In these verses, God deals with those who have opposed Him and who have refused His offer of grace: This is His Final Judgment.
As you will recall from last time, 3:4 is the beginning of His indictment and conviction of the damned, for in their continual opposition and oppression of His people, they have opposed and oppressed God; their chance to repent and receive His grace and mercy has ended. This Judgment continues through v. 6 as God continues with His complaint against the Nations, and then in 3:7-8 sentence is pronounced:
“See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The Lord has spoken.
A little bit of advice: Whenever you see the words “The Lord has spoken” in Scripture, it’s a good idea to take careful notice. In this case, time is up.
What follows is interesting indeed, for in 3:9-11 the host of heaven is called to assemble, and in 3:12-13 the Nations are gathered before God to be judged, and in v. 14 ff. His final judgment is executed using all of the imagery we saw in Revelation; they are destroyed and eliminated from the earth.
It’s all over for those who opposed God and His people.
For many who read this, you might be wondering something like “But wait what about God’s love? A loving God would never do this!
May I suggest an alternate question?
How could a loving God not do this?
A very long time ago, when I was 19 or 20, I met a young lady who was just about the most amazing young lady I had ever met; I was smitten, slain of heart. I got to know her at my job, and on a few occasions we went out with groups of people and had the chance to become better acquainted. The more time I spent around her, the more I was taken with her; I was in love for the first time. On one of those outings, I got my courage together and asked her out on a date, and much to my surprise, she said “yes”.
Sadly for me, her roommate overheard this and took her aside very quickly and said, “hey, you can’t go out with him, he’s a jock, everyone will laugh at you, you’ll lose all your friends.”
She hesitated for a moment, and turning back to me she said, “I’m sorry but I can’t go out with you.” I was very troubled by this, grieved would the word to describe my reaction. I pondered what I should do, but in the end I decided that if I really loved someone, and that person didn’t want my love, then I had to let them go, for to try to twist her arm or put pressure on her wasn’t love at all, it was brutality and/or oppression, and how could I do that to someone I love?
In the end, although at the time I felt I had a great deal of love to offer her, she declined to have it, and as a result, as sad as I might have been, she never got it.
Mankind chose to rebel against God; He didn’t force anyone to do this, yet we did it, for each and every single one of us has sinned against Him a multitude of times. Because God is a loving God, He sacrificed His Son that we might receive His grace… can you think of a greater sacrifice He could have or should have made to express His love for His children?
Grace has been offered freely to all who would receive it; those on the wrong side of the Final Judgment had an entire lifetime to receive it, but they declined do so. Yet anyone who did receive it had their sins not only forgiven, but taken away completely, as though they had never sinned at all; that is where the love is in the prophecy, and we’ll read all about it in the next and final section of Joel. See you next time!