The Valley of Decision

When Ahab, king of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join him in battle against the Syrians, Jehoshaphat responded with solidarity: “I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses” (1 Kings 22:4, see also 2 Chronicles 18:3). However, Jehoshaphat insisted on consulting with a prophet first. Ahab invited a number of false prophets who told them how successful they would be, but Jehoshaphat was not satisfied. “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides,” he asked, “that we might inquire of him?” (1 Kings 22:7, 2 Chronicles 18;6). Reluctantly, Ahab invited Micaiah to speak with them at a threshing floor near the entrance of the city. Micaiah prophesied that Ahab would be killed in battle, and that prophecy was fulfilled.

Later, Jehoshaphat had a similar interaction with Ahab’s son, Jehoram. When Jehoram asked Jehoshaphat to join him in battle against the Moabites, Jehoshaphat again expressed solidarity, and he again insisted on hearing from a prophet. (See 2 Kings 3:7, 11.) This time it was Elisha who addressed them, and he had a more positive message.”Make this valley full of ditches,” he said. “For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water.” Then he added, “And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand” (2 Kings 3:16-18). Both prophecies were fulfilled.

The prophet Joel referenced that valley. Speaking on behalf of God, he wrote, “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2). He also said, “Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about” (Joel 3:12).

The name Jehoshaphat (יְהוֹשָׁפָט) means “Jehovah has judged,” so “the valley of Jehoshaphat” may simply be a way of describing the Final Judgment. But the references to Jehoshaphat also remind us of the decisions he made, particularly his willingness to support his neighbors, and his determination to follow the words of prophets. This interpretation may be further amplified by Joel’s subsequent description of vast numbers of people gathering in the valley:

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

Joel 2:14

Why is it the valley of decision? Because the Final Judgment is ultimately a function of the decisions we make every day. As Mormon testified, “with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged” (Moroni 7:18, see also Matthew 7:2, 3 Nephi 14:2). And Alma put it even more starkly: “They are their own judges, whether to do good or evil” (Alma 41:7).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell encouraged us to be helpful to the people around us who are striving to make good decisions in a confusing world:

The Lord knows how true individual development requires a setting of agency and opportunity. There is no other way….

The need, therefore, is for devoted disciples to do as Paul said, to “shine as lights in the world” (Philip. 2:15), illuminating that latter-day valley foreseen by Joel: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14; see also Rev. 16:16; Zech. 14:2.)

Shine As Lights in the World,” General Conference, April 1983

Today, I will strive to be a light to the people around me. I will remember the example of Jehoshaphat, who made wise decisions and was a positive influence on the people around him. I will remember that, in many ways, the day of judgment is now, because the decisions or judgments we make today contribute to what we will ultimately become.

2 thoughts on “The Valley of Decision

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  1. Interestingly, in a world filled with rage and darkness, if we keep our lanterns glowing brightly, we not only light the way for ourselves but for those around us who will also be able to see in the mist of the darkness.

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