The Valley of Jehoshaphat — stretching from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, east of Jerusalem between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, and referred to by this name only since the 4th century AD. Before the 4th century AD, the Valley of Jehoshaphat was known as the Kidron Valley (2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12). Biblically, it is found only in Joel 3:2, 12, and there metaphorically referred to as the “valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). “Jehoshaphat” literally means the “Lord has judged.” Serving as the dividing valley between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, the Valley of Jehoshaphat is of keen interest to Bible interpreters. It was on the Mount of Olives that Ezekiel had his vision of the Lord and the flying cherubim above it (Ezekiel 11:22-23). Jesus, no doubt, was overlooking the Jehoshaphat when He gave His Olivet discourse on the signs of the end-of-days. (Matthew 24:1-51). The same could be said when He descended the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-44) riding a donkey, all the while Palm Branches (John 12:13) were waved in triumph. Lastly, the Garden of Gethsemane is located on the Mount of Olives. It was here that Jesus sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44) as He prayed with His inner three disciples just before His arrest (Luke 22:39-46). In Jesus’ day, the Valley of Jehoshaphat was a critical place. It will be the same in the end-of-days: Joel 3 pinpoints the valley as the location of God’s judgment of the nations; those nations that have struck His people and divided His land. It is a time of the Lord’s vengeance. How close are we to the “Day of the Lord”? Joel 3:12.
The ever-present Valley of Jehoshaphat, literally, “Yahweh has judged,” had to be a constant reminder to Jesus of the reason why He came — that sin and the devil be judged (John 12:27, 31). It was seen as a place of judgment and a frequent burial ground where souls would one day meet the Lord. Further, Zechariah 14:4-5 prophesies that the Lord will split Olivet so that on the Day of the Lord, Jews might have a way of escape from Jerusalem.
Certainly, Joel 3 could not apply to any period prior to the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We make this conclusion because Peter quotes Joel 2:28 as being fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21). An important hint of the time of application is that Joel 3:1 states that the fortunes of the Jews have been restored. The scattering of the Jews occurred from 70 AD – 1948 AD. After 70 AD, the Jews had no homeland. They were exiles throughout the world and were persecuted by nearly everyone they lived among. In fact, the Church labeled Jews “Christ-killers,” and persecuted them both before and after the Crusades.1 The restoration of Israel’s fortunes could be said to have begun in 1948, by action of the United Nations, giving Jews a homeland following World War II. Jews claimed Israel as a state ever since but not without Arab opposition from the very beginning. We might say that the fortunes were more completely restored in 1967 in the Six-Day-War when Israel regained control even of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. As we have seen, historically, Israel’s “possession” of the land is not the same thing as title deed. The United Nations considers Israel to be an “occupier” of the land; the Palestinians liken Israel’s presence (and wall) in the land to that of Hitler and the Berlin wall.
The second identifier in Joel 3:2 relates to the dividing of the land. The nations of the world have been pressing Israel since the 1967 Six-Day-War to withdraw from lands it won in the 1967 War. In May, 2011, President Obama gave a very important speech wherein he outlined his administration’s policy for much of the discord in the Middle East. Among those topics mentioned was the dividing of the land of Israel based on its 1967 borders. To quote the President:
The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
The inserted map identifies those areas that the Obama Administration2 considered to be up for negotiation between the Jews and Palestinians. (The Trump Administration has indicated it will leave the negotiation up to the Jews and Palestinians.) The expectation is that the land would be divided into two states, the state of Palestine (in green) and the state of Israel. Israel has, on several occasions, refused to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. The passage specifically states, however, “… and they have divided up my land.” As stated, this is past tense. Since Israel became a state in 1948, its land has not been divided since then. In fact, from 70 AD – 1948 it had no land. We have already stated that the prophecy of Joel 3 could not apply to a period prior to the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost because Peter applied Joel 2:28 to that event. Israel has only acquired land, by conquest, since it became a state in 1948. If Joel 3:2 speaks of the dividing of the land in the past tense, then the dividing will occur at some time — but in the future. As of now, the dividing of the land is a piece of Israel’s prophecy puzzle that has not been placed. We might also look at it another way — until the land is divided, the end-of-days battle described in Joel 3 (when God judges Israel’s enemies) cannot take place; that battle can only take place after the land is divided.
Islam is in Joel 3:4, “…what are you to me, O Tyre, Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you rendering Me a recompense?…” Those nations/groups currently occupying the lands of Trye, Sidon, and Philistia are the Palestinian Arabs in Southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. All of these countries are Muslim. Psalm 83 further supports that the sons of Ishmael are the attacking force in Joel 3. Psalm 83:4 specifically mentions the need for “recompense” (Joel 3:4, 7):
Psalm 83:3-8 (NASB) They make shrewd plans against Your people, And conspire together against Your treasured ones. 4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, That the name of Israel be remembered no more.” 5 For they have conspired together with one mind; Against You they make a covenant: 6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites; 7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assyria also has joined with them; They have become a help to the children of Lot.
The Arabs of the Middle East have long “conspired against your treasured ones.” Psalm 83 specifically names the “tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, … Philistia, …Tyre.”3
I know which side of the line I want to be on– the side of Israel. The Ishmaelite side is the wrong side. Surprisingly, the only Arab nation traditionally allied with Israel in the modern-day is Egypt. Notice what Joel 3:19 states:
Joel 3:19 (NASB) Egypt will become a waste, And Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, In whose land they have shed innocent blood.
If you want to know whose side you want to be on in the end-of-days just find Egypt. Egypt is defeated in every prophecy passage in Scripture (Daniel 11:42-43, Zechariah 10:11, Ezekiel 29:10-11, Isaiah 19). Align on the side opposite Egypt; that opposite-side will be the side of Israel.
Jesus come quickly.
Footnotes to post:
- Antisemitism in the Church could be said to have begun with Bishop Ignatius of Antioch (an Apostolic Church Father) who was martyred around 110 AD. Ignatius separated “Judaism” and “Christianism,” and forbade Christians from retaining any Jewish practices in their worship, including worshiping on Saturday rather than Sunday. See http://www.jacksmithprophecy.org/2012/07/26/another-desecration-this-time-not-the-quran-but-the-bible/ and the references contained therein. [↩]
- when this post was written, Obama was president and he wanted a return to land possessed by Israel, pre-1967 borders. It is a new era under Trump [↩]
- In my view, Iran is in Psalm 83:8, “Assyria.” The Assyrian empire included much of modern-day Iran in the height of its power. [↩]