For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. (Joel 3:2)In this passage set within the context of The Day of the Lord (Joel 2:2, 31), Joel indicates all nations will be gathered to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (a compound from Hebrew Yahweh and shaphat, meaning “Jehovah has judged”1 ) where He will enter into judgment with them. For what reason will God gather the nations at this time—yet future to our day? “On account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land.” [emphasis added] This point is extremely important to understand: this passage is not talking about the Church! God is not talking about defending the faithful in general—in terms of some sort of “spiritual land” which the nations have trespassed! No, He is talking about His heritage Israel (cf. Jer. 50:11)! Notice that there will already be a gathering of Israel back into the land, but God is furious with all nations on account of their opposition to Israel’s God-given right to His land! We can hardly overemphasis the importance of understanding the issues surrounding possession of the land which God gave Israel. Our modern age is moving rapidly to embrace the mindset of Babylon of the end: “All who found them [the lost sheep of Israel] have devoured them; and their adversaries said, “We have not offended, because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.”” [emphasis added] (Jer. 50:7) Even evangelical Christians, who should know better, embrace such a view. Many stand opposed to Israel’s struggle for her Promised Land. They see Israel’s rejection of her Messiah, Jesus Christ, to warrant her implacable opposition by God and as justification for their own latent anti-Semitism. They believe all her promises have passed or been forfeited and the secular state she is now is to be opposed. But Almighty God says otherwise: “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel” (Jer. 51:5).A few verses later, Joel gives more detail as to the gathering of the nations. It will involve mighty men who are prepared for war:
Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for 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 pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ ” Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress 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 moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:9-16)Notice the motif of the harvest and especially the winepress. These are the themes of Revelation 14:17-20+. (See commentary on Revelation 14:17 and Blood Stained Garments.) Notice too the nationalistic aspect of the passage. God will roar from Zion (Jerusalem) while he promises to be a shelter for Israel.Zephaniah also discusses an assembly of kingdoms in preparation for the campaign:
“Therefore wait for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all my fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering. In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgress against Me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain. I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.” (Zep 3:8-12)The context is prior to the Millennial Kingdom when God will restore to the peoples a pure language and when offerings will be brought and shame will be gone. He also mentions a purging where the prideful and haughty will be taken from their midst and humility shall prevail.
Here not only giving the millennial nations “cleansed” or “purified” lips, as regenerated peoples, but apparently also in the sense that “lip” signifies “language” (Gen. 11:1, 6-7, 9), and possibly indicating that the Hebrew language will be the one universal language of the Kingdom age (Zec. 14:9). That would be not all that surprising, since Israel will be the chief nation in that economy (Deu. 28:13) and Jerusalem in that day will be the religious and governmental capital of the millennial earth (Isa. 2:2-3; Zec. 8:20-23). Moreover, it is all the more probable since the judgment of the nations at the second advent will eventuate in the destruction of the satanic world system . . . That system had its beginning in ancient Babylon with its pride, idolatry, and rebellion (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-6). The gift of a pure speech will remove the curse of Babel, and it will anticipate the great millennial outpouring of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32), of which Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11) was an illustration.2The nations will assemble with their own agenda. Being ignorant of the Scriptures, and rebellious in any case, they will not be aware that they have already begun to drink from the cup of God’s wrath. They are already intoxicated and on their way to fulfill their own destruction.Since all nations are involved, and the world is controlled by a ten-nation confederacy allied with the Beast, Scripture does not offer a great deal of additional information concerning the identity of specific nations. Nevertheless, some information can be gleaned from passages such as Daniel 11+ and Revelation 16+ which make general mention of some of the players:
There will be four great world powers: (1) the ten kingdom federation of nations under the Beast which constitutes the final form of the fourth great world empire; (2) the northern federation, Russia and her allies; (3) the Kings of the East, the Asiatic peoples from beyond the Euphrates; and (4) the King of the South, a north African power or powers. Another great power must be added, because of His active participation in the campaign; (5) the Lord and His armies from heaven. While the animosity of the first four is vented against each other and against Israel (Zec. 12:2-3; 14:2), it is particularly against the God of Israel that they fight (Ps. 2:2; Isa. 34:2; Zec. 14:3; Rev. 16:14+; 17:14+; 19:11+, 14-15+, 19+, 21+).3The degree to which Russia plays a part depends upon whether one views Ezekiel 38 and 39 as being part of the Campaign of Armageddon and on whether one takes “prince of Rosh” to describe the leader of Russia or a “chief prince.”4 It is our view that Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe a different conflict which is not part of the Campaign of Armageddon. See Gog Attacks Israel. Even if the Ezekiel passage is unrelated, Russia could still be involved since Daniel mentions a “king of the North” who attacks Antichrist at the time of the end (Dan. 11:40+).5
1 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), H3092.
2 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Zep. 3:9.
3 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 342.
4 Rosh means head, chief, or leader in Hebrew.
5 “The chronology of Daniel 11:36-39+ refers to the period of world rule, and, therefore, is later than Ezekiel 38 and 39. Hence, it may be concluded that the battle described here, beginning with verse 40, is a later development, possibly several years later than the battle described in Ezekiel. If a Russian force is involved in the phrase, ‘the king of the north,’ it would indicate that, in the period between the two battles, Russia is able to reassemble an army and once again participate in a military way in this great war.”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), 278.