Joel 3:1-2 refers to the days of the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30:3, where God promised through Moses that after the Lord had dispersed Israel among the nations he would also restore them
back to the land of Israel:
“Then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers.” – Deuteronomy 30:3-5
Also at that time, the nations will be gathered to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This valley may be the one which extends towards the Dead Sea from the Kidron . This is where King Jehoshaphat marched out to defeat the coalition of the Moabites/Ammonites/Meunites when they crossed the Dead Sea to gather in the Desert of Tekoa in Judah (2 Chron. 20). The Valley of Jehoshaphat may be this valley that connects the Kidron Valley with the Desert of Tekoa as it extends from the east side of Jerusalem down towards the Dead Sea since this is where Jehoshaphat marched to meet the
enemy with his musical band leading the way. (2 Chron. 20) In Hebrew “Jehoshaphat” means
“the Lord Judges.” So, on that future day, the Lord will judge in the “Valley of the Lord Judges.”
Other valleys that the prophets associate with the judgment are these:
- Jeremiah spoke of the Valley of Ben Hinnom (or, Valley of the Sons of Hinnom) on the
west side of Israel. It joins the Kidron Valley on the southeast .This valley was to
become the Valley of Slaughter. (Jeremiah 7:30-34; 19:1-7)
- Isaiah spoke of the Valley of Vision. (Isaiah 22:1-13)
- Ezekiel prophesied of the Valley of the Oberim (Valley of “those who travel”) which
will become the burial ground for the northern invaders which will be defeated in Israel.
This valley will be known as the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Ezekiel 39:11)
- Zechariah speaks of a valley that will be formed by the earthquake that splits the
Mount of Olives upon the Lord’s return and extends the present Kidron Valley. (Zec.14:3-5)
When the Lord sits to judge the nations he has gathered in the Valley of Jehoshaphat he will
use the criterion clearly stated in Joel 3:2: “what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel.”
Two behaviors are evaluated to determine the quality of the nation’s response to Israel:
- Did they assist in scattering his people among the nations?
- Did they divide up the land of Israel for the nations to possess once Israel was scattered?
It is interesting that Jesus referred to this exact future event and the exact same criterion for judgment when he referred to his return and his being seated in the Valley of Jehoshaphat to separate the nations when he said the following in Matthew 25:31-46:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine (ISRAEL) , you did for me.’…Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
"These brothers and sisters of mine” that Jesus refers to in Matthew 25:40 are the Israelites that the Lord calls “my inheritance, my people Israel” in Joel 3:2.