JOEL'S ARMY & GIDEON'S ARMY - A VISION.

By Robert I. Holmes.

(Robert is the Editor of 'Construction Sight' and the 'Storm-Harvest Journal' - nationwide Prophetic Publications in Australia).

There is a commonly held belief in the church that the army of Joel 
and the army of Gideon both represent the same end time, militant and 
victorious church. My intention here is not so much to examine the 
theological foundations of such arguments, but to share a revelation 
I had recently which seems to contradict this understanding. I am 
fully convinced that the Lord is preparing his Bride for these last 
days. As part of this preparation I believe He is preparing an end 
time army. Not an army who will take over the world and set up the 
political system Christ will rule in (called Dominion Theology) but 
rather, a militant and victorious church who shall defeat the hordes 
of Hell.

THE VISION.

In late October 1996 I had a startling vision. I was looking down 
from a high place and I saw a mighty army. It was marching in a long 
line, like a great column snaking through the jungle. It looked for 
all the world like a serpent. At it's head was a banner, which read 
"Joel's' army". Behind them they left a swath of destruction, a road 
of sorts cut through the jungle. I was made aware that this army was 
'now marching' or had already mobilised.

I also saw off to one side, hidden in dense undergrowth, a battalion. 
This group stood quietly, waiting in the jungle. They were assembled 
in a square, and they were awaiting instructions. At the head of this 
smaller group was a banner which read "Gideon's army".

Then I looked and saw a single platoon, off to the side of the bat-
talion. It stood divided. I looked carefully at this group, feeling 
at first that it represented the local body of believers I belonged 
to at the time. They were standing in mud, in two ranks facing each 
other. The Spirit expressly said, "Many have passed through their 
ranks" and I began to realise they were (are) the prophets. These 
troops were stuck in the mud, and had not moved on for some time.

JOEL'S ARMY.

Joel's army has been promoted widely as being a good army, an army 
of the church. Many songs, sung in Pentecostal and mainline Evangel-
ical churches even quote the warrior Scriptures as relating to the 
church. However I do not hold to that understanding. To me, Joel's 
army is one of terrible locusts, "a great and powerful army... before 
them is like Eden, after them is desolate" (Joel 2:2,3). This is 
similar to the picture I had. Joel says they are "a powerful army, 
drawn up for battle, before them the nations are in anguish" (5,6). 
Why are the nations terrified of this army? Because they are an 
instrument of judgement. 

Note that the Scripture does not say, "God's enemies are in anguish 
before them." Nor does it imply that the devil is afraid of them. It 
is the nations who are afraid. This army is made up of "the cutting 
locust... the swarming locust... the hopping locust... the destroying 
locust" (Joel 1:4). This is not a picture of the Bride of Christ. 
Evidently the army first destroys or bring judgement against God's 
own people because later in the book of Joel, God consoles His people 
saying, "I will repay YOU for the years the swarming locust has 
eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, that great army I 
sent against you" (Joel 2:25).

This is clearly God's instrument of judgement against both his church 
and the nations (peoples), not a great or good army in the church! 
The passages relating to Joel's army confuse some, because it is said 
that the Lord is at the head of HIS army. He is in control of them. 
But that no more makes them the church than it made Babylon or 
Assyria the church! Jeremiah depicts Babylon as God's own instrument, 
his servant (Jer 25:9), just as Isaiah depicts Assyria as being a 
weapon in God's hand (Isa 7:20). God used them, as He uses the army 
depicted by Joel, to berate and scold an unrepentant Israel. In the 
same way, Joel's army is marching in the end times, to scold and 
rebuke, to consume and devour the unregenerate church.

I was impressed that this army was "now marching". There is only one
globally significant move underfoot at this time. It has already 
affected many churches, denominations and groups. I have previously 
labelled it the "Blessing Movement"- It's 'streams' are severally 
identifiable as Howard Browne Ministries, the Toronto Blessing, 
Sunderland Outpouring and Pensacola Revival. This is, to me, one and 
the same movement in various forms.

GIDEON'S ARMY.

The second army I saw however, portrays an altogether different 
picture. Here is an army fully prepared, awaiting instruction. It is 
not yet mobile. The battalion (in military terms about 10,000 men) 
was labelled Gideon's army. It represents the refined, the chosen, 
the remnant church. This second army is not yet marching. They are 
stable, focused, balanced and awaiting instruction. They have NOT 
been given their marching orders! Gideon and his men were exhorted: 
"Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel... I will be with you 
and you shall strike down the Midianites" (Judg 6:14,15). Note there 
is an explicit command to strike down the enemies of Israel, or for
the church, the devil and his powers- not the church!

As I read through the account of Gideon in Judges 6-8 several things 
strike me about them. If this army is a picture of the remnant, then 
it will help to see what they had, and what they did. Firstly, they 
were twice refined. At first a great number of men gathered to fight 
(32,000 in all). During the first purging the Lord removed those who 
had the fear of man. This took their number down to 10,000. In my 
vision I saw the battalion (10,000 men) labelled as Gideon's army. 
This seems to indicate that the assembling battalion has already 
been refined of the fear of man. The second purging Gideon's army 
underwent was to remove those who trusted in their own strength. 
This took their number down to 300. The present Gideon's army (the
one of my vision) may expect this second purging next.

I should say at this point that it is my understanding that the 'end 
time' army of God, the militant church making war on the enemies of 
the kingdom and taking ground for Christ will be made of many comp-
anies. Just one of these companies is Gideon's. Others have seen and 
labelled such companies as the Isaiah 57 company, the Elijah force 
and the warriors of Gilead. Perhaps these are all part of the same 
picture?

The next thing we notice about Gideon's army (and from now on these 
things are to come to the Gideon army gathered today) is that they 
were fewer in number than would be expected. Their number was so few 
in fact, that the move of God could not be blamed on them! The glory 
could only go to God and Israel would not be able to boast about the 
strength of her right arm. This fits well with my vision, as the 
assembled crowd represented only one battalion, not a whole army. 
The mighty triumphs and victories destined for this group can only 
be laid at the feet of Jesus.

In their first battle, Gideon moved only according to God's command. 
It was at God's initiative, at His request and by His plan only. It 
was interesting that as an army, they carried no swords! How could 
they possibly win the battle without weapons? Their battle cry was 
"a sword for the Lord and Gideon" (7:20) and the enemy "feared the 
sword of Gideon"(7:13). Yet in actual fact their hands were full. 
They went into battle with a shofar in one hand (trumpet) and fire 
in jars in the other.  

The shofar symbolises the prophetic clarion or the watchmen, used to 
sound the alarm and awaken the city. The fire in jars may well speak 
of this very great treasure we have within us, this precious truth 
about Christ which shall demonstrate his very great power: "we have 
this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this 
extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." (2 Cor 
4:7). Likewise the secret to our warfare is also that the weapons of 
our battle are not merely carnal, they are divine to the tearing 
down of strongholds (2 Cor 10:4).

THE SONS OF EPHRAIM.

After winning an amazing victory in their first battle, Gideon's 
army pressed the defeated enemy far into the Northern region. They 
passed through into the land of Ephraim, toward Penuel. The inhab-
itants of this region - the sons of Ephraim, were accomplished 
soldiers. Over the years they had managed successive enlargements 
of their territory, and were powerful enough by Isaiahs time for 
him to even call them the Northern Kingdom! (Isa 7:28,29). They had 
defeated the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb (Jud 8:3) and were
furious that Gideon had left them out of the battle! 

Gideon must have considered taking such fine fighting men along to 
rout the enemy, yet we read that he proceeded on without them (v 4). 
Whilst Gideon acknowledges their superior strength in battle (Judg 
8:2), he in fact uses this as a way of diplomatically declining 
their implied offer of help. He proceeds with out the prestigious 
fighters. It would have been tempting to take them along in his 
battle.

Who are these sons of Ephraim, and what might they represent to the 
present vision of the army of Gideon? Ephraim was the second son of 
Joseph. Joseph blessed him with his right hand, and placed him over 
his brother Manassah (Gen 48:13) signifying that he would be great-
er. From the beginning of the tribe, Ephraim gained a place of 
honour and prestige. Several notable leaders came from the tribe or 
region - Joshua, Samuel, Jeroboam, Tola and Deborah. 

They had a special place in God's heart, until their rebellion 
against the house of David. He states, "I am the father to Israel 
and Ephraim is my first born" (Jer 31:6). Similarly "Gilead is mine, 
and Manassah is mine, but Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my sceptre" 
(Psa 60:7). They had several of the ancient and blessed places of 
worship, including Bethel, Shiloh and Shechem within their borders. 

There were, and are many good reasons to bring along people who seem 
to have a fruitful ministry (the name Ephraim means "fruitful place" 
in Hebrew). They may have prestige, they may have power, they may be 
experienced in battle and spiritual warfare, they may have ruled in 
the previous moves of God, yet we like Gideon should deny their 
aide. Gideon did not choose their help at all. They do indeed have a 
special place in God's heart and plan, but not in His present plan 
for the army of Gideon. They are to route the enemy with the help of 
Jehovah alone!

THE PROPHETIC 'STUCK-IN-THE-MUDS'.

Finally, the group I saw off to the side of Gideon's army represents, 
I believe, the prophets. One important point of my vision was that 
they were divided. They stood separated from each other, and in at 
least two rows facing each other. The Lord said, "Many have passed 
through their ranks". I am reminded of the Scripture which speaks of 
the coming unity among the prophets: "your watchmen shall lift up 
their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they 
shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion" (Isa 52:8 NKJV).

It is my experience that, by and large, prophetic persons are loners. 
Or at least they have a tendency to stay inward. They retract from 
too much publicity. Camaraderie among prophetic groups is a rare 
treasure indeed. In Australia especially, prophetic ministries tend 
to be individualist, elitist and aloof. But we can trust in the 
Scripture that as the Lord restores Zion, the watchmen shall gather 
together in harmony and unity. This is something to be overcome in 
Him.

Mud represents, at it's most basic level, wet earth. Earth or dust 
is the fabric which man is made from. Mud may therefore represent 
worldliness, or earthliness which taints prophetic ministry. Mud in 
Scripture is also associated with wickedness (Isa 57:20) and unclean-
liness (2 Pet 2:22). Being stuck in the mud up to the boot straps 
indicates the many ways in which the prophetic ministry has become 
tainted. Many groups have become attached to worldliness, and the 
keeping of position and power. Others of us have become proud, and 
others just plain sinful. Of all this we must repent, and be 
cleansed. 

The prophetic band I saw were stuck in the mud, being not only 
tainted, but obviously trapped.  Jeremiah used this analogy in warn-
ing the people of Israel that they faced captivity to Babylon since 
they had failed to head his warning. He warned, "this is what the 
LORD has shown me - a vision of all the women remaining in the house 
of the king of Judah being led out to the officials of the king of 
Babylon and saying, 'Your trusted friends have seduced you and have 
overcome you; Now that your feet are stuck in the mud, they desert 
you.' All your wives and your children shall be led out to the
Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but 
shall be seized by the king of Babylon; and this city shall be burn-
ed with fire." (Jer 38:21-23).

Being stuck in the mud means to become trapped, and left open to 
being pillaged by the enemy, Jeremiah is basically saying to the 
captives of Jerusalem, "because of your sin, rebellion and failure 
to listen to God, you are trapped and shall be not only deserted, 
but carried away by the enemy. What a tragedy for the prophetic 
ministries! My vision, lastly, is a warning that we must clean up, 
and move on. We must not pretend we are clean when in fact we are 
dirty. The call of the hour for those who call themselves prophetic 
is 'holiness unto the Lord'. Holy so that we may prepare and join 
the gathering, training, waiting army of Gideon in battle.
-Robert Holmes. Email:- rnkholmes@accsoft.com.au

- Click here to go to the article - "The Toronto Controversy - disturbing new facts from history" by A. Strom.
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Click here to go to the REAL facts about Brownsville's Local Impact.
- Brenda Imus' personal journey out of deception.
- Please click here to go to "The Truth about Joel's Army" by Andrew Strom.

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"Joel's Army & Gideon's Army - a Vision" copyright (c) Robert I. Holmes, 1997.
This article can be found on the Internet at:-
http://crash.ihug.co.nz/~revival/index2.html (Feel free to distribute or photocopy).