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3:1-21 FINAL PUNISHMENT AND BLESSING
Up till now Joel has been emphasizing aspects of the day of the Lord that were not so well known, for example, judgment on all sinners, including Israel-Judah, and blessing on all the faithful, regardless of age, sex or status. Now he deals with aspects that were better known, namely, the salvation of God’s people and the judgment of their enemies. However, he wants his readers to understand these matters in the light of what he has already told them about God’s worldwide salvation and universal judgment. The people of God can be confident of their own salvation and their enemies’ condemnation only if they have first repented of their sin (see 2:32; cf. Acts 2:37-44.2.39; Acts 17:30-44.17.31).
Enemy nations judged (3:1-15)
Joel pictures enemy nations gathering for a last attack on Jerusalem. But these nations do not realize that God is the one who has brought them together. He is now going to execute his judgment upon them for their crimes against Judah. Chief among these crimes are their seizure of Judah’s territory and their treatment of Judah’s people, whether in driving them into other countries or in selling them as slaves (3:1-3). Tyre, Sidon and Philistia are examples of those nations that fought with Judah, plundered the Jerusalem temple and sold the people into slavery. In punishment God will now treat them as they treated Judah (4-8; cf. 2 Chronicles 21:16-14.21.17).
Returning to the picture of nations gathering for war in the valley outside Jerusalem, the prophet ironically urges the enemy armies to make full preparation for the battle. He then calls upon God to send down his angelic armies (his ‘warriors’; v. 11b) to be ready to carry out his sentence of judgment upon the enemy (9-12).
God’s moment of decision comes and he announces his verdict on the nations. They are guilty, their wickedness is great, and therefore they must die. They are cut down like grapes from a vine; their blood flows like grapejuice overflowing a winepress. The valley of God’s judgment is filled with the bodies of dead soldiers (13-15).
Blessings for God’s people (3:16-21)
The time of God’s judgment on his enemies is also the time of his deliverance of Jerusalem. He protects his people from punishment, purifies them from uncleanness, and gives them peace and prosperity (16-18). Having punished all enemies (symbolized here by Egypt and Edom), God now dwells among his people for ever. The persecutors receive their just punishment, but the righteous enter into eternal life (19-21).
The day of the Lord
In his book Joel has shown how the events surrounding the locust plague were a picture and a foretaste of greater events that were yet to take place. He has shown how the day of the Lord brings both judgment and salvation. For the parallel between the judgment of the day of the Lord in Joel’s day (the locust plague) and the judgment of the final great day of the Lord, compare 2:3 with 2:30; 2:10a with 3:16a; 2:10b with 3:15; 2:11a with 3:11b. For a parallel between the blessings on God’s people after the locust plague and after God’s final great intervention in human affairs, compare 2:23-24 with 3:18; 2:26-27 with 3:16b-17.
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joel 3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent