Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. 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. —Joel 3:14–16 (ESV)
Joel is a prophet whose words are striking and vivid. The book opens with the image of gnawing, swarming, and creeping locusts devouring the nation in judgment. In our text today, Joel envisions the coming Day of the Lord, the day of judgment.
The place of judgment is described as the ‘Valley of Decision’ in which are gathered ‘multitudes, multitudes’. As the sun, moon, and stars are darkened, the Lord, the judge, shows up and ‘roars from Zion’. The heavens and the earth tremble. Awesome and terrible. And while the proper response to this is one of fear—absolute reverence for God Almighty—don’t miss the last line: “But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.” We fear Him, yes, and we take refuge in Him, the God of our salvation.
There is an often-remembered sequence in C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which one of the young characters, Lucy, asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan, the Lion who is a Christ-like figure in the story:
“Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Our God is a God of justice and he will judge each person who has ever lived. And He is good, kind, and merciful. And not least because of the salvation he provides in Christ, He is our refuge! Walk today in the reverent fear of the Lord, and place your hope in Him, your refuge.