). Rather, they need to be focused upon expecting to be apprehended, persecuted, and handed over (Luke 21:12), even by closest family and friends (Luke 21:16), and even ending in death (end of verse 16).

Why is all of this going to happen? So that they can give testimony (Luke 21:13) even before kings and rulers (end of Luke 21:12). So what are the apostles to do? Two things.

First, they are to settle in their hearts not to mull over what they are going to say (Luke 21:14), because Jesus is going to confound the rulers of the earth through answers that He gives them in the moment (Luke 21:15), and they will survive until this mission is completed (Luke 21:18). Even then, every hair is accounted for (cf. Psalm 116:15; Luke 12:7).  

Scripture instruction for us would actually be opposite to this. We are to master (or, rather, be mastered by) the apostolic and Scriptural provision of Jesus’s conquering truth (cf. 2 Timothy 3:12–4:5) so that we will always be ready to give an answer for our hope (cf. 1 Peter 3:13–17). It’s ultimately the same provision, but we have a different role from the apostles and are the beneficiaries of Christ’s having kept His promises to them. Many are deceived into thinking that lack of study and preparation is somehow more spiritual, but it was quite specifically to the apostles that Jesus gave this instruction to settle it in their hearts not to meditate beforehand how they will answer (Luke 21:14).

The second thing that the apostles are to do is “by patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). The patience described here is the patience of persistence, perseverance. They are commanded to possess/obtain/purchase their souls through persisting in what the Lord has called them to do, despite the highest cost and stiffest opposition. 

Jesus has also called us to this perseverance. We know the Lord who has paid the purchase price. He has told us that following Him is like being crucified daily (cf. Luke 9:23), both in dying to self as master that we might live unto Christ as master (cf. Galatians 5:24), and in that it is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom (cf. Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:12). 

We are tempted to be distracted by prognosticating Christ’s return. But Jesus redirects our focus to being mastered by His Word and persisting in service and obedience to Him so long as He extends to us our life in this world.

In what circumstances are you currently obeying and serving the Lord? How are you pursuing being mastered by His Word in them? How are you refraining from distracting prognostication?

Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blest the Man”

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Scoffing Kills Wisdom; Under-Standing Builds It

Family worship lesson in "the Proverb of the day." A warning that when we read the Bible in resistance to the truth, or in pride over/against those who have come before us, we neutralize any hope we had of actually finding the wisdom that we told ourselves we were seeking. But when we stand-under the Word in humility, this Under-Standing facilitates knowledge. And, the more that we understand the Word in any and every place, the more we will be able to understand the Word in every other place.

2021.07.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 17:15–29

Read 2 Samuel 17:15–29

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in 2 Samuel 17:15 (cf. 2 Samuel 16:35–36)? What two groups’ advice does he tell about? Who else’s advice does he tell about? What does he send to tell David to do (2 Samuel 17:16)? What does this imply about whose advice Hushai thinks will prevail? Whose location does 2 Samuel 17:17 give? Why (cf. 2 Samuel 16:35–36)? What communication setup did they have in place? But what had just happened to them now (2 Samuel 17:18)? So where were they now? Where did they hide? What does the woman do (2 Samuel 17:19)? Who come in 2 Samuel 17:20? What do they ask? What might they suspect? What does she say about their location in relation to the water reservoir (more literally translated)? What then do Absalom’s men do? When Absalom’s men are gone, what do Jonathan and Ahimaaz do (themselves, this time, 2 Samuel 17:21)? What is David called here (2 Samuel 17:172 Samuel 17:21, cf. 2 Samuel 16:18)? How does he respond to the news (2 Samuel 17:22)? What does Ahithophel see (2 Samuel 17:23)? What does he do? Where does David go in 2 Samuel 17:24? What does Absalom finally do? Who is with him? Whom does he make general (2 Samuel 17:25)? From whose family (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:13–17)? Where was Absalom’s camp (2 Samuel 17:26)? What three men, from what three places, come to David’s camp at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:27)? What do they bring for rest (2 Samuel 17:28)? For refreshment? For nourishment (2 Samuel 17:28-29)? What thought had led them to do this?

The Spirit has already given us a determining factor behind the events that are occurring in the next chapter and a half or so. Yahweh is defeating the “good” (effective) of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster upon Absalom. So the outcome of these events is already decided. Yahweh is making display of Himself and His ways to us, for whom the outcome of the events of our life is already decided (cf. John 6:40, John 6:54; Romans 8:28, Romans 8:32, Romans 8:39).

What is God’s providence like, between now and the already-determined outcome?

Sometimes, God’s providence is very exciting, 2 Samuel 17:15-22. Hushai doesn’t even know that his advice has won the day, but he sends a message in 2 Samuel 17:15 that we have good reason to expect will arrive (as it does, in 2 Samuel 17:21) and be followed (2 Samuel 17:22). However, there is intrigue and the testing of faith along the way. At one point, a bunch of the story is stacked up on top of itself. There’s water in a well, and two priests’ sons on top of the water, and a lid on top of the sons, and camouflage on top of the lid, and the servant girl who usually carried the message on top of the lid—telling Absalom’s servants that the sons are on top of the water (that they themselves don’t know is there, and assume is a brook, as our translation also assumes (2 Samuel 17:20).

Sometimes, God’s providence gives us sad warnings, as in 2 Samuel 17:23. The greatest analytical ability in the world can tell you that you are in deep earthly trouble, but it cannot solve the much more important eternal question of what will come of you when you die. Ahithophel can see exactly how things are going to fall out in this life, so he makes his arrangements and takes matters into his own hands, as he was accustomed to doing.

Ahithophel had worked hard to push down on the truth about the wrath and reality of God (cf. Romans 1:18–19). All of the other accurate calculations of his life are obliterated by this one, great miscalculation. As soon as he had taken his life, he discovered what a great miscalculation this was. Whatever else we know, whatever other skill we have, there is nothing more important than to live before the face of God, trusting in His love and righteousness for us in Jesus.

Sometimes, God’s providence is surprisingly restful and refreshing, as in 2 Samuel 17:24-29. Absalom has a strong position in Gilead (2 Samuel 17:26), and all Israel with him, and a captain of the army from David’s own family (2 Samuel 17:25). But David has Yahweh Himself, Who can put it into the hearts of servants from all over (2 Samuel 17:27) to bring supplies for good sleep, and washing up (2 Samuel 17:28), and rich feasts (2 Samuel 17:28-29). Even in the wilderness and on the run, the Lord provides for His servant in such a way as to remind him—and us!—that He has literally all the resources in creation and more for taking care of us.

In what difficult situation do you find yourself? How is confidence in His perfect providence helping you walk through it worshipfully and obediently? What does “worshipful and obedient” look like in this case?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

2021.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 23

Read Psalm 23

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)? What shall we not do? In what does He make us to lie down (Psalm 23:2)? Beside what does the Lord lead us? What does He restore (Psalm 23:3)? In what paths does the Lord lead us? For what reason? Through what valley will we walk (Psalm 23:4)? What will we not fear? Why—who is with us? What two things of His comfort us in verse 4? What does the Lord prepare for us (Psalm 23:5)? Where? What does He do to our head? What happens to our portion of the cup of blessing? What shall goodness and steadfast love surely do (Psalm 23:6)? How many of the days of our lives will they do this? Where will we dwell/return forever? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Psalm 23, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode. This Psalm is precious to us for the portrait it gives us of what it is like to be shepherded by the LORD Jesus.

The Good Shepherd, Psalm 23:1. Jesus declared Himself the Good Shepherd, identifying Himself as Yahweh from many Old Testament passages, including this one. In Psalm 22, we had the great Psalm of Him laying down His life for the sheep. In this Psalm, we have the great Psalm of Him living to lead His sheep who know His voice and follow Him.

The word for Shepherd is actually a participle of the verb for shepherding. This gives a tone of activity and constancy to the statement. Of course, then, with Him constantly and actively shepherding us, we will not lack anything. In our union with Jesus and communion (fellowship) with Jesus, it is impossible that we would lack anything—anything material or spiritual, anything good.

When we need rest, Psalm 23:2. The word for green pastures implies the youngest, best, tender grass. This is where He gives us rest. The waters themselves in the second part are waters of quietness. Whenever we have rest, we ought to see in it the tenderness and compassion of our Lord Jesus.

When we need restoration, Psalm 23:3. The first line of this stanza can refer to conversion, but how many are the wanderings and spiritual declensions that a believer may pass through in this life. Our Shepherd will always restore us. His path is righteous, and it leads us to righteousness, and He leads us in righteousness. Since this is initiated within God Himself (“For His Name’s sake”), nothing in time or creation can undo it. 

When we need reinforcement, Psalm 23:4. Because life is fraught with the threat of death, and we often come near it, its shadow falls often upon our path and climactically at the end of that path. But in every one of those instances, we must not fear either any harm or any wicked foe. The most important variable in each situation actually isn’t at all variable: The Lord Jesus is with us.

The rod is for defense and direction; the staff has a crook on the end and is useful for support and even yanking out of danger in a pinch. Our Shepherd has complete sway over every enemy and every danger; He directs/corrects us as necessary, and lifts and rescues us as needed.

When we need refreshment, Psalm 23:5. The preparation of the table indicates not a meager portion but a feast. How helpless is that enemy who must watch both the preparations and the feasting itself, and can do nothing to stop it! The rest of the verse highlights the welcome (You anoint my head with oil) and the portion (my cup runs over) that we may expect at His table. There is no stinginess or shortness of supply here. Only abundance that no enemy can stop.

Relentlessly, Psalm 23:6. Several terms in this verse underscore the relentlessness of the Lord’s blessing us. “Surely” emphasizes certainty and has a tone of exclusivity (“only”). “Follow” means to hunt, chase down, and persecute. Good and steadfast love are ever hot on our heels, wherever we go. “All the days” and “for length of days” (“forever”) are self-explanatory. Good and steadfast love are aspects of God’s character. They cannot fail anymore than He can stop being God. The path of the believer has in it many twists and turns, through many locations. But He is with us in all of it; His goodness and covenant-love are always right on top of us; and, it always ends at last in His house.

Do you know Jesus to be the LORD and your Shepherd? In what sort of season of life are you? How is Jesus with you in it? What is He doing? What does He expect you to be doing?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH475 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”

Monday, July 12, 2021

Treasuring One Another As the Lord’s Treasure (2021.07.11 Evening Sermon in Philippians 4:2–3)

When relationships break down in the church, we must urge and help one another to have the same mind—the mind of Christ in which we treasure one another as the Lord's treasure.[clicking the stream title will take you through to a page at which you can download the audio/pdf]

The Day of the LORD's Judgment (2021.07.11 Morning Sermon in Joel 3:1–15)

The day of judgment is coming, in which the Lord's people—and especially the Lord Himself—will be avenged. You must have Yahweh Himself as your atonement and Yahweh Himself as your righteousness and Yahweh Himself as your power before you leave this life. And that is the Christian confession: all who call upon the name of Yahweh will be saved. All who call upon the name of Jesus will be saved!

[clicking the stream title will take you through to a page at which you can download the audio/video/pdf]

“Of Repentance unto Life” part 5, WCF 15.2.2, Repentant Purposing and Endeavoring: Thought, Will, Action (2021.07.11 Sabbath School)

▫ ALL the commandments. The determining factor is that they are His (cf. Mt 28:20). ▫ The mind shaping the will, and the will driving the actions ▫ The necessity of both ▫ Righteousness is before God, first and foremost ▫ The purposing and endeavoring matters, but the walking has its own significance ▫ Again, ALL the commandments ▫ "as it is written in this book," v21 ▫ "all the abominations"… "that he might perform the words of the law which were written" …, v24 ▫ Turning to Yahweh is all of what you are to do all of what He says[clicking the stream title will take you through to a page at which you can download the audio/pdf]

2021.07.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 3:1–15

Read Joel 3:1–15

Questions from the Scripture text: What days and time is Joel 3:1 talking about? Whom else will the Lord also gather(Joel 3:2)? Where will He bring them? For what will He judge them? What will all nations have done (Joel 3:2-3)? Whom does He address in Joel 3:4? Whom did they think they were repaying? But what were they doing instead? Upon whose head will their intentions fall? From Whom? How fast? Whom have they ultimately attacked (Joel 3:5)? What else have they done to whom (Joel 3:6)? What will Yahweh do for the people of Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:7a–b)? But what will He do to those who sold them (Joel 3:7c –Joel 3:8)? What makes this sure and final (verse 8e)? What is to be proclaimed among whom in Joel 3:9? What do they need to use as weapons (Joel 3:10)? What is their actual condition, but what will they say about themselves for this battle? Who come and gather all around (Joel 3:11)? Whom does Yahweh cause to go down there? Where do the nations go (Joel 3:12)? Why—what is Yahweh doing there? To what does Joel 3:13 compare this judgment? What does the scene look like (Joel 3:14)? What is nearby there? What heavenly signs correspond to His appearance (Joel 3:15)?

There’s a day coming (Joel 3:1a), when the gathering-in of the Lord’s elect ones is complete (verse 1b). And that’s a gathering-day too (Joel 3:2a), but not a pleasant one. It’s a gathering-in to the valley of Yahweh-Judgement (verse 2b)!

Not only will the nations be judged for what they have done to Yahweh Himself, but the Lord so identifies Himself with His people, that He will take everything as personally done to Him that was done to them (cf. Matthew 25:31–46; Acts 9:1–5). When He says “I will enter into judgment with them” (Joel 3:2c) and “What have you to do with Me” (Joel 3:4a), He doesn’t just mean that He is the Judge (though He most certainly is!). He is also the Prosecutor and the Plaintiff. This is why He keeps saying “My.” My people (Joel 3:2d). My heritage (verse 2d). My land (verse 2f). My people (Joel 3:3a). My silver (Joel 3:5a). My gold (verse 5a). My precious good things (verse 5b). How dreadful such a court scene and judgment will be!

There is no payment that can avail in that day, Joel 3:4Joel 3:7. There will be no bargaining in the last day. Even any bargaining now is offensive to God. You have nothing good with which to repay Him for your sin. All of it is marred with sin and demands further retribution. “Will you repay Me? But if you repay Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your repayment upon Your own head” (Joel 3:4c–e, cf. Joel 3:7c).

Because Yahweh’s justice will be exactly corresponding to the wickedness. That’s the point of Joel 3:8 set against the backdrop of Joel 3:3 and Joel 3:6. But again, we see that the crime is not merely against the people of Yahweh, but against Yahweh Himself. This is the great problem of Romans 1:18–21. The wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men is a wrath that is equal to God’s own glory in its intensity. What atonement can possibly avail? Only the propitiating sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Himself (cf. Romans 3:25) so that the righteousness that is given is the very righteousness of God Himself (cf. Romans 1:16–17). This is the only repayment there is to offer, and you are already in the day of laying claim to it. It is appointed to man to die once, then after that the judgment (cf. Hebrews 9:27–28). Will this repayment have been paid for you in that day?

There is no power that can avail in that day, Joel 3:9-15. The valley of Yahweh-Judgment (Joel 3:12a) is filled with multitudes of multitudes (Joel 3:14a) when the day of Yahweh has come near in the valley of decision (verse 14b). The greatest powers that we know in the creation will be nothing by comparison (Joel 3:15), and the mightiest from all the nations (Joel 3:9) will be as trained and able and equipped as crop-farmers (Joel 3:10). All will be weak, and it is a delusion to think that in that day you could be strong against Him. There is nothing that can be done against Him any more than the grape can defend itself against the vintner from being cut down and stomped (Joel 3:13, cf. Revelation 14:6–20). 

The only thing that can possibly avail in that day is to have Yahweh Himself as your atonement and Yahweh Himself as your righteousness, so that it will actually be a day when Yahweh avenges you for Himself, rather than avenging Himself upon you!

How has the Lord given Himself to pay for sins and be righteousness for sinners? How have you taken hold of Him, so that He is your payment and your righteousness? What will the judgment day be like for you?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear”