Joel has just described the final judgment of God against those who, despite His offers of grace, have opposed and oppressed His people, and who have opposed God Himself. We pick up the action in verse 17:
“Then you will know that I, the Lord your God,
dwell in Zion, my holy hill.
Jerusalem will be holy;
never again will foreigners invade her.
There are three apocalyptic elements here: “Zion”, “Jerusalem” and “foreigners”. Zion refers to the temple mount in the city of Jerusalem where the presence of God was said to dwell in the midst of His people. Jerusalem was the city where God dwelt in the midst of His people. In the Old Testament, these were pictures of the reality which was to come in the Person of Christ. In chapter 2 we saw that the Holy Spirit had come upon those who would follow Christ and be redeemed and thus, God dwells in the midst of His people in our age in the Body of Christ, the church. Foreigners refers to those who refused to receive the grace He offers and thus in this post Judgment verse, those who have refused God’s grace are no longer in the picture.
“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias. (3:18)
New wine symbolizes Jesus Christ (Matt. 9:17), milk shows the Land has been redeemed and flows with abundance. Water symbolizes life; remember Jesus and “living eater”. The fountain shows that living water flows from God’s presence in the midst of His people (cf. Eze 47:1-12).
But Egypt will be desolate,
Edom a desert waste,
because of violence done to the people of Judah,
in whose land they shed innocent blood. (3:19)
Egypt in prophecy usually represents this world, Edom the enemies of God’s people. Notice that both are empty, for that is the meaning of “desolate” and what you find in a “desert waste”: Nothing. This world has been judged and is no more.
Judah will be inhabited forever
and Jerusalem through all generations. (3:20)
In contrast to this desolation (emptiness) God’s kingdom will be home to God’s people forever more.
Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged?
No, I will not.”
The Lord dwells in Zion! (3:21)
There will be a final judgment; of this we can be certain. I do not know when it will come, but come it will. It could be at any time, or it could be in thousands of years; no one knows, especially not the ones who say they do know. In my view, Joel makes the sweep of redemptive history very clear, and we can easily see that we are in the midst of it right now, today, December 2, 2016.
We know that God does not desire that any should perish in the final judgment, for He desires that all humanity should have eternal life, but as we look around us at this world we live in, it is clear enough to anyone that many, most actually, are headed for destruction. We might feel a sense of despair: “God, why don’t you do something to save these poor people?” “God, why don’t you send someone to do something?” Let’s keep in mind that He did send someone to be here right now, today, to bring His grace to the world we live in…
He sent YOU; He sent me. What will we, you and I, do TODAY to bring God’s grace to those around us?