The prophet Joel, foreseeing the judgment of God upon the nations, and the great day of the Lord in which the wicked are punished, declared prophetically of the scene, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14; NKJV)
The valley of decision. That place in which God passes judgment, deciding what will be the eternal fate of each individual. Multitudes. Because everyone will be there, standing before the Judge of the living and the dead.
Another prophet, John, speaking of the same scene, said, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.” (Revelation 20:12-13)
The valley of decision. Not an impersonal destination, fated to happen to someone else, but a place where you yourself will stand, among the multitudes, as one who will be judged.
So, what will God’s decision be when He comes to you?
Joel, in telling of this momentous moment, says, “the voice of the Lord will roar, from Zion,… the heavens and the earth will shake!” (Joel 3:16a) Or as the writer of Hebrews suggests, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31).
Yet, Joel also says, “the Lord will be a shelter for His people.” (Joel 3:16b) And elsewhere God says, “My people shall never be put to shame.” (Joel 2:27b) It was the prophet Joel who was inspired in the Spirit to declare, concerning this time of decisions, “it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Joel 2:32)
Ananias echoed the words of Joel, when, speaking to Saul of Tarsus, in an upper room in Damascus, he commanded, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16; NKJV)
Saul had a decision of his own to make (cf. Acts 9). He had seen Christ risen, he had heard the gospel preached. He had to decide, would he obey the command of Christ, who had said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16a) or would he turn away in disobedience? Saul decided, we know, to do as Christ had commanded. He called on the Lord in faith and obedience, and had his sins washed away. He went on to preach the same message to many others, urging them to obedience.
The valley of decision. A place God judges you based on the decisions you have already made. God’s judgment of us will not be arbitrary. God has told us what He expects. He has told us the standards by which He will judge. And, in His mercy, He has even given us a plan by which we may be forgiven of the sins we have committed.
So what decision will we make when it comes to listening to God? Will we call upon the Lord for salvation, or will we walk our own path? Will we obey the Gospel of Christ, or will we spend our time in pursuit of personal pleasure and satisfaction? Will we submit ourselves to God’s will, allowing Him to transform us into His image, or will we instead conform ourselves to this world? (cf. Romans 12:1-2)
Through the eyes of the prophet we can see the scene, as an endless line of humanity stream into the valley, pressing together before the throne of God. “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.” We can know, through the words of Scripture what the occasion is: “The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” Judgment is coming, and all men will be called to account.
Thankfully, we get to decide what that judgment will be, by the decisions we make on our journey to the throne. Let us decide wisely to heed the Words of God, and learn to do His will, calling on His name for salvation.
If you would like to learn more about calling on the Lord for salvation, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.