We continue to read the book of the prophet Joel. We have arrived at Joel 3:1 and read, "For behold, in those days, and in that time."
"For behold." The LORD is asking for our attention. He will do something special and asks us to hear and see. What He will speak and do will take place "In those days and at that time." When is the time of "those days"? We must then go back to Joel 2:19. There we read, "Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil." And in the following verses, the LORD promises to come with His blessings. These blessings are in nature, but more importantly, in the Teacher of righteousness, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
But then what is the LORD going to do beginning with the coming of Christ and the Holy Spirit? In the following eight verses, Joel 3:1-8, the LORD speaks of the coming judgment on the Gentiles. The following eight verses are about the condemnation of Israel's enemies, the Gentile nations. It begins broadly (all the Gentiles, verses 1-3) and ends specifically (verses 4-6). It speaks first of an actual historical situation for Israel; God acts concretely in history. But it goes beyond that. God here judges all His enemies on the great judgment day.
It is important what we read in Joel 2:32. There, it talks about salvation for all who call on the Name of the LORD! So, Israel stands for all who believe in the Teacher of righteousness, Jesus Christ. And the Gentiles here stand for all enemies of God and His people, in other words, all unbelievers who reject Jesus. We read in Ephesians 2:14 and 15 that the middle wall of separation has been broken down. And we read in Romans 11:17 that in addition to the natural branches, Israel, we wild branches, Gentiles, are grafted into the olive tree, Jesus Christ.
So, this is about God's judgment of the unbelievers. And that judgment has already begun. But it will culminate in the great judgment day. There is blessing and salvation in our time on the one hand and judgment on the other. It is like the two sides of a coin. Redemption and judgment go together. God is the one who chooses eternal life and calls and redeems. But that redemption is a righteous redemption. God saves through the execution of judgment. His judgment has two sides: saving and punishing. Christ bore God's wrath for the world's sin, so there is full salvation in Him. But there is condemnation for those who do not accept Jesus as their Savior!
Let us not pass by Jesus and remain under God's curse. For judgment will come! Let us flee to Jesus, who bore God's wrath for the sin of the world.
Rev. J. Th. Pronk