Today’s readings.. (Nehemiah 8), (Joel 3), (2 Thessalonians 3)
The final chapter of Joel’s prophecy always intrigues us. It’s opening verse is plain – “For behold in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem. I will …” The fortunes of God’s nation of Israel have been dramatically restored in the last 100 years. How long, we ask ourselves, before “the LORD roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem and the heavens and the earth quake” [v.16]
Very pertinent questions arise from God’s words in v,12,13, “I will sit to judge the surrounding nations … for their evil is great.” The next verse says, “multitudes” are involved – and yesterday’s chapter indicated a particular “northerner” is involved who is destroyed after “he has done great things.” [2 v.20]
In today’s chapter the question is asked, “What are you to me O Tyre and Sidon?” [3 v,4] Today this is the nation of Lebanon, “the region of Philistia” is also involved, which is now known as ‘the Gaza strip.’ The answer of the question is clear – they are counted as nothing in God’s eyes.
A wider challenge is made; “Proclaim this among the nations: consecrate for war; stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up … let the weak say, ‘I am a warrior.’” [v.9,10] All this has happened – is that happening complete? Verse 16 & 17 indicate a final climax when “The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. So you shall know that I am the LORD your God …” The world at that time will know – but those who diligently read God’s word should “know” now!
What a blessing such knowledge will prove to be when the LORD “roars” and the nations are in great alarm. Those who “know” will have a special ‘peace of mind’ – and they should have it now – they need to have it now. Look at the point Paul makes, that we also read today as he completed his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, “Now may the God of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” [v.16] Are you feeling receptive to that peace? You should be.