Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.
That is where we all live, in the valley of decision. We are living
between the mountains of today and tomorrow. Where we will spend
eternity is decided in this valley.
Joel spoke of the "day of the
Lord." Today is the day of man. It is the day of sin, and
suffering, and sorrow. We would do well to remember that when we look
around at world conditions. It is the day of man. It is the day of war
and rumors of wars. It is the day of pollution, toxic waste, nuclear
contamination, and the day of destruction. It is the day of immorality,
of AIDS, and crime and corruption. It is the day of man. Around us we
see what are consequences of decisions man has made. God’s day is
coming. That will be the day of light, and truth, and peace. That will
be a day of health and happiness. That will be a day of judgment and
justice. It will be a day that man’s fate is forever fixed. It will be
for some a day of joy, for others a day of dread. For some it will be
one of reward, for other restitution. It will be an awful day of great
finality. someone wrote:
"I dreamed that the great
judgment morning had come and the trumpet had blown. I dreamed that the
nations had gathered in judgment around the great white throne."
That day is coming.
The day of the Lord will be the time
when God will sort out, examine and judge. It is a day fixed in the
secrets of eternity and the heart of God. This "day of the
Lord" has been the object of scorn, laughter, and ridicule by
sinners, but that does not stop God’s time piece from ticking ever
closer to that day. God’s word will come to pass. It is the great day.
It will be a time when a voice from heaven will call for all to assemble
themselves ( Rev. 20:11-12). There will be the final exam when the books
will be opened, and all will be judged. Jesus spoke of this day. "And
before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate one from
the other as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matt.
25:32). All the scriptures point to that coming day. "It is
appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment" Heb.
9:27. "But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same
word kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and
perdition of ungodly men" 2Pet. 3:7. " Behold, the Lord
cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgement upon all,
and to convince all that are ungodly among them of their ungodly deeds
which they have committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly
sinners have spoken against him" Jude 14-15. A final day is
coming for man, and time shall be swallowed up in the eternity of God.
How men shall stand on that day will be determined not then but now.
Today we will make the decision that decides that day.
What will happen on that day will not
be determined by God (although, for Him the future is already as
passed), it will be determined by us now. We are multitudes, multitudes
passing through the valley of decision.
The church is simply a valley of
decision. Each Sunday morning multitudes make decisions that will
determine their destiny. The school classroom is a valley of decision
every morning. Countless numbers of children make the choices that will
determine their eternal destiny. The marketplace is a place where a
million little choices will be made, and each one will have its effect
on the ages. Each dollar spent brings us closer of farther away from
God. A man’s life is the sum total of the choices he makes. From the
type of clothes we wear, to what we eat, to where we work or worship all
contribute to the person we will be when we stand before the accounting
on the great day of the Lord.
Joel saw two armies come face to face
in the valley of Jehosophat. One was good, the other evil. He had a
vision of the great and ultimate battle known to us from another place
as the battle of Armageddon. It is the final great facing off of light
and darkness. The book of the Revelation paints an awful picture of that
day. The outcome of that battle will decide if evil triumphs over good.
Of course it will not. That was demonstrated at the cross. Yet men who
refused to believe the cross was a conflict of truth against error shall
stand helpless on their own judgment day when they stand facing the
truth alone. When a sinner’s sins come riding to meet them on judgment
day like a blood- thirsty mongol hoard and cover the horizon like a
plague of locusts, the sinner will forget about fighting, and simply
drop their sword of pretension before such an ugly army of their own
deeds and thoughts.
In a vision, Joel saw that great day
and sounded an alarm. There have been many others who have read Joel’s
words and have become alarmed enough to "blow the trumpet"
and call for a "solemn assembly" 3:15.
The coming of the Lord will be a day of great victory for the righteous,
yet even they should tremble at the day reckoning, and be concerned for
the lost. "Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand,
and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Is not the meat
cut off before ours eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our
God?" (1:15.) Joel was not sure what he was seeing. When a
prophet gazed through an open window of eternity, time became confused.
There are many little judgment days in history. Joel saw some of those
lesser as well as the greater and final day.
While we will not always understand
what God shows us, we always believe it. Explaining judgment is not as
important as preparing for it. "Blow ye
the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: Let all the
inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it
is nigh at hand."
In 1915 there was an enormous locust
plague that swept across Palestine. National Geographic described it in
great detail. It was like reading a chapter out of Joel. Students should
not spend too much time studying the insects nor waste an inordinate
amount of time trying to determine when was Joel’s birthday or what
king was in office. These are but chaff that God has allowed to blow
away; he has left the wheat.
History teaches us that destiny can
turn on the narrow axis of a single decision. It has been said that in
every life there is a turning point as with a fever when it
"breaks." A single turning point can make the difference
between life and death. Napoleon said "in every battle there are
ten minutes on which hangs the fate of nations." A wrong or delayed
decision at Appomatox lost the American Civil War for General Lee.
The greatest battle fields are in the
heart. Hundreds of these soul battles are won or lost in a moment. They
turn our hearts into the valley of decision. While these battles are for
the most part silent, swift, but furious, they determine your destiny.
The choice you make decides.
One army will be victorious. One will
be defeated. Only one army will come out alive from the valley of
decision. What comes out of those valleys of decision?
Character is that stamp of individuality that gives you worth, that
gives you backbone. It is that thing that molds and shapes us and gives
substance to our being. Every time we choose what God likes and hate
what God hates we develop godly character and come closer to our
destiny. Every time we agree with God we develop character. "Come
now let us reason together saith the Lord..." God the Holy
Spirit "pleads" with men in this valley. (Isa. 55: 1-7;
2. Happiness or Misery.
Happiness is a choice. It is determined by our own decisions. Happiness
is to know the Lord. "Happy is the people whose God is the
Lord" Ps. 144:15. "Whoso trusteth the Lord, happy is
he" Prov. 16:20. Jesus taught the emotional consequences of our
choices. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if you do
them." Oceans of tears have been shed because men and women
made choices that were contrary to God’s will. All such choices are
bad choices. The valley of tears is the valley of wrong decisions.
3. Change or Chains.
Here we decide whether we will change or not. God calls us to repent. If
a man instead refuses to renounce his sin it shall be the shackle that
binds him forever. John later wrote the words of an angel, "let
the filthy be filthy still." It is here in the valley of
decision that Grace allows us to slip the manacles of Satan’s chains
off our necks. Here men have shed the scales of sinful practices, and
dropped their leprous robes. Here men have chosen Christ who had
unloosed them from their sin.
4. Heaven or hell.
Some say that hell is right here. They speak of their troubles and speak
in unbelief. Those who stubbornly refuse to believe the witness of God’s
word will find that it is at death that their troubles just begin. Jesus
died on the cross for you. Don’t reject him in the valley of decision.
"Today if you hear his voice, harden not
your heart." "He came unto his own, and his own received him
not." "Neither is there salvation in any other."
Preachers and Teachers
Many think of the Holy Spirit and the
anointing of Pentecost when they think of Joel. An anointing is required
to minister and to be ministered to in holy things. The Holy Spirit is
the author of prophecy. Unless the Holy Spirit established contact,
approached, prepared, anointed and empowered the prophet there would
have been no prophetic ministry.
The Third Person of the Trinity must
anoint in order for a prophet to first receive and then relay the mind
of God. God explained to Zechariah how his work must be done: "not
by might nor by power but by my Spirit" Zech. 4:6). Elisha
understood the need of such a work of God and anointing when he asked
for a "double portion" of Elijah’s "spirit."
Ezekiel told of the time when "the spirit took me up" (Ezk
3:12), and John spoke of "being in the
Spirit on the Lord’s day."
Peter made it clear that God
communicated thorough his prophets "Holy men of God spoke as
they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pet. 1:21). The word
moved comes from the root phero which means to be "carried
along." Zechariah spoke of this anointing "the words which
the LORD of hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the former prophets"
The anointing of the prophets was
never solicited by the prophet, but rather always initiated by God. God
speaks through His word now forever settled. Today we have the completed
Word of God. The prophet today is one who is anointed by the Holy Spirit
first with insight to understand truth, and second to boldly and
uncompromisingly proclaim it.
The anointing of Old Testament
Prophecy or of New Testament preaching is never to be confused with
superstitious spiritism. The words of Deuteronomy are clear enough. "When
thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou
shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. there
shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter
to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of
times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a cunsulter with
familiar spirits, or a wizard or a necromancer. For all that do these
things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these
abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee"
The people were to look to the prophet
not to divination for guidance. The test of the prophet was simple. Is
what he says true? It is the only standard by which we can measure
safely, and we know that God’s Word is truth. "These were more
noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with
all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those
things were so" Acts 17:11.
The anointing was not only
unsolicited, it was un-stimulated. By that I mean it was not something
that was "worked up." It was not the result of incantations,
music, prayer, or self hypnosis. Little Samuel did not seek the voice of
the Lord in the Temple, nor did he lose his rational abilities when in
the presence of the LORD. Spiritists and other charlatans pretend to be
in some kind of hypnotic trance while supposedly communing with the
"spirits." We do not know whom they are actually communing
with, but we can be sure it is not God.
Nowhere does the Scripture
substantiate an anointing with losing control of either body, mind, or
tongue. The anointing is an empowering by the God of order. While in
times past God communicated through dreams, visions , and appearances
called Theophanies, today we have the completed Bible. We may be the
recipients of insights as individuals, but not of revelations. Today,
the just shall live by faith.