“Sound the Trumpet!” (Chapter 2:1-11)
Some years ago there was a popular song called “Blow the Trumpet in Zion.” The people promoting this song believed in kingdom dominion and saw it referring to the End-Time Church taking possession of the nations resulting in a Christianised world. They saw Joel’s Army as a picture of a triumphant Church taking over the nations at every level of society. They actually taught (and still do) that whole nations would be converted and governments around the world subjected to the kingdom of God on earth. Of course they see this entire scenario happening before the return of Christ. However, the whole context of Joel’s army has nothing to do with a triumphant Church in the way expressed by the kingdom dominion advocates. In fact the army was God’s Army alright but an army sent to judge the backslidden and rebellious nation of Israel. In its context it was referring to the Babylonians but as we have already seen in previous studies this army also refers to an End-Time demonic army devastating Israel, the Church and the nations. Ultimately this army would manifest itself in the armies of the Antichrist. Indeed it will see 200 million soldiers under the command of the Kings of the East!
The whole picture created by Joel’s prophecy is one of darkness, despair and gloom as God’s divine judgements are poured out on a Christ hating Christ rejecting world at the end of this present age. Indeed there was to be a trumpet blown in Israel to sound the alarm of impending judgement and to call God’s people to repent before the Judgement fell. It was a wake-up call to the nation to change their ways or reap the consequences. As we have already said in a previous study God always warns the faithful and the unfaithful before He sends judgement.
God never delights in dealing severely with His people and always tries to find every way possible for them to avoid judgement but if they persist in wickedness and rebellion then He has no choice but to send calamity. The wake-up call to Israel in Joel’s time prophetically is a wake-up call to the Church in the last days! In fact the whole emphasis of this prophecy seems to apply to the time of the end more than it does to the time of the Babylonian invasion of Israel in 586 BC. Now let’s move into the text itself.
(Vs. 1) “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Usually when you see trumpets sounded in the Bible it is to announce God’s warnings and judgements or to announce some advent of huge proportions. When a city was in danger of attack the watchman would sound the alarm to galvanise the people into action! Usually there wasn’t much time. They had to rouse themselves up to defend the city. It wasn’t a time to be sitting around eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage or conducting business transactions. These days most houses have a smoke alarm don’t they. It is there to warn the occupants if a fire breaks out. The purpose of the alarm is to wake up the occupants to move quickly out of the house when it is on fire otherwise they will be consumed in the flames. When the fire starts the occupants have little or no time to grab anything but have to run for their lives as the flames engulf the house. It is a time of emergency. Imagine someone sleeping through such an alarm! However, Israel did exactly that. Time after time the Lord sent His prophets to warn the people of impending judgement but they refused to listen!
For the people of God in the Old Testament time it was men like Noah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah. For the time of the New Testament down to the present day it was men like Peter, James, John, Stephen, Wesley, Whitfield, Spurgeon, Booth, Moody, Finney and Torrey just to name a few. All of these mighty servants of God were His instruments to save souls and sanctify saints and to correct and discipline a backslidden and often-rebellious church. These days you can hardly find men of their calibre in the Church. Today we have moved from a Philadelphian type of Church to a Laodicean type of Church.
These days it is hype, sensation, and Christians seeking for miracles, signs and wonders having little or no regard for the Word of God. In most churches today, especially the mega churches, you will hardly find any pastor or teacher really teaching eschatology. It is mostly hype, marketing strategies, psychology or a watered down humanistic and anaemic form of Biblical Christianity. For many the Bible is a prop they have in their pulpits but you never hear any exegesis of scripture from these men. Add to this ecumenism and interfaith dialogue and you have a part of “Mystery Babylon the Mother of harlots.”
In many churches today Christians are getting further and further away from the Bible. There is almost little or no exposition of scripture today and no doctrinal teaching. Those who remain faithful to the whole council of God for man as revealed in the Bible are ridiculed and rejected because of their faithfulness to the Word of God. Indeed the western democracies historically associated with Biblical Christianity have long ago parted company with their spiritual roots. Indeed “the axe is laid to the roots.” The “locusts” are on the march again! Whether they come in the form of false prophets and teachers, or false cults or as a mighty Islamic army to challenge the west they are on the march. Yes there is recession, diseases, earthquakes, famines, wars and rumours of wars but the end is not yet! These are just the beginning of “birth pains!”
“Let all those who live in the land tremble,”
The land was the land of Israel, specifically the city of Jerusalem. The people were to tremble at what was coming upon the city and the land but they partied on in the circle of the merrymakers refusing to heed the warnings of the prophets. Today in the professing Christian Church in the west people are trembling and shaking but it is not with fear at impending judgement but with levity, laughing and having a good time! Indeed they party around the golden calf of prosperity oblivious to the axe that is about to fall. The house is beginning to burn but they will not heed the alarm! Instead of seeking the Lord and delving deeper into His Word they are chasing after illusive signs, miracles, wonders, false visions and dreams, prosperity and kingdom dominion in this world!
“For the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand- a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. “
Most people these days do not realise what is happening. Nations are in anxiety and perplexity at what is happening globally as people are fainting and apprehensive of what is coming on the world. Multitudes do not know what is really going on today in our world. People have no idea that current events, especially in the Middle East, are fulfilling Bible Prophecy. People’s hearts are weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life not knowing the way out and that the Day of the Lord will close on them like a trap so that they will not escape. Others are eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage and conducting business without realising the deluge soon to engulf the whole world.
In the Church there are those who are living no differently than those living in the world and in many cases they are even scoffing and saying, “Where is this coming He promised? Everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” Yet they forget that the ancient world was destroyed by water and do not realise that the present heavens and the earth are reserved for the judgement of fire and for the destruction of ungodly men and rebels! Indeed the Day of the Lord is at hand because a thousand years is as a day to the Lord and He is not slack in fulfilling the promises He has made in His Word!
The Bible’s description of the Day of the Lord diametrically opposes the proponents of kingdom dominion theology. Just before Jesus comes back things are not going to get better but worse. All of the prophets and the Lord Jesus Himself clearly spoke about this. Those who love the Lord Jesus, love His Word and love His appearing will be looking up into the heavens knowing full well that their redemption and rescue is drawing near despite what is happening around them in the world. On the other hand all those who do not love the Lord Jesus or His Word will be in fear and anxiety at what is coming on the world. In the end there will only be one of two choices left for everyone, Christ? or the Antichrist? Indeed the conditions in the whole world leading up to Jesus Second Coming will be “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.“
What happened to Egypt in the time of Moses with plagues and judgements according to the book of Exodus will happen again to the “Egypt” of this world according to the book of Revelation. The final judgement of Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea foreshadows the final destruction of the Antichrist and his armies at the Second coming of Christ. Now Joel begins to describe this army. It is foreshadowed in the Babylonian army but the primary vision concerns the armies of the Antichrist attacking Israel and devastating the world at the end of this present age. During the Great Tribulation this army will be empowered by Satan himself and indeed it will be said of them, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” And so Joel continues to prophesy…
“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.”
Historically the Babylonian army was probably the most powerful army that has ever existed on this earth. While there have been other mighty armies there has never been anything quite like the Babylonians. However, history will have never seen an army like this one Joel sees in his vision of the last days. We know from the Bible that there was a “prince” or “principality” over the kingdoms of Persia and Greece and that these demonic spirits were behind the thrones of these ancient kingdoms. However, a demonic principality will not drive this army Joel describes, but Satan himself will drive it being manifested in the man called the Antichrist.
This army will sweep down from the region of Turkey and spread throughout the whole Middle-East and destroy everything that stands opposed to its agenda for the world. It is a supernaturally empowered army. It is described in Revelation as having Satan as its commander. “They had as their king over them the angel of the Abyss whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Destroyer.” The great distinguishing mark of this army is that it denies the Father and Son relationship in the Godhead. It will be inspired and empowered by the spirit of the Antichrist. Its real fight will be against the Lord Jesus Christ. “They (The 10 kings whose armies are part of this great army) have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast (empire). They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of Lords and King of kings-and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” It is only after this army is destroyed that the saints will inherit the kingdom and not before.
(Vs. 3) “Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes.”
Today with the world’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction it is quite clear that this army will have massive firepower at its disposal. With this firepower a third of mankind will be destroyed. The apostle John writes; “A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths.” (Revelation 9:18) The number of these troops was two hundred million. John heard their number.
How would a first century man describe armoured tanks and missiles? If you look at the description of this army it could well describe armoured tanks with mounted machine guns. John continues, “The power of the horses was in their mouths (The barrels of the tanks firing shells or missiles) and in their tails (Machine guns mounted on the rear of the tanks) for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.” (Revelation 9:19) These weapons could possibly be nuclear warheads launched on conventional missiles as a third of mankind will be destroyed by these weapons. This is quite conceivable today especially when we see Islamic nations embracing nuclear technology and having weapons of mass destruction supplied to them by countries like Russia and North Korea.
Today it is nothing for an Islamic terrorist to put his finger on the button of a nuclear weapon because if he dies in Jihad fighting the infidel (unbelievers) he will be rewarded in the afterlife with 72 virgins in paradise. What does he really care about those whom he will kill? The stage is now being set for the war to end all wars that will culminate in the gathering of this army at the place called Armageddon. John tells us this in Revelation. “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:16)
Hollywood of course has depicted this scenario in movies that have images of collapsing skyscrapers, nuclear fallout, polluted water supplies, millions dying of radiation sickness, and lawlessness going unchecked. All of these images are in fact desensitising us to the reality of what the Bible describes. The real truth of the matter is that what Hollywood has been depicting in its films for over 40 years or more will actually happen before the Lord Jesus comes back!
All of the kingdoms in this world opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom on earth will suffer a severe earthquake of global proportions and be inundated by 100lb hailstones. The biggest earthquake and hailstorm in history will occur, “Then there came flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of His wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.” (Revelation 16:18-21)
Can you imagine the great skyscrapers around the globe collapsing and a hailstorm so great that it kills men and animals alike? Isaiah the prophet also alluded to the collapse of the great skyscrapers when he said, “In the day of great slaughter when the towers fall.” When you look at the devastation wrought on the twin towers in the 9/11 tragedy (In their case by terrorists in planes) you have a miniscule glimpse of what will happen when the world’s greatest earthquakes occurs! Who has not seen pictures of the devastation caused by earthquakes in countries like Indonesia, India and Japan? All of these are but the beginning of the “birth pains” that will precede the establishment of Christ’s earthly kingdom when He comes back to reign over the nations that have survived these judgements of God.
(Vs. 3) “Before them the land is like the Garden of Eden, behind them a desert waste-nothing escapes them.”
Here we have a reference to the fall of man in the garden. Before Adam and Eve fell under Satan’s power everything was good and perfect and death and sickness and disaster did not exist on the earth. However, when Adam and Eve betrayed the Lord and gave in to the power of Satan they actually invited him to have rule over the race of men. From the moment they fell to his spiritual seduction every human being to come would be infected with sin and rebellion. This was the original source of all of the sickness, disease, death, suffering and sorrow we see in our world today.
Like the locusts this army will destroy life on a scale unprecedented in history. The locust plague takes every bit of greenery in the countryside. Before the locust swarm comes you see life all around as trees and flowers and crops bloom and flourish. However, after the locusts have come there is nothing left but tree trunks stripped white and aridness spread over the land like a blanket. All signs of life virtually gone and a panorama of destruction on a vast scale is all that remains.
In such a way the army of the Antichrist will devastate the Land of Israel and the whole world. In that day scarcity will be a global reality. John described this in the book of Revelation. “When the Lamb (Jesus) opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come.” I looked and there before me was a black horse. Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying,” A quart (about 1 litre) of wheat for a day’s wages and three quarts (about 3 litres) of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”(Revelation 6:5-6) As missiles encircle the globe and destroy crops, livestock and pollute rivers and as businesses fail due to lack of natural and commercial resources so the whole world will be plunged into the worst nightmare imaginable because of the sin and rebellion of men towards God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Now Joel continues to describe this army.
(Vs. 4) “They have the appearance of horses, they gallop along like cavalry.”
Once again these “horses” most likely depict armoured cavalry. They are not horses but only have the appearance of horses. Remember Joel, like John, could not adequately describe modern tanks and armoured vehicles capable of launching missiles. Obviously there will be huge numbers of them moving over land like locusts as “they gallop along like cavalry.”
(Vs. 5) “With the noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountain tops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.”
During the war in Afghanistan and Iraq you saw armoured helicopters going into battle that seemed to “leap over the mountain tops.” Their rotor blades “sounded like a crackling fire.” John also described these flying arsenals. “They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Destroyer.” (Revelation 9:9-11) We must always keep in mind that demons operate through men and women. Scripture confirms this fact. This army no doubt is a demonic one.
(Vs. 6) “At the sight of them nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.”
These armoured helicopters and ground vehicles can cause such devastation that whole nations are in anguish. Nobody seems to be able to handle the situation. Everything is out of control. Indeed for Israel it will be, “The time of Jacob’s trouble” when every face will turn pale and strong men will be gripping their stomachs in fear of what is coming upon them. For Israel it will mean the sacking of Jerusalem as half of the city is ransacked, the women raped and the people taken into exile. The other half of the city will be spared. However, Jeremiah says, “But he (Jacob meaning Israel) will be saved out of it.” In the book of Exodus when it looked like Israel would perish at the hands of Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea the Lord delivered them by the hand of Moses and destroyed the Egyptians. In like manner when it looks as if Israel and Jerusalem is finished Jesus will come back and destroy the Antichrist and his army! For the sake of His elect Jesus will rescue Israel and rapture the Church at His Second Coming (Jeremiah 30: 1-11) (Zechariah 12-14) (Matthew 24:30-31).
(Vs. 7-8) “They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. They do not jostle each other, each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defences without breaking ranks.”
This army is a committed army, a dedicated army who have one agenda only and that is world domination. There is an army of “Babylonians” today and it is the power of Islam. Their agenda is global domination and to enforce Sharia law. They are not like the western armies. They have the capacity to break down the defences and to infiltrate the cities of their enemies. They are entrenching themselves in Europe, England, America and in many other third world countries and even in Australia. Many are ‘philosophical’ Muslims now but when the Antichrist comes they will become militant as the Koran instructs them to be. Their leaders will not compromise as the leaders of the western nations do. They feign friendship through economic ties with the west but only until they have the upper hand and then they will strike like the serpent! They all march in line not swerving from their course. They are united against a common enemy. Of course the real source of their power is Satan himself. Even though Ishmael’s seed is divided under the power of Satan and when they have a common enemy such as Israel they will join forces.
(Vs. 9) “They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.”
This army will invade every level of society. No one will be able to escape them. This army will be so powerful that they cannot be stopped by human power because it is a Satan led and demonically inspired army. To suggest this army is a picture of the triumphant end time Church taking possession of the nations as the kingdom now people advocate is ludicrous! Both the text and the context of the prophecy teach otherwise. There is also a spiritual aspect to this army as it also describes the myriads of false prophets and teachers spreading spiritually seducing the Church.
Just look at how many Christian living rooms are being invaded with the T.V. preachers peddling another gospel with their emphasis on money and prosperity. Just look at the religious sects gaining a foothold in the world. Even New Age concepts are coming into the Church and many are moving down the path of interfaith associations. Again we need to keep in mind that the locusts represent four things. 1. The Babylonian invasion in 586 BC. 2. A demonic army invading Israel and the Church through false prophets and teachers in the last days. 3. The rapid spread of false religions. 4. The armies of the Antichrist. This army of locusts represents all of these together.
(Vs. 10) “Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine.”
In Matthew chapter twenty-four it says, “Immediately after the distress of these days (depicted in Joel) the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” The same scenario is mentioned in Revelation chapter six, “I watched as He opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” All of these events are part of the Day of the Lord when God’s wrath is poured out on a Christ hating, Christ rejecting world.
Listen to the prophet Isaiah speak about this time, “See the day of the Lord is coming a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of His burning anger.” Both the heavens and the earth will be reeling under the judgments of God. This great army is God’s army sent to judge sin and rebellion. It is a godless pagan army that God will destroy when its purpose has been fulfilled. Again it needs to be said that Joel is not describing the end-time Church! This is a ridiculous interpretation!
(Vs. 11) “The Lord thunders at the head of His army; His forces are beyond number, ands mighty are those who obey His command.”
While the devil is the god of this world he still does not have ultimate control. The Bible clearly teaches that God is still in control of all things and that he raises up kings and puts them down and that nothing or no one can overthrow His purposes and plans. God Himself orchestrated the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem and Judah and He will orchestrate the final invasion of Israel and Jerusalem, however, He will not let Jerusalem or Israel perish but right at the last minute will come to their defence and destroy that great Northern army (2:18-20).
The Lord used the Assyrians to judge Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722BC and then destroyed the Assyrians. Likewise He used the Babylonians to judge Jerusalem and Judah in 596BC and then destroyed the Babylonians. In the last days He will use the armies of the Antichrist to judge Israel and the nations and then destroy them on the mountains of Israel in the Valley of Jehoshaphat all the way down into Saudi Arabia and Egypt (3:1-3). When the Lord Jesus comes back He will rapture the Church, rescue Israel, and judge the nations and usher in His Millennial kingdom. And so Joel continues…
“The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?”
The Day when the wrath of God is poured out will be like nothing the world has ever experienced before. In the days of Noah the flood was something that the people of his time had never experienced before and it will be the same for the people of this world at the end of the age when the judgement will be by fire! On the day of God’s wrath the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty and every slave and every free man will hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the rocks and the mountains to fall on them to hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?