When is it critical that one be specific?

Would you agree that is important to be specific when one is a plaintiff, lawyer, or judge?

Is there also room for sarcasm in a courtroom that needs to be specific?

ESV  Joel 3:4 “What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily.

At this point in the book of Joel the Lord begins to question specific nations about their actions toward the Judeans.

The tone is decidedly sarcastic though.

The Lord is drawing attention to the specific nations mentioned that their actions of scattering the Judeans, dividing up the land that belonged to the Judeans at the Lord’s hand, and then dehumanizing them into commodities for momentary pleasures are out of line.

Why are Tyre, Sidon and the regions of Philistia the specific nations mentioned?

These people groups had a history of being antagonistic to the Judeans. (See other prophets who mention these same people groups receiving punishment from the Lord: Isaiah 23:1-18 and Ezekiel 25:15-17.)

Remember the Lord is still speaking primarily to the Judeans, or all who worship Him as Lord.

Why would the Lord remind the His worshippers about these three specific people groups?

Tyre initially had an alliance with King David and King Solomon. (See 2 Ch 2:12-14.)

Later, though Tyre’s attitude towards the descendants of David and Solomon changed:

 ESV  Ezekiel 26:1-2 In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, because Tyre said concerning Jerusalem, ‘Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken; it has swung open to me. I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste.

The inhabitants of Sidon were integrally involved with the inhabitants of Tyre:

ESV  Ezekiel 27:8 The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your rowers; your skilled men, O Tyre, were in you; they were your pilots.

In addition, the inhabitants of Sidon also worshipped other gods enticed the people of Israel to forsake the Lord:

ESV  Judges 10:6 The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the LORD and did not serve him.

The regions of Philistia refer to all those descended from the Philistines. Consider the following verses taken from the story of David and Goliath the Philistine.

ESV  1 Samuel 17:10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.”

ESV  1 Samuel 17:26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

ESV  1 Samuel 17:36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

ESV  1 Samuel 17:42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.

ESV  1 Samuel 17:45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

ESV  1 Samuel 17:46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

The point of Joel 3:4 is to remind the Judeans of this backstory.

The people groups that had historically disdained and taken advantage of them are being listed collectively here to let His worshippers know the Lord understands the specific harms that have been done to His people.

These nations are used not only as specific historical nations but evidence of what attitudes and behavior the Lord will one day judge all humanity.

What is the punishment for these attitudes and behavior according to Joel 4:4?

The disdain and harm that non-worshippers mete out toward worshippers will be returned to them by the Lord Himself!

Does this picture of a vengeful Lord disturb you?

Remember the following though:

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.

Yes, the Lord is waiting for all who will turn wholeheartedly to Him before He comes in judgment against those who have disdained and taken advantage of not just His people and His land, but of Him.

Sarcasm and specifics used by the Lord in a legal setting reveal that He is watching and caring for His creation.

The Lord desires relationship with His creation.

Reflection Questions:

  • How is your relationship with the Lord of creation today?
  • Are you close or distant?
  • What holds you back from being close if you are distant?
  • Is your relationship with the Lord of creation the most important relationship in your journey?
  • If not, why?
  • What needs to change so that your relationship with the Lord will grow?
  • If you are close to the Lord, do others around you see Him at work in your attitudes towards others?
  • How can you help others grow closer to the Lord day to day? Be specific!

My prayer for us today:

May we devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers so that awe will come upon every soul, and many wonders and signs will be done. ( See Acts 2:42-43.)


Barbara Lynn

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