April 7, 2013

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XX: Visions & Dreams


As my Assembly of God and charismatic friends are so fond of reminding me, Joel was the first to prophesy the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh. His prophecy seems to have been delivered to him all at once, unlike Hosea’s which was spread over a period of years. What is interesting though about Joel is that it’s prophecy and its scope extend to the end of time.

He was probably the earliest of the minor prophet writers. It would appear his message is so important that he mentions nearly nothing about himself except for a few words. The prophecies of Joel focus more on the divine right from the very start. Right from the beginning we see that it is not Joel’s prophecy but it is the. “word of the Lord.”

Joel 1:1 ~ The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel

In the first chapter we see bugs and lots of them. Locusts. Joel was a prophet to Judah the southern kingdom and he used God's present judgment of a locust plague to make his point. With the utmost urgency God calls His people to repentance to avoid even worse judgment that would befall them because of their sins. We see the locust compared to a coming army as a typology or shadow of what was to come. In explicit language God through Joel describes the plague, calling first to the old men to affirm that this plague had seen no precedent of severity. Even the desensitized half-brain dead drunks are aware of the effects because the locusts wipe on the vines/vineyards. The priests have no meat, offering of corn, no drink offering of wine to offer.

Before the locusts the land is likened to the Garden of Eden, in their wake it is a barren moonscape.

Joel 2:3 ~ A fire consumes before them and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them.

This army of locusts astounds those who have never seen it before which leads one to believe that the prosperity to this point in the land has been unparalleled…but now…so would be their utter destruction for their sins. Do we see haunting shadows hanging over the American landscape? The United States which was a once great country that aborts their children by the millions and condones and celebrates nearly every form of sexual immorality?

So we see the swarm come and they blot out the sun like night and they are legion.

Joel 2:2 ~ A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations.

The advancing throng of insects attack anything that is green and kills it. Wave after entomological wave comes and will even strip the bark from the trees.

Joel 1:6-7 ~ For a nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the fangs of a lioness. It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast them away; their branches have become white.

The land will be so devastated it will barely recover. The dirge of their wings can be heard for miles, and the crackling of their feeding is like dry wood in a raging fire. The land they’ve passed over will literally look as if a field fire has destroyed it. Like the sinners of the nation have stripped the nation of any honor and dignity it might have once had, so too the locusts stripped the country bare.

It is the nearing "The Day of the Lord."

Joel 1:15 ~ Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.

Joel urges all classes of the people to repent. Why? It is because the Day of the Lord signifies judgment from God and none will escape it. The locusts are a prelude to the coming armies of invasion which were about to come as a merciless scourge of God upon the land, and the final Day of the Lord described in the third chapter. Joel calls on the Lord to spare His people. His call to repentance is enforced by conditional promises. We See God’s willingness to bless if the conditions are met. The removal of the scourge, the plentiful rain and ample crops…and we even see something profound-the promise of an outpouring of God’s Spirit.

It is in this last promise that we see the central premise of the book outside of judgment. It is in this last promise that we see the ever-present shadow of Christ who is imminent and glorious and sovereignly reigns over history. The other prophets will prophesy the details of Jesus’ life on earth and of His future reign. It is Joel that will foretell of the Spirit of Christ that will be poured out on all believers, male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and freeman. There was coming a day when all would be one in Christ Jesus. We are told this blessing would come from Jerusalem.

Joel 2:32 ~ And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

Joel 3:18 ~ And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; and a spring will go out from the house of the Lord to water the valley of Shittim.

We know from Peter in the New Testament that this is fulfilled at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16, 32-33). As with most prophecy, this prophecy still has yet and unfulfilled aspect after the Great Day of The Lord. Joel looks into the distant future and sees a final day when the Lord Jesus Christ will come in judgment in Joel 3:13. It is the same day that Christ spoke of in Matthew and is mentioned other places also. We will see the winepress again in the Revelation of Jesus Christ from John the Revelator.

Joel 3:13 ~ Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

Matthew 13:39 ~ “…and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.”

Revelation 14:18-20 ~ “Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

What does Joel say to us today?

We must see the desolate condition of the Church today. It is has been poorly defended at times and hard hit by many spiritual foes, many directly coming from within its own ranks. Most of this destruction could’ve been avoided had people actually read the Bible, understood proper theology and stopped trying to conform to the culture/world. We are literally engulfed by plague and drought on all sides and from within. God is calling us to awaken to His holiness and He will even give us His Spirit to aid us in our walk...if people would just freaking listen...but many will not and they will perish. Just as in Joel’s day a call goes out for the wayward to turn back to God and repent. We present the Gospel and then it is up to them and the Spirit if they respond. It will be dramatically more effective if repentance begins with the leaders, ministers, elders as they have the ability to affect the most people. If people turn their hearts to the Lord we too can be the recipients of His promise, recipients of His Spirit. It is this body of believers that will be equipped by the Spirit to fight the battle against the legions of darkness, and be ready for the gathering of souls…

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