JOEL 1:1 – 3:21 and REVELATION 13:1–10
We are introduced to a prophet who is named Joel. His name means Jehovah is God. There is not much known about his history or lineage. HIs primary ministry was to the people of Judah and it was believed that he prophesied during the reign of Manasseh. Israel would have been suffering to some extent under the rule of this wicked king so the judgements pronounced could have immediate application as well as future fulfilment. In verse 3 the message that was about to be brought forth was meant to be passed on through the generations to come. This indeed has come to pass and continues to be told. It is no wonder when considering its implication for the last days. In verse 4 we take note of the devastation that the cankerworm, palmerworm etc have brought to the land. This is a key point to understand because we see how that which was devoured would later be restored. In this 3 chapter book we see great judgements and desolations but we also see the promise of great restoration. The two extremes are portrayed through these devouring creatures. Here the Lord is emphasizing the compound destruction that is to come upon Israel.
In verse 5 we catch a glimpse of their spiritual condition. They were likened to drunkards who had no knowledge of what was happening and with what God was looking to do. They had no ability to discern the new wine that God was placing before them. This is a very real indictment to the church of our day. The Lord is speaking of a spiritual dullness which leaves the people clueless and out of touch with what God is doing. Many are intoxicated with old ways and methods or caught up in worldly things leaving them immune from what God is saying and doing. The Lord spoke through Isaiah about doing a New Thing but shall the people know or discern it (Isa 43:19)? There is a spiritual drunkenness that leaves churches and people out of touch with God’s reality.
The fruit of this drunkenness was their inability to discern the enemy that was closing on in them. The people and the priests were indicted for not seeing the big picture and being prepared for that which was about to take place. There was no mourning for their sinful condition (vs 8). The sad result was a removal of pleasant fruits and substance which brought a great lamentation to the land. The palm tree, pomegranate tree and other pleasant fruits dried up. This signifies a loss of righteousness, love and even joy from the hearts of men. This is seen when a people lose their joy they begin to lose strength and hope (Neh 8:10). Our society today is constantly seeking after pleasure and fulfilment. This is because there is an inward longing within each of us for some sort of fulfilment. The Bible makes clear that the Lord is the only true joy giver but man seeks after his own ways and pleasures.
We are seeing the two extremes playing out before us in our world today. Many will go to any length to find happiness and joy. This is why the entertainment industry flourishes in abundance. There is a void, a longing in man that he seeks to fill. Some find it in sports while others do so through movies and entertainment. There are then other extremes like drugs and other means of sought after nirvana. Once it is discovered that these things in the end do not satisfy there is the downward plunge into depression and suicide. A sense of hopelessness that is so very hard to overcome.
Joel is defining a world that can be applied and is applied to our day. What is needed are encounters like the Lord had with the woman from Samaria. She sought fulfilment by way of relationships. The Lord offered her living waters that He assured her would satisfy. We need to partake of these living waters while giving opportunity for others to do the same (John 4:13-14).
It appears the beginning of this chapter is sounding a warning for our day. This kind of clarion call is not coming from nominal believers. It is a people who are privy to the ways of the Lord. It is a people that have an understanding concerning the holiness of God. The day of the Lord is at hand but who hears the call? It should be a time when the inhabitants of the Lord should be trembling. In verse 2 it speaks of a day of great darkness and gloominess as a people who are strong are about to move against the people of God. This is a warning to Judah of Joel’s day but once again there are parallels to be made to our day. Israel was about to experience an enemy the likes they have never seen before. This will be the case in the last days during the period of the great tribulation. We read of the atrocities of the first two world wars of the 20th century and yet they cannot compare to what is coming. In verses 3-6 we catch a glimpse of what this enemy will be like. This enemy will be swift and devouring in their attacks upon Judah. It will be an army that conveys an amazing unity as they walk in rank into this battle. A common bond that will unite this enemy is their hatred for True Christianity.
It is interesting to note some of the tactics of the enemy in their varied ways of attack. In verse 9 we see them climbing walls and creeping into homes. A pastor friend of mine had a vision many years ago where the Lord quickened this verse to him. He saw the internet as a weapon and tool of the enemy long before it became prominent. There is no greater home wrecker than some of the things that can be obtained online. The addiction to pornography and social media helps pave the way for Satan to divide and destroy homes. If he can successfully divide a home he can divide a church, city and nation. This is why there are such attacks on homes today. We must come to appreciate and know the God who loves to restore. It is one of the themes of Joel’s letter in restoring that which the enemy has stripped away. It is a theme that is seen throughout the whole of God’s Word.
We catch another glimpse of what will be seen in the last days in verses 10-11. The day of the Lord will be a day of great judgement and vengeance upon the enemies of God. These verses can be linked with Mal 3 where it speaks of who can abide the day of the Lord when He suddenly comes to His temple. This is why we must seek him now with all of our hearts.
The Lord extends yet another opportunity for people to rend their hearts back to Him. It speaks of deep heart felt repentance as opposed to a casual rending of our garments. It resembles the message that John the Baptist spoke when he demanded the Pharisees to bring forth fruits meet for repentance if the people would only turn back to God (Math 3:10).
In verses 5-18 there is a call to prayer and fasting. It speaks of a people who recognize the condition of the land and of their own lives while crying out to God for mercy. God is drawn to those who intercede and seek to assume responsibility for sin. The Lord showed Ezekiel a man with an inkhorn who stood with angels who were about to move in judgement upon Judah. The man with the inkhorn was first sent to those who cried out and mourned for sin. A mark was to be put upon their foreheads to mark them and isolate them from the judgements to come (Eze 9:4). This goes along with the exhortation to seek meekness and righteousness to be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph 2:3). This is a priestly function and one that needs to be adapted more and more into today’s church. This is a ministry of true intercession and it is comprised of a people who know God and know His heart.
Judah will be delivered from the armies that will be invading from the north. In verse 20, God speaks of the Assyrians who have brought forth desolations to Israel. This invading army will not succeed against Judah. The Babylonians will be the army that will eventually succeed in bringing Judah into captivity.
The promise of a coming revival is given in verses 23-25. It is a latter day promise of a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. The outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost was extensive but it will pale to the outpouring that will be seen in the last days. Do we fully appreciate this truth? We marvel at the exploits of the early church as seen in Acts but we are called to even greater things. The promise of a great restoration is also given in verse 25. The devastation that comes by way of the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar and palmerworm is great but even greater is God’s ability to restore. There is pronounced judgement that will soon commence upon Judah but God still puts His emphasis on revival and restoration. It is all predicated on man’s ability to truly repent while seeking the Lord with a whole heart (vs 13). The chapter closes with the promise of God pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh in the last days (vs 28-32). Peter quotes these verses at Pentecost as he himself is empowered by the Spirit of God. What a transformation that takes place in Peter’s life after denying the Lord just a few days earlier. There was a partial fulfilment of these verses in Peter’s day at Pentecost. The greater fulfilment is yet to come. Will we be a part of it?
This chapter opens with an application to the last days. The prophet Joel speaks a message that effectively weaves pertinence to his days and that of a future time. This has been true of all the other prophets as well. This is why there is so much we can glean from what God did in the past in these Biblical accounts so that we can gain meaning for today. The Lord is going to draw all nations down into the valley of Jehoshaphat as stated in verse 2. This is a clear picture of Armageddon. It is noteworthy that the issue of the land “being parted” is also cited. There are significant woes to those who negotiate away the designated boundaries that God Himself established for His people. The Lord continues to plead for His people in the midst of judgement which is confirmed in the released judgements seen in the Book of Revelation. It would be an injustice to focus on the severity of God’s judgments without seeing the pleading hand of God at work for people to repent. God is reaching out to people even in the midst of horrific calamities. It is not His intention to see people perish. The Lord has faithfully pleaded and warned in the lead up to this time of woe and even during the time of released wrath upon the earth He offers opportunity to repent.
The wrath of God comes upon some of the other nations like Tyre, Zidon and Palestine who have shown themselves to be enemies of God’s people. This is seen today with all the animosities that exist between Israel and its neighbours. It is all shaping up right before our eyes. The nations of the world are taking sides against Israel. Even so called friends of Israel are bargaining away more of Israel’s legitimacy as a nation. One of the benchmarks of how God will judge a nation and a people is how they treat Israel. It’s as if the white horse of the Apocalypse has already gone forth aligning the nations in preparation for the upcoming battle at the valley of Jehoshaphat (Armageddon).
In verses 9-12, we see a further preparation for the great battle to come at Armageddon. These verses are a clear allusion to the last great battle to come. In short, it is a message to the church of the last day. It is a time to wake up, to be vigilant and to prepare for war. There will be a natural war that will take place at the time of the 2nd coming when the Lord returns to do battle with 10 thousands of His saints. There is also a spiritual war that the church is beginning to undertake in the lead up to this event. There is an increase of spiritual activity today due to the lawlessness that abounds in the earth. Whenever one of the Absolute Truths of God’s Laws is eroded or discarded it opens the door for iniquity to increase. There is little resistance that is now being seen in the earth seeing that the Laws of God have been removed. It is up to the vigilant and awakened church to intercede and engage these enemy forces in spiritual warfare. This is where the church wrestles against principalities and powers in high places. We are in that day so it is essential that the priests of God awaken and press into the challenge.
In verses 13-14, we see that the harvest is now ripe. This is a harvest of iniquity seeing that sin has become ripe but there is a coinciding harvest of other souls as well. Perhaps we can better understand this truth by looking at the 2nd kingdom parable of the wheat and the tares. There is a time when there is a simultaneous growth between the two. There then comes the time of harvest. There is a harvest of tares and a harvest of wheat. This suggests that there must be a mighty revival before the end. This revival is characterized by the 7th kingdom parable of the Net. A huge amount of fish is brought in but there is a only a limited window in which to preserve the harvest seeing that there is a separation of the good and bad fish soon after the harvest. This suggests to me that the church has a limited time to secure and preserve the harvest. This means our churches should have strong nets to preserves the souls that will be coming in. It all comes down to the 2 accounts in the Gospels of the nets that were cast into the sea for a catch of fish (Luke 5:6, John 21:11). One net broke as the harvest was being brought into the boat while the other net held. There are multitudes in the valley of decision. What is the church doing today to prepare for this great harvest of souls to come? Will our nets hold when God begins to fill our churches or will they be porous and break due to poor planning and misapplied church agendas? Jesus called for fishermen and for fishermen who were net menders (Math 4:19-22).
The last verse in the Book of Joel is a significant one. The work that Jesus accomplished upon the cross is able to save each and everyone to the uttermost. This means that the blood of Christ is more than just a work that is applied at the salvation of a believer. When we receive Christ as Saviour we are forgiven by His shed blood and imputed to be righteous (in right standing with God) due to the righteousness of God. The blood of Jesus which was a once for all sacrifice has the ability to cleanse us and make us righteous as believers as we choose to walk in daily truth; to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). Even though we are born again we still can struggle with inherent issues. The work of God can bring us to place where we can become righteous, where we can become holy as He is holy (Lev 11:44). It is a choice! It is also one of the fruits of captivity. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah that those who hearkened to His Word and allowed the work of the Babylonian captivity to be accomplished in their lives would be the ones who would have a heart that knows His heart. These would be the ones whom the Lord would plant that no man could pluck up (Jer 24:7). This is the power that resides in the blood of Christ; it is the power to totally cleanse and change the life of a believer. If only Israel of old and the church today could see the bigger picture. Lord, open our eyes and help us to see the precious work you are doing. Help us to be able to flow in your purposes.
One of the hallmarks of the enemy is his attempt to duplicate the things of God. Moses and Aaron performed miracles in Pharaoh’s court to the amazement of many. The enemy sought to duplicate the miracles which they were able to do to a certain extent. This sets the stage for an important truth that needs to be understood in the last days. It is possible for a duality of anointing’s to take place at the same time in the same place. This account in Exodus came to mind during a recent crusade that gained worldwide attention. There could be little denying that people’s lives were being touched. There was no denying a measure of salvations taking place where many were ushered into the kingdom. At the same time there were many peculiar events also taking place. The leader of this movement even went on to say that the meetings were being directed by an angel whom he named. This is contrary to scripture so the question is asked as to whether this was a move of God. The question was also asked as to whether God was at work or was it the enemy? I feel we can say it was both. Let’s not forget that Jesus performed many of His greatest miracles and presented some of His finest teaching at Herod’s temple. There were many other activities taking place in this temple as well. Can we see how both can be working simultaneously? This is why it is imperative that we be discerning and to seek the source of the governing spirit that is at work in any meeting.
In this chapter we will see the unholy trinity at work. This is Satan’s counterfeit to the godhead. This unholy trinity is comprised of the dragon (Satan) the beast (antichrist) and the false prophet who seeks to duplicate the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let us remember that at this time Satan has been cast out of his heavenly realm and is now bound to the earth. He also knows that his time is short and so acts quickly. He will energize a man (the antichrist) who once lived and seek to work through him to achieve his agenda. The false prophet will draw the attention of the world to the beast and seek to enforce the worship of him. In verse 1 John sees the rising up of a beast out of the sea. This can be compared to Daniel 7 where Daniel saw 4 beasts arising out of the sea (Dan 7:2-7). Their descriptions can be aligned with the 4 parts of the image that Daniel interpreted in chapter 2. The 4 beasts that Daniel saw were the 4 kingdoms that had rule over Israel in successive reigns. They were the Babylonians, the Medes-Persians, the Greeks and Romans. Let’s focus on the 3rd beast that Daniel saw because he saw him as a leopard. This is significant when you see the vision that John sees in verse 2. He sees the beast as a leopard which suggests that he (the antichrist) will come from the Greek empire. It is for this reason that many surmise that Alexander the Great could well be the antichrist that will again come on the scene in the last days. He fits the bill and description of the beast making him an easy vessel for Satan to energize and work through. This will again be picked up when we examine Rev 17:10. What is clear from these verses is the beast (antichrist) is a man who once lived before John, was dead at the time John is having this revelation and be risen again to function for a time after John. There are many who speculate on people who are living now or lived earlier as being the antichrist but I think we can safely say that they are those who are only preparing the way for his coming. The time for his appearing is not yet ready but events on the earth are surely paving the way for it. In verse 4 we see the beast with a strong military acumen. The people ask in great astonishment as to who can make war against him? This was pretty much the case with Alexander in his many military campaigns.
This man of sin will speak great blasphemies against God. Remember, he is energized now by Satan. This all seems to come together at the time of the Abomination of Desolation. This event takes place in the midst of the last 7 years. It is also said that his power from this point forward will continue for a period of 42 months (3 ½ years). This means his reign of terror will last up until the time of the 2nd Coming. The 7 year treaty that was made with Israel will cease after 3 ½ years. This is when all hell literally breaks loose. There will be such anger against God and against those who are aligned with God. He will have authority over the saints, killing and overcoming many of them during his reign of terror. He will develop quite a following as his authority, power and reputation begin to increase. It will be increasingly difficult for the saints to stand against him. This is already being seen in several nations of the earth already. Unfortunately the atrocities seen today are but the teething pains that are about to come. (This in no wise diminishes the sufferings of those paying the price today) It’s just that the scale and scope of such atrocities are about to increase exponentially.
A portion of scripture we have referenced on many occasions throughout our summaries is featured in verse 8. In the predetermined will of the Father the Son was slain before the foundation of the world. What does this mean? God knew that man would sin even before he created man. He knew that there would be the need for a Saviour to reconcile man to Himself. This then begs another question; if God knew that man would sin why then did He create man? God loves fellowship and loves in being able to delight in His creation and to share His heart. He hates sin and His holiness can have no fellowship with it. God chose to send forth His Son because of His great love for man, even after they had sinned. God loves us while we are yet sinners, but it has limits (Rom 5:8). If we continually turn a deaf ear to His overtures while in sin our heart can eventually harden and turn from God. That is not God’s choice, it is our choice. Jesus had to be willing to be the sacrifice in order for the sacrifice to be complete. It was a very costly proposition for both parties (The Father and the Son). The fruit of such a price was that man now has the opportunity to become more like the Lamb of God; he can actually become holy. God is able to take the tragedy of the fall and turn into something that is far better. We have the ability to know His ways and actually become like him. Satan offered this opportunity to Eve (Gen 3:5) yet his words were a lie because it was presented on his terms. We now see the truths of Gen 3:5 playing all over again with a renewed focus. You can have all of these blessings of God at a discount or via a shortcut. This is what sums up much of Christianity today; an easier gospel with a low cost price point. The antichrist will have drawn many of these types to himself during the period prior to the Abomination of Desolation. There is little doubt that many became offended during the ministry of Moses and Elijah seeing that they were upholding messages of a high standard. The 3rd party of the unholy Trinity (The false prophet) will be examined in the next summary.