Summary: In the end, God will have the final say about human history.
The Last Battle
Text: Joel 3:1-16
1. Illustration: Most people think the last battle of the American Civil War was at Appomattox Courthouse. The Battle of Palmito Ranch, also known as the Battle of Palmito Hill, is generally recognized as the final battle of the American Civil War. It was fought May 12 and 13, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas and a few miles from the seaport of Los Brazos de Santiago, more than a month after Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in the Eastern Theater. Though the Battle of Appomattox Court House is identified as the last major battle of the war, Palmito Ranch was the last engagement between organized forces of the Union Army and Confederate States Army involving casualties.
2. The last battle of the world will be called Armageddon. It is described as the rallying-place of the kings of the whole world who, led by the unclean spirits issuing from the mouth of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, assemble here for "the war of the great day of God, the Almighty" ( W. Ewing, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).
3. In that battle...
A. God Will Repay
B. God Will Have The Last Say
C. God's Will Be The Last Voice
4. Let's stand together as we read Joel 3:1-16.
Proposition: In the end, God will have the final say about human history.
Transition: In the final battle...
I. God Will Repay (1-8).
A. Valley Of Jehoshaphat
1. We live in a time where there is little or no reverence for God. People in our society think that they are more important than God. They have believed the lie that God doesn't exist and that, in the end, they will not have to answer to anyone but themselves.
2. Joel chapter 3 tells us a very different story. It begins with, “At the time of those events,” says the LORD, “when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem..."
A. Because of the judgments set during the "Day of the Lord," Israel's situation in the world will be dramatically changed, and God will deal justly with the nations of the world for the way they have treated His people Israel (Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets, 339).
B. The judgment is not merely a decision concerning guilt or innocence. It is God’s wrath on the nations.
C. As can be seen in Zech. 14:2f, God will summon the nations to war against Jerusalem so that He can bring his wrath upon them (The Complete Biblical Library – Daniel-Malachi, Under: "Chapter 3").
3. Then God says, "I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. 3 They cast lots to decide which of my people would be their slaves. They traded boys to obtain prostitutes and sold girls for enough wine to get drunk."
A. This great battle will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, a site mentioned nowhere else in Scripture.
B. In verse 14, it's called "the valley of decision," referring to God's decision (decree) to punish the nations.
C. Since the name "Jehoshaphat" means "the Lord judges," the name "Valley of Jehoshaphat" might well be symbolic, but some students believe it refers to the Plain of Esdraelon where the "battle of Armageddon" will be fought (Rev. 16:16).
D. Revelation 16:16 (NLT)
And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon.
E. Joel lists some of the sins that the Gentiles have committed against the Jews: scattering them among the nations; selling them into slavery; treating them like cheap merchandise for which people cast lots; plundering the land of its wealth; and taking what belonged to the Lord and using it for their own gods.
F. Of course, many of the tragic experiences that came to the Jewish people were disciplines from God because they had violated His covenant, but the Gentile nations went beyond discipline to exploitation (Wiersbe, 339).
G. The verb rendered "I will judge them" implies taking up a legal case against someone, usually with Yahweh as the plaintiff subject of the verb.
H. The nations have done something wrong to Israel, for which they are charged.
I. Rather than being the northern kingdom, the term "Israel" here most likely refers to the entire nation, identified in Joel 3:1 as "Judah."
J. She is described as belonging to Yahweh as "my people", explaining his special concern for them as his special "possession" (Baker, The NIV Application Commentary – Joel, Obadiah, Malachi: From biblical text...to contemporary life, 100).