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 the book of Joel is truly an "end- time" book, prophesying a series of events that culminates in the end of the age and the return of Jesus Christ. It is cert- ainly a very important book for us to study, and it is clearly vital that we understand what it predicts will take place in these last days. Right from the beginning of Joel, it is clear that this devour- ing 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 ex- ceedingly 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 north- erner 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 judgement that will overtake the whole earth at the end of the age, and the return of Jesus Christ to establish His glorious kingdom. THE FULFILLMENT OF JOEL'S PROPHECY? In my view there can be little doubt that we have already entered the period that the Bible calls the "last days" - the very time that Joel prophesied about (and also the time that the New Testament speaks of again and again as being a period of great deception and danger for Christians - even the 'very elect'). I find it very significant that for years, prophetic ministries around the world have been shown by God that they would soon see the rise of "Joel's Army". Many of them have obviously in- terpreted this to mean an army of anointed ministries that God will raise up to bring in the great last-days "harvest" of souls. But as we have seen, in reality, what God has been speaking of here is the raising up of a devouring army of locusts, to bring judgement upon the land (the church, I be- lieve) immediately prior to the genuine Revival. Some have even been told by God that they will "stand before Joel's Army" (ie. this army of locusts). But is this really a privilege? My own belief is that this army of locusts which "devours the land" in these last days, may well be strongly linked to the many warnings in the New Testament of a great 'apostacy', with seducing spirits and 'lying signs and wonders' that will sweep through the church in these latter times. The picture of a huge army of locusts devouring everything seems to me to fit very well with the concept of a great deception or apostacy which sweeps through the church, likewise devouring everything in it's path. And the time-frame for these predicted holocausts seems pretty much identical also. Jesus Himself declared that in the last days, many deceivers "will come in my name". He said that the deception of that time would be so great that if possible even the 'very elect' would be deceived (Mt 24:24). The apostle Paul prophesied that in the latter days, "perilous times will come", and that men would be "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God". He predicted that there would be great apostacy involving 'seducing spirits and doctrines of devils' (1 Tim 4:1). And it is obvious from the above Scriptures that much of this will arise from WITHIN THE CHURCH. We are also told in the Bible that in the last days, those who are not "lovers of the truth" will be deliber- ately given over by God to 'believe a lie', to come under a "strong delusion" involving 'lying signs and wonders', etc. (2 Thess 2:9-12). And of course, as always, such judgement must first begin in God's own house (1 Peter 4:17). Many of you who have read my article on the Toronto Controversy will know that as both a Revival historian and a writer on the 'prophetic', right from the outset I have been implacably op- posed to this movement which has recently been sweeping through the church. As I wrote in that article, if Toronto is from God then why does it seem literally identical to many counterfeit movements which have destroyed genuine Revivals down through history? And why are the manifestations absolutely identical to those found in the occultic Chinese 'Qigong' movement, as well as Franz Mesmer's occultic healing practise and the "Kundalini" manifestations found in the Rajneesh and Ramakrishna cults, etc? Why are such manifestations found throughout the New Age movement worldwide, and yet nowhere in the Bible? In some Christian circles today, the "peer pressure" upon lead- ers to accept this movement (or at least to keep any qualms about it to themselves) has been quite incredible at times. I have to say that I have been utterly staggered that such an ob- viously suspect and 'strange' movement has been able to sweep through the church so easily, when the Bible clearly warns us in the last days to BEWARE OF DECEPTION, AND ESPECIALLY OF "LYING SIGNS AND WONDERS"! Surely it is obvious that we are now paying a heavy price for all the shallowness and experience- centred soulishness that we have sown in the years of the Charismatic Movement. God has indeed seemingly given the Laod- icean church over to believe a lie, a "strong delusion", and millions are now falling prey. It is interesting to note the hidden strategy behind the spread of this movement in the church. In America, it first gained a powerful foothold in the "Faith/prosperity" movement through the likes of Rodney Howard-Browne and Kenneth Copeland, etc. It was then imported via some Vineyard pastors directly into the Toronto Airport Vineyard church, which was a far more "accept- able" platform from which to launch the movement worldwide. (It also brought the American 'prophetic' movement on-side, as it is closely aligned with the Vineyard in the USA). From Toronto it spread like wildfire to England and many other countries. It had successfully 'distanced' itself from it's Faith/prosp- erity roots. And now, in 1995/96 we hear of what seems to be yet ANOTHER version of this movement, right in the middle of the conservative American "Bible-belt" - the so-called 'Pensa- cola Outpouring'. Obviously, this version will be far more acceptable to the conservative Bible-belt Christians, and so the Leopard changes it's spots yet again, in order to impact a whole new sub-culture, and distance itself from previous taints or associations. And who can say where all of this will end, or what will finally emerge from it? Joel makes it clear that the great invasion of locusts that he prophesies for the end times, is to be a form of massive "judgement" upon God's own people. We are told in the Bible that 'judgement begins at the house of God' (1 Pe 4:17). And it is interesting to note that the word 'judgement' very often involves a 'separating' or a categorising. The sheep are separ- ated from the goats, the tares are separated from the wheat, before judgement falls. (So that the righteous are left un- touched). This 'separating' or dividing is very much a crucial part of the judgement process. And this is why we can expect a separating to take place through this current deception, if it truly is a judgement brought upon the Laodicean church by God. It is my strong belief that God is using this movement to "test" His people immediately prior to the great last-days Re- vival (just as the wilderness tested the children of Israel before they could enter into the promised land - and only a tiny remnant survived from that entire generation. The rest all perished in the wilderness). In 1984 one of the major prophetic groups in America received a word from God to the effect that, just like the king's butler and the king's baker in the story of Joseph, the church would be placed in a 'dungeon' by God (a place of 'death', of waiting and of testing) for about the next ten years, and at the end of this period, part of the church (the butler) would be raised up as an honoured servant of God, and the other (the baker) would lose it's head. (Again we see here a 'separating' before judgement falls). Others, such as Howard Pittman, have likewise stated that God has shown them that there will be a process of "culling" before a remnant can be found who will possess the "promised land" (Revival) in His name. This is ex- actly the same as what the children of Israel went through (a process of testing and 'culling' by God), so that only those who were worthy would inherit His promise. It seems harsh, but this has simply always been the way. Judgement must always begin at the house of God. While I certainly believe that Joel's Army is an army of de- vouring locusts, I am also definitely a believer in the great last-days outpouring of God's Spirit upon "all flesh" which is also prophesied in Joel. This great Revival is clearly to fol- low immediately after the plague of locusts has swept through the land. As Joel states, this outpouring is to be a time of abundant restoration and "harvest". And though the thought of "Joel's Army" itself doesn't thrill me too much, I do believe that God will Himself raise up His own 'remnant' army (a kind of "Gideon's three hundred") when genuine Revival falls, to gather in this enormous end-times harvest. This is clearly to be the final great "harvest" in history, immediately prior to the terrible judgements of the end of the age. Such a great outpouring of God's Spirit "upon all flesh" just before the end is entirely in keeping with His character, because as history shows, He has always brought great mercy before He has brought great judgement. Therefore if we are nearing the final "great judgement" of all time, then surely we can expect the greatest ever harvest immediately prior to it? As I have recounted in my article on the Toronto Controversy, God warned us prophetically in New Zealand well before the term "Toronto" was even being spoken here, that before the genuine Revival would come a "Laodicean revival" which would involve laughing, falling, crying, etc. (This was all seen in a very specific dream by a prophetic friend of mine). After this 'Lao- dicean revival' had swept through, he saw the beginning of the true Revival (a separate movement altogether), with thousands of young people gathered, etc. I believe that this was an exact picture of what is occurring, and about to occur, in the church right now. I have no doubt that genuine Revival is now immin- ent, though clearly only a 'remnant' who have not become "caught up" in deception will truly play a part in it.- Please click here to go to the "Toronto Controversy" article by the same author.
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