I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land. (Joel 3:2 ESV)
Joel 3 is a prophecy of the conflict that engulfs Israel at the time of the end when Gog and his allies invade and overpower the Jewish state, only to find themselves overthrown in turn by divine intervention. The prophecy says that “all the nations” will be involved in this judgement.
Zechariah also speaks of how “all nations” will be gathered to Israel for this judgement, and draws attention to the fact that Jerusalem will be central to this conflict: “On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it” (12:3).
Joel 3:2 speaks of “all the nations” incurring the wrath of God for two reasons:
- They scattered the Jews among the nations. This has been fulfilled in the nearly 2,000 years that have passed since the Romans destroyed the Jewish state of Judea in AD 70.
- They have divided up my land. This is a more modern phenomenon, and may be regarded as having commenced in 1947 when the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine into two states, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs.
In 1947 the Jews accepted the partition plan for Palestine and went on to establish the independent state of Israel in 1948. The Arabs did not support the partition plan and launched a bitter war hoping to destroy the Jewish state at its birth. They failed in that War of Independence in 1948 and 1949 and in several wars since.
69 years later, the nations of the world in general continue to support the partition of the Holy Land into separate states for Jews and Arabs. Even the Israeli government officially endorses this view.
On 15 January 2017, the French government convened a conference in Paris to discuss the Middle East peace process. Attended by representatives of 70 nations (a significant number in the light of the seventy nations listed in Genesis 10, the number of Israelites in Genesis 46:25 and Exodus 1:5, and the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8), the conference reiterated support for the so-called “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The United States was represented by outgoing Secretary of State, John Kerry, known for his animosity towards the Israeli government, but not by anyone associated with the administration of incoming President Trump. The United Kingdom attended as an observer only rather than as a participant. There were no representatives at the conference of either the Israeli government or the Palestinian administration.
Not surprisingly, the Palestinians supported the final communique of the conference and reiterated their view that Israel is the only impediment to a “two state solution”. It is also unsurprising that Israel expressed scepticism about the conference outcome. In remarks to his Cabinet after the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
“This conference is among the last twitches of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow’s world will be different — and it is very near.”
No doubt Mr Netanyahu was referring to the fact that in just a few days the new Trump administration will assume office in the United States. But like the words of Caiaphas in John 11:49-52, his comments could also be read as an unintended “prophecy” of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that, while supporting a “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Kingdom was critical of the conference in an official statement issued by the Foreign Office:
“We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them – indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis – and which is taking place just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement. There are risks therefore that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace.”
This conference in Paris is just the latest in a long list of ineffective initiatives to promote peace in the Middle East. More importantly, however, it is further confirmation of the truth of the words of Joel about all the nations being judged by God because of their determination to divide God’s land.