Joel’s Chronology of the End Times: Part 2

Norbert Lieth

What will the end of the world look like? The Scriptures reveal more about this than we may think. Israel is expected to play a key role. The prophet Joel reveals why.

“They have,” as the Lord says through Joel, “parted my land.” The Middle East conflict is described as the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian leadership over the same land. The dispute has lasted for decades and provoked several wars. Tyre, Sidon, and the region of Philistia are still extremely hostile to Jews. Dr. Roger Liebi points out that “Philistia” denotes the land of the Philistines. The word “Palestinian” has its origin in the Latin word for Philistine. In Arabic it is easier to see. The word for Philistine in the Arabic Bible is Filastini. “One possible modern translation would be ‘Palestinian territories.’”

In fact, the fight for the land began with the re-entry of Jews into their millennia-old homeland. The Jews claimed their homeland; the world powers were struggling for a solution, and the Arab States would have preferred a “Final Solution.” The UN, in which the peoples unite, doesn’t pay attention to the fact that God says that they “parted my land.” The nations believe they can dispute Israel’s right to the land with one resolution after another. They don’t realize they are rebelling against God, and that He will hold them accountable.

The Europe Israel Press Association writes: “On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted and accepted the partition resolution, by 33 votes to 13. The plan called for the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. According to the partition plan, the Jewish state was to receive about one-third of the small, fertile coastal plain with Galilee, and about two-thirds of the large, barren area of the Negev desert; altogether 56.47% of the remaining mandate of Palestine without Jordan. The Negev desert could not be used for agriculture at that time, nor could any cities be built there.

“According to the United Nations Partition Plan, the area including Jerusalem and Bethlehem would become an international zone.

“The Zionist leadership officially accepted the UN Partition Plan, although it had hoped to find a way to extend the borders of the Jewish state. The Palestinian Arabs and the surrounding Arab states, on the other hand, rejected the UN Partition Plan and considered the vote of the General Assembly an international betrayal. Subsequently, they launched a coordinated military attack against the Jews just days after the adoption of the UN plan.”

The ensuing wars always involved sharing the land, establishing a Palestinian state, not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and eliminating the Jews as thoroughly as possible. The international community aspired and strove for a two-state solution; this ended up as Palestinian self-governing areas. Terms such as “Camp David I and II Accords” and “Oslo Accords I and II” went down in history. At the time of Camp David II in 2000, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat the relinquishment of 95% of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as the declaration of parts of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. But Arafat refused. If anything, the Palestinians are pushing for two separate states within the 1967 borders, which would be suicidal for the Israelis to accept.

Due to the horrible terrorism that killed many civilians, the Israeli government was forced to build fences and walls that separated the Jewish territories from the Palestinian. The East Bank fell to the Jordanians, and the West Bank is repeatedly disputed. The US is aiming for a two-state solution and repeatedly offers itself as a mediator, but has failed thus far. In February 2017, US President Donald Trump said, “I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.”

Seen from the prophetic Word of the Bible, there could well be a division in Israel and Jerusalem. Not only does Joel address this, but also Jesus. Jerusalem will be crushed by the nations until the times of the nations are fulfilled (Luke 21:24; Rev 11:2). But the times of the nations only come to an end with the Great Tribulation and the subsequent return of Jesus in glory. The future therefore will be very exciting, and we can see how current Joel’s prophecy is.

The land conflicts have always led to wars, and it’s likely to get worse. Zechariah also reports on this: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zech 12:2-3).

This leads us to the next point in Joel’s chronological prediction: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats 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” (Joel 3:9-14).

In His well-known discourse concerning the signs of the end of the age, given on the Mount of Olives, Jesus Christ spoke of wars and rumors of war, of nations in dispute, as in the beginning of labor (Matt 24:6-8). The opening of the second seal in Revelation, for the dawning of the Day of the Lord, also speaks of wars (Rev 6:3-4). It was prophesied by Daniel, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dan 9:26).

That is exactly the course of our world history: the Messiah was crucified. Later, the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD and 135 AD, in an overflowing tide. From that time onward, the history of the city would be filled with war and destruction. And indeed, since then wars and devastation—especially concerning Judaism—have been raging incessantly. This will continue all the way until the end comes.

Wars, uprisings, riots against Judaism, pogroms, persecutions, Islamic oppression, inquisitions, the First and Second World Wars, conflicts and terrorism after the return of the Jews to their land…it will continue until the return of the Lord. And this end will be the completion of the age and the end of the times of the nations (Matt 24:3; Luke 21:24). “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt 24:13-14).

Revelation 16 speaks of the battle of Armageddon: “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (v. 16). This statement is based on the statement in Joel 3:11, because it seems to be the same event: “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.” The final battle of the valley of Jehoshaphat begins in Armageddon, and then enters the valley. In the midst of the world’s disastrous story, God writes His story of salvation. Throughout all the wars and times of crisis, it again came to the Jewish state. The still-existent Judaism is a sign of God maintaining His covenants with Israel. It is He who gathers the peoples for judgment. Jehoshaphat means “Yahweh judges.” There He will go to court with the peoples, and the Lord will appear in glory in that region. Israel is saved there in its most difficult hour.

“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 3:15). This statement was already anticipated in Joel 2:10, and is repeated here. So, before the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, a Great Tribulation is in store. Israel will be in great distress. Allied nations will oppose Israel; there will be a covenant with the West. Nations will attack Israel under the leadership of the Antichrist. There will also be a covenant of the peoples of the north and east (Dan 11; Rev 16), but God will intervene from heaven.

For the judgment, both Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14:14-20 use the image of the reaping and harvesting of grapes. Jesus Christ mentions that the sun and the moon will be darkened (Matt 24:29). Revelation 6:14 speaks vividly of the heavens being rolled up like a scroll. All these formulations follow the same course.

“The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more” (Joel 3:16-17).

In those days, the Messiah of Israel will return. The times of the nations will come to an end, and Israel will be saved. First, He will appear on the Mount of Olives, then come to Zion to fight in Jerusalem for His people. He is the “Lion of Judah” (Rev 5:5), who will roar and protect His people. The Israelites will recognize Him, repent, and accept Him as their Messiah. Jerusalem will be holy, with the Lord Himself dwelling in it. And the prophecy from Joel 2:27 mentioned at the beginning of this series will be fulfilled: the Holy Spirit will be poured out, and the Jews will become the missionary people to the nations.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion” (Joel 3:18-21).

The earth will enjoy God’s blessings to the full. There will be no more shortages. The glory of the Messiah will spread over everything. A spring will burst forth from the coming temple and irrigate the valley of Shittim, which lay on the north shore of the Dead Sea. This statement aligns with the prophecies of Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Zechariah 14:8. It is a beautiful picture of the Lord’s victory over sin, death and the devil. Where He rules, life is abundant.

The opposite, however, is true of Egypt and Edom (Jordan). They will become a wasteland and desert because of their violence against the Jewish people, because they have raised themselves against God and touched the apple of His eye. These two places could well represent all peoples who rise up against His Word, His covenants, and His people. In almost every prophetic word about the Day of the Lord, these two nations are mentioned (Ezek 30:3ff.; Jer 46:2-10; Isa 34:6-8; Obad). In this regard, it’s very interesting and topical that among the Arab states, only Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) have signed a peace agreement with Israel. Is it possible that these peace treaties will someday be broken and Israel will be stabbed in the back, necessitating a special judgment? Thus, blessings and curses stand in opposition to each other: in Christ is blessing and the fullness of life. But anyone who opposes Him in unbelief and rebels will wither away spiritually, mentally, and eventually in judgment.

Judah and Jerusalem shall endure forever, which underscores the faithfulness of God. Israel is being cleansed of its blood guilt,  since the crucifixion of Jesus and its cry, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt 27:25). Forgiveness will lie in the knowledge and acceptance of the Messiah. The Joel chronology ends with the glorious statement, “the LORD dwelleth in Zion.”

Thus, in Joel, we see prophetically and in chronological order: the events of Pentecost (although not yet a complete fulfillment), the church age (hidden from Joel), the renewal of the State of Israel, the division of the land, war, the Great Tribulation, the return of the Lord Jesus, and the messianic kingdom. God’s prophetic Word promises Israel a restored land, a redeemed people, a holy city, and a glorious King.

Without being able (or wanting) to calculate a point in time, we can say that we have entered the time period shortly before Christ’s Second Coming.

News From Israel - 06/2019

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