The Great Example of King Jehoshaphat
The tiny nation of Israel is no ordinary nation. This should be obvious from the evening news. Israel is God's representative people-Exhibit A on the stage of history. The current behavior of this nation in the world arena-and her past history--reveal a track record of much failure and very few indications that they were ever paying much attention to the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Jesus. Israel's mere survival against enormous odds, (for 4000 years) is in itself proof of God's elective protection. Most of us who are Christians have seen that God is saving us in spite of ourselves, so also with the nation of Israel.
If Israel (with full knowledge) has done so poorly when relating to God, then what does that suggest about the rest of the nations?
God called aside the nation Israel; he marked it out as his own people. He made, in a sense, a stage of the little land of Israel. He bid the whole world to look upon that nation. What went on in that land is a portrayal of what is going on throughout the whole course of human history, and individually going on in each of our lives. If we see these books like this, they take on a tremendously intense meaning and purpose in our lives. The books of the Kings hold the secret of success in reigning over the kingdom of your life. It is the secret of learning to be submissive to the authority and dominion of God in your own life. In other words, man can never exercise dominion over his life unless he first subjects himself to the dominion of God. If you yield to God's dominion, you are given reign over the areas in your own life. On the other hand, if you refuse the dominion of God in your own life, you cannot under any circumstances, or by any means, fulfill your desire to be in authority over your life. It is impossible! This is what these books teach us. That is why all through this book you will find that the spotlight is on the throne. It is the king that is the important one -- for as the king goes, so goes the nation. In your life your will is king. What your will allows to enter in to control your life, determines how the kingdom of your life goes. (Ray C. Stedman, http://raystedman.org/adventure/0211.html).
The Jewish people are not inherently worse, or better, than other people-anti-Semitism is rooted in mankind's basic hatred of God not in some unusual attributes of the Jewish people.
"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and requites to their face those who hate him, by destroying them; he will not be slack with him who hates him, he will requite him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day.
"And because you hearken to these ordinances, and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love which he swore to your fathers to keep; he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict upon you, but he will lay them upon all who hate you" (Deuteronomy 7:6-15)
Israel was intended by God to be an invisible theocracy. God Himself would be their King. As long as all the people each followed the Lord with a single heart and from right motives, the nation would enjoy divine protection and great blessing. In practice the people failed utterly at this calling as soon as men like Moses, Joshua and Samuel were not leading them. After the anarchy and deep divisions recorded in the book of Judges (a period of 400+ years), God relented and gave them kings to rule over them. (See 1 Samuel 8) But Yahweh had previous anticipated this, and had made provision for future kings in the Law of Moses.
"When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,' "you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. "But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, 'You shall not return that way again.' "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. "Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. "And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, "that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)
Clearly, God had in mind that His kings should be servants and shepherds of the people. They were not to build empires for themselves. The nation's military power was always to come directly from the Lord. Entangling foreign alliances were forbidden--these would bring spiritual compromise and soon result in the infiltration of idolatry from the pagan nations around them.
We may think that democracy is a more advanced and "evolved" form of government. But the Book of Daniel shows otherwise. Human governments in the world have deteriorated since the days of Babylon's monarch Nebuchadnezzar. (His reign marks the beginning of what the Bible calls the times of gentile world dominion). God's intention for human government has always been government by a benevolent patriarch or monarch. But, history has shown that powerful monarchs are almost always tyrants and murderers caring neither for the living God nor for the welfare of the people. No nation in all of history has "gotten it right" as far as God is concerned. Therefore the entire world still waits for God's final intervention in the affairs of all the nations. Yahweh's King alone can solve the myriad, compounded, tangled problems of our race.
Isaiah 40 shows the insignificance of the world's "great" and mighty leaders as far as God is concerned.
"Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."
"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing . Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One." (Isaiah 40:9-25)
Psalm 2 plainly speaks of the coming Day when God's king will step out from behind the scenes in Jerusalem and take over the throne of His Father David:
Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill." I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling: kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles walk us step by step through the lives of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Saul flunked the course as King #1. King David emerges as the "man after God's own heart" because of his deep repentance when his sins were made known to him-and there were many (See http://pbc.org/dp/roe for a great study of David's life). Solomon started out very well, but failed the tests of Deuteronomy 17 badly at several major points. So much for the first 120 years. The divided Kingdom, after the death of Solomon (c. 931 BC), is worthy of careful study. Nothing good at all is recorded about any of the nineteen kings of the Ten Northern tribes (called "Israel"). They were hauled away into captivity by the Assyrians after only 209 years (in 722 BC). [The idolatry of Israel's first king Jeroboam caused the Levites and members of Northern tribes devoted to Yahweh to move to Jerusalem where the Temple service continued for 345 years--until 586 BC].
Most of the 19 kings of the Southern Tribes (Benjamin and Judah) were bad guys. (This should give us all pause when we consider the moral character of our own past presidents). A few of the "good" kings of Judah actually turned things morally and spiritually around-but only for a season. Even these good kings were flawed, and their reforms were inevitably incomplete. Still, they are great examples for any man or woman who seeks to follow God.
In each case, the spotlight is always on the king; it is what the king does in relationship to God that determines how the nation goes. The character of the kingdom is largely determined by the character of the king. When the king walked with God in obedience and humility, and worshiped and obeyed God in the temple in Jerusalem (or later in Samaria in the northern kingdom), God's blessing in prosperity and victory rested upon the kingdom. There was no such blessing for the northern kingdom because they had no godly kings. But in the southern kingdom, in the house of David, there was victory and prosperity when godly kings appeared from time to time. The rains came at the right times and the crops grew. The economy of the land flourished. There was victory over their enemies, even when the enemies came against them in allied forces. There was always victory when the king walked with God.
But when the king disobeyed and worshiped other gods, immediately famines broke out, droughts came, and invasions occurred. The land fell into difficult and extremely serious conditions. When the kings were in obedience, they were always types of Christ -- such as David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Joash, and Jehoshaphat. They pictured something of the sovereign, kingly reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. But when they were in disobedience, they were types, or pictures of the antichrist, the man of sin who is yet to appear upon the earth. This was the antichrist of whom Jesus himself said to Israel, "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive." (John 5:43) It is this man of sin, the quintessence of human evil, that is pictured by the kings of Israel and Judah when they walk in disobedience.
The thing that makes these books perennially fascinating to us is that this kingdom in Israel is a picture to each of us of the kingdom in our own lives. The nation of Israel was picked out particularly from the nations to be a representative of the individual human life. God chose Israel. Israel did not come into the position of prominence and favor in God's sight by their own efforts. God chose them. He formed them and molded them and produced a nation that would be a sample to all the world of what God is willing to do in any individual's life. As we read these books, we will find ourselves right in the midst of the problems and blessings and possibilities that are reflected in these books of the kings.
From the beginning there were always two divisions in the monarchy. Even under David this was true. When David first came to the throne, he was king only of Judah for seven years. It was not until after that seven-year reign that he became king over both divisions of the nation. This division between the ten tribes in the north and the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south where Jerusalem was located, existed right from the very start. Now it was intended to be this way, but they were all to be under one king. They represent the divisions in the human life. Everyone knows that there are two evident divisions of human life. First of all, there is the body of which we are so aware. We take it around with us. We spend our time taking care of it, primping it, dressing it up, painting it, unpainting it, and doing all the things necessary to keep it looking good. Unfortunately most of life seems to be spent in taking care of the body. But of course there is more than a body to each man. There is also the soul, the invisible part that contains the personality, and is so obviously gone when we look at the emptiness of a corpse and the terrible tragedy of death.
Here in the two kingdoms this division of life is acted out. The ten tribes of the north are representative of the body, while Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes of the south, represent the soul. It was in the southern kingdom that the capital city of Jerusalem was located, and the temple was in Jerusalem, and God dwelt in the temple. We know from the scriptures that in the human life there is not only a body and soul, but within the soul -- so closely linked to it that only the word of God can divide between the soul and the spirit -- is this dwelling place of God. It is there that the Holy Spirit takes up his residence when he comes into the human heart. When this happens, man is as God intended man to be. Without the Holy Spirit dwelling in the human spirit, man is only an incomplete example of what he is supposed to be. But when God the Holy Spirit comes in, he takes up his residence in the human spirit, the temple of the body. In the New Testament, this figure is drawn for us as we are told that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). If we permit the Spirit of God to dwell within our human spirit he governs our soul, thereby adjusting and controlling the body and the outward life.
This temple of the Spirit was in Jerusalem and all the worship of the kingdom was to be there. It was never to be in any other place. There in the temple in Jerusalem God had put his name. Likewise, in each human being the human spirit is to be the temple, the place of worship. Remember what the Lord Jesus said to the woman at the well about the nature of God? "God is Spirit," he said, "and those who worship him must worship [where?] in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him" (John 4:24, 23). He can find lots of worshipers who are worshiping him in soul -- mere soulish, emotional worship. But he is not interested in that. He is looking for that worship which is centered in the deepest part of human nature, in the spirit, and this is figured by the temple.
In your kingdom, your will is king, and nothing can take place in your kingdom except as it passes by the authority of your will. Therefore, what your will does, determines what your life will be like. If you willingly, obediently yield yourself to the influences brought into your life by the Holy Spirit dwelling in your human spirit, you are like the kingdom when David walked with God. The land flourished in abundance and prosperity and the influence of that little kingdom reached out to the uttermost parts of the earth. But if, like many of the following kings, you walk in disobedience -- if your will is defiant, and is set against the things of God; if you refuse his sovereignty and dominion in your life -- then the same kind of evil invasions that fell upon this kingdom will come into your life. You will no longer have any strength to repel the inward corruptions that ruin and take their toll upon your life and the lives of those you influence. Thus the kingdom falls into ruin. (Ray C. Stedman, http://raystedman.org/adventure/0212.html).
Jehoshaphat ["Yahweh has Judged"], fourth king of Judah (873-848 BC) was a great King. His major mistakes are obvious from the record (Read 1 Kings 22:41-50, then 2 Chronicles 17-20). Here in brief are some of the creative projects He instituted:
National Defense, Solidarity and Spiritual Reform
"Then Jehoshaphat reigned in the place of [good king] Asa his father, and strengthened himself against Israel. And he placed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had taken. [Civil war between the North and the South had been on again, off again for over a hundred years] Now the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David [i.e. he emulated the early life of David more than David's lesser later years]; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel."
"Therefore the LORD established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat, and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD; [his service to God was from the heart and not merely from an outward sense of duty or obligation]--moreover he removed the high places and wooden images [pagan cult temples and Asherah poles] from Judah."
Jehoshaphat's Grass Roots Instruction of all the People
"Also in the third year of his reign he sent his leaders, Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. And with them he sent Levites: Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Sahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah--the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests. So they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the LORD with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people."
Imagine this! The Word of God was actually taught (not preached) in town halls, public places and schools--throughout the land--by royal decree. Widespread public knowledge of the Bible (limited then to the Books of Moses mostly) brought a strong, positive response from God.
Result: Protection from God, Peace, Prosperity
"And the fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents and silver as tribute; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred male goats. So Jehoshaphat became increasingly powerful, and he built fortresses and storage cities in Judah. He had much property in the cities of Judah; and the men of war, mighty men of valor, were in Jerusalem."
A Large Peace-time Volunteer Army of Dedicated Men
"These are their numbers, according to their fathers' houses. Of Judah, the captains of thousands: Adnah the captain, and with him three hundred thousand mighty men of valor; and next to him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and eighty thousand; and next to him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself to the LORD, and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valor. Of Benjamin: Eliada a mighty man of valor, and with him two hundred thousand men armed with bow and shield; and next to him was Jehozabad, and with him one hundred and eighty thousand prepared for war. These served the king, besides those the king put in the fortified cities throughout all Judah." (2 Chronicles 17:1-18)
Chapter 18 of 2 Chronicles records Jehoshaphat's ill-advised attempts to cooperate with King Ahab of Israel. Ahab was killed in battle, though Jehoshaphat escaped by the grace of God.
"Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab [a very bad mistake] Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you. Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God." So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers."
Court Reform across the Land
"Then Jehoshaphat set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, 'Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. "Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.'"
Whoever heard of an American president, or even an American pastor boldly reminding the courts of the land that they represent the Just and Holy God of the universe? Jehoshaphat did exactly that-and got away with it as well-God was with Him. Our entire judicial system in this country-from top to bottom-needs Jehoshaphat's reminder that are accountable agents of God Most High.
A High Court to Bridge Civil, Ethical, and Religious cases
"Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the LORD and for controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem. And he commanded them, saying, 'Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart: "Whatever case comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the LORD and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty. And take notice: Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters; also the Levites will be officials before you. Behave courageously, and the LORD will be with the good." (2 Chronicles 19:5-11)
Threatened by a sudden invasion from Moab and Ammon (in league with Edom), (2 Chronicles 20:1-30) Jehoshaphat took the problem immediately to the Lord. In spite of his strong army and great wealth he saw himself as helpless unless the Lord of Hosts fought for His people. In an eloquent prayer reminding God of His promises to Solomon, Jehoshaphat called on Yahweh to fight for them. The result was an incredible military victory (with no losses). The principle activity on the part of Israel was worship, praise and singing! (See http://ldolphin.org/pornkings.html for the full story)
Rest from War, Crime and Violence
"And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around. So Jehoshaphat was king over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel." (2 Chronicles 19:29-20:34)
Application: For Us and for Israel
As the quotes above from Ray Stedman suggest, the kings of Israel and Judah show us how to walk with God as King of kings-how to rule and reign in life.
There is a greater application for the days in which we live. The nation Israel has once again been moved back to center stage of world history. This time God intends that Israel will "get it right." Based on all the Bible tells us about the end of this age, Israel's final rise to power as head of all the nations will only come after the most terrible time of suffering she has ever known. It should be no surprise to us to see the rising hatred directed against Israel by almost all nations of the gentile world today. An archetypal, final world war against good and evil will soon be waged in that very land. (Revelation 19:11-21)
Christians are admonished in the Bible to support Israel and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, (e.g., Psalm 122). This is not because Israel's present behavior is exemplary or godly, but because God is keeping His promises to their forefathers. The behavior of Israel's enemies bodes ill for them. Apart from the repentance of these opposing individuals and nations they remain without God and without hope in this world. Yahweh will not fight with them or for them. In the end the enemies of Israel will fight Israel's God-and lose.
Be sure of this: any person in the world of any race, religion or ethnic background is most welcome [is urged in fact] to join God's family. This is simply a matter of each of us allowing God's appointed Savior for all the world, Jesus Christ, to rescue us from the universal death and darkness which grips all branches of the human race. "
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:8-13)
As for the United States, we do not, as a nation, have a covenant relationship with God as Israel does. We can not ask our President to do the same things Jehoshaphat did. The real power to change things at this point in our history is in the hands of Christ's true church. Any one of us, better still a group of us, acting in the name and authority of our Lord, can ask God for great things on behalf of His coming kingdom. In the coming Kingdom Age, what is left of our nation will need a new government (truly under God) subject to Jesus the King of kings in Jerusalem--along the lines Zechariah Chapter 14 outlines. Jesus will "rule the nations with a rod of iron," and we, His church, will rule with Him. Surely the events the prophet Joel spoke of in 800 BC lie not far ahead for mankind today:
"For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it. "What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken."
Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am a warrior." Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there. Bring down thy warriors, O LORD. Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. And the LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake.
But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. "So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it. "And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the valley of Shittim. "Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the LORD dwells in Zion." (Joel 3)
April 27, 2002
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