Verse of the Day

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pastor's Sermon Notes: The Battle is the Lord's (Joel 3)

Joel 3
The Battle is the Lord's [note 1]

1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. 4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; 5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: 8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it. 9 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: 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. 16 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. 17 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. 18 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 of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim. 19 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. 20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. 21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

Introduction:

The Chapters of Joel's Prophecy and the Prophet's Place in History

The Movement of Joel's Prophecy and the Flow of History

Outline:

I.  The Prophetic Pleading of the Lord Against the Oppressors of His People (3:1-8)

1.  The Gathering of the Nations - The Divine Intercession (3:1-3)
2.  The Verdict of the Lord - The Righteous Recompense - "What Goes Around Comes Around" (3:4-8)

II.  The Climactic Confrontation Between the Lord and the Enemies of His People (3:9-15)

1.  The Order of a Proclamation - The Total Mobilization - "Trash Talk" to "Bring It" (3:9-11)
2.  The Valley of Decision - The Ripe Harvest (3:12-15)

III.  The Marvelous Manifestation of the Lord's Power in the Future of His People (3:16-21)

1.  The Roar of the Lord - The Shaking Strength (3:16-17)
2.  The Day of Fulfillment - The Final Cleansing (3:18-21)

I.  The Prophetic Pleading of the Lord Against the Oppressors of His People (3:1-8)

1.  The Gathering of the Nations - The Divine Intercession (3:1-3)

1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

cp. vs. 12 - the valley of Jehoshaphat
cp. vs. 14 - the valley of decision
cp. vs. 18 - the valley of Shittim

"bring them down" - cp. vs. 11 - "thither cause thy mighty ones to come down",
and vs. 13 - "come, get you down"

2.  The Verdict of the Lord - The Righteous Recompense - "What Goes Around Comes Around" (3:4-8)

4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; 5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: 8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

cp. vs. 19 - Egypt and Edom
emphasis on "swiftly and speedily"
emphasis on Lord as possessor

II.  The Climactic Confrontation Between the Lord and the Enemies of His People (3:9-15)

1.  The Order of a Proclamation - The Total Mobilization - "Trash Talk" [note 2] to "Bring It" (3:9-11)

9 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: 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

The use of mocking irony and biting satire in God's confrontations of the heathen and their idols is woven throughout Scripture history and is prominent in the prophetic writings.  Eg., the plagues in Egypt, Elijah on Carmel, Isaiah, etc.

1)  Misapplied quotes in modern choruses:

Example 1 -

"Give thanks with a grateful heart 
Give thanks to the Holy One 
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son 

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
 Let the poor say, "I am rich
 Because of what the Lord has done for us"" [note 3]

Example 2 - 

"Let the weak say, "I am strong" 
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Let the blind say, "I can see"
It's what the Lord has done in me" [note 4]

2)  False teaching:

"Later Osteen wrote,
The Bible clearly tells us to speak to our mountains. Maybe your mountain is a sickness; perhaps your mountain is a troubled relationship; maybe your mountain is a floundering business. Whatever your mountain is, you must do more than think about it, more than pray about it; you must speak to that obstacle. The Bible says, “Let the weak say I’m strong. Let the oppressed say I’m free. Let the sick say I’m healed. Let the poor say I’m well off” (124).

He cited Joel 3:10 as the reference for his quotation. There are two problems here. First, only the words “let the weak say I’m strong” appear in the verse. The rest is loosely based on a contemporary Christian song. Second, in the context God is speaking to Israel’s enemies, threatening judgment. He is in effect saying, “Get ready and bring it on! Turn your plows into swords, and gardening tools into spears. Psych yourselves up. Tell yourselves that you’re strong and come on down!”" [note 5]

3)  Translations:  Some of them get the point across that is true to the context.

ESV - let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” [note 6]
RSV - let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” [note 7]
HCSB - Let even the weakling say, “I am a warrior.” [note 8]
NRSV - let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.” [note 9]
NLT - Train even your weaklings to be warriors. [note 10]
NASB - Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.” [note 11]
Lamsa - Let the weak say, I am a mighty man. [note 12]
NEB - Let the weakling say, 'I am strong', and let the coward show himself brave. [note 13]
Moffatt - Let your weaklings think them warriors, let your cowards think them heroes! [note 14]
Allen - Let the weakling think himself a fighter. [note 15]
Keil - let the weak one say, A hero am I. [note 16]

4)  Cross References:  The NASB cross reference (Zech. 12:8) misses the point, unless their intent in citing this passage is by way of contrast -

"In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them."

5)  An illustration:  "I am the greatest!" [note 17]  "Yea, that's right! That's right! We bad!" [note 18]  Say what?  Talk is cheap!

"The X-wing fighter has sunk, and only the tip of its nose shows above the lake's surface.
LUKE: Oh, no. We'll never get it out now.
Yoda stamps his foot in irritation.
YODA: So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?
Luke looks uncertainly out at the ship.
LUKE: Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.
YODA: No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.
LUKE: (focusing, quietly) All right, I'll give it a try.
YODA: No! Try not. Do. Or do not!! There is no try...." [note 19]


6)  The True Scriptural Exhortation:  Say what?  Talk is cheap! Don't just talk about it!  Be all that God commands you to be!  Just sayin' it's so don't make it so!  This is not some kind of "New Age" visualization!

1 Kings 2:2 - I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
1 Chron. 15:7 - Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
Is. 35:4 - Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
Haggai 2:4 - Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
Zech. 8:9 - Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
1 Cor. 16:13 - Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Eph. 5:10 - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
2 Tim. 2:1 - Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  
2.  The Valley of Decision - The Ripe Harvest (3:12-15)

12 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. 13 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. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

cp. vs. 2 - the valley of Jehoshaphat

Note that there is no battle! 
Where's the battle???  There isn't one!!!
When we learn that "the battle is the Lord's", we should understand that it means that there is no battle.  It is not just that there is no contest, or that the outcome is sure, but more than that, there is no battle!

III.  The Marvelous Manifestation of the Lord's Power in the Future of His People (3:16-21)

1.  The Roar of the Lord - The Shaking Strength (3:16-17)

16 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. 17 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.

2.  The Day of Fulfillment - The Final Cleansing (3:18-21)

18 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 of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim. 19 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. 20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. 21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

cp. vss. 2, 12 - the valley of Jehoshaphat, and vs. 14 - the valley of decision

cp. vs. 4 - Tyre, Zidon, all the coasts of Palestine

Conclusion:

When the battle is the Lord's, there is no battle!!!


[Sermon preached by Pastor John T. "Jack" Jeffery at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA on Sunday, June 9, 2013.]





Notes:

[1] I Samuel 17:47 - "And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands." (David to Goliath)  See also 2 Chr. 20:15 - "...the battle is not yours, but God's."
[2] "Trash-talk is a form of boast or insult commonly heard in competitive situations (such as sports events and multiplayer video games. It is often used to intimidate the opposition, but can also be used in a humorous spirit. Trash-talk is often characterized by use of hyperbole, or figurative language, e.g., "Mikael Johansson can't run! You run like honey on ice!" Puns and other wordplay are commonly used.
Trash-talk was commonly used by the heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, it has become common for boxers, wrestlers, and other sports competitors to use trash-talk."  Source: Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trash-talk [accessed 9 JUN 2013].  See also the Free Dictionary at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/trash-talk [accessed 9 JUN 2013].
[3] Don Moen, "Give Thanks".
[4] Hillsong, "Let The Weak Say I Am Strong".
[5] Gregory K. Hollifield, "Does God Want You to Be Rich? A Practical Theologian’s Response to the Gospel of Prosperity", Journal of Ministry and Theology 15:2 (Fall 2011), pg. 32.  [This essay was initially presented at the 2007 Spring Ministry Forum: “Understanding and Engaging the Prosperity Gospel,” sponsored by the School of Bible and Theology of Crichton College (Memphis, TN).]  He is citing here Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (New York: Warner Faith, 2004), pg. 124.
[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[7] The Revised Standard Version. 1971. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[8] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. 2009. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
[9] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[10] Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed.). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
[11] New American Standard Bible (1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973). New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[12] George M. Lamsa, The Holy Bible From Ancient Eastern Manuscripts, Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated from the Peshitta, The Authorized Bible of the Church of the East (Nashville: A. J. Holman Co., 1968), pg. 911.
[13] Note c:  "and let . . . brave: prob. rdg.; Heb. O Lord bring down thy warriors."  The Old Testament, in The New English Bible With The Apocrypha (Oxford: Oxford University Press, and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pg. 1109.
[14] James Moffatt, A New Translation Of The Bible Containing The Old and New Testaments (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1935), pg. 994.
[15] Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah , in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, gen. ed. R. K. Harrison (Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976), pg. 106.  "All available manpower is needed in this total war against God.  Even the physically weak and psychologically unsuited are not to be exempted.43  The last and least reserves would have to be drawn upon."  Op. cit., pg. 115.  Note 43. "Contrast Deut. 20:8; Judg. 7:3."
[16] Carl Friedrich Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets, trans. James Martin, Vol. X (2 vols. in 1) in Biblical Commentary on The Old Testament, by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, 25 vols. in 10 reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d.; 1982 reprint), I:225.  "Even the weak one is to rouse himself up to be a hero, "as is generally the case when a whole nation is seized with warlike enthusiasm" (Hitzig)."
[17] Me, as a teenager, imitating Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali).  Clay said this while being interviewed by Howard Cosell after defeating Sonny Liston for the first time (25 February 1964) as quoted by Dave Kindred in Sound and Fury : Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006), pg. 58.
[18] Gene Wilder as "Skip Donahue" and Richard Pryor as "Harry Monroe" in Stir Crazy (Columbia Pictures, 1980).
[19] The Empire Strikes Back (Lucasfilm, 1980) screenplay, Star Wars, first trilogy, second part (aka Episode V). The setting for this scene is the swamps of Dagobah.

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