The Gathering Tempest.
As nations gather for war, what is the Prophet Joel telling us?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
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This IS The Bible in the News with Paul Billington-- and THIS week get out YOUR Bible and find the prophecy of Joel. While you are finding it I just want to mention a couple of news items. These are some headlines that we have gathered over the past few days:
Lots to think about there over the happy holiday season! Who knows what Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair--or for that matter Mr. Olmert or the Iranian madman Ahmadinejad may actually do? On top of that we note a few other little items, such as:
- U.S. May Move into Kuwait for Surge into Iraq
- Iran a 'Major Threat,' says Blair
- Bush Looks to Reverse Course of Iraq War
- A Tryst with Destiny... The Gathering Tempest
- Army Chief Seeks more Forces, Reserves
- McCain Calls for More Troops in Iraq
- Why is the U.S. Building a Gigantic Military Base on the West Bank Border?
- U.S. to Boost Persian Gulf Force
These are all items of news which will be of significance to those who have an eye on Bible Prophecy fulfilling--but perhaps the one phrase used this past week which sums it all up is: 'THE GATHERING TEMPEST.' That is a phrase used by Yehuda Avner in The Jerusalem Post. Nations that say they are seeking peace--and who spend much energy in that direction--find themselves preparing for war. And is this not an echo of what we read here in the prophecy of Joel chapter 3? Look at verses 9 and 10.
- Turkey switches to Russia for Gas Supply
- Russia Defies West and goes Ahead with Nuclear Fuel Sale to Iran
- Assad (Syria) Urges Russian Role in Mideast Peace Talks
"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."
We see strong nations being drawn into the Middle East against their will. They talk about an exit strategy while calling for more troops and reserves in preparation for a surge into Iraq--or, read Tony Blair's lips--as reported by the BBC,
"There is no point in hiding the fact that Iran poses a major strategic threat to the cohesion of the entire region," Mr Blair told reporters. There were "major, major problems," in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, but "all of this is now overshadowed by the issue of Iran." He said it would be a "major challenge" to deal with Iran."
Note that headline referred to earlier--No. 8. US to Boost Persian Gulf Force. CBS reported:
"The United States is planning a major naval build up in and around the Persian Gulf as a warning to Iran... the deployment would begin next month (January) and would include a second aircraft carrier to join the one already in the region."
Well, we cannot say just what will actually happen as these nations are drawn into the Middle East and turn their oil drums into nuclear bombs or their pipelines into chemical weapons, but an explosion cannot be ruled out--an explosion that could have far reaching consequences and even change the current geopolitical map of the whole area.
But Iran is not the focus of Joel's prophecy even though it may be an important factor in drawing nations into the Middle East--just as we are seeing with Iraq. No; Joel's focus is "my people" and "my Land" (verse 2). It is also "the valley of Jehoshaphat"--verses 2 and 12.
Joel chapter 3 has an introductory section in verses 1 and 2. This speaks of the return to Judah and Jerusalem (1967 if you will) and then the gathering of all nations into the valley of "Shaphat," or judgement.
Why are they being brought for judgement? Because of the violence done against God's people (verse 2 and 19). The actions of these nations is given in verses 3 to 6, and has involved removing the children of Judah and Jerusalem "far from their border;" or into exile. Verses 7 and 8 then speaks of their return and so emphasizes the sense of verse 1. Place verses 1 and 7 alongside each other and this becomes clear.
But what of verse 8? Well, it has been suggested that there is a historical setting for much of this section (verses 3 to 8), but it does seem that events may yet involve Tyre and Zidon (Lebanon) and the Palestinians (verse 4). Could there be a population transfer to the Sabeans, that is "men of Sheba" (RV); in our day Saudi Arabia? Many Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank have said that they want to leave. A headline in an Arab paper on Nov 22 read: "Violence, politics cause Palestinians to look abroad." Associated Press on December 9 had the headline "More Palestinians Flee Homelands." One survey said that some 70% could be induced to leave permanently on the basis of material factors such as substantial financial compensation, guarantee of a good job and a good level of housing. It is an interesting viewpoint and certainly Saudi Arabia could come up with the goods if she thought it to be in her own interests to do so.
But if something of that kind did happen--and it is an "if"--it would doubtless trigger the gathering of the nations on a scale never yet seen. The remainder of Joel chapter 3 would follow on very naturally. The nations would come against the mountains of Israel and the people there with the intention of removing them. That is what Joel says. This is where we can move on from pondering the question, to the certainties. These were expressed by John Thomas in 1861 as follows:
"...in the days of the Restoration of Judah and Jerusalem, Jehovah will gather all national armies into the valley of Jehoshaphat or Armageddon; and there contend with them in battle for the possession of the Holy Land: that on the eve of this contest a proclamation shall be made among the nations, stirring them up to the war, which in the Apocalypse is styled "THE WAR OF THAT GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY;" that, at this epoch of restoration, Jehovah shall lead down his warriors to the conflict in the valley of judgment; that the harvest-sickle, and the vintage press, shall then do their work; that Jehovah, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and shake the heavens and the earth of the non-Jewish world, whose Sun and Moon shall be darkened, and the shining of their stars shall be destroyed..." (Eureka Vol. 1).
We hope to speak with you again next week God willing, right here on www.bibleinthenews.com or www.biblemagazine.com.
Printed: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
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