The Prophecy of Joel
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In recent years there has been much said and written about the concept of Joel's Army being the great end-times army of Godly warriors who bring Revival in the last days. However, it is very clear from the Scriptures that the army in Joel that they are referring to is actually an army of LOCUSTS which God sends as a JUDGEMENT upon the land. It is only later, after this army of locusts has devoured and destroyed every good thing in the land, and has then been driven into the desert and the sea by God, that He sends a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a mighty "harvest". In other words, this locust army of judgement and devastation sweeps through first, and it is only after it has been driven away to destruction by God that true Revival can come. This is very clear from the Scriptures.
I have no doubt at all that Joel is truly an "end-time" book, prophesying a series of events that culminates in the end of the age. It is certainly a very important book for us to study, and it is clearly vital that we understand what it predicted what would take place in those last days.
Right from the beginning of Joel, it is clear that this devouring army coming upon the land is a judgement from God: "What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten." (Joel 1:4). In fact it is clear that it is GOD HIMSELF who raises up and deploys this army against His own people and the land: "The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them... They leap upon the city, they run upon the walls; they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief... The LORD utters His voice before his army, for His host is exceedingly great; he that executes His word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?" (Joel 2:3-11).
But soon after this we read: "Then the LORD became jealous for His land, and had pity on His people. The LORD answered and said to His people, 'Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied;... I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his front into the eastern sea, and his rear into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things.'" (Joel 2:18-20).
And now that this devouring army has been driven away to des- truction, we read of the great Revival that God then sends upon the land: "He has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you" (Joel 2:23-25).
And now comes that famous Scripture, prophesying the great 'last days' Revival: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions..." (Joel 2:28).
After this, Joel goes on to speak about the great day upon the earth at the end of the age, and the bringing in of thousands into the kingdom of God and we know this as the Day of Pentecost.
Just like the other prophets who preach judgement, they always also have a vision of fulfillment and restoration through the Messiah or the Messianic age which is the Church Age. Joel is no exception. The first part of the book are talking about this plague, a judgement, from God. And then starting at Chapter 2 verse 28, the Messianic age is spoken of.
THE FULFILLMENT OF JOEL'S PROPHECY
Joel succeeds in making a smooth transition, which is so common of the Old Testament prophets, and moves quite naturally from the temporal blessings to the spiritual blessing in the sense that Joel was talking of what God would do if they repent and then right in to the description of the Messianic age. This occurs, I believe, because one blessing of God simply calls to mind the greatest blessings of God. The prophets cannot help themselves but to project beyond the immediate relief and diliverence to the hope that God gives in that ultimate great thing He does for His people, namely sending the Messiah. Lets view how this transition transpires: Joel 2:25
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
I am the LORD your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.
28 “ And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
30 “ And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the LORD has said,
Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.
These verses have many echos in the New Testament however the most obvious are verses 28-32 on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them and the Apostles and the others began to speak in tongues and the crowds gathered in wonder. When Peter quotes Joel he says "and it shall come to pass in the last days"(Acts 2:17) while Joel said, "And it shall come to pass afterward". Peter recognized where he and all others were in relation to time and in the inspired mind of Peter they were experiencing the last days. As the month of August progresses we may deal more with this prase "last days" but Peter is certainly making it appear that "these last days" are the beginnings of the Church Age. but more precisley "these last days" is more than likley the end of the Jewish economy, the Jewish system - age of the Old Covenant.
The real point, however, of Joels prophecy is that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon "all flesh", something widely unknown of in Joel's day. Certain individuals received the Holy Spirit but nothing like what Joel was prophecing and what Peter told did happen upon those in Jerusalem. Even Moses wished for the Spirit of God to come upon all the Lord's people (Numbers 11), but that never happened in those days as it did on the Day of Pentecost and from that time upon the Church.