Summary: A Divine D-Day Is Coming 1) Destruction for unbelievers 2) Deliverance for believers
The operation was the largest single-day invasion of all time. Just under 200,000 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel delivered over 130,000 troops along a stretch of the Normandy coast in France. They, in turn, were supported by 12,000 aircraft flying 14,000 sorties. These invaders’ goal was to get past the well-entrentched German army that was 250,000-troop strong. June 6th, 1944, “D-Day” as we now simply call it, was a pivotal day in the Second World War. It opened the way for the destruction of the Nazis and the deliverance of Europe.
As many bombs fell and bullets were fired on the D-Day of 1944, that day will pale in comparison to the Divine D-Day that is coming. This D-Day will not just lead to but be a day of destruction for unbelievers and a day of deliverance for believers.
Divine D-Day is of course just another name for Judgment Day. In our sermon text the prophet Joel, who lived about 830 B.C., gives us three pictures of Judgment Day. In the first picture God summons the peoples of this world to do battle with him. “9 Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears… 12 ‘Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side” (Joel 3:9, 10a, 12).
What strikes me about this section of Scripture is how confident God is. He sounds like a hotshot warrior summoning, even taunting his enemy to grapple with him. God is so confident of victory that he doesn’t take up a defensive posture in preparation for this battle. He doesn’t even stand up to meet the invading army. He just coolly sits on his throne of judgment!
Is God overconfident? Not at all. He’s taken on these kinds of armies before. By summoning his enemies to the Valley of Jehoshaphat God seems to be alluding to a battle he fought during the reign of King Jehoshaphat, the fourth king of Judah. One day, word reached this king that the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites were coming to attack with what was described as a “vast” army (2 Chronicles 20:2). Although Jehoshaphat had a capable army at his disposal he first ordered his people to fast and then he prayed for the Lord’s help. God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer by giving a Levite this message: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s’” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Since this battle was the Lord’s, King Jehoshaphat and his army marched to the battle site simply to observe what God would do. As they marched they sang words familiar to us: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21). That doesn’t sound like an appropriate battle cry but it was and is. Jehoshaphat and his men were already giving thanks for the victory they knew God would grant. And when they arrived at the battleground they saw dead bodies of the enemy all around them. Not one soldier from the invading army was left alive and Jehoshaphat’s men hadn’t fired a single arrow! God had caused the enemy to fight one another! This incident illustrates how God allows testing into the lives of believers so that they get to see his grace and power at work. As a result, it will move us to praise God all the more. So give thanks to the Lord, no matter what you’re battling, for the battle is really the Lord’s and his merciful love for you endures forever!
Just as God single-handedly dispatched the vast army of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites so he will one day forever dispatch all those who dare fight against him. Could that be us? How can it? We’ve never taken up arms against the Lord, have we? We may never outwardly curse God and seek to destroy his Church but Divine D-Day may end up being a day of destruction for us if we’re not careful. To explain what I mean let’s take a look at Joel’s second picture for Judgment Day. Joel writes: “13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe” (Joel 3:13a).
Comparing Judgment Day to harvest day is an illustration that Jesus also used. It’s so familiar that we may fail to see ourselves in the picture. Perhaps this illustration will make us take pause. A farmer noticed that every autumn a tragedy played out in his cornfields. All summer long families of field mice had made their homes among the growing plants. They ate and slept, they worked and played and raised their families. The mice imagined that those green fields belonged to them. But then one day, at the end of the summer, the mouse community got an awful shock. The farmer entered the fields with his harvesting machinery and all of a sudden those comfortable summer homes and food pantries that the mice had enjoyed came crashing down on their heads.