Minor Prophets: Teachers & Preachers





Joel - Prophet of Pentecost


Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.
That is where we all live, in the valley of decision. We are living between the mountains of today and tomorrow. Where we will spend eternity is decided in this valley.

Joel spoke of the "day of the Lord." Today is the day of man. It is the day of sin, and suffering, and sorrow. We would do well to remember that when we look around at world conditions. It is the day of man. It is the day of war and rumors of wars. It is the day of pollution, toxic waste, nuclear contamination, and the day of destruction. It is the day of immorality, of AIDS, and crime and corruption. It is the day of man. Around us we see what are consequences of decisions man has made. Godís day is coming. That will be the day of light, and truth, and peace. That will be a day of health and happiness. That will be a day of judgment and justice. It will be a day that manís fate is forever fixed. It will be for some a day of joy, for others a day of dread. For some it will be one of reward, for other restitution. It will be an awful day of great finality. someone wrote:

"I dreamed that the great judgment morning had come and the trumpet had blown. I dreamed that the nations had gathered in judgment around the great white throne." That day is coming.

The day of the Lord will be the time when God will sort out, examine and judge. It is a day fixed in the secrets of eternity and the heart of God. This "day of the Lord" has been the object of scorn, laughter, and ridicule by sinners, but that does not stop Godís time piece from ticking ever closer to that day. Godís word will come to pass. It is the great day. It will be a time when a voice from heaven will call for all to assemble themselves ( Rev. 20:11-12). There will be the final exam when the books will be opened, and all will be judged. Jesus spoke of this day. "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate one from the other as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matt. 25:32). All the scriptures point to that coming day. "It is appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment" Heb. 9:27. "But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" 2Pet. 3:7. " Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of their ungodly deeds which they have committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" Jude 14-15. A final day is coming for man, and time shall be swallowed up in the eternity of God. How men shall stand on that day will be determined not then but now. Today we will make the decision that decides that day.

What will happen on that day will not be determined by God (although, for Him the future is already as passed), it will be determined by us now. We are multitudes, multitudes passing through the valley of decision.

The church is simply a valley of decision. Each Sunday morning multitudes make decisions that will determine their destiny. The school classroom is a valley of decision every morning. Countless numbers of children make the choices that will determine their eternal destiny. The marketplace is a place where a million little choices will be made, and each one will have its effect on the ages. Each dollar spent brings us closer of farther away from God. A manís life is the sum total of the choices he makes. From the type of clothes we wear, to what we eat, to where we work or worship all contribute to the person we will be when we stand before the accounting on the great day of the Lord.

Joel saw two armies come face to face in the valley of Jehosophat. One was good, the other evil. He had a vision of the great and ultimate battle known to us from another place as the battle of Armageddon. It is the final great facing off of light and darkness. The book of the Revelation paints an awful picture of that day. The outcome of that battle will decide if evil triumphs over good. Of course it will not. That was demonstrated at the cross. Yet men who refused to believe the cross was a conflict of truth against error shall stand helpless on their own judgment day when they stand facing the truth alone. When a sinnerís sins come riding to meet them on judgment day like a blood- thirsty mongol hoard and cover the horizon like a plague of locusts, the sinner will forget about fighting, and simply drop their sword of pretension before such an ugly army of their own deeds and thoughts.

In a vision, Joel saw that great day and sounded an alarm. There have been many others who have read Joelís words and have become alarmed enough to "blow the trumpet" and call for a "solemn assembly" 3:15.

The coming of the Lord will be a day of great victory for the righteous, yet even they should tremble at the day reckoning, and be concerned for the lost. "Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Is not the meat cut off before ours eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?" (1:15.) Joel was not sure what he was seeing. When a prophet gazed through an open window of eternity, time became confused. There are many little judgment days in history. Joel saw some of those lesser as well as the greater and final day.

While we will not always understand what God shows us, we always believe it. Explaining judgment is not as important as preparing for it. "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand."

In 1915 there was an enormous locust plague that swept across Palestine. National Geographic described it in great detail. It was like reading a chapter out of Joel. Students should not spend too much time studying the insects nor waste an inordinate amount of time trying to determine when was Joelís birthday or what king was in office. These are but chaff that God has allowed to blow away; he has left the wheat.

History teaches us that destiny can turn on the narrow axis of a single decision. It has been said that in every life there is a turning point as with a fever when it "breaks." A single turning point can make the difference between life and death. Napoleon said "in every battle there are ten minutes on which hangs the fate of nations." A wrong or delayed decision at Appomatox lost the American Civil War for General Lee.

The greatest battle fields are in the heart. Hundreds of these soul battles are won or lost in a moment. They turn our hearts into the valley of decision. While these battles are for the most part silent, swift, but furious, they determine your destiny. The choice you make decides.

One army will be victorious. One will be defeated. Only one army will come out alive from the valley of decision. What comes out of those valleys of decision?

1. Character. Character is that stamp of individuality that gives you worth, that gives you backbone. It is that thing that molds and shapes us and gives substance to our being. Every time we choose what God likes and hate what God hates we develop godly character and come closer to our destiny. Every time we agree with God we develop character. "Come now let us reason together saith the Lord..." God the Holy Spirit "pleads" with men in this valley. (Isa. 55: 1-7; Dan. 1:8).


2. Happiness or Misery. Happiness is a choice. It is determined by our own decisions. Happiness is to know the Lord. "Happy is the people whose God is the Lord" Ps. 144:15. "Whoso trusteth the Lord, happy is he" Prov. 16:20. Jesus taught the emotional consequences of our choices. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if you do them." Oceans of tears have been shed because men and women made choices that were contrary to Godís will. All such choices are bad choices. The valley of tears is the valley of wrong decisions.

3. Change or Chains. Here we decide whether we will change or not. God calls us to repent. If a man instead refuses to renounce his sin it shall be the shackle that binds him forever. John later wrote the words of an angel, "let the filthy be filthy still." It is here in the valley of decision that Grace allows us to slip the manacles of Satanís chains off our necks. Here men have shed the scales of sinful practices, and dropped their leprous robes. Here men have chosen Christ who had unloosed them from their sin.

4. Heaven or hell. Some say that hell is right here. They speak of their troubles and speak in unbelief. Those who stubbornly refuse to believe the witness of Godís word will find that it is at death that their troubles just begin. Jesus died on the cross for you. Donít reject him in the valley of decision. "Today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart." "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." "Neither is there salvation in any other."


Preachers and Teachers

Many think of the Holy Spirit and the anointing of Pentecost when they think of Joel. An anointing is required to minister and to be ministered to in holy things. The Holy Spirit is the author of prophecy. Unless the Holy Spirit established contact, approached, prepared, anointed and empowered the prophet there would have been no prophetic ministry.

The Third Person of the Trinity must anoint in order for a prophet to first receive and then relay the mind of God. God explained to Zechariah how his work must be done: "not by might nor by power but by my Spirit" Zech. 4:6). Elisha understood the need of such a work of God and anointing when he asked for a "double portion" of Elijahís "spirit." Ezekiel told of the time when "the spirit took me up" (Ezk 3:12), and John spoke of "being in the Spirit on the Lordís day."

Peter made it clear that God communicated thorough his prophets "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pet. 1:21). The word moved comes from the root phero which means to be "carried along." Zechariah spoke of this anointing "the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the former prophets" (7:12).

The anointing of the prophets was never solicited by the prophet, but rather always initiated by God. God speaks through His word now forever settled. Today we have the completed Word of God. The prophet today is one who is anointed by the Holy Spirit first with insight to understand truth, and second to boldly and uncompromisingly proclaim it.

The anointing of Old Testament Prophecy or of New Testament preaching is never to be confused with superstitious spiritism. The words of Deuteronomy are clear enough. "When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. there shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a cunsulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee" (18:9-12).

The people were to look to the prophet not to divination for guidance. The test of the prophet was simple. Is what he says true? It is the only standard by which we can measure safely, and we know that Godís Word is truth. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" Acts 17:11.

The anointing was not only unsolicited, it was un-stimulated. By that I mean it was not something that was "worked up." It was not the result of incantations, music, prayer, or self hypnosis. Little Samuel did not seek the voice of the Lord in the Temple, nor did he lose his rational abilities when in the presence of the LORD. Spiritists and other charlatans pretend to be in some kind of hypnotic trance while supposedly communing with the "spirits." We do not know whom they are actually communing with, but we can be sure it is not God.

Nowhere does the Scripture substantiate an anointing with losing control of either body, mind, or tongue. The anointing is an empowering by the God of order. While in times past God communicated through dreams, visions , and appearances called Theophanies, today we have the completed Bible. We may be the recipients of insights as individuals, but not of revelations. Today, the just shall live by faith.