Today we completed reading the prophecy of Joel. It contains predictions which are appropriate to the present situation in the Middle East. Chapter 3 starts with, “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations … and I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of my people …” (verses 1,2). What nations will He enter into judgment with? Verse 4 tells us, “What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, all the regions of Philistia?” In the days of Joel, these were the enemies of Israel, but this is spoken of the time God restores “the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” (verse 1). The latter day inhabitants of the Gaza strip which is where the Philistines dwelt are “men of war (who) draw near”. The prophet of them, you will “beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am a warrior’” (verses 9,10). The weak are talking tough, their spears have become rockets and they see themselves as warriors against God’s regathered people whose fortunes have been restored.

The prophecy is addressed to “all you surrounding nations” (verse 11), but then “multitudes” (verse 14) get involved. This verse refers to “a valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near”. Is this Armageddon? Note verse 16, “The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to the people of Israel”. A remarkable result of this awesome climax is that “Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it” (verse 17) – the very last words of the chapter being “… for the LORD dwells in Zion” – it surely pictures the kingdom of God in action with Jesus as king.

Now the end of chapter 2 told us that “everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved”, but we need to “know” the LORD, and have a relationship with him in order to call upon him – sadly some will be like the foolish virgins whose lamps (of faith) had gone out for lack of oil.

Our own constant reading, meditation and reflection on God’s word is a major source for oil. May you make sure you are among those “who call on the name of the Lord” like the worthies of old who were commended for not being “weak in faith” (Romans 14:19) but will among “those whom the LORD calls”.