Israel’s Future Pardon & Blessing

July 18, 2017

Friends,
“‘The church will be inhabited forever and the church through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in the church!” (Joel 3:20,21) Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. Maybe these verses actually say this: “‘Jesus will be inhabited forever and Jesus through all generations. His bloodguilt, which God has not pardoned, He will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Jesus!”

Those who adhere to Replacement Theology tell us that all the passages in the Old Testament where God made promises to the Israelites regarding their nation, the physical land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem are promises that have, since Christ’s resurrection, been removed and transferred to “the true church of Jesus Christ” (or, for those who take the brand of Fulfillment Theology, to “Christ Himself”). But can their teaching be the Truth? –Even as they contradict the statements of God?

The above is how the Replacement/Fulfillment Theology adherents have to read Joel 3:20,21, unless of course, they choose to believe that God breaks His promises. But here is what the verses actually say: “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!”

Is God promising in these two verses something regarding the Jews’ homeland or should we believe that it refers to the church’s homeland? What is the plain meaning? Who is the promise, which God is giving through the prophet Joel, being given to? Certainly it can be seen that the whole of the book regards the Israelite nation and its separateness from all other nations. This is especially obvious in verses 1-3 of chapter 3 where God promises to “restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” and “gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat” so that He can enter into judgement against the nations for what they have done to His people, His land, and His inheritance.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is a literal place that separates Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, so if God foretells that His judgement against the nations will take place there, it is a falsehood to teach otherwise. Moreover, if the Lord says that this is “concerning My inheritance, My people Israel,” (Joel 3:2) then it seems that only pride or ignorance would cause someone to teach that God actually meant, “My inheritance, My people, the church.” Does such a teaching make sense when God goes on to say, “for they scattered My people among the nations and divided up My land”? (Same verse) How exactly have the nations divided up the land of the church so as to make God angry?

God promises again in Joel 3:12 that He plans to, and will, judge all the nations when they advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. He promises in verse 16 that He will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem even while also being “a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” In verse 17 He says, “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, My holy hill.” These three verses alone reveal that God claims the hill of Zion as His, states that He dwells there, and states that He is the God and Fortress of those He is addressing, the people of Israel. The rest of verse 17 shows God saying, “Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.” This is a further promise to the people to whom Joel was preaching –that their capital will one day be holy and forever free from all invasion. Considering history, verse 17 informs us that this promise is for the future, as does verse 18 which promises abundant prosperity and another (physical) situation that is future: “A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the Valley of Shittim” –likely by irrigation means. However, for Egypt and Edom, a desolation is decreed. (v. 19)

So now we arrive again at Joel 3:20,21 which we began with: “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!” This cannot refer to the church or to Jesus. The true church, since they are truly in Christ, has already had its bloodguilt pardoned, and Jesus has never had any bloodguilt, for He is, always has been, and always will be, perfect. Thus Joel 3:20,21 can only refer to the people who inhabit Judah, Jerusalem, and Zion whom God names as His own.

“Never again will My people be shamed.” God promises this in Joel 2:26 and again in verse 27. In verse 19 He promises, “Never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations,” while verse 18 states, “Then the LORD will be jealous for His land and take pity on His people.” It says, “His land” and “His people”. In verse 20 God declares that He will drive the northern army into a parched land and into the eastern and western seas, creating a stench. References to armies and geography should necessitate that this be read literally.

The book of Joel was, and still is, a message to Israel specifically, not to the church specifically, and certainly not to Jesus. It is a call for Israel to repent that they may be spared when “the day of the LORD” comes upon mankind. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy hill.” (Joel 2:1) For, as God says, “A nation has invaded My land, powerful and without number…” (1:6)

The book of Joel is “The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel.” (Joel 1:1) “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (2:32) Yes, “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!” (3:20,21)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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