- What is your process when making a decision?
- Are you one who spends hours researching various points of view before making a decision?
- Or are you one who makes a quick decision based on your gut feeling?
- Perhaps you rely on others to make a decision for you?
- What other ways have you used to make a decision?
Most likely your process depends on what the issue is that a decision needs to be made about.
Thus, you may incorporate all the processes above and others for making a decision.
- Regardless of the process you have used, have you ever made a bade decision?
- When is a decision, good or bad, irreversible?
- What is significant about the phrase ‘Valley of Decision’ found in Joel 3:14?
Before we discuss the phrase ‘valley of decision’, a review of the context is critical.
The book of Joel is a message from the Lord through His prophet Joel to His chosen nation the Judeans also known as Israel. (See Joel 1:1.)
The book details the Lord having sent a serious wakeup call to His chosen people through a series of locust infestations, drought, fires, and a threat of the Lord’s army itself coming to judge them. (See Joel 1:2-20 and 2:1-11.)
Joel 2:18-32 describes the immense blessings the Lord will provide to those who humble themselves and honor Him as their Lord.
Now in Joel 3:1-14 the message turns attention on those who have chosen to treat Him and those who are under His protection with contempt and abuse.
ESV Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
- What is happening in the valley of decision according to this verse?
The repeated word ‘multitudes’ is a Hebrew word that could also be translated as any of the following English words: agitation, bustle, turmoil, din, uproar, procession, pomp, crowd, army, display, or riches.
Remember just a few verses earlier who was to come to the valley of decision:
ESV Joel 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: Consecrate for war; stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up.
ESV Joel 3:12 Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
- What is significant about the nations mentioned in the above verses?
ESV Joel 3:2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, 3 and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.
The nations or people or multitudes or crowds are those who are called to the Valley of Jehoshaphat which is synonymous with the Valley of Decision.
These people are called to come prepared for war with the Lord of the Judeans by the Lord Himself.
- When you see the word ‘multitudes” repeated, knowing these people were quickly gathering for war with every possible implement available to them (see Joel 3:10-11), what images come to your mind?
Would there be agitation?
Could there be bustle?
Procession and pomp?
Displays and riches present?
- Who will be making the decisions in this valley?
- The people called to war or the Lord?
ESV Joel 3:2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there…
- Again, why is the Lord gathering these people to war to judge them?
ESV Joel 3:2b-3 on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, 3 and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.
- Why is it important for the Lord’s people to know that the Lord is the one that will judge, not only them but all people?
- Why is it important for the Lord’s people to share this information with those who have caused them abuse and harm and disdaining the Lord?
Consider the following verses that share some of the same imagery found in Joel 3:13:
ESV Mark 4:29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
I grew up learning to plant and maintain a vegetable garden with my father and grandmother. The joy and frustration of any gardening comes in being able to make good decisions on how to prepare the soil and care for the things one plants while protecting them from invasive insects, fungi, and pilfering critters.
At the time of this writing, I am thrilled to have planted a high yield vegetable garden of many different plants using the square foot gardening technique. I can hardly wait to see how this garden does. The joy this is bringing me even before anything is ready for harvest is immense. The anticipation of what I hope to harvest continues to feed itself to the point I can hardly wait to see the garden when I get up in the morning and when arrive back home after a workday. I want to be “ready” to “harvest” when the produce is “ripe”.
ESV Revelation 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”
ESV Revelation 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe”
ESV Revelation 14:20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
These verses above share the bleaker imagery from Joel.
Unlike me, the Lord is not eager for the hour of the harvest He is sharing about in Joel and elsewhere in the Bible. Instead, He is sharing this message to prepare us that He is a Holy God who desires us to honor Him as our Lord. And He is letting us know He is holding His final day of judgment back until the time is “ripe”.
- What is the Lord waiting for?
ESV 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
How should we apply this serious message today?
- When was the last time you found yourself in a valley of decision regarding your relationship with the Lord like the Judean were in Joel 1-2?
- How have you walked with another who was struggling in the valley of decision with their own relationship with the Lord?
- How are you praying for and interacting with those who disdain the Lord and His followers as described in Joel 3:1-14?
We must remember that it is the Lord’s prerogative to issue final judgment on His creation, not us.
We must remember that as the Lord is patient with us, we too must be patient with those around us who may not be as far along in the valley of decision as we are.
We must remember that as the Lord has sent His Word through His prophets and Christ, we are also called to speak into the lives of those around us with grace and mercy.
Is this easy to do? No.
Have I been a perfect example of this myself? Certainly not.
Is it worth surrendering ourselves humbly to serve the Lord and those around us? I believe so.
In the words of David, may we pray this together:
ESV Psalm 16:1 A Miktam of David. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
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Share with others:
- Names and Their Meaning: Joel 1:1
- Breaking News : Joel 1:2
- Sharing Stories : Joel 1:3
- Current Crisis : Joel 1:4
- Shortages Today : Joel 1:5
- Gone Viral : Joel 1:6
- Vulnerable: Joel 1:7
- Heartbreak: Joel 1:8
- Cut Off: Joel 1:9
- What is Essential? Joel 1:10
- Shame, Distress, or Despair Joel 1:11
- What is Joy? Joel 1:12
- Dressing for Spiritual Leadership Joel 1:13
- Crying Out Joel 1:14
- Perspectives and Opinions Joel 1:15
- Emotions Joel 1:16
- Neglect Joel 1:17
- Even the Sheep Suffer Joel 1:18
- Fire Joel 1:19
- Soul Thirst Joel 1:20
- It’s Coming! Joel 2:1
- Thunderstorms Joel 2:2
- Hard Times Joel 2:3
- Power Joel 2:4-5
- Overwhelmed Joel 2:6
- Action Joel 2:7-9
- Earthquake and Eclipse Joel 2:10
- Endurance Joel 2:11
- Hope or Despair Joel 2:12
- Sincerity Joel 2:13-14
- Call to Attention Joel 2:15
- Purpose Joel 2:16
- Compromised Reputation Joel 2:17
- To Take Pity Joel 2:18
- Satisfied Joel 2:19
- Greatness Joel 2:20
- Be Glad and Rejoice Joel 2:21
- Gardening Excitement Joel 2:22
- The Joy of Rain Joel 2:23
- A Feast of Thanksgiving Joel 2:24
- Promise Joel 2:25
- Plenty Joel 2:26
- Are You Convinced Joel 2:27
- A Turning Point Joel 2:28
- Adjusting Joel 2:29
- Wonders Joel 2:30
- Portents vs. Superstitions Joel 2:31
- Call Joel 2:32
- Fortune Joel 3:1
- Judgment Joel 3:2
- Temptations Joel 3:3
- Specific Joel 3:4
- Ownership Joel 3:5
- Motive Joel 3:6
- Vengeance Joel 3:7
- Speech Joel 3:8
- Proclaim Joel 3:9
- A Call to Arms Joel 3:10
- Come Quickly Joel 3:11
- Be Roused Joel 3:12
- Overflow Joel 3:13