JOEL'S ARMYCopyright Š 2012 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Š Copyright, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, The Lockman Foundation, Used by permission.
Joel's army has always been a warm spot for me. But while writing Godwill Castle I discovered that I have confused two invasions of the earth by the Lord Jesus and His saints and warrior angels.
There is the description in Revelation, Chapter Nineteen, of the Lord Jesus coming at the head of His army to attack the forces of Antichrist. This is the battle of Har-Magedon, so familiar to Bible scholars.
I always had considered the second chapter of the Book of Joel to be a description of that battle.
But as I was writing Godwill Castle, which came to me as a series of impressions, I realized they were not the same battle. The second chapter of the Book of Joel is telling us about the cleansing of the earth, after the victory at Har-Magedon.
The Antichrist institutions must be destroyed. Earth's peoples, including those Christians left behind when the Lord raised and catches up His victorious saints, must be dealt with. This preparation must take place before Christ can send out His kings to govern the nations with the rod of iron.
I believe that the remainder of what I have written can be applied readily to Joel's Army, so I am leaving it relatively intact.
The description given in the second chapter of the Book of Joel portrays the army in a manner that really resonates in the hearts of many believers today.
Some are saying that the context of Joel's description, as well as the passage itself, shows that we must restrict our interpretation to an invasion of locusts. But the Spirit of God in us makes us know that hidden in this passage is truth concerning the Kingdom of God.
A literalist could "prove beyond doubt" that the Song of Solomon refers to a local affair of King Solomon. Solomon is referred to directly. But Spirit-filled people through the centuries have known that concealed in the Song of Solomon is a love letter to the Bride of the Lamb.
One can "prove" from the text that the second chapter of Joel is speaking only of locusts and the Song of Solomon is referring to the amorous adventures of Solomon. But the saints know better. They can't "prove" their position from the texts (and yet they can!). They just know better!
And that's probably the way God meant it to be.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand (Joel 2:1NIV)
Today the trumpet is sounding in Zion. The alarm is being blown and the members of the Body of Christ in Heaven and on earth are responding. The Body is one whether in Heaven or on the earth. The Word of God always comes forth from the earth, tried by fire seven times in earthen vessels. In this manner God's intention is made known to the heavens.
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2NIV)
The coming of the Lord will be a time of darkness and gloom, of clouds, of blackness.
Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not lightpitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? (Amos 5:18-20NIV)
The false teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture has left the believers with the impression that the Day of the Lord for them will be a glorified Sunday school picnic in which all churchgoers will be lifted up bodily to meet the Lord in the clouds and then go with Him to the great Disneyland in the sky.
Little do the church members of today realize the incomprehensible terror that will attend the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed it will be a time of gladness for the victorious saints, but even they, like Habakkuk, will tremble when the Lord descends with His troops.
The Day of the Lord will be "out of the frying pan into the fire" for the majority of the members of the Christian religion unless they begin to keep His commandments.
The Day of the Lord is near in the day of decision. Today is the time to decide whether we wish to continue with the carnal, silly church games or get serious with God. The Lord bless you as you begin to mean business with God.
The main characteristic of the return of Jesus Christ is "a large and mighty army." The concept of the pre-tribulation rapture in which the believers are lifted merrily to Paradise is a complete myth.
Be careful how you drink the water in these days. The members of the army are being identified by how they drink the water of the Spirit. Those who stick their face in the pool without carefully examining from the Scriptures what is being taught will never be permitted in the large and mighty army.
Today the believers are sheep. But something is happening in the churches.
Listen to the music in your assembly. There was a time for "Sweet Hour of Prayer." Now we are beginning to hear the war drums of El Shaddai. Are you ready for this? If you are ready to march with Jesus you will learn about war, judgment, and the Kingdom of God.
The work of salvation is proceeding according to the types of the Old Testament. One of the major types is termed the feasts of the Lord.
The fourth of the seven feasts is the feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit fell on the waiting disciples when the day of the Jewish feast of Pentecost had arrived.
The Church has been at Pentecost, so to speak, since the turn of the twentieth century. Now it is time to press on to the spiritual fulfillment of the next feast, the fifth celebration, the Blowing of Trumpets.
The Lord Jesus will perform two major works when fulfilling the Blowing of Trumpets. First He will proclaim war against His enemies dwelling in our personality. Is this happening to you already and you thought you were backsliding because you are becoming conscious of your worldliness, lusts, and self-seeking?
Second He will bring you under discipline and train you as a soldier in His army.
You may not enjoy either of these works, but if you are to move past Pentecost this is what you are facing.
You cannot go past Pentecost until you are willing to confess your sins and turn away from them.
You cannot go past Pentecost until you are willing to accept Jesus as your personal Lord, your Commander in Chief whom you are to obey instantly and totally.
To hear the preaching of today you would think Jesus is the head butler of the churches just yearning to wait on the believers hand and foot. Well, the Bible reveals that the sight of the Lord was enough to make the Apostle John faint and you and me to faint.
Jesus is not the butler of the churches. He is the Lord of armies, strong and mighty in battle. Jesus in His role of Commander in Chief of God's armies is ferocious, terrible, awesome, making Genghis Khan look like a little boy playing soldier.
If you think I am exaggerating wait until you see Him. Don't worry, you will tremble with fear like the rest of us. You and I are only dust. He is the Lord of Glory, the eternal Son of God!
I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us. (Habakkuk 3:16NASB)
Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3NIV)
This is the manifestation of the sons of God that the material creation awaits. All the works of Satan and self-seeking man will be destroyed by the fire of Divine judgment. Nothing will escape this army.
When we think of the corruption taking place in our own nation, the United States of America, we could become sick at heart and filled with dread and gloom. But because we know that the Lord Jesus Christ will return with His victorious saints and put an end to all this wickedness we take heart and rejoice.
The wicked are able to triumph over justice today by their cunning, even in the Christian churches. But the fire of God will test all of their words and actions and burn them like the wood, hay, and straw that they are.
They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. (Joel 2:4NIV)
We note in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation that the Lord Jesus and His army will return on horses.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14NIV)
Whether these are actual horses, or the glorified saints have the ability to appear as though on horses ("they have the appearance of horses"), we cannot say. We do understand it will be a powerful cavalry charge, perhaps descending to the dried-up bed of the Euphrates River and attacking Antichrist from there.
The paragraph above applies to Joel's army as well as to Revelation 19.
The horse in the Bible speaks of speed and strength for war. The return of Christ and His saints is a far different scenario than that of lukewarm believers being carried up to Heaven in their party clothes, business suits, and overalls.
With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. (Joel 2:5NIV)
Can you imagine the consternation of the wicked of the earth, as well as the sinners in Zion, when they see the righteous, from Abel on forward through history, returning in irresistible power to enforce God's way on the earth?
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)
Today there is a mixed multitude, so to speak, in the assemblies of the saints. Many among us are carnal, actually wicked at heart. Yet we are so spiritually impoverished we cannot discern what is of God and what is not. But when the Lord returns, the wicked will be judged and driven from the house of the Lord.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men [the sinners in the churches]: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14,15NIV)
Because of false teaching in the Christian churches we are without the spirit of judgment, of discernment. Adultery, covetousness, and self-seeking abound in the Christian assemblies. Yet the party goes on and on.
It will not be like this when the Lord returns. The wicked will be cast out of the midst of the churches. In fact, the great tribulation that will take place before the return of Jesus will serve to remove the true saints from the babylonish assemblies, and also to remove the blemishes from the members of the Bride that are alive on the earth and make them dependent on the Lord.
Much needs to be done in the way of cleansing the Christian churches. The Lord is knocking at the hearts of the believers today seeking entrance. But who shall stand when He thus appears because He is a refiner's fire come to purify the royal priesthood? It is an hour of judgment, of a baptism with fire.
When the Lord deals with you in judgment be quick to confess your sins and diligent in renouncing them. Renounce them with all the strength you have and the Spirit of God will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
We are being judged today. Christ is appearing to remove our sins. It is the redemption spoken of in Ephesians. It is the promised salvation that has been reserved for the last days.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28NIV)
Who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5NIV)
If we consent to the purging of our sins we will ride with Christ in the Day of the Lord. If we continue in our sin and carnality we will be dealt with by Christ and His saints when they appear.
At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. (Joel 2:6NIV)
All faces will turn pale with fear and conviction when the Lord appears with His army of judges. Fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites in Zion. Terror will grip all the wicked of mankind. Sinners will writhe in anguish. Those who today are destroying the earth with their love of money, their violence, their self-seeking, will cry for the mountains and rocks to cover them so the Lamb cannot see them.
The Lamb shall indeed see them because His eyes are furnaces of fire.
The truly righteous, the meek of the earth, will leap for joy in the Day of the Lord. But the sinners in the churches and in the world will be in unbearable torment, gnashing their teeth in anguish.
Today an unconditional grace, an eternal imputation of righteousness, is being preached in the Christian churches. This abstract "grace" is not affected by our behavior. It would be difficult to find a teaching better designed to leave us unprepared for the Day of the Lord.
Grace will not save us in the Day of Christ. There is no biblical basis for the belief that grace will save us in the Day of Christ.
Paul delivered a believer to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, a very painful process, the purpose being that his spirit might be saved in the Day of the Lord. If it were true that grace saves us in the Day of the Lord independently of our behavior, then Paul would not hand over a Christian to Satan that his flesh might be destroyed. Isn't this true?
They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. (Joel 2:7NIV)
Can you imagine the believers of today charging like warriors; scaling walls like soldiers?
A recent postcard inviting us to a meeting at another church says: "The bar is opendrinks are free. Take another drink." The background consists of champagne bubbles. The idea is to get drunk on the Spirit of God.
The Lord has come to us in the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. He is ready to discipline us as soldiers in His army. Part of the discipline consists of the confessing and renouncing of our sins. Another part of the discipline consists of learning to march in our line and not swerve from our course.
Because we are so immature in the things of God, so filled with the adamic nature, we do not march in our line. We swerve from our course. God desires total obedience to His Spirit. Every soldier in the army of the Lord will be sternly obedient to the Father, always listening for His voice in every decision that is made.
The Christians of today are far from being an army such as that described in the Book of Joel. However, Christ shall indeed have an army. There have been many saints throughout history and there are some today who meet the criteria announced in Joel.
Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. (Joel 2:8)
God's people often thrust each other. This comes from Satan who forever is attempting to sow dissension in the ranks of the believers.
The adamic nature is very prone to participate in suspicion, gossip, slander. How many Christian assemblies have been destroyed as the believers have thrust one another?
Satan is filled with envy. He passes this envy into the adamic nature of the believers. Therefore they are not content to walk in their own path, just as the priests and elders of Jesus' time were not willing to continue with their own responsibilities. As soon as they saw the popularity of the Lord Jesus they could not wait until He was killed. So it is in the churches of today.
The sword is the Word of God. The soldiers of Christ's army can fall on the sword and not be wounded. Why is this? It is because they already have been wounded by the Word and in place of their wounded adamic nature has risen the indestructible Life of Christ. The Word of God cannot wound the resurrected, incorruptible Life of Jesus Christ.
They have been crucified with Christ. Now they are eternally alive. The soldiers of the army of the Lord are dead-living people.
At one time they were alive in their adamic nature. Then they died on the cross with Christ. Now they are alive for eternity and the Word of God strengthens rather than wounds them.
They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows. (Joel 2:9NIV)
When the Lord returns the saints that accompany Him will fan out through the earth. They will judge each person and situation they encounter. Evil will flee from before them because of the fire of God that accompanies them. Sinners will scream in terror and seek to hide. But the Spirit of God will enable them to locate each person and either spare that person or slay him just as Ananias and Sapphira were slain by the Spirit of God in Peter.
There will be no compromise. The soldiers of the Lord cannot be threatened, frightened, or bribed in any manner. Through Christ they have died to their adamic nature. Now Christ is living in them and they possess bodies like that of the Lord.
The land is as Eden before them but it is a man-made paradise. Behind them will be a smoking ruin as all the works of the flesh are burned away.
When they are finished the Divine curse will be lifted from the earth. Then all nature will come to life with singing and rejoicing just as green grass soon appears in a burned-over field. Gone will be the spirit of evil from the earth. In its place will be the Glory of Jesus Christ and the righteousness that always accompanies that glory.
For the first time in history self-seeking, devious man will not be able to worm his way out of the consequences of his actions. All that is not founded on integrity will be shaken and removed. Thank God forever!
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. (Joel 2:10NIV)
The above verse is one reason we know we are speaking of something more than a plague of locusts. Locusts cannot shake the earth or the sky. Yet, whenever the coming of the Lord is described the great signs on earth and in the heavens are mentioned.
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:9-11NASB)
The above passage contains several ideas that are found in Joel. One could maintain that such descriptions are merely Hebrew poetic license. Yes, I suppose such a position could be advanced. On the other hand, one must admit that the text of the passages provides a reasonable basis for our belief that the terrifying advent of Christ is being discussed in both Joel and Isaiah.
Grasshoppers can be destructive but they do not shake the earth or the sky.
To stress the literal aspects of the second chapter of Joel and then to assign the verses that do not agree with the literal interpretation to poetic expression is not defensible. The truth is, the account of the army in the second chapter of Joel is an example of the truth of the Messianic Kingdom encased in a more immediate setting.
Peter is quick to tell us that the words of the Prophets are addressed to us rather than to themselves.
Perhaps never before and never again will these catastrophic events take place in the heavens. Are they not the calling card of the return of the Lord Jesus?
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29,30)
The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11NIV)
Later in the second chapter the Lord refers to the locusts as "my great army which I sent among you." But this is not the same as "The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command."
I think I see a difference here.
And notice toward the end of the chapter, keeping in context with the description of Joel's army:
"And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes." (Joel 2:30,31NASB)
When Joel 2:11 says "The day of the Lord is great, it is dreadful," and Joel 2:31 states "the sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes," then we have some basis for viewing them as the same event.
Why would the prophet jump from locusts to the Day of Christ if there were no connection?
The Book of Joel is particularly significant because it was the oracle referred to at the birth of the Christian Church.
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (Joel 2:16)
The Blowing of Trumpets follows the feast of Pentecost (Leviticus, Chapter Twenty-three). This means that after the Pentecostal experience we can expect to hear about war, judgment, and our being trained as soldiers in the army of the Lord.
The Charismatic move is at a crossroads. It is interesting that whether or not you become a part of the army of the Lord depends on how you "drink the water" (referring to the days of Gideon).
There is a spirit (water) in the land today inviting God's people to be refreshed by laughing, twitching, jerking, making animal noises, laying prostrate on the floor, and engaging in similar behavior. There is no question that it is a spirit and is contagious. If the elders permit it to take place in a local assembly it will not be long before many of the believers are involved.
There is another spirit in the land today. This other spirit is requiring that God's people confess their sins, firmly renouncing them. There is a holy awe accompanying the confessing and renouncing as the believers walk in the open confession of their sins.
From our own point of view, these are different spirits. As the pastor of a church I do not wish to judge any other Christian work as being of God or of the devil. I do not believe God is requiring that I make such a decision.
I do know, however, that if I am discipling people by teaching the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, and someone breaks out laughing or begins to roll on the floor, I will lovingly put a stop to it.
I seem to hear the war drums of El Shaddai. I seem to see the warriors on the white stallions parading in review before the Commander in Chief. I believe the invasion of the earth is near. The kings from the East, from the rising of the sun of the Day of the Lord, are waiting for the trumpet that will signal the attack.
God's people with their rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace preaching are not at all prepared to ride in the army of the Lord.
And now we have the spectacle of a believer pretending he is a dog and sniffing at people and a lady being told she is free to be a monkey. How can I believe such behavior is coming from the same Spirit that speaks in Joel of the army of the Lord, of the great and terrible Day of the Lord?
These are not the same! This is not the same Kingdom! The present emotional excesses are the inevitable consequence of the shallow, self-serving doctrines and silly, unfruitful religious practices of the Christian churches of America throughout the latter part of this century.
By silly, unfruitful religious practices I mean jumping up and down next to one's pew in preparation for the "rapture" or the minister dressing like a football player to celebrate the Superbowl being held that Sunday. He preaches while the congregation listens to the game on their transistor radios.
Can Christ be pleased with our interpretation of discipleship? Will these activities prepare us for the age of moral horrors and horrendous persecution on the horizon? What if the "rapture" is late? It has not come in time to deliver the hundreds of thousands of Christians tortured and killed in our own daythe Christians being tortured and killed while you are reading this essay.
Can you picture the Apostle Paul leading the Apostle Peter around with a leash while Peter barked like a dog, as is taking place in some Christian meetings today? Can you imagine the Lord Jesus leading Paul and Peter around on leashes while they barked like dogs and sniffed at people or Mary Magdalene acting like a monkey? How about Jesus, Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah standing on the Mount of Transfiguration and neighing like horses or laughing uncontrollably? They would not be laughing because they were discussing Jesus' death that was soon to come. Neither will we be laughing uncontrollably when we are bearing our personal cross behind the Lord Jesus.
This is not to say or imply that our discipleship must be one of gloom and doom. Neither is it to claim that there are not times when we laugh in the Spirit. But all of our gifts are under our control as we are discipled by the Word of God and all are to serve to build up the Body of Christ.
If our gifts or personal spiritual experiences are exercised for our enjoyment and we are having "fun in the Son," as someone expressed it, then we need to go to the Lord and ask Him if we truly are being faithful disciples.
It just doesn't seem real to me. The present renewal is a Jesus and spirit I do not know. Maybe I am out of step with the great new refreshing.
But I indeed can picture Paul and Peter as commanders of regiments of dead-living saints descending on the white war stallions, forming on the dried-up bed of the Euphrates and attacking Antichrist in the plain of Megiddo.
Perhaps the key question is, where is the "renewal" leading? The Lord says (it is conjectured), "The bar is open. Drinks are on me. Let's all get drunk and laugh uncontrollably." Does such hilarity give us the ability to judge between good and evil and the willingness and strength to choose the good and reject the evil? Are these the good works that cause the unsaved community to glorify God?
Does such abandoned behavior result in our being conformed to the moral image of Christ and usher us into untroubled rest in the perfect will of God? Does it create in us iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father?
Do twisting, jerking, falling on the floor, cause us to humble ourselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways so God will hear from Heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land?
If so then count me in.
If not, if these commotions are delicious emotional experiences that lead only to a craving for more of the same, then such practices are not accomplishing God's will in the present hour when the Spirit of God is calling for repentance and the strict observance of the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. I don't wish to be part of anything that is not in perfect accord with the mind of the Spirit.
"Lord Jesus, You told us there would be deception attending Your return. We know nothing apart from You. You told us to test the spirits. Help us to distinguish between that which is from the demons and that which is from You. Help us to know the truth.
"We pray in Your holy name. Amen."