JUDGMENT UPON THE NATIONS FULFILLED BY THE GOSPEL
ESCHATOLOGY.COM

This is a question I received regarding the fulfillment of certain passages pertaining to the judgment of nations:

"I am having difficulty interpreting these chapters... All three chapters refer to God judging and fighting "all nations" (Joel 3:2,11,12 Zech.12:3,9 14:2,3,12,14). Also, when did Judah sell Grecians as slaves (Joel 3:4-8), and when did Egypt become desolate(3:19)? Please point me to articles or commentaries that may help me, or give me your interpretation. (I have Matthew Henry's Commentary) Any help on this is greatly appreciated. Thanks."



Response:
Joel 3:18 In that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the Wadi Shittim.
Now, compare the fountain with:
Zecariah 13:1 On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
Would you agree that they are both referring to the same fountain? If so, would you agree that the fountain is Christ, the Living Waters?

Also, consider the phrase in Zech 13 "in that day." So then, that would certainly lend itself to the rest of the context being fulfilled at the time of Christ. Consider how God uses that timeframe reference:

Zechariah 12:3-4 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. {4} In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
Zechariah 12:6 In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:8-9 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. {9} And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Now watch closely:
Zechariah 12:10-14 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. {11} In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. {12} And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; {13} The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; {14} All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.
Zechariah 13:1 On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
"On that day" or "In that day..."
Zechariah 13:2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.
Zechariah 13:4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
Zechariah 14:4 On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward.
Now this next part is crucial:
Zechariah 14:6-9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: {7} But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. {8} And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. {9} And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
Look at verse 8. That is clearly referring to Christ:
John 4:10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."
John 4:14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."
and
John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Clearly declares Christ as the Living waters and the timing of it.

So then, it is not so much a matter of *whether* Zech and Joel were fulfilled. It is a matter of the nature of the fulfillment. Remember what Joel said about the waters:

Joel 3:18 In that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the Wadi Shittim.
That water is Christ and that sweet wine is Christ.

You asked:

"Also, when did Judah sell Grecians as slaves (Joel 3:4-8), and when did Egypt become desolate(3:19)?"

Well, consider these passages in regard to this type of language:

Isaiah 35:7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
Again, it speaks of the parched ground becoming a pool. In other words through faith in Christ they receive the springs of living water. Through rejection of Jesus Christ Egypt and all other nations would be wasted or desolate and without water. Compare:
Zechariah 14:17-21 If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. {18} And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then on them shall come the plague that the LORD inflicts on the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths. {19} Such shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths. {20} On that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the cooking pots in the house of the LORD shall be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar; {21} and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
Zechariah is using metaphorical language to describe life without Christ-"no rain." But upon those who worship the Lord would be rain, or Christ Jesus. It is desolation to be without Christ. It is emptiness and there is great void. But in Christ we lack nothing and we are never thirsty:
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
But on the contrary, those who do not trust in Christ are thirsty:
Isaiah 65:13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame;
Again, without Christ is only shame and desolation.

As far as your question as to when Judah sold Grecians as slaves, I have an idea about that to which Joel is referring. It may very well be the Gospel originally proceeding from the first century Jewish church and taking captive the Gentiles as slaves of righteousness. In other words, those Gentiles who previously dominated the whole kingdom of Israel would now be subject to the Gospel of Christ under the New Covenant. Here are some Scriptures that may allude to this:

Psalms 72:8-11 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. {9} They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. {10} The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. {11} Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
Here is an incredible passage that clearly describes the New Covenant kingdom of Christ and how it would first be the glory of Israel and that Gentiles would come to their Light:
Isaiah 60 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. {2} For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. {3} And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. {4} Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. {5} Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. {6} The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the LORD. {7} All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. {8} Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? {9} Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. {10} And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. {11} Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. {12} For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. {13} The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. {14} The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. {15} Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. {16} Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. {17} For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. {18} Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. {19} The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. {20} Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. {21} Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. {22} A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.
In regard to your question, especially consider these verses:
Isaiah 60:5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
Isaiah 60:10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
Notice that the Gentiles would "build" up the walls. In other words they would be servants helping build the kingdom of Christ, and, Isaiah describes, is in subjection to the original Jewish church or what we might remember as the tree (first century Jewish church) in which the fowls of the air (Gentiles) lodged. Consider this verse in Isaiah:
Isaiah 60:14 The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
So that, indeed, slavery is can be observed as something optimistic rather than pessimistic:
Romans 6:17-19 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, {18} and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. {19} I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
However, the context in Joel does seem to suggest a larger context of judgment, though it is clear from the above passages that God uses this type of language in a metaphoric manner. I think the spiritual nature can be seen by this verse:
Joel 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, "I am a warrior."
Consider the opposite stated by those who would be called Godís people:
Isaiah 2:4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
You see, one is speaking of those who bow to the king and taking their carnal weapons and gaining the strength of the Gospel which would produce fruit but produce death through its sword-like characteristics against those who would rebel:
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. {15} For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: {16} To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? {17} For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Also, very important:
Psalms 149:5-9 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. {6} Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; {7} To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; {8} To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; {9} To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
That is clear that the Gospel would slay the enemies of God. This is precisely what takes place through the preaching of the Gospel to those who rebel against Jesus Christ. He slays them with the sword of His mouth.

Through the Gospel, they are "bound" with chains. Hence, the idea of slavery. Kings and nobles represent the haughty in the pride of their countenance in hatred of Christ. We get to execute judgment. It is our honor because of Christ and His power to make us holy by the Gospel. Originally John wept because only Christ was worthy to open the seals of judgment. But since the parousia we are all worthy because of Christís presence and word. Therefore, when we preach the Gospel, we are truly judging the world as Paul predicted:

1 Corinthians 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
So then this selling into slavery makes perfect spiritual sense. Through the Gospel they are proven to be bound in sin and slaves to unrighteousness. They are made aware of their unbelief. They are made conscious of their rebellion against Christ. Thus they perish and are wasted and made an utter desolation. Surely the passage you quote has its origin with the first century church. But the Gospel is the everlasting Gospel the be proclaimed throughout eternity:
Revelation 14:6-7 Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation and tribe and language and people. {7} He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
But I would again refer back to Psalms to convey more powerfully the idea of binding the heathen with the power of the word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence, the nations would be sold into slavery. So either way I believe their is an abundance of Scripture to show the vast usage of metaphorical language to convey this idea of the judgment that was to come.

And finally, in regard to your statement:

"I am having difficulty interpreting these chapters.... All three chapters refer to God judging and fighting "all nations" (Joel 3:2,11,12 Zech.12:3,9 14:2,3,12,14)."

I would say that the Scriptures I have used would also answer this issue. God fights and judges the nations with the sword of His mouth. Why?

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: {4} (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; {6} And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

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