Joel 3:18-21: Restoration in the Millennium
18 “And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim. 19 “Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. 20 But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations. 21 I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the Lord dwells in Zion.”
The most common term used in greeting by Jews today is “shalom” – peace! For a Gentile peace generally means the absence of war, however the true biblical shalom refers to an inward sense of calmness and well-being, a completeness or wholeness. In Israel today, when you greet someone or say goodbye, and you say, shalom, you are literally saying, “may you be full of well-being,” or “may health and prosperity be upon you.” This greeting looks forward to the Messiah – the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) – and will only truly be a reality in people’s lives during the Millennial Kingdom. So, it is the Church that should be greeting each other with “shalom,” as Yeshua is “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). The Kingdom has broken through into the world through the Church, i.e. when we implicitly trust our Lord and saviour we attain “shalom” in the true sense of the word – completeness, wholeness and well-being. David expressed the contentment of this faith in Psalm 131:2, writing: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother”.
After darkness and judgement, Joel moves to outline hope and peace for Israel, when the Messiah will rule from Jerusalem, i.e. the Prince of Peace ruling from the City of Peace.
Restoration of the Land (Part 1)
“And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim” (Joel 3:18).
God gave the land of Canaan to Israel as an everlasting possession in an unconditional covenant, known as the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 17:7; 13; 19). The land promised to Israel during the Millennium will stretch from the Euphrates in the north, to the river of Egypt (Eastern Nile delta) in the south (Genesis 15:18). On the return of Yeshua to rule as the Son of David, He will divide the land into tribal sections (Ezek. 48:1-7, 23-27), with a fifty-five square kilometre middle section for the priests and Levites, who will work in the Temple (Ezek. 48:8-22).
Yeshua will restore the Temple and rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem, in the centre of the new Israel. A perennial river will flow from the Kidron Valley to both the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea (Valley of Shittim). The Judean wilderness will blossom once more, and the Dead Sea will once again be a place where fishermen haul in nets filled with fish (Ezek. 47:10). The land of Israel will again be a land of milk and honey. The ploughman will overtake the reaper (Isa 30:23-24; Amos 9:13). Animal life will also be changed with the animal kingdom living in peace with mankind (Isa. 11:6-9).
In 1867 the famous American author, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), was part of an American team sent to Eretz Israel (called Palestine) to assess the land, his report contained the following comments:
- “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Palestine is desolate and unlovely – Palestine is no more of this workday world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition, it is dreamland.”
- “There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
- “A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tabor safely. We never saw a human being on the whole route.”
- “There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for thirty miles in either direction. …One may ride ten miles (16 km) hereabouts and not see ten human beings.”
- “These unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness…”
In Mark Twain’s appraisal of the land, there is the clear evidence of the fulfilment of Zechariah warning the Jews: “‘When I called they did not listen; so when they called I would not listen,’ says the Lord God Almighty. ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate’” (7:13-14). When God removed the Jews from the promised land the territory became a wasteland under the Gentiles; in the Millennium the land will reach its full potential, with the curse placed on the ground at the time of Adam being removed (Gen. 3:17-18).
Reign of the Lord
“I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the Lord dwells in Zion” (Joel 3:21).
Those churches influenced by Replacement Theology, reject the concept of a Millennial Kingdom. This is close to heresy as it is indirectly rejecting the hypostatic nature of Jesus i.e. He is both all God and all man. Therefore, He will rule the earth as the Son of David for a thousand years, and rule from New Jerusalem over all creation as the Eternal High God.
The reign of Yeshua as the Son of David during the Millennium will be characterized in a number of ways:
- He will rule over the whole world, not just Israel. He has stripped the nations of the earth out of the grasp of Satan. They are His inheritance, and the “utter parts of the earth for [His] possession” (Ps. 2:8).
- He will have absolute authority, ruling with “a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5; 19:15).
- He will be a righteous and just Ruler (Isa. 11:3-4), for He will rule with truth (Isa. 65:16) and holiness (Ezek. 36:20-23).
- Universal peace will rebound throughout the earth (Isa. 2:3-4), especially in Jerusalem (Isa. 65:18-19); for God will pour out His peace in a double portion of Joy (Isa. 61:7), giving “the oil of joy for morning” and “the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3), “for the Lord dwells in Zion” (Joel 3:17; 21).
Restoration of the Land (Part 2)
“But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations” (Joel 3:20).
The Prophet Zechariah writes that at the wonderous return of Yeshua to earth, He will pour out His Spirit upon the house of David and Jerusalem, at a time when all Israel will be saved (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11:26). The whole point of the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” is to bring the Jews back into relationship with God. Therefore, at the end of the Tribulation there are four groups of Jews that need to be considered:
- Those that recognize The Rapture as evidence of Yeshua being their Messiah and become believers. Many of them will make up the 144 000 witnesses – 12 000 from each tribe.
- Those Jews that realize the Antichrist cannot be their messiah when he proclaims himself to be god, and then has an idol of himself placed in the temple (Rev. 13). Their rejection of him as god will result in their having to flee the wrath of the Antichrist and live in the wilderness, protected there by God for three and a half years (Rev. 12:13-14).
- The Jews that remain stiff necked and hard hearted, seeking what the world can provided. They will remain loyal to the Antichrist because they believe that doing so will benefit them.
- The last group will be those that are under twenty at the return of the Lord. Twenty is the age of accountability (Num. 14:29), so those of this age group who survive the devastation of the Great Tribulation, will be the main benefactors of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the return of Jesus to earth.
Thus, with all ungodly Jews being judged in the Great Tribulation, only the righteous and those under twenty years old will be alive at the return of Jesus, so Paul’s prophecy that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26), will be fulfilled.
Religion in the Land
“But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations” (Joel 3:20).
The likelihood is that the third temple will be damaged in the turbulent times of the last days. The Lord Jesus will restore and glorify the third temple, which will become the Millennial Temple (Ezek. 40-42). The Shekinah glory, which departed in the day of Ezekiel (Ezek. 10:3-5; 18-19; 11:23), will again descend upon this Temple making it holy (Ezek. 43:1-5).
During the Millennium, worship will be re-established on the Sabbath and animal sacrifice will be offered once again on the cleansed Temple Mount (Ezek. 43:18-27; Zech. 14:16). With the tribe of Levi being identified by the Lord, these men will perform the priestly duties. These sacrifices are a memorial of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. The priests will not be offering sacrifices for the redemption of sin. The Lord Jesus has attained eternal redemption for all mankind through His blood being shed while on the cross (Heb. 9:12).
During this time the Jews will be called “the ministers of our God” (Isa. 61:6), and will function as the spiritual leaders under the Lord’s direction. When the nations of the world make their yearly appearance in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), they will seek out the Jews to learn from them more about Jesus (Zech. 8:23). Those that refuse to journey to Jerusalem will have drought in their land, as the Lord will withhold the rains (Zech. 14:17-18). For the Egyptians who depend on the Nile for their water supply, they will suffer plagues (Zech. 14:18).
Restoration of the Land (Part 3)
After the sheep and goat judgement in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, Yeshua will establish the Jews in their tribes and settle them in their allocated areas. They will be forged into one people in the land (Ezek. 37:15-22), for the first time in three thousand years. They are then joined by the righteous Gentiles (sheep), who begin to resettle the countries of the world, and will eventually repopulate the earth. Those entering the Kingdom age that are in any way ill, or physically disabled will be immediately healed (Isa. 35:5-6). As disease and illness will be eradicated the life expectancy will once more be as in the time before the flood, with people living for hundreds of years (Isa. 33:24). In fact, if a person dies at aged one hundred he will be considered a baby (Isa. 65:20).
Scripture is not clear on what happens to the Old Testament saints during the Millennium, but the following facts need to be considered:
- The promises in Scripture to rule and reign with Jesus seems to have been made to the Church only.
- As Enoch (pre-Abraham), and Elijah (post-Abraham), are included in The Rapture, (God is not limited by time), so some theologians believe that the Old Testament saints are raptured with the Church, but is does not mean that they will return to earth with the Bride of Christ. However, as the Church is the Bride of Christ, The Rapture seems to be for the Church alone. The apostle John confirms this, writing: “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! (The Rapture). Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years,” (Rev. 20:6). The resurrection of Old Testament saints will take place before the White Throne judgement, at the end of the Millennium.
- If Old Testament saints ruled with the Church, the number of beings in glorified bodies would outnumber those living on the earth for most of the Millennium.
- Then, what about all those that have died under the age of twenty during the ages, and therefore are not held accountable by God? Do they also return to earth and rule with the Church? This will be a immense multitude – consider the fact that America alone, has been aborting three hundred thousand foetuses a year.
The Church, the Bride of Christ, return with Yeshua in glorified bodies to rule with Him on earth. The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) is a strong warning for the Church, that what we do for the Lord will have consequences for the Kingdom rule. So, like Israel, The Church will be made a kingdom of priests (Rev. 1:6) and will be given authority to reign with the Lord (Rev. 2:26-27). The disciples were told by Jesus that they would “sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’” (Matt. 19:27- 28). The Tribulation saints who died before the return of Jesus, will be in resurrected bodies and will live and serve with the Lord in Jerusalem – as they did in heaven, so they will continue to do on earth (Rev. 7:14-15).
Children born during the Millennial Kingdom will have the requirement of faith in Christ for salvation, as all people of past ages have. Unfortunately, not all of the children that are born during the Millennial Kingdom will come to faith in Christ. Those that do not will be led away by Satan into rebellion against God at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when Satan is let loose for a short time (Revelation 20:7-10).
The wonders waiting for those who will be living during the Kingdom rule, are hinted at in Scripture. For example, God will answer the prayers of those living during this time before they even ask them, and in some cases while the request is being made (Isa. 65:24). Then there is the important restoration of creation. Mankind was given dominion over the earth: “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth He has given to the sons of men” (Psalm 115:16). However, over the millennia nature has suffered greatly under the sinful nature of man, Paul explains this, writing: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:22). The return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom, sees Him take dominion over the earth. Creation will be restored:
“For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up; And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up; And it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:12-13).
Revenge on other Lands
“Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land… I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the Lord dwells in Zion” (Joel 3:19-21).
The words of Judgement from Joel on Egypt and Edom must be a warning to all; God holds a special relationship with Israel, which most do not recognize including many churches. Obadiah goes even further in his warning of the judgement coming upon the Edomites, because they “stood aloof” during the Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem. They did not take part, but God still held them accountable for the decision to celebrate the suffering of Judah. God made a promise to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you” (Genesis 12:3), and history is filled with the evidence of this promise.
The connection of Israel with Egypt has been long, starting with the move of Jacob and his family to settle in Goshen on the Nile delta, right up to the present time. Egypt in Scripture is symbolic of the “the world,” and so God warned the Israelites about seeking Egypt’s help rather than trusting in Him. Whenever Israel leaned on Egypt for support, they proved to be a faulty crutch, providing little or no help (Ezek. 29:7).
The warning to Israel regarding trusting Egypt was repeated by God, and His prophets continually predicted the fall of Egypt because of Egypt’s failed alliances with Judah, and history of aggression against God’s people (Isa. 19;1-15; Ezek. 29). Egypt has not recovered from its glory days of the pharaohs, and will remain a third world country (Ezek. 29:14) until the end of the Tribulation. During the time of the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist will subdue Egypt, so a time of desolation is in her future (Dan 11:43).
Edom is home to the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, and is situated southeast of Judah. It is where the city of Petra is situated, carved into the red rocks of the mountain range. The city was on the main trade route between Egypt and Babylon called the King’s Highway, and it became a natural stop off point for weary travellers. The Edomites were in constant conflict with Israel, from when Edom would not allow the exodus Israelites to cross their land, to their becoming a vassal state under David, which further increased the animosity between the two nations, to their rejoicing at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
Edom which is situated in modern day Jordan is a desolate wilderness as Joel predicted. Once again during the Day of the Lord, the people of Edom (Jordanians) will face the wrath of God because of their treatment of Israel and the land will remain desolate during the Millennial Kingdom (Obadiah 15-21).
Every year on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, celebration sirens blare out over the country and everyone is brought to a standstill. In the dedicated time of silence and reflection, Jews remember those who have lost their lives in the many wars and conflicts that they have been forced to fight for their right to exist as a people. Unfortunately for Israel, there will be no end to the conflict. Joel graphically reveals that this will continue with Israel paying double (Jer. 16:18) for her sins during the Day of the Lord.
The world hopes for peace to be attained in the Middle East, but unfortunately this will not be the case. Mosab Yousef points out in his book Son of Hamas: “Peace in the Middle East has been the holy grail of diplomats, prime ministers and presidents for more than five decades. Every new face on the world stage thinks he or she is going to be the one who resolves the Arab-Israeli conflict. And each one fails just as miserably and completely as those who have come before” (1). This all must happen to prepare the way for the false messiah, the Antichrist who will institute a seven-year peace treaty (Dan. 9:27) – a false peace – which will result in the takeover of Israel by the Antichrist and the eventual proclamation that he is god, resulting in a time of great conflict.
What the world fails to recognise is that peace will only come to Israel when the Prince of Peace returns. It is the duty of every Christian to pray for that day. When we “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), we are praying for the Lord’s return, and this is a prayer of agreement with God. Those who love the Lord and long for the day He will return will pray in support of Israel.
“For the Lord has chosen Zion, He will desire it for His dwelling: ‘This is my resting place forever and ever; here will I sit enthroned, for I have desired it – I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will sing for joy. Here I will make a horn grow for David and set a lamp for my anointed one. I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown of His head will be resplendent” (Psalm 132:13-18).
- (1) Mosab Yousef, Son of Hamas: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010.