March 10, 2010

The Valley of Decision

Joel 3:12-21

The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
Joel 3:14


Joel 3:14 is sometimes used to encourage people to make a commitment to God. Maybe you have attended an evangelistic rally, or watched a mass worship service on television, where this verse was cited. The preacher might have read this verse to impress upon people the urgency of making a personal decision to follow Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with a message like that. But it’s not the best way to apply this verse to our lives.

As we read in today’s verses, the valley of decision is the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This is not a literal valley, but one that is used as a symbol of God’s judgment (“Jehoshaphat” means “the Lord judges”).

Even more important, the “decision” in today’s Scripture reading is not a decision by the people who are gathered. The people of the nations are gathered before the Judge of all nations. So there is only one person who renders a decision, and that’s the Judge. The Lord God is the one who decides.

This does not mean we have no decisions to make in our relationship with God. It simply means our commitment to God is a response to the verdict our Judge has given.

In the valley of decision, God has declared us innocent. Jesus was judged in our place.

How can we not love a God who has so loved us?

Lord Jesus, you are the way to God. Your blood paid our ransom. In you we face our Judge and Maker unafraid. Thank you for giving us the life we have in you. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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