The scene in Joel is heavy. There is a plague for the ages through these vicious locusts. It appears according to chapter 1 that the effect is far-reaching and debilitating. In the midst of this, God looks ahead to a day of greater calamity and judgment. He looks ahead to the Day of the Lord.
We read of a gathering together of people in verse 14. However, instead of a gathering for a party or a celebration it is a gathering for judgment:
“Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)
This word decision could be translated cutting. It is a valley for judgment. There is a verdict that will be read and a sentence that will be executed.
The text goes on:
“The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake… (Joel 3:16)
The LORD is roaring like a lion in judgment. It is a powerful, sovereign roar from the King of all creation. He has assembled people before him for judgment.
But the verse goes on:
…But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. (Joel 3:16b)
Is this surprising? The one who roars in judgment is also a refuge for his people? I have to admit it struck me as I read through it. It reminded me of the Jonathan Edwards sermon on the diverse excellencies of Christ. He is both lion and lamb. Judge and Savior. Here he is the one who tears down strongholds making mountains quake before his enemies while being the stronghold, a secure fortress for his people.
This provides a sober warning to God’s enemies. He will in fact judge. Many will try to run from God but they will never be safe until they find themselves running to God.
It also serves to provide a word of encouragement to God’s people. He will protect, defend, and save you. The image of Aslan in Lewis’ Chronicles is irresistible here. He is the refuge for his people. When we read the Scripture we hear the Lion roar. His promises are comfort, his testimonies are our food. We live by them as we live for him.
(image courtesy of Shutterstock)