The LORD Dwells in Zion (Joel 3:16-21) by Ptr. Xley Miguel

Good morning everyone. Please turn your Bibles to Joel chapter 3: 16- 21. Joel chapter 3: 16- 21. You know the Israel and Hamas conflict this year which began on October 7 which I guess we can argue that originated since ancient times, there are those who believe that Israel owns the land. I think there’s no problem with that if you claim that. I mean if you mean politically. But when you apply the Bible and say that Israel owns the land by virtue of the promise of God that they own the land covenantally because God has promised to them the land and God will finally give the land to them in the future, I think proper biblical interpretation would say that the modern Israel is not the ancient Israel. They’re different. The modern one now, Israel ngayon, does not have a covenant with God anymore. We know that that covenant has been abrogated already. Hence, the promise of God to give a physical land to Israel, has already been abrogated as well, because the promise of God in ancient times was covenantal; it was part of a covenant, but that covenant does not anymore exist. Which brings us to our text today because our text talks about the nation of Israel. And yes, they were called Zion… they were called Zion. And as Joel was the mouthpiece of God during their time, he was talking about the future. But he’s using the words of his time. So let us read Joel CH 3: 16- 21 The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it. “And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim. “Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the Lord dwells in Zion.”

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our Lord will standforever. As punishment for the sins of Israel because of their rebellion, God used pagan nations as avengers in a sense, to punish His people. That’s what we can see in the Old Testament. However, these pagan nations and to be specific in the Book of Joel and I argue that the pagan nation back then who were called the locusts, I would say were the Babylonian army because Joel says they come from the north. These pagan nations including Babylon, they were wicked; in fact they were God’s enemies also. But again, God used them to punish His own people to discipline in a sense His people. These nations were so wicked; they were so bad toward Israel. In their time, they use the Israelite people as currencies, as human currencies. I mean if they want something, they’re going to use their slaves, their conquered slaves, Israelites as currencies, okay. Imagine! But see on the day of the Lord, Joel says, God will avenge His people. Joel 3: 7 to 8 says Behold, I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. Here’s what God will do to even the pagan nations whom He used. Now, He will judge these pagan nations. So see, even their wickedness will still be judged. What God will do is that I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah. Now, the sons and daughters of these pagan nations will be sold to the people of God. And they will sell them to the Sabeans to a nation far away for the Lord has spoken. And then afterwards, He asked the enemies in Joel chapter 3, God asked all the enemies right, to be ready for battle. They’ll be battling who? Of course God! In fact God was calling even the weak ones, probably the young ones, bata, who can’t even fight. Verse 10 tells us for the weak say I am a warrior. And God gathers all the enemies together— this is the picture here, this is the imagery here. God gathers all the enemies together and then using agricultural language, verse 13 tells us put in the sickle.. here’s the sickle judgment, right. The sickle, during the harvest. You have to hold the wheat and then ich-chop mo; pag tumubo na, harvest. Pag tumubo na rin, fullness on wickedness, it’s time for God to harvest. God will harvest these enemies for judgment. And then in verse 16 it says, God roars from His dwelling place. Roaring is an image of judgment. He is judging these enemies of God, right. These enemies even of Israel and yes, God used them to punish Israel, but even those wicked nations will finally be judged. So God roars from His dwelling place, the Lord dwells from… the Lord roars from Zion it says in Joel chapter 3. But at the same time, you would see here that while there is judgment, while judgment is happening, while there is roaring from the Lord, there is also refuge. The Lord is a refuge to His people. While the enemies are received the roaring punishment, roaring judgment from the Lord, the Lord is a refuge to His people. The people of God will be safe and it says that we will be safe from judgment because the Lord is the refuge… He is the safety, He is our safety. But the question is why is He our refuge? Joel answers this question in verse 17 up to the end. Now, if we look at the language, we have to understand in Joel’s language in verse 17 onwards, that when prophets spoke during their time, most of the time, they’re not to be interpreted literally, right. You’re not to interpret them literally, you’re not to wait for waters flowing from Israel and then point at it as oh that’s Joel chapter 3, right. You don’t read it literally. The way to understand the words of the prophet most especially Old Testament, is to go to the New Testament, where the New Testament explains these things to us. For example, when Joel spoke of the word “Zion,” when he said “Jerusalem,” when he said “Judah,” this doesn’t refer specifically in chapter 3. It doesn’t refer to the actual physical land of Israel. At some point it does in chapter 1 and 2 but in chapter 3 it doesn’t. The New Testament explains this to us. When chapter 3 tells us that the Lord roars from Zion, it doesn’t mean that He roars from an actual physical land. Hebrews chapter 12, if you can go there, Hebrews chapter 12 a book from the New Testament will explain this to us. Hebrews chapter 12:22, it says here that when you worship the Lord, you have come to to Mount Zion. So imagine when we worship the Lord, are we going to the airport, and going to the physical land of Israel? No! It says when you are together, when you are coming to the King in worship, you’re in fact on Mount Zion, okay. And Galatians 4: 26 tells us, Galatians chapter 4 verse 26 talks about the people of God, the church. And Paul calls the church what? The Jerusalem above, right. Again, the New Testament tells us Zion, Jerusalem and then Revelation 21 verse 2. This is the clearest text Revelation 21:2 John saw the vision and he said And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. Again, what he saw was the city of God, what he saw was Jerusalem and he describes it this way he said: prepared as a bride… prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The prophets use the terms, to be specific in chapter 3 by Joel, because I’m not saying that in chapter one chapter 2, none of those things were also literal. It talks about the land of Israel, they were really attacked. But in Joel chapter 3, and I will explain later on. What I’m saying, it doesn’t specifically speak of the ancient physical land of Israel. We have to understand as a general principle, the prophets use the terms in their time to refer these words, these places to refer to the people of God. And now in the New Testament because of the complete word of God, we now understand that these terms refer to the church. And so having these in mind, we can see that Joel presents to us that while God’s enemies will meet their just punishment on the return of Christ, this is something that will happen in the future. It says Jerusalem shall be holy, Jerusalem shall be spotless, Jerusalem shall be a holy bride when Jesus Christ returns. Joel speaks of a time of a mountain dripping with sweet wine, milk flowing from hills; again symbolically, a fountain that comes forth from where God is, and also a time where God’s enemies Egypt, Edom will be no more. If you’re an Israelite during their time and you read this, you’ll say oh this is the ideal life.. this is the ideal life, this is the best life, this is the abundant life. You can enjoy sweet wine, you can enjoy milk, you can enjoy fountain of water and most importantly there’s peace, there’s there are no enemies, there’s rest. But see, this is why I’m saying, this does not refer to the land of Israel, physical land of Israel, physical people of Israel, because the ancient Israel did not encounter peace. They were attacked by Babylon, Greco-Persians and then Romans in the time of Jesus Christ, they never… they were never delivered or they never entered that rest from enemies. They never encountered peace. But then Joel chapter 3 tells us there will come a time when Jerusalem, Zion, Judah will experience such abundance, will experience such rest from enemies. And then we read the New Testament— Jerusalem above, Zion is the gathered church. This talks about the church. We know that this did not happen in the time of the ancient Israel because in their time, as we know they were… if we apply the words of Paul in Ephesians chapter 2, they were dead in their trespasses and sins.

And so how will the people of God, now the church, be able to attain such peace, such abundant life then? Paano ito mangyayari? Ano’ng evidence natin that will happen? And is it even possible now even kahit wala pa ang Panginoong Diyos? While we are waiting for Christ to return, are these promises even possible now at our time? Verse 21, I think assures us, assures us that there is an already but not yet here… that there’s already such abundance that we can experience, that there’s already rest from enemies that we can experience. But there’s also a not yet. There will be a full rest that will come. That there are no more enemies and there will be a time when there will truly be an abundance.

But what we can see here is the assurance that that will happen and that it can happen now. Verse 21 tells us this is the reason why there’s an already and not yet here because the Lord dwells in Zion.. the Lord dwells in Zion. Now, in His people now, and the Lord will dwell with His people forever. So the message this morning is Where God Dwells, There Is Life And Peace.

The reason why there will be such abundance in life, the reason why there will be rest from enemies and eternal peace is because God is here. It’s because God dwells in Zion, dwells with His people. I have two points to explain this. First, Where God Dwells, There Is Life That Flows. Second, Where God Dwells, There Is Rest From Enemies.

Let us consider the first point Life That Flows. In verse 18, it says so you have to.. I’m going to ask you to go to verses so if you have your Bibles with you, that would help. Verse 18 it says “And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim. The valley of Shittim may refer to a place where acacia trees grow. It’s a place where possible water would come out especially in the time of Joel. So it’s Joel was basically saying the same thing.

Water, milk will come out of somewhere, of a place, right. It’s basically saying the same thing: wine, milk, fountains, streams of water that flows from the source which is the house of the Lord. The source who is God. I mean if you read this, you should be reminded of the garden. You should be reminded of the garden. Genesis chapter 2. Genesis chapter 2: 10 tells us a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden right. It was literal that back then. It was symbolic in the time of Joel to remind us of it. And then the New Testament further explains this to us. In fact, the subsequent Revelation rather if you go to Ezekiel, Ezekiel chapter 47, if you have your Bibles, Ezekiel 47: 8 to 9 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, what will happen? When the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And look at this…And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, seems like this water gives life…and there will be very many fish, it says. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. And then jump to verse 12 of Ezekiel CH 47 verse 12 it says And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food.

Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, see this..listen…because the water for them flows where? from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” It’s echoing— wherever the river river goes, they will live. There will be life, there will be healing. We’ve read this a while ago, Revelation chapter 22; in fact we we’re singing it.. three time… the third time later, two times. We were singing about the rivers, right. Where streams of living water flow, my ransom soul He leadeth. And then yung isa… see the streams of Living Waters, springing from eternal love. We read this in Revelation chapter 22: 1 to 3 and I’m going to read it also. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne coming, it’s coming from somewhere, it’s coming from the sanctuary, it’s coming from where God is. It’s flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city also on either side of the river the tree of life… again this is symbolic of you have.. when you read this in Revelation, you have to go back to Genesis and how Adam looked at the tree of life. He looked at the Tree of Life as a symbol of eternal life. It says the Tree of Life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. It looks like an image or a picture that Adam could have attained when he was in the garden, when he had that covenant with God. It could have been the image of peace and life and abundance and blessing if he was obedient to God. But of course that’s not what happened. We were plunged into the curse because of sin. But you see, this is a picture of abundance, prosperity, healing and life. And it will happen when Christ returns. This is what Joel saw and an important note, where do these things come from? Saan galing? Where do these waters that give life come from? They come from the Source who is God. It is in God’s throne of grace alone where life flows abundantly.

Madaanan ka ng tubig, buhay ka. Madaanan ka ng salita ng Diyos, buhay ka. If you respond in faith sa dumaan na river of waters that give life, you will be.. you will have life. And it comes from God Himself. While Joel looks at our future, the same imagery of a life-giving water is already a reality. Right now, Christ is your Source. If sin has been wearing you down brother or sister in Christ, you have come to the right place. To where life is given, to where God dwells, the Lord dwells in Zion, and it is in Zion where God dwells, waters flow, waters that give life. Kung i-literal natin yung image na iyon, the preaching of the word gives you life. And it comes from Christ. Just as the water gives life to the trees, to every living creature, so to The Living Water who is Christ gives life to you. Just as the fountain comes forth from the house of the Lord that gives life.

According to William Cooper, there is a fountain that is filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins that destroy sin and death and gives you life. And when we, sinners are plunged beneath the flood of blood, we will lose all our guilty stains. It washes all our sins away. Jesus says in John 7:37 “If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink.” He’s basically saying I am the only source. If you are thirsty, don’t go somewhere else and look for a fountain. I am the only source of life. if you’re thirsty. Whoever believes in me, as the scriptures has said, he says, out of his heart flow rivers of Living Water, right.

If you feel like you’re hopeless, Christ is the water that makes you full and at the same time He is the water that makes you thirst more for righteousness. It’s like you’re thirsty for more but at the same time you are actually satisfied. If you feel like sin has defeated you, Christ alone is the Fountain of life. He is your assurance that despite the sin, there is life ahead and there is life now. You’re not dead in your sin. Don’t believe the enemy. If pride, envy, or any other sin, continue to reside in your heart. Let the waters that give healing flow in your heart. Let the word of God enter, receive Christ humbly. The question is: are you alive in Christ? Because if you’re not, then you are dead. The Bible says it is not God whom you are following; you’re following the world, the prince of the power of the air. Yes you are living but you’re living in the passions of your flesh carrying out the desires of your body and the only one who can raise your soul up is the One who rose from the dead. The only one who actually experienced it. And it is Christ alone. And the only way to be saved is to put your faith in Him. Christ is the source from whom all blessings flow. Christ gives you life and Christ dwells in Zion. So where do you go to get life? If we say that from Christ comes the waters that gives life or the word that gives life, where do we go?

Brethren, ascend that is my challenge.. Ascend Mount Zion here in the gathered church. Again, I’m not saying ascend there go to the airport and go to Israel. Ascend Mount Zion! Here! Whenever the church gathers, ascend That’s where you’re going.. Hebrews 12:22 tells us to Mount Zion, to the innumerable angels worshiping, to the people who are already enrolled in heaven also worshiping, that’s where you are going. Ascend Mount Zion, because the source of life dwells there. Go to where the rivers of life flow. Come to where God is and you will be safe. Because God is a refuge to His people. We are all summoned to come, summoned by one.. but are one true King. And the King addresses us, and assures us; the King assures you now, the king assures you now that no judgment will come upon you. The King assures you now that our faith will be preserved, that God’s love will not separate us, that your sins have been forgiven. He assures you now that your guilt has been removed no matter how you feel guilty. In the eyes of God, He doesn’t see guilt because it was already punished on the cross, that your miseries have an end. Yes, there’s misery now because of sin but it has an end. He assures you that your tears will be wiped away. That no matter what the enemy says, your old self is really gone. If you think that wala, have not changed at all! Your old self has gone. God assures you — receive Christ, that you died to sin because He died on the cross and that you were made alive together with Him because He rose from the dead! That’s your assurance. It is yours! So ascend. You don’t get that anywhere else You don’t get that from TV shows. You get that from the pulpit, you get that from the gathered church, you get that from hearing from Christ Himself, you get that from the body of Christ after they themselves heard the word of God. Nowhere, nowhere outside Mount Zion, nowhere else can a Christian gets such assurance. You won’t find comfort that your soul needs elsewhere. You can find it where God is for the Lord dwells in Zion. So outside the gathered church, it is so dangerous. This is why we always pray, if you remember we always pray about this, for brethren, people who do not worship the Lord. And in our prayers, usually we utter Lord, we plea, we plead to the Lord that at least our brethren would engage in family worship, that His grace would even reach them. We pray that way because we know that the ordinary means are here. Because the river flows here and not elsewhere.

Christ instituted the gathered church where He will dwell, where He dwells where the blessing will overflow. Mount Zion is the gathered church, which simply means we have to be together. It is us who are Zion, we are Zion redeemed. We are the city of God, we are the redeemed city of God. We are the new and redeemed Jerusalem above, redeemed by Christ. Sabi nga ni John Newton, “saviour sins of Zion City, I through grace a member am.” We are members of Zion City. We are as a gathered church, we are Zion. So my question is who is your Source? Who is the source of the rivers that give healing and life? It is God, right. My second question: where is your Source? I mean children’s catechism would say: “everywhere!” But covenantally and specially, we know where He is, we know where He dwells, He is on Zion. So brother and sister, ascend. Ascend not just because your pastor tells you, your brother and sister tells you to worship the Lord. Ascend because God is here.

My last point is Rest From Enemies. In verse 17, it says strangers shall never again pass through it. Strangers meaning enemies. They will never again go to to the people of God and oppress. Conquer the people of God in verse 19 tells us Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. This is a picture of a time of eternal peace— no more enemies for God’s people. Again, this does not specifically talk about the nation of Israel in their time. Because as we know, as I’ve said a while ago, they never experienced or entered peace. Egypt and Edom are known ancient enemies of Israel. So this is, again, symbolic to the greater symbolic of the greater enemies of God.

Meaning that the people of God will experience rest from such greater enemies because God will avenge His people. And God knows how we have been oppressed by some great enemies. Of course Joel is actually looking forward to it. He’s saying here that there will come a time that these greater enemies will all be gone and we’re talking about sin, Satan and the last enemy, which is death they will all be gone. So this is looking forward to what’s to come. Christ will finally put an end to them. He ascended to heaven and there will come a time that He will meet with us, and He will come judging, roaring, but He will come as well as a refuge. Christ will finally put an end to them because God will avenge His people. We are sure of this because our sin has an end in Christ’s return. But know that a foretaste of it, a foretaste of such rest from enemies can be experience now because of the gospel. Because Christ already died and rose again. It means that there it has begun there’s a foretaste already, and already and not yet it will come. But it has already begun.

Jesus Christ’s death on the cross assures us of the defeat of sin. But also the reason why you can defeat sin, you can mortify sin as enabled by the Holy Spirit, it is because Christ already defeated sin on the cross. The reason why there’s no more condemnation for you despite your remaining sins, is because Christ already died for sin. So when Christ arrives, we will be in eternal communion with Him. It will be full of joy, no more tears because we will all dwell with Him in eternity because the Lord dwells in us. But see now, we can already mortify sins because He has already died. While we are waiting for it, while we are waiting for the final defeat of sin, we can start now. We have been, we can be enabled. we have been enabled. Pray to God that the spirit will enable you to mortify your sins and you can only do that because Christ already died on the cross. If He did not die, then you will die to your sins. you won’t be able to mortify your sins you don’t even have to look forward for a final defeat. If Christ did not die on the cross and rose again from the dead but because of what he has done. The challenge for us mortify your sins and be assured of its final defeat when Christ returns. Have you looked at it this way? That when you, when I know that you have your struggles with sin. But have you thought of the fact and the reality that that sin has an end? There will come a time you won’t even cry anymore because of that sin. Have you thought about it? It’s because of Christ.

John Owen said.. in fact if we’re going to mortify our sins, John Owen beautifully says this: “Make it your daily work; be always at it while you live. Seize not a day from this work.” that’s John Owen. So brethren, let us wage war, let us wage war against sin. Let us use our mortification swords! Take it out for battle— the swords being the word of God. Let us use our mortification guns. Take it out to the shooting range, knowing that it has already been shut in the first place and will end up dead soon. Now let me ask you: “Are you feeding your soul or are you feeding your sin. Are you feeding it with worldly pleasures? Are you making yourself more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy? If you are, then today’s challenge will be difficult. It’s already difficult; you’re making it more difficult. Mortify your sin, do not feed your sin, but don’t fret as well don’t be impatient.

‘Wait, why am I still stuck in this sin.? Do not be impatient my brother and my sister. While it seems as if there’s delay in our eyes, remember 2 Peter with the Lord one day is a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. We have a different view when it comes to timelines. Know for certain though that God’s vengeance will come. It is inescapable for all sins. I mean you have a picture of that on the cross already: “ Our sins were there; he will avenge us from His enemies. Finally sin, Satan and death and as we wait brethren, starve your sin. Starve it and feed your soul with Christ. Feed yourself with His word, feed yourself with a bread wine. Feed yourself with your brethren’s Godly words. And know that God will avenge us, His vengeance is certain. Be assured that your sin has been judged and finally will be dead. God will pour out His justice while He roars against the enemies. He comforts and shelters the righteous for He is their refuge. Eternal peace will come, eternal rest will come, but peace, rest, these great blessings have already begun in Christ. You can as enabled by the Holy Spirit, mortify your sins and cultivate the graces of the Lord. Remember, when you fail, always look to Christ. Because the cross is the mighty roar of God against sin and Christ at the same time is your refuge. There will be abundance and eternal life rivers flowing that gives life. Sin will not hurt you anymore. It will become desolate and Jerusalem shall be holy. I’m not talking about the physical Jerusalem. There’s no physical Holy Land, but there is a holy people, Jerusalem, the church shall be holy because of Christ. And Christ will forever dwell in Zion. These things will come, but we have a foretaste already of these things. So ascend when summoned, receive life, through the streams of blessings that flow out from the preached word, and enjoy a foretaste of such eternal peace. May the word of God enrich our knowledge of Him and may it stir us to live in light of these truths.

Let us pray. Our great God and gracious Father, Lord enable us, enable us to mortify our sins. Grant us strength. May we always cling to Christ during hardship, may we be reminded oh Lord that when we are tempted, there’s always a door that You Yourself provide for us. That it is not You who’s making it hard for us. It is us. So Lord, strengthen us, keep our eyes always looking to Christ. May we always find Him beautiful in our eyes. And Lord, allow each and everyone to remember where to get life, where to get strength, where to get comfort and that is in Zion, Mount Zion and Jerusalem above. It is in the gathered church.Lord, may we understand the importance of us not worshiping You because we are called to worship; but also worshiping You because we know that it actually benefits us. That this is for us, that You have instituted it for our benefit. So Lord, thank You for Your grace and mercy. Lord, continue to strengthen this church, save our children, save Lord our guests. May You all be glorified in our ministries. We pray in Christ.. we pray this in Christ’s Name, amen.

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