Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
I have been talking a lot lately about the momentous decisions that have been presented to our nation in this election cycle. Not only did we individual citizens have to decide who we wanted to represent us in our governing bodies, but those elected officials now have to decide how they will govern, and how to bring the nation together again.
And I found it curious that as I am progressing once again through a detailed study of my Bible, I have arrived at the prophetic chapters of Joel. It is interesting to me ... Joel has such significance, and a reputation, when it comes to the prophecies surrounding the End Times, that you expect it to have a lengthy number of chapters. Yet, it has a lot to say in just three short ones. And when I came to the section in the last chapter, subtitled The Lord Judges the Nations, I was struck anew by this familiar verse: Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
I say struck "anew", because all of a sudden, I saw a completely different understanding of verse 14. In the past, I have understood that Joel is looking out upon the Valley of Jehoshaphat at the Battle of Armageddon, and sees the multitudes facing their eternal fate. I have understood that, in life, there is a metaphorical valley of decision, and those who reject YHWH and His Messiah are in the wrong place in that valley of decision, which is ultimately fulfilled at the Battle of Armageddon.
I have generally adopted the 21st Century Evangelical interpretation of this Scripture, and assumed that it meant that all people standing in that valley must decide whether they are for or against Jesus; that it is their decision that is being portrayed.
But as I studied this passage again, I suddenly saw a new understanding! From the beginning of Chapter 3, God makes it clear that it is He who has called the multitudes to appear in the valley... He says, "I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat" (verse 2) ... and, "Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up" (verse 9) ... and, again, "Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there" (verse 11). Clearly, it is God who has arranged for these people to be drawn to the Valley of Decision.
But why? If they are not there because of their own volition, and are not there to make a decision for or against Yeshua, then what is His purpose for summoning them there? Here is a possible interpretation of that significant Scripture: There is no question that Man does indeed stand in the valley of decision, but it is God who does the deciding, not man. It is a valley of judgment - the Bible clearly puts that valley in the context of the Day of the Lord. And what happens on the Day of the Lord? Among the events that day, the Bible tells us it will be a Day of Reckoning (Isaiah 2:12); a Day of Judgment (Isaiah 2:13-17); a Day of Destruction from the Almighty (Joel 1:15); a Day of Vengeance (Jeremiah 46:10); a Day when Justice is dealt out (Obadiah 15); a Day of Punishment (Zephaniah 1:8) and a Day of the Lord's Anger (Zephaniah 2:23).
It is obviously a Day when God decides. Our fate will be based on whether we have committed our lives to Jesus or to our own selfish desires. Ultimately, it will not be a benign event, should we find ourselves standing in the Valley of Decision on that great and terrifying day. If you have not made that decision yet -- or have a loved one who has not -- do not delay! We do not know when the Day of the Lord will occur, and do not be caught unawares... you never want to be found among the multitudes in the valley of [God's] decision [when His judgment is executed]!