• What images does the word home bring to your mind?
  • Are these images of home positive or negative? Maybe a combination?

Compare the phrases “at home” versus “broken home”.

Many of us would agree that the word home is initially meant to reference where we physically reside or dwell.

But in the phrases “at home” versus “broken home” many of us would also agree that the word home becomes more significant than a simple residence or dwelling location.

  • Where does the desire for a “safe home” come from?
  • What does Joel 3:17 have to say about the meaning of home?

ESV  Joel 3:17 “So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it.

In our verse today the word home does not specifically appear. However, we do find the word ‘dwells.

Consider the following definitions of the word dwell:

  • to remain for a time
  • to live as a resident
  • exist, lie
  • to keep the attention directed —used with on or upon
  • to speak or write insistently —used with on or upon

Who is doing the dwelling in Joel 3:17?

Before we are told the Lord, the God of the Judeans, dwells in Zion, we are first given the phrase, “So you shall know that I am the LORD your God”.

What transpired in the book of Joel before this verse opened with the word “so”?

The Lord sent a message through His prophet Joel to wake up the Judeans. (Joel 1:1)

This message reveals that the Lord had been disciplining the Judeans through a series of locust plagues, drought, and fire. The implication for this discipline is that the Judeans had been neglecting their relationship with their Lord. (Joel 1:2-20)

The Lord further reveals that their neglect of acknowledging Him faithfully had reached the point that an alarm should be sounded warning the Judeans that the Lord’s army was now coming against them. (Joel 2:1-11).

But because the Lord cares so deeply for the Judeans He declares He will stop His army if they sincerely resume a faithful relationship with Him. (Joel 2:12-17)

Implying the Judeans resumed a faithful relationship towards the Lord, He reveals how He plans to restore them with great physical and spiritual abundance beyond anything previously known. (Joel 2:18-32)

Next the Lord shares how he plans to deal with the surrounding nations who had taken advantage of the Judeans while He was disciplining them and worse yet mocked His ability to provide and defend the Judeans. (Joel 3:1-8)

The Lord even instructs the Judeans to share with all who have harmed them or mocked their Lord that there is a  future day when these actions will be accounted for. Not by the Judeans, but by the Lord Himself. (Joel 3:9-16)

Now in Joel 3:17 the Lord reveals that all of this has transpired or will happen “so you shall know that I am the LORD your God”.

Why is it important for the Judeans and others to know that He is the Lord their God?

Read the verse in full again:

ESV  Joel 3:17 “So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it.

Where does the Lord dwell?

Zion refers to any of the following:

  • the Jewish people (Israel/Judeans)
  • the Jewish homeland that is symbolic of Judaism or of Jewish national aspiration
  • the ideal nation or society envisaged by Judaism
  • heaven
  • utopia
  • Mount Zion or Sion – a hill in easter Jerusalem, Israel

Note: Originally the stronghold of Jerusalem, Zion was conquered by David and in ancient times was the site of the Jewish Temple.

What is the primary result of the Lord making Zion his earthly dwelling place or home if you will?

The Lord’s setting up of an earthly home in Zion means that the place and its residents are to be holy.

What does it mean to be holy?

Consider these synonyms for holy:

Consider these definitions:

  • Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
  • Divine
  • Devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity
  • Having a divine quality
  • Venerated as or as if sacred

Consider these synonyms for holy:

  • Devout
  • Godly
  • Pious
  • Religious
  • Sainted
  • Saintly

Consider these antonyms for holy:

  • Antireligious
  • Faithless
  • Godless
  • Impious
  • Irreligious
  • Ungodly
  • Unholy

What does the last phrase in Joel 3:17, “and strangers shall never again pass through it” reveal?

Since the presence of the Lord in Zion requires wholehearted, genuine,  holiness towards the Lord, then those who are “strangers” to the Lord will not be permitted into His presence.

Who does “strangers” refer to in the context of Joel 3:17?

The Lord is not saying anyone who is not a Judean by genetics is exempt from coming to Him. Rather, the Lord is saying those who have harmed His followers or mocked Him, and His abilities are strangers to Him and thus will be consider unholy in His presence.

A Holy Home – Questions for Reflection

  • Has your experience of your earthly “home” ever scaled the heights of holiness as described above? Why or why not?
  • Has your experience of your earthly “home” ever scaled the lows of the antonyms for holy as described above? Why or why not?
  • What is required according to the Lord in the book of Joel but also the above definitions for an earthly home to be holy?
  • Are you ready to invite the Lord’s presence into your earthly home today? Why or why not?

Remember, this message in the book of Joel is from the Lord to His creation.

His message is meant to encourage, instruct, and yes warn.

He desires to reveal Himself to us so that all will know Him.

His desire is to be a provider and protector for all who seek Him.

I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on Psalm 48:

NET  Psalm 48:1-14 A song, a psalm by the Korahites. The LORD is great and certainly worthy of praise in the city of our God, his holy hill.

2 It is lofty and pleasing to look at, a source of joy to the whole earth. Mount Zion resembles the peaks of Zaphon; it is the city of the great king.

3 God is in its fortresses; he reveals himself as its defender.

4 For look, the kings assemble; they advance together.

5 As soon as they see, they are shocked; they are terrified, they quickly retreat.

6 Look at them shake uncontrollably, like a woman writhing in childbirth.

7 With an east wind you shatter the large ships.

8 We heard about God’s mighty deeds, now we have seen them, in the city of the LORD, the invincible Warrior, in the city of our God. God makes it permanently secure. (Selah)

9 We reflect on your loyal love, O God, within your temple.

10 The praise you receive as far away as the ends of the earth is worthy of your reputation, O God. You execute justice!

11 Mount Zion rejoices; the towns of Judah are happy, because of your acts of judgment.

12 Walk around Zion! Encircle it! Count its towers!

13 Consider its defenses! Walk through its fortresses, so you can tell the next generation about it!

14 For God, our God, is our defender forever! He guides us!


Barbara Lynn


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