In verses 30 and 31, Joel picks up the theme of judgment again. He describes God's judgment in dark, poignant tones. It is a cosmic and universal judgment.
But the Lord does not leave the people of Israel and us without hope. Joel pointed to the Teacher of righteousness, the Messiah. Joel pointed to the work of the Holy Spirit. We know how these prophecies were fulfilled from Joel's mouth. Christ came and completed His atoning work, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the great Day of Pentecost. But this still raises questions for us. How does salvation work practically?
And so, God takes us further by the hand through the mouth of Joel, His prophet. We read in verse 32 “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”
These words explain the way of salvation. The basis of salvation is God's work through the Teacher of righteousness, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who brings us to that saving knowledge. But we are not passive in all this! Although salvation is a unilateral work of God's hand, salvation is concretely worked out in our lives, and the Lord uses our faculties and abilities in that work of our salvation.
And what is the way of salvation? We read, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered”. In other words, call on the LORD in repentance and trust in His word, the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Whoever calls on His Name will be delivered, not brought into judgment, but forgiven and counted righteous. And what is the basis of that calling on the LORD? Why can we be sure that that invocation will be answered? Joel continues, “for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said”. The guarantee of deliverance is the work of Jesus, finished just outside the walls of Jerusalem on the cross of Calvary. To call on the Name of the LORD is to pray in Jesus’ Name, to plead on Him and His work. And “whoseoever shall call shall be delivered.” Salvation is God’s work, and therefore, we can be sure that He will answer our call!
And so there will be a remnant. A remnant is chosen by God from eternity. The election is the door at which salvation swings open. It is an election in Christ (Ephesians 1:4), so let us go forth to Jesus in repentance and with faith.
Rev. J. Th. Pronk