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Joel 3:9-14: Plowshares, Pruning Hooks, Swords and Spears!

With the devastating attacks on nine-eleven, and numerous shootings and bombings around the world, we have become accustomed to hearing the word “Jahad,” the Islamic word for “holy war.” Well here in Joel we are looking at a real “holy war!” In the day when Jehovah restores Israel He will judge all nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat for the wrongs perpetrated against God’s people.. The nation’s around them had treated God’s people with contempt, and had no sense of their worth selling them into slavery. God will repay them with the same contempt they put on His people, vowing to return retaliation upon their own heads.

The nations, led by the Antichrist will unsuccessfully challenge the Son of God and His army of New Testament saints.

Verse 9: “Proclaim this among the nations: prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up…”

A summons goes forth for the nations to come to a battle. It comes in the form of a call for “holy war.” This war is “holy” because the Lord himself instigates this war to establish his holiness. The nations had destroyed entire cities, now their total destruction is imminent.

God is mocking the nations of the world by asking them to arm themselves with farm implements, and for the weak to somehow to become strong. Even the weak and sickly among them are not exempt. But their most valiant efforts will hardly be able to withstand the Lord's judgments. His righteous anger will prevail over all human resistance.

God challenges the nations to prepare for war against Him. They will try to do this, (Revelation 16:12-16), but God will simply laugh at the puny and futile preparations by the nations.

Psalm 2:1-4, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.

Verse 10: “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”

“Plowshares,” “the cutting or leading edge of a plow (it also could be a hoe).” “Pruning hooks,” “a cutting tool used for pruning, consisting of a hooked blade on a long handle.” So God is saying, bring on the best you have, even your farm implements. “

Probably all of us have heard the verse that says, found in “Isaiah 2:4, and Micah 4:3, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” That’s just the opposite of what Joel is saying here.

The truth is when Christ is reigning in the Millennium, they shall change their weapons into farm implements, because there will be no more war. When Christ is in charge you can get rid of your swords, but until then, do as they did when the wall was being reconstructed under Nehemiah. “Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon” (Nehemiah 4:17).

We are living in a dangerous world!

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff, said in 2012, “I can’t impress upon you [enough] that in my personal military judgment, formed over 38 years, we are living in the most dangerous time in my lifetime, right now.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said 2014 “The world is in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime.”

Some nation’s of this world, with seemingly no moral compass now have nuclear weapons. North Korea has warned that “the moment of explosion is near” and said its army had been instructed to ready itself to attack the US using “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons. As we learned on Nine-Eleven, when madmen make threats they sometimes mean exactly what they say. As frightening as the North Korean crisis is, there are other nuclear capable nations that may pose an even greater threat.

“Our 2014 Global Attitudes survey in 44 countries asked which among five dangers was considered to be the “greatest threat to the world.” Many in the Middle East said religious and ethnic hatred was the greatest threat, while Europeans tended to choose inequality. Africans are more concerned with AIDS and other infectious diseases, while scattered countries, many with good reason, chose the spread of nuclear weapons or pollution and environmental problems as the top danger.” –Pew Research Center, Global attitudes and trends

One of the signs of the last days is found in Luke 17:26-30, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

What was it like in Noah's and Lot’s day?, In Noah’s day the “earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:13). And in Lot’s day, “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).

The depravity and ungodly lifestyles of the entire world at that time were enough to cause the Lord to “regret that He had made man” (Genesis 6:6).

So violence prevailed in Noah's day and sexual immorality, including homosexuality prevailed in Lot's day. And this is a sign of the end times before Christ returns.

Our day is so much like Noah and Lot’s day that it should prompt us to “look up.” Luke 21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

“There has never been a time in history when the return of the Lord has been so near. It is undeniable that we are seeing prophecy fulfilled at an astonishing rate. It is important to live as though we will not have another chance to get our hearts right with God. We need to act as though there never will be another opportunity to witness to our loved ones. And we need to hold the things of this world--money, homes, ambitions--with an open hand, ready to drop it all at the beckoning of our Lord.” –

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3). So when Jesus says, “I will come again” you can take to the bank! It will happen!

But Joel is not talking about a time of peace, in verses 11 and 12 he spurs on the opposition to prepare for battle! If you are going to go into battle against God, you should have every weapon available! You should also practice your best positive thinking: “Let the weak say, I am strong.” Nevertheless, the most positive attitude cant work when man sets himself against the Sovereign of the Universe.

There was a Broadway play titled Your Arms are Too Short to Box with God.

The nations of the world do not know just how true that is, but they will find out the hard way at Armageddon! –1976, music and lyrics by Alex Bradford, book by Vinnette Carroll

Verses 11,12: “Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations…”

God says, “c’mon, go for it!” “Show me what you’ve got!” “Bring it on!” “Let’s rumble!”

“Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley. And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!” (Joel 3:11 NLT).

“Announce this to the godless nations: Prepare for battle! Soldiers at attention! Present arms! Advance! Turn your shovels into swords, turn your hoes into spears. Let the weak one throw out his chest and say, ‘I’m tough, I’m a fighter.’ Hurry up, pagans! Wherever you are, get a move on! Get your act together. Prepare to be shattered by God!” (Joel 3:9-11 MSG).

The call is addressed to all nations to equip themselves for battle, and march into the valley of Jehoshaphat to war against the people of God.

Unscrupulous people have scattered the Jewish people “among the nations” for two-thousand years. It started in AD 70 when the Romans, led by the future Emperor Titus, sacked the city and the destroyed the Second Temple. Then their persecution extended to so many different countries over the last two-thousand years, it would take volumes to list them all. But, God says He will bring the modern-day descendants of these nations into the “Valley of Jehoshaphat” at the “last days,” the end of the age in order to avenge the various scattering of the Jews throughout these many years.

“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2,3).

Verse 13: “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—For their wickedness is great.”

Here again Joel is using agricultural imagery, The “harvest” is speaking of the judgment of God. The “harvest is ripe: reminds us of what Jesus said when He talks about our Gospel mission and the urgency with which we must pursue the lost.

Matthew 9:3,38, “Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

But the harvest in Joel is a harvest for destruction! Revelation 14:15, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

Verse 14: Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision…”

Joel here repeats “multitudes” indicating a great number The first mention of multitudes in the day of the Lord is found in:

Revelation 7:9,10, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb…”

Revelation 7:13,14, “Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from? So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

After the rapture, when all believers will be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air…” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), the Great Tribulation begins. During this seven-year period of tribulation, 144,000 Jewish evangelists will share the good news of Christ around the world (Revelation 7:1-7). Many of the tribulation saints will be martyred:

Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

Joel identifies this as the day of the Lord. This is coming sooner than you think! I have been a believer for many years. In 1958, when Dr. James Combs led me to Christ, I started looking for Jesus’ coming. Every year, I say, “It’s got to be this year.” But I know we can’t set a date for His coming!

Matthew 24:36, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

And in 1 Thessalonians 5:2,3, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

The obvious conclusion is, better be ready! I have it on good authority that Jesus is coming, because He said so. Don’t miss the rapture!

“I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2,3).

The Rapture of the Church is when Jesus Christ comes back to remove Christians from the earth in order for God to pour out His righteous judgment on those left behind during the seven year Tribulation Period. The dead in Christ will rise first, immediately followed by those Christians alive on the earth. They will all be caught up in the air to receive their glorified bodies and to be with the Lord Jesus Christ forever.

Jesus is coming soon morning or night or noon

And many will meet their doom. Trumpets will sound

And all of the dead shall rise righteous meet in the skies

I'm going where no one dies heavenward bound

–R.E. Winsett

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).

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