The first eight verses of Joel 3 makes us witness of God’s trial against
Israel’s enemies. First, we heard the summons with the time and place of
the trial (verse 1-2a). Then follows the official indictment of the accused
(verses 2b-3) and the cross-examination of the accused enemy Gentiles
(verse 4). Finally follows, the verdict in verses 5-8.
Now what are the trial’s conclusions and the ground for the verdict? We
read in verses 5-6, “Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have
carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 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.”
We read two things. First, the temple has been looted! The temple has been
defiled and desecrated. And more than that, the temple building has been
robbed of its precious materials and sacred objects that were used in the
temple service. That which was dedicated to the service of the LORD and
showed Who He is in His holiness and righteousness has been stolen! These
things were pleasant and good in the sight of the LORD, and they are now
being used in idolatrous temples.
But there is a second complaint. The children of Judah, in other words, the
children of the LORD are being stolen! But the children of Judah are the
LORD's property. They are a holy people, set apart to serve and worship
Him. But they are being taken away. And the means to serve the LORD are
stolen from them. Temple service is made impossible by the temple's
destruction and by the people of God being taken to another pagan land.
Therefore, God’s judgment is clear. God will repay them this evil “eye for
an eye”. We read in verses 7 and 8, “Behold, I will raise them out of the
place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon
your own head: 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.” Historically this judgment has
come true. Consider, for example, Alexander the Great's conquest of Tyre
in 322 BC in which he took 30,000 people into slavery. 'For the LORD has
spoken it'. So, the judgment has been established and will be carried out.
But let there be no mistake. God will fulfill his word. He is a God of justice.
He will redeem His people, but He will also judge His and their enemies.
This is a fierce warning but at the same time a precious comfort. The LORD
will defend His people and judge their enemies. Let us leave that judgment
in His hands and serve Him with gladness of heart, knowing of full
redemption in Christ.
Rev. J. Th. Pronk