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 24, 2021

Pardoned and Instructed for the Honor of God's Name (2021.07.21 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 25:1–11)

We don't just need instruction in righteousness; we need to be made righteous; and, we need to be forgiven for it even to be right for us to be instructed in righteousness, or for it to be right for us to be made righteous. The LORD'S Name is at stake in vindicating those who wait upon Him, v1–3. We need to be taught and led, v4–5. Therefore, we need to be forgiven, v6–7. Hope in the LORD is well-placed, for He exalts Himself by pardoning sinners, v8–11.

2021.07.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:20–36

Read Luke 21:20–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What will apostles see where (Luke 21:20)? What will they know? Where will some of them be at the time (Luke 21:21a)? What should they do? And where will others be (verse 21b)? What should they do? What shouldn’t those who are out in the country do (verse 21c)? What days will those be (Luke 21:22)? As part of fulfilling what? What will make it much harder (Luke 21:23a)? Upon what people will there be great wrath (verse 23b)? What will happen to that people (Luke 21:24a)? And what will happen to what city (verse 24b)? Until what time? What happens at the fulfillment (Luke 21:25)? And how will men respond (Luke 21:26)? What will they see in this fear (Luke 21:27)? But how will believers respond (Luke 21:28)? Then what does He start speaking to them in Luke 21:29? With what command does He begin this parable? What are they able to tell from all the trees (Luke 21:30)? What primary thing that He told them that they would see (Luke 21:31a, cf. Luke 21:20a), and what would this mean is near (Luke 21:31b, cf. end of Luke 21:24)? By when should they expect all things they are told to see to take place (Luke 21:32)? What will pass away (Luke 21:33)? What won’t? In light of all this information, to what must they take heed (Luke 21:34)? To avoid being weighed down with which three things? If they are weighed down by those things, what would come upon them suddenly? Who will not be able to escape that moment (Luke 21:35)? What two things must they do (Luke 21:36)? At what times? By what does escape come? For what else would they be “counted worthy” (cf. Luke 20:35)? 

In the previous passage, the Lord Jesus had given the apostles some non-signs of the non-end (Luke 21:8-11), while redirecting their attention to what they were going to suffer (Luke 21:12Luke 21:16-17), and what they were to accomplish (Luke 21:13Luke 21:18-19), and how they were to prepare for it (Luke 21:14-15). Things turned out exactly as He had prophesied. The apostolic ministry was successful, their testimony was secured and preserved, and the church was established.

Now, in Luke 21:20-24, the Lord Jesus gives them a sure sign of a non-end. It’s important that the word “surrounded” in our translation is a present participle, i.e., “being surrounded.” That would be key in believers’ ability to follow His instruction in Luke 21:21. The Roman noose around Jerusalem closed slowly from a.d. 66 to a.d. 70, but when it closed, it closed. As the final siege began, it took the Romans took just three days to encircle the entire city with a stone wall, and no one who was in the city at that point survived.

Long before that, however, history records an exodus of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem and the establishment of a colony of former-Jerusalemite Christians about fifty miles away, outside Judea, beyond Samaria, and into the region of the Decapolis. With special care for believers (and even particularly special care for the pregnant, the nursing, and their infants, Luke 21:23), Jesus gave specific instructions to save His people from a day of Roman and divine (cf. Luke 19:41–44) wrath (Luke 21:22Luke 21:23b). The heart of the church would move out of Jerusalem and even Judea and Samaria; the times of the nations (“Gentiles”) will have arrived (Luke 21:24b). Once again, the Lord Jesus gave His people specific instruction, His prophecy was fulfilled, and His people were sustained by His Word.

The reference to the completion of the times of the Gentiles in verse 24b leads into Jesus’s discussion of “the end” (Luke 21:9b) about which they had assumed that He was speaking in Luke 21:7. This would not be like the Romans encircling Jerusalem. By the time the terrifying signs of Luke 21:25-26 arrive, so will Jesus Himself (Luke 21:27). Luke 21:27-28 and Luke 21:30-31 speak of arrival and being at hand, not a “nearness” of “close but not there yet.” 

There won’t be advance notice; it will snap suddenly upon everyone on the whole earth (Luke 21:35). There’s no one who can escape, and there’s nowhere to escape to. The only thing to do is to be part of a group for whom Christ’s return is a day of redemption (Luke 21:28) not a day of vengeance like the fall of Jerusalem had been. If you thought the Roman armies forewarned something horrible for Christ’s enemies in Jerusalem, what will that day be which arrives with sudden unraveling of all creation (Luke 21:25-26)?

Whether “this generation” in Luke 21:32 is a time-reference to the example of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 or a moral reference to those who have resisted Christ and His prophets as elsewhere in Luke (cf. Luke 11:47–51; Matthew 23:29–39), the point is the same: Christ’s words will absolutely hold true (Luke 21:33), and at the time of His return the earth will still be full of enemies in the same vein as those who have been killing those whom He sends throughout human history.

How can you tell the difference between those for whom Jesus’s return is a day of vengeance, and those for whom it is a day of redemption? Those who belong to Jesus believe His words and heed His warnings. As did the apostles, by whose testimony the Lord Jesus established the church. As did the Jerusalem church, which was delivered as the Decapolis church by heeding Him.

Jesus warns us not to tie our hearts down to earth by carousing (a life wasted in self-indulgence), by drunkenness, or even by anxieties. The only way to be prepared for something that will spring suddenly and inescapably is to always be prepared (“watching out at all times in praying so that you may be counted worthy to escape” the vengeance and instead stand in the day of the Son of Man (Luke 21:36). 

It’s so easy to waste our lives in pleasure-seeking, or in distractions that numb us from reality, or in worrying over the things that face us every day. Where can we get ability to find our pleasure in the Lord and in serving Him? Or the ability to deal levelly with whatever comes in God’s providence and persist in service and obedience? Or the ability to maintain joyfulness and peacefulness through it all? God’s ability, in the place of our inability, is called grace (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10); and, the Lord Jesus tells us here that grace-dependent watchfulness operates by a continual looking to God for it in prayer.

The point of these passages is to watch and pray unto a life of holiness, in the midst of a world that is at enmity with Christ. While it is folly to think that we can predict His return, it is a greater folly to be living in any different than we will wish we had been when He appears. The Lord Jesus is your Prophet, and He has prophesied and commanded these things in order to spare you.

To which are you more prone: pleasure-seeking, life-evading, or hand-wringing? How are you going about watching and praying for God’s grace against these? 

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song ” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Friday, July 23, 2021

2021.07.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:6–7

Read Philippians 4:6–7

Questions from the Scripture text: For what may we be anxious (Philippians 4:6)? In how many things are we to make our requests known? By what two actions? With what attitude? With what from Himself will God respond (Philippians 4:7)? What does it surpass? What two things will it guard? Through whom? 

Believers have peace with God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7), but we often fail to rejoice in Him (cf. Philippians 4:4). The path to obeying the “always” rejoicing of verse 4 is a “never-fretting” and “always-praying” in Philippians 4:6. Thankfully, believers have the divine assurance of Philippians 1:6 and Philippians 2:13 of God’s working in us. The peace of God does not depend upon our performance of Philippians 4:6’s commands. But, the God upon Whom we depend has appointed what verse 6 commands as the means by which His peace will guard our hearts.

What are the means by which His peace takes up a fortified position around our heart and refuses to allow in anxiety so that we can always rejoice?

Prayer. Orienting oneself to God. Coming before His presence and directing our hearts and mouths toward Him. Bowing down in posture and spirit to lay our souls before Him as an act of worship. Something that sinners may only do through the blood of Christ.

Supplication. A specific part of praying that comes from personal neediness and knowing God as gloriously abundant to supply all our needs. Also called petition, this aspect of prayer is a glorifying and enjoying of God’s sufficiency, as the purpose of our neediness. It is an eager looking forward to how He will be praised in meeting those needs. His grace is sufficient for us, and in this part of prayer is our rejoicing in weakness, because His strength is made perfect in it.

Thanksgiving. Equal parts gratitude and submission, this part of submission looks backward at how perfectly God has always answered the prayers of His people generally and our own particular prayers specifically. And thanksgiving looks forward, knowing that where God’s grace has enabled us to ask well, we shall have it; but, wherever we have asked poorly or insufficiently, His mercy will give us according to His wisdom instead. How can anxiety survive, when it is being suffocated by thankfulness for what God is going to do, without even the need of knowing what that will be?

Requests. This is asking for specific action by God to intervene, perhaps for ourselves but especially on behalf of others. We tell Him exactly what it is we hope He will do. What a liberating truth! When made with the gratitude and submission of thanksgiving, we are free to offer our actual desires unto God. 

You don’t have to figure out the right thing to ask for. As His Word shapes and corrects our thoughts, our requests will be more and more in line with what we can know from His Word that He will do. But, wherever we are at in our Christian growth, we don’t have to shrink from expressing our desires to Him. He has specifically commanded us to do so!

When we consider the four words for prayer from Philippians 4:6, we see how well-suited are God’s means to God’s ends when it comes to His making His peace to guard our hearts. Wonderfully, He promises that this peace of God will far outpace the extent to which we can understand how this would work. But, we can see that these particular aspects of prayer are specially designed anxiety-killers.

And, if we find that our use of the means is lacking, we may present ourselves to Him, lifting up our insufficiency to pray well, gratefully submitting to His wisdom in His ongoing work in our lives, and asking specifically that through His granting us to grow in praying the way that is directed here, He would remove our anxiety.

What part of the praying described above seems most alien to you? Whom can you ask for help to conform your praying more to this? In what manner should you be asking for that help? Since Philippians 4:6 is a command from God, what else should you be doing besides praying?

Suggested songs: ARP55C “But as for Me, I’ll Call on God” or TPH520 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Thursday, July 22, 2021

2021.07.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 18:1–18

Read 2 Samuel 18:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What did David do to those who were with him (2 Samuel 18:1)? In order to do what? Into how many main divisions did he divide them (2 Samuel 18:2)? Under whom? What then did he say to the people? How do they answer in 2 Samuel 18:3? For what reason do they want him to stay where instead? How does the king respond in 2 Samuel 18:4? What does he do? Whom does the king command in 2 Samuel 18:5? What does he tell them to do? Why? Who hears this instruction? Where do the people go in 2 Samuel 18:6? Against whom? Where does the battle end up? Who were overthrown before whom (2 Samuel 18:7)? With what result? What factors led to this result (2 Samuel 18:8)? Upon whom does 2 Samuel 18:9 now focus? What happened to him in what way? How does this participate in the “result factors” from 2 Samuel 18:8? What does this suggest (cf. 2 Samuel 17:14)? What did a man do in 2 Samuel 18:10? Whom did he tell what? How did Joab respond in 2 Samuel 18:11? What did he say he would have given him for what? What did the man say wouldn’t have been enough (2 Samuel 18:12)? Why? What does the man say he would have done to whom if he’d killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:13)? Whom does he suggest would have done him in? How does Joab interrupt in 2 Samuel 18:14? What did he go do to whom where? Who else went (2 Samuel 18:15)? Whose special forces were they? What did they do? Then what did Joab do (2 Samuel 18:16)? And what did they do with Absalom (2 Samuel 18:17)? And what did Absalom’s forces do? By what means was Absalom memorialized, since his body was under a heap of stones in the woods (2 Samuel 18:18)?

The main features of this passage seem to be David’s concern, Joab’s conniving, and God’s control.

First, there is David’s concern. He begins by playing the part of a king. He numbers the people (2 Samuel 18:1a). He organizes the military in its various ranks (verse 1b) and into three main divisions (2 Samuel 18:2a). He initially goes out to lead it himself (verse 2b)—something which, if he had done it in chapter 11, could have averted all of this.

But it is when the people convince him that it’s in the best interest of the cause that he stay behind (2 Samuel 18:3-4) that we then learn what his great concern is: that Absalom come through this ok. Since he’s not going to be out in the field leading the operations directly, he now gives the three generals the over-arching order of the day in 2 Samuel 18:5. This is at cross purposes with what we know (2 Samuel 17:14) to be God’s intention in all of this. 

So, David’s concern is at odds with God’s concern. That’s not promising. We ought to have our concerns directed by the Word of God. Yes, Absalom was a son. But he was also a murderer and now a usurper who had raised himself up against the Lord’s anointed. When a child grew up to be uncorrectable, his parents were to be the first to give testimony at his stoning (cf. Deuteronomy 21:18–21). God’s Word was clear about what David’s concern should have been. 

Then, we see Joab’s conniving. He and all David’s servants know the orders (2 Samuel 18:52 Samuel 18:12). But Joab has his own orders to give (2 Samuel 18:11), his own mission objective to complete (2 Samuel 18:14), and his own servants (2 Samuel 18:15). When David comes unraveled as the history turns over into chapter 19, Joab has the necessary sway to avert disaster. 

It’s helpful to see all the plotting that Absalom had done, and all the plotting that Joab is doing, because we live in an age where there are people plotting on every side in every situation. Indeed, Psalm 2 implies that this is the story of every age. But as we see in this passage, man’s plotting doesn’t undo God’s sovereign control in the least bit. He overcomes opposition (Absalom), employs imperfect servants (Joab, David), and even works directly through creation.

Which brings us to God’s control. While 2 Samuel 17:14 has prepared us to see the entire history from this viewpoint, it’s especially underscored by 2 Samuel 18:8-9. “The woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.” That means that at least 10,000 Israelites (cf. 2 Samuel 18:7) met their end through humanly unassisted means in the woods! By what mechanisms can this occur? 2 Samuel 18:9 gives us an example: a mule, a terebinth tree, and two hundred shekels’ weight of hair (cf. 2 Samuel 14:26) conspire to hang the usurper-king helplessly in the air. This leaves him vulnerable to three spears to the heart (2 Samuel 18:14) and ten men outfitted with the premium armor (2 Samuel 18:15).

By using the mule, the tree, and the hair, God makes His point at the end of Joab’s spear(s): whatever concerns men like David may have, and whatever conniving into which men like Joab may enter, it is ultimately God Who is in control.

Absalom missed this. He missed it when he thought he could overcome the Lord’s anointing by taking over the kingdom. He missed it when he set up a monument to overcome his God-appointed childlessness (2 Samuel 18:18). He wouldn’t be buried by that pillar, but under a very large heap of stones in the very woods that killed him (2 Samuel 18:17). Don’t you miss it too. God’s supreme control should squash our pride and extinguish our anxiety. His concerns will be the ones ultimately addressed, and His conniving will have the ultimate success!

What is something about which you are deeply concerned? How does God’s Word direct (or perhaps, need to correct) that concern? What long-term plans or preparations are you making, and how are you submitting to Christ in both what you pursue and whether He brings it to fruition? What is God’s ultimate plan for the world, for the wicked, and for believers? 

Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

2021.07.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:22–2:10

Read Exodus 1:22–2:10

Questions from the Scripture text: Who commands whom in Exodus 1:22? What are they to do with sons? What are they to do with daughters? From what people are the man and woman in Exodus 2:1? What do they do? What is the subsequent result in Exodus 2:2? What does she see about the child? What does she do with him? What happens after three months (Exodus 2:3)? What does she then take, and what does she do to it? Whom does she put in it? Where does she lay it? Who stands where (Exodus 2:4)? Why? Who comes down to do what where in Exodus 2:5? Who are walking along the riverside? Who sees the ark? Whom does she send to do what? What does Pharaoh’s daughter do in Exodus 2:6? What does she see? What does the baby do? How does Pharaoh’s daughter respond? What does she say? Who initiates in Exodus 2:7? What does she offer to get? How does Pharaoh’s daughter respond in Exodus 2:8? Whom does the sister/maiden get? What does Pharaoh’s daughter command the baby’s mother to do (Exodus 2:9)? What will she give her for it? What does the woman do? Instead of dying, what does the child do (Exodus 2:10)? Then where does his mother bring him? What does he become? What name does Pharaoh’s daughter finally give him at this point? Why?

We have previously noticed that the 430 years of Exodus 12:40–41 and Galatians 3:16–17 began not with the rise of the new Pharaoh and enslavement, but with the promise made to Abraham, who was a sojourner in the land, and whose descendants were also aliens until the time of Joshua. This is reinforced by the fact that the Hebrew of Exodus 2:1 refers to Jochebed as “the” daughter of Levi (cf. Exodus 6:18–20). Jacob was Moses’s great-grandfather. This history is much faster-paced and more intense than many realize.

And this intensity is both because of how the Lord is hastening to bring the promised seed (cf. Genesis 3:15) and because of how determined the Serpent is to exterminate that seed. Having failed to enlist Shiphrah and Puah, Pharaoh now gives his entire people the Satanic charge of extermination—a genocidal quest that we later see in Haman, Herod, Rome, Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and more recently in Totalitarian Statism, with more believers being exterminated in the last century than in all the prior history of the church combined.

In a foretaste of what the Lord has done most gloriously in Christ, He uses one from Pharaoh’s own household (and at genuine risk to her own life, verbalizing in Exodus 2:6 that she recognizes this is a Hebrew child!) to preserve a redeemer for the murder-threatened Israelites. In fact, by the end of the passage, his mother is being paid to nurse him and to bring him up in the faith that would hold strong against all of the Egyptian indoctrination that Exodus 2:10 initiates (cf. Hebrews 11:23–26). 

The grand lesson is how completely the Lord sovereignly rules over all Satanic attack. The irony of the passage is very sweet. But the more detailed lesson is how those who trust in such a God as this are emboldened by that faith to defy seemingly undefeatable power. 

Amram and Jochebed hide their baby for three months (Exodus 2:2). Then, when it becomes too challenging, they hide him from being cast into the Nile in the last place one might be expected to do so—the Nile itself. The reeds camouflage the basket, and the sound (should he make any) of a wailing infant boy would have a ready (though too evil and too familiar) explanation. The word for the basket is only elsewhere used of the ark of Noah. The Lord knows how to save His elect from any danger!

The sister (perhaps Miriam, though the passage does not explicitly say so) was probably to retrieve the basket in the evening if she was able. But the divine thwarting of whatever the parents’ plan is a much greater thwarting of Pharaoh’s. Here is the deliverance of not only a baby, but an entire nation, from Pharaoh. And here is the deliverance of not only a baby, but of all believers in Christ throughout the ages, from Satan.

So let us not underestimate what the Lord will do through parents’ courage in ordinary faithfulness against extraordinary threats.

And let us also note how much may be done, by the almighty work of God’s Spirit, in even the youngest of covenant children. Hebrews 11:23 tells us that “by faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden.” By whose faith did Moses do this? Not by his own, but by his parents’ faith. One of the ordinary ways that God, Who alone gives faith, is pleased to give that faith is by means of believing parents. Moses’s parents had faith. Moses’s parents hid him. Moses’s parents were not afraid of the king’s command.

We do not know how long Jochebed nursed Moses physically. It was probably three years; it could have been as many as five or six. But we can be sure that the daughter of Levi and her husband (himself a grandson of Levi) were nursing Moses spiritually that entire time. They knew what trials would await his soul, when he was turned over to Pharaoh’s house (cf. Acts 7:21–22). 

We don’t know exactly what trials await our children’s souls. But we know our covenant God, Who is pleased to work faith and spiritual life in them, even from youngest infancy, in a way that will stand and grow throughout the remaining trials of their lives. Let us nurse them spiritually, with faithfulness and diligence, until the providence of the King of kings takes them from us into the trials and tasks that await them.

Finally, let us remember that as with Job or Haman, and especially with Christ, our Redeemer is using the devil’s own attacks to do marvelous, perfect good. We may see much such attacking in our lifetime, but every bit of it that we see will have its part in the Lord gathering in His elect, building His church, and perfecting them unto His glory and their perfectly blessed enjoyment of Him forever. May God grant unto us the faith not to fear the king, so that we and our children may be marvelously saved by the King of kings, and marvelously used by the King of kings in His saving plans for others.

What place do persecuted Christians have in your thoughts and prayers? Of what attacks on your own self/children/church are you tempted to be fearful? What is God doing through them? How are you making use of the limited time opportunity to participate in the spiritual nurture of children in your own home and congregation?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH407 “Let Our Choir New Anthems Raise”

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

2021.07.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 3:12–15

Read Colossians 3:12–15

Questions from the Scripture text: What three things does Colossians 3:12a call us? What five things does verse 12b command us to put on? In order to put these on, what must we always be doing with one another (Colossians 3:13a)? And what must we further do, under what circumstance (verse 13b)? What is the pattern for forgiving when we have a legitimate complaint (verse 13c)? What place does love have (Colossians 3:14)? What does this verse call love? What must rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15)? In what way were we called to this? What else must we be?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Colossians 3:12–15, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with It Is Well with My Soul.

The knowledge of Christ’s forgiving us (Colossians 3:13b) enables our hearts to be ruled by the peace of God (Colossians 3:15) by assuring us of the three glorious realities that the apostle highlights as he addresses the Colossian believers at the beginning of Colossians 3:12.

Elect. God is not obligated to give anyone mercy. For Christ to come at all, for Christ to die on the cross, for spiritual life to be given to any individual in order to believe in Christ, it all had to come from the free choosing of God. He had to choose to do so, and everyone for whom He has done so was freely chosen by Him. 

For us, this means that our salvation can never fail. What began in the Creator cannot be undone by the creature. Because our peace with God is a peace that has been forged by God, it is an everlasting, complete, and unwavering peace. If you have the peace of God, it is because you are the elect of God. Hallelujah!

Holy. God doesn’t make alliances with evil. His eyes are too pure to look upon evil. The Judge of all the earth will do right. If you have the peace of God, it can only be because you have been set apart to God as holy by being united to Jesus the Holy One, and you have been accounted as holy by means of Jesus’s own holiness. Now, God’s perfect commitment to His own holiness is demanding that every genuine good possible be done for you.

Beloved. It is not only God’s eternally unchangeable choice and unwavering holiness that have brought you peace with God, but His love. Election by God is in Christ, the beloved. Holiness unto God is in Christ, the beloved. Peace with God is in Christ, the beloved. God is love—all that love is, God is. And in this is love, that Jesus laid down His life for us (cf. 1 John 3:16) because God loved as and sent Him for us (cf. 1 John 4:9). 

Having peace with God means that you are elect, and holy, and beloved! And by that confidence that you are elect and holy and beloved, the peace of God rules in your heart. When this is the ground of your peace, and the effect of your peace, what can possibly shake it? What sorrows? What blows from Satan or trials? Can these take away a peace that has come through the cross of Christ? Or the sure hope of salvation in the last day?

By this peace, we are enabled to love others with those tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering to which Colossians 3:12 commands us. By that same peace, we are able to bear with one another and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13). 

If we have that peace with God, and our brother also has that peace with God, we see that we are called together in one body (Colossians 3:15). Love for one another as those who are one in Christ is the perfect bond for holding us together (Colossians 3:14). This is the result, when our whole life is lived as a thankful response to peace that has been perfectly obtained for us (end of Colossians 3:15).

Over what sorrows are you grieving? How is Satan attacking you? Through what trials are you going? What peace do you have in the midst of this? How does this enable you to treat others?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH476 “It Is Well with My Soul”

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”