Both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament teach that in the “last days,” severe military threats will mount against the State of Israel, yet the Jewish state will become more and more isolated internationally. Ultimately, the Bible indicates that no country will come to the defense of the Jewish people when the major prophetic battles unfold and Israel’s enemies attack. Rather, Israel will find herself all alone in the world. This makes recent headlines all the more troubling, for international pressure against — and isolation of — the modern State of Israel seems to be intensifying this year. Consider the latest key stories from the epicenter from just the past few days and weeks:
- The New York Times reports that an anti-Israel leader and his party have just won a big election in Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) have become serious problems for Israel and the U.S. in recent years. They are increasingly moving away from the West and towards the Radicals in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza, as well as building closer ties to Moscow. A new Heritage Foundation analysis worth reading rightly notes: “With the second-largest military in NATO, Turkey has been a significant actor in many NATO operations and continues to stand alongside the U.S. in Afghanistan. However, Ankara’s burgeoning closeness to Tehran and the AKP’s hostility toward Israel undermine Turkey’s reliability as a regional partner for the U.S. and Europe….Turkey’s traditionally strong relationship with Israel has declined dramatically in recent years. The Turkish government-supported IHH Islamist organization is preparing to launch a second flotilla to Gaza despite the fact that the embargo is over, and this will only further inflame relations between the two countries. The AKP government has also continued to support Hamas, which Washington and Brussels classify as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).”
- Ynet News reports that Italy is turning against the Jews, citing a “murky wave of anti-Israel zeal, demonization of Jews growing at alarming rate in Italy“
- The Washington Post reports that the U.S. is bullying Israel to make deal with Palestinians
- The Washington Times reports that the U.S. is pressuring Israel to agree to accept the pre-1967 borders as a basis for peace talks
- An Associated Press headline reads: “Obama says Israel will face ‘growing isolation’ if there is no peace process”
In light of such disturbing trends, I am posting some of my notes covering chapter two of the “Book of Joel.” In his second chapter, the Hebrew prophet gives us so much vital information about the future of Israel and how to live in the last days that I won’t be able to cover it all in one posting. But I hope you will find these notes helpful as you study the writings of this important minor prophet and teach them to others. I would also encourage you to watch the message delivered at The Joshua Fund’s 2011 Epicenter Conference by Pastor Ray Bentley, who taught on Joel 2:1-17. In a few days, Lord willing, I will post my notes covering the rest of chapter two.
Note: In case you missed the previous postings, here are the links:
- For Part 1 of my notes on this series on the Book of Joel, please click here.
- For Part 2 of this series on the Book of Joel, please click here.
- For Part 3 of this series on the Book of Joel, please click here.
- For Part 4 of this series on the Book of Joel, please click here.
- For Part 5 of this series on the Book of Joel, please click here.
Now, let’s begin….
Chapter Two: “A Trumpet Call for Israel and the Church”
- As the “Day of the Lord” approaches in the last days, those who know the Lord, follow the Lord, listen to the Lord, study the Word of the Lord, and teach the Word of the Lord are supposed to do a series of things:
- Understand that danger is coming and thus “blow a trumpet in Zion” and “sound an alarm” on God’s holy mountain — that is, call people to action (2:1)
- We are to alert “all” the inhabitants of the land of Israel that the “Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near” (2:1)
- We are to let Israel know that the “Day of the Lord” will be a day of judgment, “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness”
- We are to let Israel know that that the Day of the Lord will be historic….”there has never been anything like it” – even the previous apocalyptic plagues of locusts described in Joel chapter one – “nor will there ever be again after it” (2:2)
- We are to explain that the Day of the Lord will come with devastating fire that consumes everything in its path (2:3)
- We are to explain that the run up to the Day of the Lord will be traumatic — the land of Israel will suffer an invasion unlike anything in its history….the text indicates that the land of Israel will be completely overrun and will suffer serious devastation, far beyond the locust invasion that described in chapter one.
- What’s interesting is that in the first 24 verses of chapter two, the word “locust” is never mentioned. Rather, we have images that are similar to a classic locust invasion, but far more devastating.
- The appearance of the invaders is “like” the appearance of horses (2:4)
- And “like” war horses (2:4)
- They run “like” mighty men (2:5)
- They climb the wall “like” soldiers (2:7)
- So the invaders aren’t exactly locusts – they’re “like” locusts
- The invaders aren’t human soldiers – they’re “like” human soldiers
- Over the years, some Bible expositors have suggested that what we are seeing play out in the Book of Joel is the “War of Gog and Magog,” as prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39. There are several reasons for teachers to suggest this:
- The Hebrew Prophet Joel describes events that will happen in the last days, as does Ezekiel
- Joel seems to describe a land of Israel that is fertile and fruitful, like a Garden of Eden (Joel 2:3), and Ezekiel describes a land that has essentially recovered from devastating wars and is secure and prosperous (Ezekiel 38:8, 12)
- Joel describes a threat to Israel that is unprecedented in her history, as does Ezekiel
- Joel describes the Lord saying, “I will remove the northern army far from you” (Joel 2:20), and Ezekiel 38-39 describes the main threat to Israel coming from the north but destroyed by the Lord
- Joel describes the Lord pouring out His Spirit after defeat of the enemy (Joel 2:28-29), as does Ezekiel (Ezekiel 39:29)
- I certainly believe that the”War of Gog and Magog” described in Ezekiel 38-39 is real, serious, and coming sooner that many people think. That said, despite some similarities, I do not see the primary prophetic events described in the Book of Joel as being focused on Ezekiel’s “War of Gog and Magog.” I say this for several reasons:
- The Hebrew Prophet Joel describes Israel as being fully invaded and completely overrun by enemy forces, like a locust invasion; this is not, however, what is described in Ezekiel 38-39 where the enemy comes against the mountains of Israel but is then supernaturally destroyed, unable to completely invade and overrun the land.
- Joel describes the land of Israel being devastated by fire (from the enemies), whereas Ezekiel describes the enemies of Israel being devastated by fire (from heaven)
- Joel describes the judgment of “all the nations” (3:2) occurring after the enemy is defeated, whereas Ezekiel describes a limited coalition of nations being judged during their defeat.
- Joel singles out Egypt for such severe judgment that the text says “Egypt will become a waste” (3:19), whereas mention of Egypt is noticeably absent from Ezekiel 38-39.
- Joel also singles out Edom for such severe judgment that the text says “Edom will become a desolate wilderness because of the violence done to the sons of Judah in whose land they have shed innocent blood” (3:19), whereas mention of Edom is noticeably absent from Ezekiel 38-39.
- To understand the End Times events that the Hebrew Prophet Joel is foretelling, we need to study the prophecies of Revelation 9:1-12 and the events that occur after the 5th of 7 trumpets are blown during the Great Tribulation. Consider the following points:
- In the Book of Revelation,we read that out of Hell (“a bottomless pit filled with the smoke of a great furnace”) “came locusts upon the earth” (9:2)
- But the Bible indicates that these are not ordinary locusts — they have power like scorpions to injure with their tails (9:2, 5,6,10)
- These creatures are “told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree” (9:4)
- These creatures are designed to attack mankind “who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads,” that is, those who are not born again followers of the Lord Jesus Christ (9:4)
- These creatures cannot kill but rather torment men for five months (9:5)
- Their appearance is “like” horses (9:7)
- They have faces “like” men (9:7)
- They have hair “like” the hair of women (9:8)
- They have teeth “like” the teeth of lions (9:8)
- They have armor “like” soldiers who have breastplates of iron (9:9)
- They sound “like” many horses rushing to battle (9:9)
- They have a king over them, “the angel of the abyss” whose name in Hebrew is “Abaddon,” and in Greek is “Apollyon”
- These are not really locusts, or human soldiers, though they are like both – these are demonic creatures ruled by a Satanic king
- They will come “upon the earth” with “power” (9:3)
- The Book of Revelation does not say these creatures will exclusively attack those in Israel – their attack will be global
- But the Book of Joel does indicate that such creatures will specifically invade Israel and bring great trauma and devastation — as Joel 2:11 says: “the Day of the Lord is indeed great and very terrible; who can endure it?”
Again, in a few days I will post the rest of my notes on Joel chapter two which gives us hope for the future and specific, practical suggestions for Israel and the Church on how to live in the last days.