This teaching on Joel chapter 3, verses 1-2, was given on 3rd October 2021 by pastor Barry Forder at Calvary Portsmouth’s family service.
In our previous studies we have seen how the book of Joel seems to prophetically outline the history of the Nation of Israel, up to and including the climactic conclusion as depicted in the last three feasts of Israel.
From the forthcoming ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ that will commence with the Feast of Trumpets / Trumpet judgments of Revelation 8-9, the subsequent flight of Israel into the wilderness, her repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus as her Messiah, fulfilling the Feast of Atonement; concluding with the return of Jesus to deliver Israel, subdue the nations and establish His throne on Earth, marking the Feast of Atonement.
It is incredible to consider that Joel, arguably the 1st of all the writing prophets, gives us, in this 3 chapter book, such an incredible framework of the key prophetic events surrounding Israel, from the Birth of the nation to the ‘completion’ when she will walk in harmony with her Messiah.
The Framework of Israel’s past, present and future, Genesis 12 to Revelation 20, is prophetically outlined in the incredible 3-chapter book of Joel!
In this session we focused on the first two incredible verses of Chapter 3:
V1. “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem”,
Joel gives the outline, Ezekiel gives the detail:
“Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ezekiel 37:21-28)
As an aside, these 7 verses should put an end forever to the nonsense of ‘Replacement Theology’ – the idea that God has finished with Israel, and that (somehow) all the blessings promised to Israel are now to fall upon the church. This heretical teaching was promoted by the likes of Augustine, embraced by the Roman Catholic church (for political reasons) and subsequently never addressed by the churches that came out of Rome at the time of the Reformation in Europe, such as the Church of England, Baptists, Lutherans and subsequently the Methodists, United Reformed, etc. Sadly tradition has made the Word of no effect for many!
However, Joel was not the first to declare that God would one-day bring Israel back into their own land. Way back in the Torah, Moses listed the blessings God would pour upon Israel for their obedience (Deut 28:1-14), but this was followed by the consequences of disobedience (Deut 28:15-68), including these chilling words: “And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone” (Deut 28:63-64).
However, as we read on in Deuteronomy, we come to a pivotal declaration:
“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers” (Deut 30:1-5).
Not only does this tell us that God, who is outside of time, knew Israel would be unfaithful and therefore scattered among the nations, but that whilst there, at some far distant point in time, they would turn to Him, and that would be enough for their compassionate God start the reversal, to undo all that had been done, to bring into effect the principle of the Jubilee, where everyone would return to their own Land, their own possession. “In the year of this Jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.” (Lev 25:13). The law of the Jubilee also states that the land must be transferred back to its original owner, those inhabiting the Land must relinquish it and the original connection between the owner and the land must be renewed!
In the first century, in the days of the Book of Acts, a gathering took place of Messianic Jewish believers, disciples, apostles, and leaders in Jerusalem. Peter specifically links this gathering to the words of Joel 2:31-32. It was from that gathering that the door of faith would be opened to the nations, the gospel would go forth beyond the land of Israel to the nations, and the Gentiles would now come in.
But as the first century neared its end and the days of the Book of Acts drew to a close, such gatherings of Jewish believers disappeared from the world. But in-line with the ‘Jubilee principle’, in the ‘days of return’ that which had disappeared must reappear! In essence there would be a reversal. Just as that first gathering had changed the course of the world, so would another gathering, the first such gathering in two thousand years, the first such council of Messianic Jewish believers since the days of the disciples!
They came from the nations, teachers, leaders, and emissaries, to the city of London. There they worshipped, prayed, shared, declared their identity, agreed on their purpose and mission, and arrived at a resolution that the Jews needed a homeland.
1867: The Year It All Began to Change
The timing of the gathering was significant. It took place in the year 1867, in fact, to be precise, on the 14th May!
Within 2 days, the Ottoman Land Code became law, allowing ‘foreigners’ to buy Ottoman land to try to recover the debts amassed as a result of the Crimean War. Without realising what they had done, the Ottoman Empire had opened the door for Jews to buy land in Israel!
30 days after the gathering a ship set sail from New York heading for the Promised Land. On board was sceptic and author, Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens – Samuel meaning ‘God hears’ and Clemens meaning ‘Merciful’. Mark Twain proved that God does hear and is indeed merciful! – for Twain unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of ‘the stranger’ in Deuteronomy 29:22-23:
“So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid upon it; And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath”:
In what he would write, Twain almost quoted these words verbatim, then published them for the world to see.
Whilst Twain was in disbelief at what had become of the Land of Israel, another visitor arrived in Jerusalem, and ‘coincidentally’ ended up saying at the same place. It was Charles Warren who, in the coming months, would literally rediscover the old city of Jerusalem!
Jonathan Cahn, in his book ‘The Oracle’ states: “In the Jubilee the connection between the land and its original owner is restored. And so the consequences of Warren’s work were to restore and strengthen the long-lost connection of the Jewish people to the land. And with every restored connection, the idea that the Jewish people, after almost two thousand years, might somehow return to their homeland began to move one more step out of the realm of fantasy.”
After nearly two thousand years of exile, the man with the measuring line reappeared in Jerusalem as a sign that God was about to bring about a restoration. A measuring line is used when one is about to build something. So then the reappearance of the man with the measuring line in the person of Charles Warren was a sign that God was about to act, to move again, to build something . . . to rebuild that which once was and had fallen . . . the nation of Israel!”
“And when else do you use a measuring line?” When there’s about to be a transference of land. So when the man with the measuring line appeared in Jerusalem, it was a sign that the land was going to be transferred … back to the original owner. The land was being prepared for the return. So it was in ancient times when the prophet Zechariah revealed the meaning of the measuring line: “A measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem . . . And the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem”
This incredible sequence of events actually began in the year 1517, when the last ‘transference’ of ownership of the Land of Israel took place. Selim I the Ottoman prince took control of the Land, defeating the Mamluks at the Battle of Raydaniyah. The Land stayed under Ottoman rule for the next 350 years, that is 7 x 50 – 7 signifying complete, 50 being the number of Jubilee! God’s time to return the Land to His people was at hand!
1867 was the year of the gathering in London. It was immediately followed (2 days later ) by the Ottoman Land Code. That was subsequently followed by Mark Twain’s visit to Jerusalem (fulfilling Deuteronomy 29), which ‘coincided’ with Charles Warren’s visit where he rediscovered the historic Jerusalem – all this took place in 1867!
In December 1916 the government of the then British prime minister H. H. Asquith unexpectedly collapsed. The man who succeeded him was David Lloyd George. As foreign secretary, Lloyd George appointed Arthur Balfour. Both George and Balfour were Bible believing Christians and in favor of a Jewish homeland and were suddenly lifted to the heights of world power at that critical moment. Cahn comments: “If Asquith’s government had not collapsed just when it did, what was about to happen would never have taken place. You see, Asquith was against the idea of a Jewish homeland. And it was only in that small window of time that these things could have come about. So his government had to crumble, and had to crumble just at that moment. Because it was the very end of 1916. 1917 was coming. And 1917 was the year of Jubilee. And it just happened to be the same year that the British Empire would be placed in the position of determining the future of the land of Israel. And as the Jubilee concerns the return of one’s ancestral land, so world history would now turn to the Middle East and to the land of the ancient inheritance”
As the year of Jubilee began, members of the British government held a conference concerning the future of the Land of Israel. By the middle of the year Balfour called for a draft to be made for a public declaration concerning the land. By autumn the British Cabinet was in discussion over the form the declaration would take, but it was determined that the plan wouldn’t proceed unless it had the support of the American president. On October 16, 1917, the British government was informed that the president, Woodrow Wilson, was in favor of the declaration. On October 31 the declaration was approved by the British War Cabinet. Two days later, on November 2, it went forth in the form of a letter penned by the foreign secretary.
Thus, after almost 2000 years in exile, the way was finally open for Israel to return to the Promised Land. As we know from history, that finally occurred on 14th May 1948! The city of Jerusalem was restored to Israel in the next Jubilee year in 1967!
What Joel prophesied is now unfolding before our eyes!
V2. “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”.
God’s controversy with the nations is that they have acted with complete disregard to the fact ‘the Land of Israel’ belongs to God! In fact, it is the only piece of real estate on planet Earth that God actually lays claim to, and the Bible unequivocally states that God has entrusted this piece of land to the physical descendants of Abraham ‘for an everlasting possession’! (Genesis 13:15 / Genesis 17:8 / Genesis 48:4).
Throughout the centuries nations and empires have tried to lay claim to this land, the Canaanites, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, the British & French, and more recently, the United Nations. The Vatican has tried to claim Jerusalem as its own; Islam too, claim’s Jerusalem as it’s third most holy site! (despite Jerusalem never being mentioned by name in the Quran!). All have had denied the Biblical mandate, all have taken, divided, partitioned and otherwise done to this land whatever they will. Yet is it a land with no significant natural resource. It is not rich in oil, it’s capital is not an international sea port, in fact, for the best part of 2000 years it has been a barren wasteland. There is no intrinsic value, no gold mines like Africa or Cedar’s like Lebanon. Yet this land and the city of Jerusalem have been the most fought over land and city in the word!
Significantly, of all places on the Earth, it will be the place the coming world leader will choose to place a statue of himself!
The Valley of Megiddo (a.k.a. the Jezreel Valley / Valley of Jehoshaphat) will also serve as the staging ground for the coming world-leaders’ ill fated attempt to annihilate Israel and claim this land as his own.
The Jezreel Valley – a.k.a. Armageddon
But God calls Israel ‘my heritage‘ and the land ‘my land‘.
At the time of the Second Coming Jesus will return to fight for Israel against the combined armies of the World under the control of Antichrist. Jesus will win!
We will conclude our study of Joel next week!
May you be blessed and encouraged to study God’s word more!