THE TRUTH ABOUT JOEL'S ARMY

by Andrew Strom


Why do some seem so keen to promote the concept of "Joel's Army", when the Scriptures openly declare it to be an army of LOCUSTS that devours and destroys every good thing in the land?

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.
- Click here to go to the book, "The Coming Great Reformation" by Andrew Strom.

- CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE 'NZ REVIVAL BULLETIN' HOME-PAGE.


Copyright (c) Andrew Strom, 1996. (Please feel free to photocopy).
This article is available from New Zealand Revival Bulletin - http://crash.ihug.co.nz/~revival