Joel Chapter 3 Jacob’s Trouble

Sep 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Joel, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Joel Chapter 3 Jacob’s Trouble

Joel 3:1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

Joel 3:2 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.

Verses 1 and 2 sound like Zechariah chapters 12 and 14, which show that God’s purpose will be this closing drama at the end of the age. To “bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem” means that those Jews who were previously in captivity to Gentile powers—those who were subject to the whims and fancies of the Gentiles while in exile—will be brought back to Israel, their homeland. God will reverse the situation for the Jew.

Psalm 68:18 reads, “Thou [Jesus] hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive.” The expression “captivity captive” is used to indicate that Jesus will bring up out of the grave those who are now captive in the tomb.

“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 … Israel.” What is the “valley of Jehoshaphat”? Is it a particular literal valley, a previous historical event, or a condition yet future? The term alludes to the historical event in which King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah were given a miraculous victory. They went out unarmed and with singers in front to meet the enemy. God had told them, “I will fight this battle and defeat the enemy.” That experience corresponds to Jacob’s Trouble in the near future when God will gather the nations and go forth and fight for His people as He did in the “day of battle” (Zech. 14:3).

The account in 2 Chronicles 20:1-27 is as follows:

“It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.

“Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee … and, behold, they be in … En-gedi.

“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

“And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD….

“And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,

“And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

“Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

“And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.

“And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt … [now] come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

“And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

“Then upon Jahaziel … a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;

“And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s….

“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

“And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD….

“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

“And … he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.

“And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, … and they were smitten.

“For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.

“And when Judah came toward the watchtower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.

“And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, … and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

“And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

“Then they returned … to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.”

When Ammon, Moab, and Edom were confederate against Judah, their combined forces so greatly outnumbered the armed forces under King Jehoshaphat that the people were very frightened. However, God said He would do the fighting. First, Moab and Ammon had a falling out with Edom (Mount Seir). After defeating Edom, they fought among themselves until there was not a single survivor—just corpses. In other words, they killed one another without Judah’s having to lift a finger.

Comment: 2 Chronicles 20:26 mentions Berachah, which means “blessing.” Thus the valley of defeat and devastation to the enemy was the valley of blessing to Judah. Again there is a correspondency to the end of the age. God’s deliverance of Israel will be the downfall of Gog and Magog.

It is interesting that this confederacy against Judah by Ammon, Moab, and Edom began from En-gedi, which was only about three or four days on foot from Jerusalem. During this time, King Jehoshaphat gathered the people together, even with babies in their arms, to pray and fast to know what to do. Jahaziel, an obscure Levite, was moved by the Holy Spirit to speak with authority, giving the answer from the Lord: “This is my battle; I will do the destroying.”

Thus Judah went out to meet the enemy unarmed, unprepared for battle, with singers in front. The account even tells the words that they sang.

In looking at the counterpart of the Valley of Jehoshaphat down here at the end of the age, we notice certain things. The thought is not that every detail in the incident with King Jehoshaphat will be duplicated in the future fulfillment, but in reading that account and other Scriptures pertaining to the end of the age, we see that several details will again occur. Surely a choir will not go out to greet Gog and Magog, for the Jews will be experiencing great fear, but the following will happen. (1) The Jews will be far outnumbered. (2) God will cause a great slaughter. (3) For part of the slaughter, every man’s hand will be against his neighbor, against his own brother. (4) Dead bodies, corpses, were all around in the type, and after God delivers the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble, the number of enemy corpses will be so great that it will take seven months to bury them. (5) Just as there were precious jewels and much spoil in the type, so in the future, after the slaughter, Israel will be converting the weapons of the enemy into agricultural implements for seven years. As in the type, there will be a wealth of spoil for Israel. Thus we can see that the future battle in the “valley of Jehoshaphat” alludes to the battle back in Judah’s history when God performed a great victory for King Jehoshaphat.

Next we will again consider Joel 2:20, “But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east [Dead] sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost [Mediterranean] sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.” The “valley of Jehoshaphat” in Joel 3:2 can also have an allusion to where this past incident with King Jehoshaphat took place, that is, the Valley of Berachah, the Valley of Blessing. The enemy will have his face toward the east— that is, he will be facing that direction—when he is destroyed. Zechariah 14:5 also implies that Gog will be facing east when defeat comes. “And ye [the Israelites] shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” The earthquake that splits the Mount of Olives will open up a valley through which the people will flee to Azal. They will be fleeing from Gog, the pursuing enemy, whose face will be toward the east. The Mount of Olives will move to the north and to the south, opening up a west-to-east cleft through which the Israelites will flee with the enemy behind them. The Holy Remnant in front will be saved, and the enemy behind them will perish, leaving a sickening “stink,” or stench, from the rotting corpses. The cemetery, or place where those corpses will be buried, will be called Hamon-gog (Ezek. 39:11).

Q: Is Megiddo the same as the Valley of Jehoshaphat?

A: No, Megiddo is roughly up near Haifa. The term “Armageddon,” the hill of Megiddo, is mentioned in Revelation 16:16. Since Revelation is a spiritual book, the interpretation of “Armageddon” is along spiritual lines, signifying a place of decision. Another incident of the past took place in the Valley of Megiddo, whereas the battle with Jehoshaphat was a separate incident that will have a literal future fulfillment with Gog and Magog. Incidentally, the Pastor’s articles explaining Joel chapter 3 all give a spiritual interpretation. For example, he applied the Valley of Jehoshaphat to the whole world. However, in this third chapter, Joel was referring to Gog and Magog in Jacob’s Trouble where God will fight for His people Israel. To repeat: the center stage is Israel.

Q: How will this northern host come down into Israel? What route will the enemy take?

A: There are three ways of coming down from the north to Jerusalem. One route is along the coastline, and another goes from the Sea of Galilee down to near Jericho. However, Gog will probably come down along the spine, or hilltops, of the land through Nablus and Samaria.

Then Gog will arrive on the north side of Jerusalem, the city’s most vulnerable spot. When Gog besieges Jerusalem, the Israelites will flee down the valley that opens up as a result of the earthquake.

Comment: Gog will enter Jerusalem toward the Jaffa Gate and exit at the Golden Gate, heading down toward Jericho. With the earth being cleft, the host of Gog will pursue the Israelites through the valley and be defeated.

Reply: Yes, that is true in general terms, but the theater of action will be in the vicinity of Jerusalem. A great victory will result for Israel. Just as Jehoshaphat felt overwhelmed and inadequate when he viewed the confederation coming against him, so the nation of Israel will be overwhelmed by the tremendous host of Gog.

Q: What is the geographical relationship of the Valley of Jehoshaphat to the Kidron Valley?

A: The Valley of Jehoshaphat starts with the Kidron Valley, but it will divert off down toward Jericho when the earthquake cleft occurs.

Q: In the type, where did the enemy of King Jehoshaphat enter the land?

A: The army was on the far side of the Dead Sea, so they entered Israel on the road to Jericho and then started up to Jerusalem. In that area was the Valley of Berachah, where the enemy was soundly defeated.

Q: Will the Jews who flee through the valley in Jacob’s Trouble be a mixed company or just the Holy Remnant?

A: Some of the Holy Remnant will flee to Azal, but other Jews in other places in the vicinity of Jerusalem will also be part of the Holy Remnant. In other words, the Holy Remnant comprises those Jews who are marked for survival in various places.

Q: Will the great number of corpses include the Jews who die in Jacob’s Trouble, that is, those who are not part of the Holy Remnant?

A: We believe there will also be a very large casualty list of Jews at that time, but they are not mentioned in the Gog and Magog account in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Inferentially, if only a very small remnant of Jews will be handpicked for survival at that time, a lot of deaths will occur.

Isaiah 10:22 reads, “For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet [only] a [small] remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.”

After the deliverance of the Holy Remnant, the people will go out to find the bones of the enemy and mark them for burial in the Valley of Hamon-gog. Information in some of the other Minor Prophets, a little here and a little there, shows that the bones of Jews will be taken elsewhere.

Joel 3:3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

Joel 3:4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompense? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head;

Joel 3:5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

Joel 3:6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.

Joel 3:7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompense upon your own head:

Joel 3:8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Verses 3-8 should be set off with a paragraph mark, for they are a separate theme. As proof that these verses are a separate thought, we can say with certainty that when Jacob’s Trouble occurs, the Gentiles will not be selling a boy for a harlot’s services and the children of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks.

Since Joel wrote around 800 BC, when did verse 3 take place? Generally speaking, the wrath of the Arabs was against the men; they killed the men and usually spared the women and sometimes the children. In verses 4-8, Joel prophesied of the retribution that would come on Tyre and Zidon (Sidon), which are in Lebanon, for what they had done against God’s heritage, Israel.

When the ten-tribe kingdom was defeated, non-Jews took advantage of the Jews who were taken captive to Kir (or Kars) in Assyria. Arabs looted Israel’s possessions and sold the Jews for money. They capitalized on the situation for their own gain—even though they were brethren. Although the Arabs are not of Isaac’s seed, they are not wholly Gentiles in the sense of other peoples, for they have a background from Keturah, Ishmael, and Esau. Also, in addition to Abraham, Terah had two other sons, and all three were of the Shem line from Noah.

Because of that relationship (which we might call half brethren), the acts of the Arab peoples in that area were especially obnoxious in the Lord’s sight. For them to take advantage of their fellow kinsmen was doubly reprehensible. Here Joel was saying that God had taken note of the situation and would recompense the Arabs, reversing the situation.

Tyre and Sidon took advantage of the ten tribes when Assyrian kings carted off Jewish captives to the land of Assyria. In time, the Samaritans were put in the land vacated by the ten tribes, but in the interim, the Arabs looted and profited from a slave trade of Israelite women and children. Not Jews, the Samaritans did not originate in Israel but were a people transferred and implanted into northern Israel after the inhabitants of the ten tribes were removed. Since Tyre and Sidon are the two main objects of retribution in this context, we have to think when they were taken captive. Following a big void in history, one of the last kings of the Persian Empire captured and destroyed Sidon but not Tyre. About 20 years later Alexander the Great captured both cities. Thus, in a relatively short period of time, judgment came on these two peoples.

Under the Persian Empire, the Jews had periods of both oppression and favor. Even when they were placed in other lands, the Persians gave them rather nice places, such as up on the Caspian Sea and the Elephantine area of Egypt. Alexander the Great showed favor to the Jews because he was impressed when they called attention to Isaiah’s prophecy of his success. Moreover, the high priest came out of the city of Jerusalem dressed in all his glory garments, and with the people unarmed, to meet him—just as in a vision God had previously given to Alexander the Great.

As retribution, 30,000 of Tyre’s inhabitants were sold into slavery on the open market. By inference in what we are reading here, the Jews purchased many of these slaves and resold them for a profit to the Sabeans (children of Keturah and Ishmael) on the far side of the Dead Sea. Rich Sabean merchants, who sold spices and incense and had gold, bought the slaves.

Verse 6 states, “The children also of Judah and … Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians.” Jews from the captured two-tribe kingdom were sold to the Greeks.

Verses 3-8 are sandwiched in between verses 1 and 2 and verse 9, which reverts back to the theme of gathering the nations to Jacob’s Trouble in the future. The insertion helped to lock the meaning of this prophecy until the due time for it to be understood. However, a logical question is, Do verses 3-8 have any vague application to the end of the age? Certainly details like giving a boy for a harlot and selling a girl for wine (verse 3) would not be applicable, but Israel will possess Lebanon including Tyre and Sidon. The land up to a segment of the river Euphrates will mark the northern boundary of Israel as part of the promised deed. In fact, those peoples will become captive to Israel under the New Covenant. When the New Covenant is made, Gentile peoples, including Arabs, will have to humble themselves and recognize that God is dealing with Israel through Messiah, that Jerusalem is the capital of the world, and that they have to obey orders. The scales will be reversed—the Jews were taken captive by the Arabs in the past, and in the Kingdom, the Arabs will become captive to Israel.

There seems to be a hint or vague allusion in verses 3-8 along the lines of Psalm 83 and the Arab confederacy that will occur against Israel shortly before Jacob’s Trouble. In Israel’s astounding victory, Tyre and Sidon will be captured. The scales will be reversed from the Intifada, which is going on at present. Arabs in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as some in Iraq, are included in Psalm 83.

Joel 3:9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:

Verse 9 reminds us of some of the other Minor Prophets, for portions of their message touch on this theme of preparation for war and gathering the nations to Israel at the end of the age.

Zephaniah 3:8 reads, “My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” Zechariah 14:2 states, “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.” Nahum 2:3 says, “The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.” Just as all of God’s holy prophets speak of the “times of restitution” and tell of the Kingdom Age and of restoration and healing, so many of the prophets speak of the trouble that is to come at the end of the age (Acts 3:21).

Here in verse 9, God is speaking in a sarcastic vein to the Gentiles: “Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up.” God is calling to the “mighty men” who are sleeping, “Wake up and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, to the battle of Armageddon!”

Joel 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears.” Instead of making agricultural machinery such as tractors, the nations produce tanks, armaments, and weapons.

Comment: Ultimately the opposite situation will occur: “And he [God] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” (Isa. 2:4).

“Let the weak say, I am strong.” The sarcasm continues. The “weak” from God’s standpoint will think they are “strong” from their own standpoint. In other words, the “mighty men” (verse 9) are not mighty in the final analysis.

Comment: Some of the small or Third World countries that we would not expect to have much of an impact on the world will flex their muscles, especially if they get nuclear weapons.

A preparing of munitions is being described. Technology, instruments, machinery, etc., are all required for today’s warfare, even in countries like Iraq. To create a nuclear bomb or a missile with nuclear capabilities necessitates a lot of preparation. Such preparation drains the resources of the various nations—resources that would normally be used for agricultural purposes and the benefit of the people. For example, to rank as a superpower in armaments, Russia deprived its people of the luxuries of life for many years. Verse 10 is talking about the very end of the age when the nations and peoples are unknowingly preparing for the final holocaust.

Q: Will the fighting be on a personal level with hand-to-hand combat, rather than the type of warfare that is waged today with planes and modern technology?

A: That will be true in Jacob’s Trouble, when Gog comes down as a land invasion from the north, rather than as an invasion of air space. The tremendous army will have land machinery and will consist of foot soldiers.

Two cataclysmic events will take place. First, Israel will war with its Arab neighbors and have a decisive victory. The warfare will probably be confused with Jacob’s Trouble, which will occur subsequently and involve a much greater conglomeration of people. That very last battle will be more along the lines of hand-to-hand combat, but prior to Jacob’s Trouble, regular warfare methods will continue. In Jacob’s Trouble, technology and electronic instrumentation will break down and fail. For example, a little cog missing from a wheel can halt machinery. To wage nuclear warfare requires technicians, money, etc. Hand-to-hand combat is another matter, and the fighting will be on this lower level in Jacob’s Trouble. Isaiah 10:28-32 describes the route Gog will take in coming down from the north, going from city to city and approaching closer and closer to Jerusalem.

Joel 3:11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

Comment: The NIV has, “Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. ‘Bring down your warriors, O LORD!’”

Comment: The words “come down” in the King James imply north-to-south movement. Also, the term “mighty ones” sounds like the Lord’s Great Army of Joel 2:11.

Reply: Yes, probably they are the same as the “mighty men” of Joel 2:7 and 3:9. However, the “mighty ones” can also be considered the glorified Church. The literal locust plague prefigured an invasion that would come from the north. The analogy of the locusts in different stages of development changes to horses as an invading force from the north (Joel 2:4). There was a partial fulfillment in the past subsequent to the writing of this prophetic message. The locust plague occurred prior to Joel’s message, for he was telling about something that had already taken place. He told the people to repent because an invasion was about to happen. As stated earlier, Judah must have repented because only the ten tribes were taken captive by the northern Assyrian host shortly after this prophecy was written. However, that invasion is a picture of the northern army of Gog and Magog, which will come down at the very end of the age. Ezekiel 39:2 says that God will cause Gog “to come up from the north parts … [down] upon the mountains of Israel.” Joel 2:20 confirms the thought of a northern army: “I [God] will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate.” The forces of Gog and Magog will come from the north, but they will be destroyed in a valley. Earlier we suggested that the valley is down in the vicinity of Jericho. By taking the road from the top of the Mount of Olives down toward the Dead Sea, one sees a lot of desolate, arid, unoccupied land. We believe the host of Gog will be strewn as corpses in that valley, with their faces toward the Dead Sea and their hinder parts toward the Mediterranean.

Q: A wadi goes in that direction. Is that the area?

A: Yes, but it will open up more.

Ezekiel 39:11 is the same reference as Joel 2:20. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog.” The term “valley of the passengers” should be the “valley of the passers [or travelers] through.” The NIV is helpful: “On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.” In other words, if we were on the west side of the Jordan River, and we crossed the river to the east side, that whole area is the “valley of the passers through toward the east [Dead] sea.” Most translations are confused on this point, but a comparison of Ezekiel 39:11 and Joel 2:20 shows that the valley will be occupied in part but not on the opposite side. The valley is toward the east but not on the east.

King Jehoshaphat’s experience in the Valley of Jehoshaphat is another picture. The king realized that Ammon, Moab, and Edom were confederate and that they were starting to march toward Jerusalem. They had gotten to En-gedi when the king was alerted to the fact that this great enemy host was coming. With En-gedi being only a three- or four-day walk from Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat did not have time to muster all Israel for defense. Therefore, he went down to meet the enemy, and when those of Judah “came toward the watchtower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped” (2 Chron. 20:24). In other words, Jehoshaphat left Jerusalem and went up to the crest of the Mount of Olives, and from a place called the “watchtower,” he could see the Dead Sea and the whole valley below. (Although the Dead Sea was a distance away, nothing obstructed his vision.) As the king and those with him looked down, they saw that the valley was filled with corpses. Not one person was alive, yet cattle were  tanding and nothing was disturbed. The corpses were the result of internecine struggle, in which the enemy forces slew one another.

Q: When, in the future, Israel is divided into parallel land strips, where will Hamon-gog be? In that land division, will Hamon-gog be part of the east-west strip that includes the “holy oblation” (Ezek. 48:20,21)?

A: Yes, but in regard to the occupancy for the prince and the Levites, the thought is not that their settlement will be on the east bank of the Dead Sea. However, that space had to be preserved because the land for all of the tribes will go from east to west, extending over into Transjordan.

Comment: If the bodies are in that area, a lot of bones will be found because the distance is not that far.

Reply: A footnote for Ezekiel 39 in the Amplified Old Testament reads as follows: “The number of dead bodies left after the great catastrophe which God will send upon Gog and his host, as here described, would necessarily amount to several millions. Their graves would naturally interfere with the traffic on the interstate highway. The dead will not be slain in battle.

God will slay them by a great cosmic catastrophe…. And not some but all of Gog’s multitude will die then. Before they have had a chance to use their weapons, they will be struck from their hands according to verse 3. That one-sixth of the horde from the north will be left alive as the King James Version says in verse 2 is, without noted exception, conceded to be a mistake in translation by all authorities of modern times.” However, we think that “sixth part” (one-sixth) is a proper translation because the other translations do not have an alternate suggestion. They criticize the King James but do not have a proper alternative.

Comment: The thought of “sixth part” does not fit in with their theology.

Thus the dead of the Gog forces will number several million, and they will be strewn all along the wadi (or valley), on the lower end, on this side of the Jordan River but facing the Dead Sea.

Q: Will the corpses be near where the Mount of Olives splits?

A: The site will not be far from where the Mount of Olives separates. The mass burial will occur there in the valley in an official cemetery that is of some proportion. The burials will be orderly and on one side so that when the people go through the valley, they cannot help but see the cemetery. The Hebrew even suggests that the cemetery will constrict what previously was a wider avenue. In other words, the cemetery will occupy so much space that the normal westto- east corridor will be constricted, but not completely blocked.

Comment: When the Ammonites and the Moabites slew each other in Jehoshaphat’s day, the corpses must have been very numerous.

Reply: Yes, there were several hundred thousand, but Gog will be several million.

Comment: To keep track of several million dead individuals and get them off the face of the earth where the odor is coming up and stinking, the people will have to operate efficiently.

Reply: Yes. The stink will be great, and the burial will take seven months (Ezek. 39:11-16). Then, after the seven months, a grave-digging crew will be employed to pick up the remnant corpses and bones. In other words, the first seven months will be used for mass burial. After that will come people of “continual employment” who will pick up bones that are spotted and take them down to Hamon-gog, the official graveyard. Any travelers who see a bone are to put a marker there for the buriers to find.

Thus the “valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:2) will be a location not called by that name at present. Three pictures speak of this one place:

1. 2 Chronicles 20:1-27 regarding King Jehoshaphat

2. Ezekiel 39:11-16

3. Joel 2:20 and 3:2,12,14

The terminology used is Valley of Berachah (Blessing), Valley of Jehoshaphat, Valley of Hamon-gog, and Valley of Decision/Threshing. These are relatively synonymous terms viewed from different perspectives.

Q: Will one end of the Valley of Jehoshaphat be the Kidron Valley?

A: No. The valley will end up in wadis south of Jerusalem. Off of the Kidron, there is a wadi that goes down to the Dead Sea, but not the Kidron itself. From Jerusalem, the route of flight will start with the Kidron Valley, but when the Holy Remnant turns to go down to the Dead Sea, the valley will be farther along on that branch, which will become a main artery later.

Joel 3:12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

Joel 3:13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

With the wording of verse 13 being very similar to that of Revelation 14:18-20, we can see why many confuse the two pictures and think the two winepresses correspond. However, these Scriptures are talking about two different time periods. The Revelation 14 citation pertains to the destruction of spiritual Babylon, whereas Joel 3:13 refers to the destruction of the natural host (or multitude) of Gog.

Q: To whom does the pronoun “ye” refer? “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.”

A: To answer that question, we have to go back to verse 11, which has a double application: the Lord’s Great Army down here and the glorified Church. Not only will there be the Lord’s “army” down here, but God will have his spiritual “army.” “Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD…. Put ye in the sickle.” The italicized words pertain to the glorified Church destroying the natural ones (Gog) down here. “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer [The Christ]” (Rom. 11:26). “Saviours [plural] shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau” (Obadiah 21). “Saviours” will come to rescue Jacob; they will put in the sickle to destroy the enemy. Thus the “mighty ones” and the pronoun “ye” are part of the spiritual rescue effort.

Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Verse 14 is where the thought of millions of corpses comes from: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.” Ezekiel 38:1-6 tells of the different peoples who will come down from the north; various powers, or nations, will comprise the Gog host. (In contradistinction, the Arab  enemies enumerated in Psalm 83 will be much farther south.)

Q: Why is the term “valley of decision” used?

A: It is God’s battle. Gog will be prepared with slaughter weapons, but the weapons will be knocked out of their hands. The bulk of the host will die in connection with the method God uses to destroy them. However, some of the Gog host (one-sixth) will be allowed to escape so that they can return to their homelands to give eyewitness testimony of the miraculous deliverance of Israel. The remnant will be randomly spared; that is, they will be chosen not because they are holy but because they can give eyewitness testimony. Their testimony will be too numerous to be negated.

Comment: For the term “valley of decision,” a Bible note says, “Where God will decide about men, not where men will decide about God.”

Q: How will the sixth part of Gog randomly survive?

A: We do not think they will be part of the host who go down into the valley that opens up from the earthquake. To our understanding, all of those who go into the valley will die. A large part of those who are occupied in doing other things will be left as eyewitnesses. In other words, five-sixths of the Gog host will die. Some Scriptures are beginning to coalesce and become a little clearer. We have a suspicion as to how another part of the destruction will come about and as to what the motivation will be.

Comment: For the “valley of decision,” Strong’s Concordance translates “decision” figuratively as “determination.”

Reply: It is the valley of God’s determination, judgment, and decision on the Gentiles.

Gog will come down from various nations in unbelievable numbers as a representative group. The judgment will be on these peoples, or nations, through their representatives. (Entire nations will not come down, but a sizable portion of people as a jihad, a holy crusade, in the truest sense of the word from the perspective of the enemy. Their determination will be to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Having to deprive themselves of all comfort will not deter them. (Of course, they will pillage on the way down.) Such an invading army will suffer privation, but their motive will drive them on in their purpose. The same was true of the Holy(?) Crusades that came from Europe. Many died en route, but they kept on for the Holy Grail and their determination to rescue Jerusalem.

People can starve to death within 72 hours, but those who are determined and pace themselves can live a month or longer without food. Fear unnerves and weakens one, whereas controlled emotions enable a person to live longer. Hate is a powerful negative force.

Joel 3:15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

Joel 3:16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

Joel 3:17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

Q: Since Joel was speaking of Jacob’s Trouble, does verse 15 have a literal application in harmony with Zechariah 14:6,7? “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.”

A: Certainly, as elucidated in Zechariah chapters 12 and 14, literal signs will occur in the heavens at the time of Jacob’s Trouble, particularly when the Holy Remnant is fleeing through the split Mount of Olives.

In addition, Joel 3:15-17 has a spiritual connotation. In other words, spiritual and literal applications are mixed. For instance, verse 17, in which God speaks of “my holy mountain” and of Jerusalem as “holy,” is getting down to a natural level. But sandwiched in between, verse 16 tells that Jehovah will “roar [like a lion] out of Zion.” While indignation will be initiated in the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, the “Zion” of this verse will be focalized in natural Jerusalem.

Q: Does Amos 9:13-15 tie in with Joel 3:15-17? Verse 13 tells about the plowman overtaking the reaper, and “the treader of grapes him that soweth seed”; verse 14 talks about God’s bringing “again the captivity” of His people Israel; and verse 15 prophesies that God “will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land,” which He has given them.

A: Verses 14 and 15 are coming down to the natural picture, but verse 13, in speaking about the plowman, the reaper, the treader of grapes, and the sowing of seed, is a spiritual picture.

Q: Does Joel 3:15 about the sun and the moon being darkened and the stars withdrawing their shining pertain to when the feet members are taken?

A: Joel 3:15 pertains to the establishment of the Kingdom, whereas the fall of Babylon will take place several years earlier. There will be a time period of 3 to 3 1/2 years from the fall of Babylon to Jacob’s Trouble and the deliverance of the Holy Remnant. When Papacy’s lights go out at the time of its fall, the papal sun, moon, and stars will certainly be darkened; they will be extinguished. However, some additional Scriptures give a perspective the other way; that is, they speak of the perplexity and confusion of mankind with regard to what the true light is. From that unfavorable standpoint, the nominal heavens will be darkened.

We will return to Joel 3:13 for a moment. “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.” Although the reference is specifically to Jacob’s Trouble, the whole period of time from the fall of Babylon through Jacob’s Trouble—a period of 3 to 3 1/2 years—is likened to the Time of Trouble upon the world. During this time, mystic Babylon will fall, the governments will lose control over the masses, and Jacob’s Trouble will occur. The sickling of Revelation 14:15,18-20 treats the spiritual picture only, whether it refers to the true harvest of the earth or to the harvest of the false vine of the earth; that is, the sickling of those verses does not refer to natural Israel at all. In the Old Testament, there is an added complexity. For instance, when the Book of Ezekiel talks about conditions at the end of the age, there is a double picture, that is, both spiritual and natural. In some respects, the Book of Joel is like Ezekiel.

When God roars like a lion out of Zion and the valley of decision is near, a separating work will be taking place against (1) His enemies who come down from the north and (2) those among His people who are not in the proper or fit condition for identification with the divine government to be instituted in Jerusalem. The main thrust of Joel 3:9-16 is the natural picture.

However, the Time of Trouble will effect a thorough housecleaning of both the nominal spiritual house and the nominal natural house. Mystic Babylon will cease, but a remnant (the Great Company) will escape. The same will be true in the Israel setting. The multitudes who go down to Israel will be flattened, but a remnant (one-sixth of Gog) will survive to return to their homelands as eyewitnesses. Although the purging of natural Israel is not mentioned here, a (holy) remnant will be saved. We believe that the proportion of Jews who will be spared is approximately one out of ten. For nine-tenths of the Jews to die in Jacob’s Trouble will be catastrophic.

Q: Does the thought of a one-tenth Holy Remnant go back to tithing under the Law and passing under the rod (Lev. 27:32; Ezek. 20:37,38)?

A: Yes, that is true. The main emphasis is that the tithing was to the Lord. When tithes were paid, the animal or gift was not necessarily perfect because the Israelites perfunctorily gave tithes. However, the Ezekiel citation refers to a purged tenth, not a perfunctory tenth. That class in Israel will be acceptable to the Lord at the end of the age. Their names having been written in the book for survival, they will pass under the rod (Dan. 12:1; Isa. 4:3). The reason we think the tenth may be somewhat literal is the contrast of “multitude” with a tenth. The slain of Jehovah will be many and in all countries on the tops of the mountains, beginning with the “host of heaven” being “rolled together as a scroll” and the subsequent fall of Babylon (Isa. 34:2-4; 66:16). In the vision the prophet had, he saw multitudes of dead bodies in the mountains (kingdoms). The worldwide great Time of Trouble will result in many, many fatalities.

Q: Is Isaiah 6:13 the supporting Scripture about a “tenth” of the Jews being spared in Jacob’s Trouble? “But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”

A: Yes. The word “eaten” sometimes, as here, means “accepted”; that is, the Holy Remnant will have God’s acceptance. The altar is pictured as God’s mouth, and when an offering is properly presented on the altar—for example, a lamb without spot—it is acceptable when burned. In other words, when the offering was consumed, it was acceptable to God, and it was spoken of as being “eaten.” Jesus said, “Except you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53 paraphrase). Thus the word “eat” can convey different thoughts depending on context, and we view the Holy Remnant as the “holy seed.”

Comment: The context of Isaiah 6:13, starting with verse 11, reads, “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth….

The fall of Babylon is the beginning of the spectrum, whereas what Joel described here in the third chapter is the end of the spectrum. In the saving of the Holy Remnant in Israel, God’s fury will be directed against those who incur His displeasure. In this purging process, in this climax in Israel, God will manifest His decision.

The type of Samson’s pulling down the two pillars of the Temple of Dagon shows the beginning of the fatalities. Several thousand Philistine lords perished in that one incident. We have made five distinctions with regard to the Time of Trouble because otherwise, the term is too nebulous. There will be a “time of trouble” on (1) the true Church, (2) the nominal Church, (3) the Great Company, (4) Israel, and (5) the world. However, Scriptures which speak of that time in a less distinct fashion refer mostly to either nominal Churchianity or just the worldly element.

Q: Will the time of God’s roaring “out of Zion” and the uttering of “his voice from Jerusalem” (verse 16) be the time when Michael stands up (Dan. 12:1)?

A: Yes, Michael will stand up and speak with authority at the conclusion of Jacob’s Trouble, taking unto himself his great power and reigning. God will first allow Jacob to have trouble, and during that trouble, the Jews will not know where they stand, that is, not until God saves the Holy Remnant.

Comment: God will “roar,” but Jesus will act on His behalf.

Reply: Yes, Jesus acts as the representative of the Father. The picture of Moses at the time of the burning bush illustrates this principle (Exod. 3:2-4). The “angel of the LORD [God]” spoke to Moses, yet the account also says, “God called unto him [Moses] out of the midst of the bush.” In other words, the one who declared himself and acted as if he were Jehovah was actually an angel representing Him and speaking with authority. The same principle is illustrated when our government, in negotiating a treaty with a foreign country, sends its highest representative under the President to speak in the name of the United States. It is known that the representative gets his instructions from the White House. Along another line, the Roman Catholic Church has a high-ranking theologian put the imprimatur on its version of the Bible, thus certifying that it is true Catholic doctrine. Therefore, when the Bible states that God will speak in Jacob’s Trouble, Jesus will actually do the speaking as God’s representative.

Joel 3:18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

The New Covenant will go out from Israel. “The mountains shall drop down new wine [doctrine].” The new doctrine will be related to the instruction of the New Covenant and all of its ramifications. “The hills shall flow with milk.” Notice the contrast between “mountains” and “hills,” and between “new wine” and “milk.” From the large perspective, when the New Covenant is made, the inhabitants of Africa and countries such as China, Malaysia, and Madagascar will be fed with the milk of the Word because the vast majority have had no instruction during the Gospel Age. They will be nurtured on pure milk, whereas the Western world will receive a little more advanced doctrine because of their prior schooling in the Old and New Testaments. In other words, instruction will be adapted according to the capability of a people.

Comment: Revelation 22:1 reads, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Reply: That text emphasizes only the spiritual with regard to the trees and the source of the pure water. Joel 3:18 pertains to the world’s instruction under the New Covenant.

The mountains dropping new wine and the hills flowing with milk show that the wine and the milk have to do with truth—but truth adapted to the capability of the recipients who are involved. The clause “all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters” indicates that truth in the Kingdom will go out from Israel. Thus the New Covenant will be an Israelitish covenant. The people will have to “take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you”; they will have to become proselytes to the new order (Zech. 8:23). For “all the rivers of Judah … [to] flow with waters” means there will be a purged element, a clean and holy nucleus. With the Ancient Worthies, who were tried and proven faithful in previous ages, coming forth perfect to be princes in all the earth, Israel will be more knowledgeable in things of the Lord than any other people. Israel will overflow with “waters,”with truth. Their joy, enthusiasm, and capabilities will be very noticeable. With 144,000 Ancient Worthies coming forth from the tomb at one time and working in conjunction with the Holy Remnant, a smaller but very significant number, Judah will indeed flow with waters.

“A fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.” The “house of the LORD” is pictured in Ezekiel chapters 40-47 as the literal Third Temple, which will be built on top of a plateau. When the structure is fully constructed, water will issue forth from underneath it and come out and go down to the Dead Sea. In addition, water will come from the Mediterranean Sea. In other words, water will go to the Dead Sea from both the Temple and the Mediterranean. There will be two rivers from two different sources. The fountain that comes forth “of the house of the LORD … shall water the valley of Shittim,” that is, the Dead Sea. The area occupied by the Dead Sea was a valley or plain at one time, that is, before it filled up with water. “Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the [well-watered] plain of Jordan,” but the earthquake that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah closed up the bottom end of the plain so that it began to fill up like a reservoir, thus forming the Dead Sea (Gen. 13:10). Prior to the earthquake, that land was called the Arabah. We do not think of the Arabah today as being underneath the Dead Sea. Rather, we think of (1) the waters of the Jordan River as they enter the Dead Sea at its north end and (2) the dry wadi at the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Therefore, we have to make a distinction. At the north end, the river Jordan enters the Dead Sea as a little trickle. At the south end of the Dead Sea, a dry wadi extends quite a long distance down to Eilat and empties into the Red Sea, or the Gulf of Eilat (or Aqaba).

The point is that the water going down to the “valley of Shittim” in this context is speaking of water going toward the Dead Sea and fructifying it. As a result, the waters of the Dead Sea will be sufficiently diluted with fresh water to sweeten, or lower, the salt content so that saltwater fish can live in it. However, the southern end of the Dead Sea will continue to be given to salt.

Thus the “house of the LORD” will be the literal Ezekiel’s Temple, and the “valley of Shittim” is a literal valley. In addition, both the Temple and the valley have symbolic representation. For example, when the Dead Sea empties into this valley, it represents the “dead sea” of humanity.

The double symbol is as follows. This valley of death, which is now filled with water and is called the Dead  Sea, is not only a literal body of water but also a symbol of the dead sea of humanity because no fish can currently live in it. However, fish will be able to live in the northern portion in the future. If, spiritually speaking, the Dead Sea represents the dead sea of humanity, then the water coming from the Temple will come from The Christ.

Q: Where is the formation in the Dead Sea that is supposed to be Lot’s wife?

A: It is at the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Joel 3:19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

Verse 19 can be applied from both the natural and the spiritual standpoint. Here spiritual Egypt is the world of mankind, and spiritual Edom is the nominal Christian world.

What will happen to Egypt? The Aswan Dam will literally break so that men will be able to walk over the Nile riverbed dry-shod. When the dam breaks, it will wreak terrible havoc, causing a flushing of the waters like an emetic. The Aswan Dam is still not filled to capacity because 300 years are needed to completely fill it with water. In the meantime, sluices control the flow, but if the dam ruptured with an earthquake, the whole basin of that large body of water would empty quickly—perhaps within a day. Both sides of the Nile would flood, and for the most part, the people of Egypt live along the couple hundred yards of fertility on both banks, that is, except for the Delta region. Up above, in southern Egypt, the flood waters from a ruptured dam would obliterate everything in their path. When the flood comes, terrible desolation will result. Only in the Delta region will some of the people be able to escape because the flood waters will follow the path of the three streams that presently exist. Other Scriptures also touch on this prophecy with regard to the Aswan Dam and the Nile River.

Israel would like to destroy the Aswan Dam, but we believe that an earthquake will accomplish the destruction. The setting of Zechariah 14:17,18, which mentions that there will be no rain in Egypt for a time, is after the inauguration of the Kingdom. Egypt will be an object lesson so that when other nations see the withholding of rain, they will more readily listen to the message of the Kingdom.

When the dam breaks, rainfall will be essential, for the water of the Nile will empty into the Mediterranean Sea. For centuries, the amount of annual rainfall in Egypt has been negligible.

Prior to the dam, the rains of Ethiopia, Uganda, Lake Victoria, etc., emptied into the Nile and flooded its banks each year. However, if the dam breaks, it will take time for the Nile to fill up to its former level. Similarly, but on a much smaller scale, when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River under Joshua, an earthquake and landslide temporarily stopped the river so that they could go over dry-shod. But in time, the pressure of the river behind the backup caused the water to work its way through, and the Jordan returned to its normal level.

“Edom shall be a desolate wilderness.” In the Kingdom, Edom will be a perpetual wilderness as a picture of the permanent destruction of the nominal Church systems of Christendom. Today  Edom is quite desolate with no large cities, but it will be even more desolate in the Kingdom.

For instance, Petra is only a tiny village. Edom will be visited in the Kingdom, but it will remain desolate as an everlasting lesson.

Q: Will Edom be established in any way in the future?

A: No Scripture so indicates. There will be no nation of Edom, just a plot of ground, showing that it will be insignificant forever. However, Egypt will be restored.

Joel 3:20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

Joel 3:21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

Israel will be cleansed and purged at the end of Jacob’s Trouble, leaving a holy nucleus, the Holy Remnant, on center stage when the Kingdom is set up.

“For the LORD dwelleth in Zion.” We are reminded of the ending of the Book of Ezekiel: “The name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there” (Ezek. 48:35).


1992 Study with Frank Shallieu

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  1. […] The term “Valley of Jehoshaphat occurs only twice in the Bible, and both times in the third chapter of the Book of Joel. The following quote comes from our verse by verse study in Joel […]

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