The recent actions of President Trump to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel were unprecedented both in their impact on the current world stage, but also, even more so, on the unfolding of future events in the Middle East. In my post of yesterday (12/6/17), I suggested that Trump’s actions would lead to the beginning of fulfillment of Joel 3:1-2; and, Trump’s action would call the world to the “valley of decision.” This post builds upon the prior post and offers a “next step” in the fulfillment of Joel 3. That is, will a future peace proposal between Israel and the Palestinians, combined with the necessity of a “dividing of my land,” be the fulfilment of 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, (Joel 3:2 ESV)
In my view, the last phrase of Joel 3:2 is one of the most packed statements in apocalyptic Scripture. Once it has been fulfilled, the world will be ripe for judgment, much like a volcano on the precipice of eruption.
The Land of Israel.
The land to Israel (Eretz Yisrael) is personal. In the Western world, one owns a title-deed to land and that deed is an evidence of ownership. To an Orthodox Jew, the land is God’s. He owns it. He grants possession of the land, by right, through His promise of residence.
Leviticus 25:23 (NASB) ‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me. (Genesis 13:15-17, Genesis 15:18)
To the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the extent of this “promised land” is defined by Exodus 23:31-33:
Exodus 23:31-33 (NASB) “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. 32 “You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 “They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
To be exiled from the land of promise is to be exiled from God and the promises of God. One cannot separate the land from the God who promised the land and owns the land. The Jews were exiled from the land to Babylon before Christ by virtue of their spiritual adultery, yet by act of God, the remnant survived. The exiles returned to Israel in 520 BC only to be scattered once again at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD and again in 135 AD, the first and second Jewish revolts. Following these two revolts, Jews were no longer allowed to set foot in Jerusalem, but under threat of death. From 70 AD until 1948, the Jews were scattered and bereft of their land. They were exiles and aliens all over the world. In 1948, following action by the Untied Nations, the Jews declared the state of Israel. The United Nations also partitioned Palestine between the Jews and Arabs, a plan that was never put into place because the Arabs refused to endorse it. War immediately ensued, launched by the Arabs. The war was won by Israel and the land it obtained was obtained by conquest of the Arabs. It was actually greater in mass than the land partitioned to Israel in the U.N. Partition Plan. In the years that followed, Israel prospered. Thousands of Jews repatriated to Israel and gained citizenship. The population of Israel grew exponentially.
Between 1948 and 1967, the land won by Israel through conquest remained constant, its borders defined by the “green lines.”1. The endless conflict between Arab and Jew prophesied by Psalm 83 continued where it had left off centuries before. It reached a water-shed in 1967 when Israel launched an attack on the Arabs known as the “Six-Day War.” In this war, Israel achieved a miraculous victory, overcoming in six days the combined Arab forces and gaining land in the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, including the “old city” in Jerusalem, that portion of the city encompassing the holy sites, including the Temple Mount. The prayer wall, the “Wailing Wall,” that only surviving portion of the Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, was reclaimed, and its name was changed from the “Wailing Wall,” to the “Western Wall,” for no more would Israel wail at the wall. A miraculous victory transpired that can only be explained by the hand of God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had revisited His people and attested His covenant relationship with them. Clearly, the prophecy of Joel 3 had been fulfilled, in part:
Joel 2:18-19 (NASB) Then the LORD will be zealous for His land And will have pity on His people. 19 The LORD will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied in full with them; And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations.
The Dividing of the Land
There is yet another event to be fulfilled. The Scriptures prophesy that after the “fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem have been restored,” the land will be divided:
Joel 3:1-2 (NASB) “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land.
The passage dates the time of fulfillment in verse 1, “behold, in those days and at that time.” The period of fulfillment is a future time — a time that is only possible after the return of the Jews to their homeland. How else could the “fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” be restored without Israel being regathered to its land after having been scattered in 70 AD and 135 AD? The restoration of land began in 1948. It was enlarged in 1967. It has continued as Israel has become the prosperous nation that it is today. And, I propose that Trump’s action on 12/6/17 was the next step to the completion of the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem. But there is still another event that must take place.
There is one part of the Joel 3:1-2 prophecy that is a “not-yet fulfilled” prophecy. It is, “… and they have divided up My land.” The land of Israel has not been divided post-1948. Israel has obtained every piece of land by conquest. The Partition Plan of the U.N. (which divided the land between the Jews and Arabs) was never executed. Israel was dispossessed from their land from 70 AD until 1948. Anything that happened to the land during the period of dispossession could not fulfill Joel 3:1-2 since its fulfillment requires a “restoration of the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.” Even when the United Nations drew its “green lines” in 1948 to establish boundaries for Jew and Arab, the green line served to award Israel land it had been dispossessed of, not to take land away from it. Joel 3:2 prophesies of an event that will take place in the future, an event that has yet to occur in the modern-day or prior. This means that the judgement part of the prophecy cannot take place until the land has been divided.
Modern-day Efforts to Divide the Land
Let us hypothesize an event that would fulfill Joel 3:2. I propose that it is an agreement between the Jews and the Palestinians for a two-state solution, a solution likely to be possible only if Israel agrees to divide its land. The dividing of land would come in exchange for an end to Palestinian violence, the recognition of both Palestine and Israel’s statehood, and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist. President Obama proposed this in 2011 when he stated U.S. support for a future Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders:
Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama on Thursday made official the long-held but rarely stated U.S. support for a future Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war. In the past, the United States has unofficially backed a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict based on the borders in place prior to the war 44 years ago in which Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula. Read more.
My point is this: Trump’s declaration to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel is a necessary step to the completion of the “restoration of the fortunes of Jerusalem” (see prior post); and, in time, will draw the nations of the world to the point of decision on Israel, the culmination of which is the gathering of the nations to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. (Joel 3:2 ESV). The next event will be that Trump’s action will lead to a two-state solution wherein Israel will agree to divide its land (Joel 3:4 ESV). We might even view this agreement as the “treaty” of Daniel 9:27 that is broken mid-point that ushers in the end of the end-of-days.
Jesus come quickly.
- The “green lines” were lines drawn on a map in green ink serving as borders for the Jews and the Palestinians. [↩]