Joel 3

The Lord Judges the Nations

1 'One day, at that time, I will make Judah and Jerusalem great again.

2 Then I will bring all the nations together.

I will bring them down to the valley called Jehoshaphat.

There I will judge against them.

I am angry for my children, my people from Israel.

Those other people pushed my people out into other countries.

They broke up my country and each took pieces.

3 They played games against each other.

In that way, they discovered which one would win my people.

(The people who won those games would own God's people.)

They gave boys to buy women. They bought those women to have sex with them.

They sold girls so that they could get wine to drink.

4 Tell me something, you people in Tyre, Sidon and all the country where the Philistines live. Tell me if I have done anything wrong to you. You want to punish me. If you do that, I will soon do the same to you. 5 You took my silver and my gold, and you put all my riches in your temples. 6 You sold the people who were in Judah and Jerusalem. You sold them to the people from Greece. You wanted to send them a long way from their own country.

7 Now I will bring them back from the places to which you sold them. I will do to you what you have done to them. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people from Judah. And they will sell them to the people from Sheba, who live far away. I, the Lord, have spoken.'

The Philistines and the people in Sidon did not love the true God. And they did not obey him. They also did bad things to God's people. But now they have to learn that God loves his people. He will punish anyone who fights against his people. Look also at Joel 3:19 and Matthew 25:31-46.

In verses 4 and 5, God speaks like a human person. He wants to help us to understand. But God does not need silver and gold. He has made all the silver and gold. His silver and gold are not for false gods.

Verse 8: This did happen later. An army from Persia was fighting against the Philistines then. And an army from Greece was fighting against the people in Tyre.

9 Tell this news to all the countries.

Get ready for war!

Shout to the soldiers.

Tell all the men that fight. Make them get ready to attack.

10 Get the tools that you dig with. Make them into sharp knives.

Get the tools that you use on the farm. Make them into long sticks that have points on the end. These sticks are to fight with.

Let the weak man say, 'I am strong!'

11 Come quickly, you people who live round Israel.

Get together in the valley. Lord, send your army down to attack them.

12 Wake up the people in all the countries!

Bring them into the valley called Jehoshaphat.

I will sit there to judge the people from every country.

13 Now is the time to cut down the fruits.

They are ready for you to bring them in.

Walk all over the grapes.

The winepress is full of them.

The grapes come out over the top.

The nations have done so many bad things.

14 Many, many people are in the Valley of Decision.

It is there that the Day of the Lord will soon come.

15 The sun and moon will grow dark

and the stars will not shine.

The Valley of Decision (verse 14) is a special name for the valley called Jehoshaphat (verses 2 and 12). In this valley, God will carry out his decision.

Verse 15: Look also at Joel 2:10, 30-31.

God will do Good Things for his People

16 The Lord will shout from Zion.

He will make a great noise from Jerusalem.

The earth and the sky will move about.

But the Lord will keep his people safe.

17 'Then you will know that I am your God.

You will know that I live in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy.

Strangers will never again come in to control it.'

God is ready to be kind to his people now because they have changed their attitude. And they have started to obey him again. He will protect Jerusalem. And he will protect the people who live there.

18 'At that time, new wine will flow from the mountains

and milk will flow from the hills.

All the valleys in Judah will have rivers of water.

Water will come from the Lord's house.

And it will water the Valley of Acacias (special trees).

There will be many places on the mountains where they grow grapes. From those grapes, people will be able to make a lot of wine. On the hills, there will be cows and goats that produce a lot of milk.

At that time, God will send to his people all that they need. He will send water to make things grow. He will even send water to the Valley of Acacias and other such places. That valley was a dry valley where trees called acacias grew. It was right on the edge of the country called Judah. In this way, the writer is saying that plants will be able to grow everywhere in Judah.

19 Egypt's people and Edom's people hurt people who lived in Judah.

And they killed innocent people there.

So Egypt will be an empty place and Edom will become an empty desert.'

Judah's people had done nothing wrong to Egypt's people or Edom's people. But people from Egypt and Edom had killed many people who lived in Judah.

Joel mentions 'innocent people'. The people in Judah had done wrong things against God's law. But they had not done wrong things against the people in Egypt and Edom.

20 'My people will always live in Jerusalem and in Judah.

21 I will forgive all the wrong things that they have done.

The Lord lives in Zion!'