“Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, live in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy forever, and foreign armies will never conquer her again.
“In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the Lord’s Temple, watering the arid valley of acacias.
But Egypt will become a wasteland and Edom will become a wilderness, because they attacked the people of Judah and killed innocent people in their land.
“But Judah will be filled with people forever, and Jerusalem will endure through all generations.
“I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the Lord, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.” (Joel 3:17-21)
At the beginning of his prophecy, Joel predicted that the land of Israel would be devastated by a locust plague. It arrived like an invading army. Perhaps the locusts served as a picture of the Babylonians, God’s punishment for Israel’s disobedience.
Though the Babylonians and their allies, Egypt and Edom, served as God’s instruments of judgment, they slaughtered the innocent, not just the guilty. So God promised he would punish them, too. This happened within seventy years, when the Persians conquered Babylon and much of the rest of the Middle East. The Persians then issued a decree ordering that both Jerusalem and the Temple be rebuilt and that the Jewish captives should go home.
God then promised that he would live with his people forever. God fulfilled this promise with his New Covenant—a covenant that would be written on the hearts of his people. God intended to make his people his temple, the place where he really could live with them forever. As Paul the apostle would later write, his people are now God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in their midst.