Chapter three concludes Joel’s prophecy, focusing on the final return of Israel to her land. This will take place after the terrible judgment events of the Tribulation, at the return of Messiah. One of the major events that will take place will be the judgment of the nations (Gentile peoples). Joel said this would take place in “the valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:2, 12), but the actual place is unknown. “Jehoshaphat” means “the LORD has judged,” so it could simply be a play on words.
What is certain, though, are the grounds on which the nations will be judged. According to Joel 3:2-8, Jehovah will judge the Gentiles “concerning my people Israel.” How they treated Israel as a nation and individual Jews will determine whether they pass or fail the judgment. Notice the striking similarity between God’s question in verse 4 and Jesus’ statement in Matthew 25:40 – “Why are you doing these things to me…?” (Joel) “Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.” (Matthew) This passage in Joel gives the historical context for Jesus’ declaration of Matthew 25:31-46. That passage is not about how the Church should be ministering to people now but how Jesus will judge Gentiles, based on their actions toward Jews during the Tribulation. Those who identify with and support the Jews will enter Jesus’ kingdom, because their actions will reflect their faith. Those who reject the Jews will themselves be rejected by the King of the Jews, and he will go to war against them and thoroughly defeat them (Joel 3:9-14).
Joel 3:17-21 repeats and confirms Jehovah’s promise with Israel. When the King finally comes and defeats all Israel’s enemies, then they will rest in peace and prosperity in their land under the rule of their Messiah. His kingdom will be characterized by peace and righteousness. As he promised David, they will “reside securely forever, and Jerusalem will be secure from one generation to the next” (2 Samuel 7:10). What a magnificent day it will be, when all God’s promises are all finally fulfilled!