We heard God indicting the enemies of His people in Joel 3:2b-3. It is a
severe indictment of the accused, the hostile pagan people. They took what
was the LORD’s. They sold God’s people to give in to the lusts of their
hearts. Earthly pleasures, like wine and harlots, characterized their lives.
The LORD, as the highest judge, now begins a cross-examination of the
accused. We read in verse 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
recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return
your recompence upon your own head.”
Specific nations are mentioned here, as in Joel 3:19. In the other texts in
Joel 3, the language is more general. The enemies are called “nations”,
“gentiles’ or ‘heathen.’ In Joel 3:19 Egypt and Edom are mentioned. Here,
in Joel 3:4, Tyre, Zidon, and the regions of Philistia are mentioned. Tyre
and Zidon are the cities belonging to Phoenicia. Both the Philistines and the
Phoenicians were arch-enemies of Israel. Also, other prophets tell us that
the hostility was tremendous and their conduct toward Israel cruel (See for
example, Zechariah 9:1-8).
But what a comfort it is for us that the LORD knows our enemies, who are
also His enemies, by name! And more than that, He knows their misdeeds
against His people and Him. And even more than that, He defends His own
people. We do not have to judge our enemies; the LORD will do so. And
His judgment is perfectly just and will be carried out at the proper time. So,
we can show our enemies love, knowing God’s righteous judgment. We are
a witness of Christ and may show His image toward our enemies.
But what is the question in the cross-examination? We hear, “will ye render
me a recompence?” The LORD is asking the enemies if they will make
restitution with Him for their misdeeds. However, the LORD knows that
they are not willing to settle. Instead, they will add more evil to the long list
of their sins and misdeeds. Like Pharaoh, they are hardened. We don’t hear
their answer, which is significant. And therefore, the LORD continues, “if
ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon
your own head.” The LORD will come with His retribution, and He will do
so suddenly and quickly. This is Godly retribution. God will fully repay
them. God will do with them according to their deeds. They are dealing
with God, the Sovereign, the creator of heaven and earth, the Holy One!
Again, what a comfort this is for the Church of Gentiles and Jews. Let us
seek Christ, God’s Son, and leave all our affairs including our enemies in
God’s hand.

Rev. J. Th. Pronk