Summary: The prophet Joel and the apostle John see the same vision! Confirmation that God is speaking.
The day of the Lord is coming! 2:1-11
It is impossible to imagine what Joel now sees, but we assume it is awful enough to warrant a severe warning. Though we hear the familiar “it is near” as in the Book of Revelation, we are clued in to the reality that the things Joel is about to describe did not happen in history, ever. Still, what Joel and his people were experiencing could help them believe, as few people today can, that horror is coming to us. Let’s listen carefully to his words:
v. 1. tells us of the original location for all of this: Zion! God’s “holy mountain.” Joel evidently prophesied in Judah, perhaps immediately following the demise of Judah’s only female monarch, Athaliah. He has a heart for Jerusalem, capital of the southern Kingdom.
v. 2. Here he first speaks of the threat that is looming: a great and mighty people. Not locusts. But numerous as the locusts with which Judah was now familiar. And as destructive. Note also in verse 2 the mention of an event that is unprecedented!
v. 3. Fire. Scorching burning fire that turns “Eden” into “desolate wilderness.” Locusts were the precursors of such devastation, but they were not equipped with fire. This is another day.
v.4. With this verse we enter solidly into the Revelation of John, chapter 9, which we will cover later. Whatever these “locust/people” are, they have an appearance and the speed of war horses.
v.5. Their noise is like wheeled vehicles moving at incredible speeds. Viewed at a distance, it is as though these “people” are leaping on the tops of the mountains. Now we are not only beyond locusts, we are beyond anything human, though somehow humans seem to be involved. They are “like” people, says Joel here.
v. 6. Now we see the pain they are causing to normal humans as they are confronted. Anguish. Paleness.
v. 7. These creatures are able to climb a wall like a soldier, run like strong men, and march in a straight line. They are, it can only be from our perspective, mechanical.
v. 8. More here about the orderliness of this army. One thinks immediately of North Korea’s goose-stepping soldiers, and its incredibly choreographed demonstrations. And of course swarming locusts and flocking birds. But this end-time army is greater than anything North Korea or the winds of nature have ever imagined.
v. 9. From this verse has come a song that has become popular, yet I have not understood why. Could someone tell me how “spiritual” people have interpreted all that I am sharing with you as some end-time Spirit-filled Christian army establishing God’s Kingdom on earth? Where in the world do these fads originate? There is absolutely nothing Christian about the activities of these monstrous beings. A warning is sounded against them, for goodness’ sake! They are seen here charging against Jerusalem, climbing into homes through windows, the perfection of terrorism if ever it existed!
v. 10. More stuff of John’s apocalypse here: the end-time earthquake! The sun and moon burn out! The stars lessen their light! This is a prophecy of the end of the world as we know it!
v. 11. Here the Lord claims that this army is His! The event acting itself out before a terrified world is His event, brought about by His Word! God has decreed these things from all eternity and they shall happen. Judgment can wait no longer.
There is the Army of angels in the heavenlies, the “Heavenly host.” There is the army of believers, for sure. But God has other armies that can destroy when He allows it. Joel knew of the army of locusts. We shall see the army of diabolical machines, perhaps being prepared in the depths of the earth somewhere as we speak. More on those possibilities later.
To be continued