Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Joel, and more specifically, is found in the first twenty-seven verses of the chapter. As you begin reading this passage of Scripture, the first thing you will notice and encounter is the use of a phrase that is not uncommon within the prophetic narrative in ancient Israel. When you begin reading the second chapter of this prophetic book, you are immediately met and confronted with a call—yea, even a demand if you will—to pay attention to the word which is being spoken by the Lord’s servant. The opening verse of the second chapter opens up with these words—“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain” (Joel 2:1). I mentioned that this phrase is not uncommon to the prophetic narrative of the Hebrew prophets, and if you turn your attention to the fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Hosea you will encounter another use of this phrase: “Blow ye the cornet in Gibea, and the trumpet in Ramah: Cry aloud at Beth-aven, after thee, O Benjamin” (Hosea 5:8). In the fifty-eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah we find these words spoken by the prophet—“Cry aloud, spare not, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). When you journey to the third chapter of the prophetic book of Amos you will find these words spoken by that prophet—“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it” (Amos 3:6). In fact, within the fifteenth verse of this same chapter we find this phrase used once more—“Blow the trumpet in Zion, Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly” (Joel 2:15). THE BLOWING OF THE TRUMPET! THE SOUNDING OF THE ALARM! THE TRUMPET AND THE ALARM! WHEN THE TRUMPET SERVES AS AN ALARM! What strikes me first and foremost upon reading this passage of Scripture is the presence—not only of the trumpet, but also the presence of the alarm. The word of the Lord called for the blowing of the trumpet, as well as the sounding of the alarm, which is actually quite remarkable when you consider it. As I sit here this morning contemplating this particular reality, I can’t help but be struck by the reality that while it is true the blowing of the trumpet and the sounding of the alarm has multiple facets, there is one facet we oftentimes fail to recognize and even acknowledge. When I read the words of the prophet Joel, I can’t help but be struck by the reality that the blowing of the trumpet and the sounding of the alarm serve as a specific sound within the land that indicates that generation is living within prophetic times. If you read the books of First and Second Samuel, as well as the books of First and Second Kings, and even the books of First and Second Chronicles, you will essentially notice that those generations—from the time and days of Saul until the days of Hoshea in the northern kingdom of Israel, and Zedekiah in the southern kingdom of Israel—were generations of prophets and monarchs. THE DAYS OF PROPHETS AND MONARCHS! WHEN THE GOVERNMENT OF MAN COLLIDES WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF HEAVEN! WHEN THE RULE OF MEN IS MET WITH THE PROPHETIC WORD OF THE LORD! These six books bring us face to face with the reality that not only were those generations living during the days of monarchs—kings and rulers within the nation and kingdom of Israel—but they were also living during the days of the prophetic word of the Lord. In fact, if you study the history of the nation of Israel during these times, you will discover three prominent groups of individuals that were present in the midst of those days—the priests of the sanctuary, the prophets of the Lord, and the kings of the palace. When I read the words of the prophet Joel in this particular chapter, I am thoroughly convinced that the blowing of the trumpet and the sounding of an alarm indicated the reality that those days were indeed days of the prophet and the monarch—the king who reigned upon a throne within the earth, and the prophets who proclaimed the word of the Lord during their reigns.
If you take the time to read and study the first couple verses of both the major prophetic books, as well as the minor prophetic books, you will notice that there were specific times and seasons when the prophetic ministries of those chosen by God would actually coincide with each other. There were days when there wasn’t simply one prophetic voice that emerged within that generation—or even the generation after that—but multiple prophetic voices. You will discover and learn that one such example was Hosea and Isaiah, for both Hosea and Isaiah proclaimed the word of the Lord during the reigns of four kings who reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. WHEN MONARCHS REIGN FROM THE THRONE AND PROPHETS PROPHESY IN THE STREETS! I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped by and with the reality that those generations—from the time of Saul, until the time of Hoshea and Zedekiah—were characterized by the rule and reign of men, and the prophetic ministry of the prophets. What’s more, is that more often than not—especially within the northern kingdom of Israel—there was a strong and very real clash between the prophetic ministry and word of the Lord and the government and reign of men. Eventually the southern kingdom of Judah would reach the same place—particularly and especially within the days of Jeremiah, for Jeremiah constantly seemed to find himself at odds with and at odds against the government, the rule and the reign of the kingdom. One thing we must recognize is that when the government within a nation is centered upon the intentions, the agenda, the mind and the will of men, it will undoubtedly create a clash between the monarch and the prophet. THE CLASH BETWEEN THE MONARCH AND THE PROPHET! If you study the account of the kings who reigned over the heritage of the people of God—both within the northern and southern kingdoms—you will notice that there were multiple times when there was indeed a clash between the monarch and the prophet. There were times when the prophetic ministry of the prophet would directly confront the throne upon which the monarch sat, and would proclaim a tremendous indictment and word of warning. That nation which persists in being ruled, reigned and governed by the will, the agenda, the mindset, the purposes, and even the intentions of men rather than by the Lord of hosts can and will find themselves directly at odds with the prophetic ministry of the Lord of hosts within the earth.
There is not a doubt in my mind that the blowing of the trumpet and the sounding of the alarm directly signified and revealed to the inhabitants of the land that they were indeed living during prophetic times. When I read Joel’s use of this phrase—not once, but twice within this particular chapter—I am convinced that when the sound of the trumpet and the alarm are heard within the land, the inhabitants of the land are being confronted with the reality that they are indeed living during and within prophetic times. I mention the concept of monarchs and prophets because prophetic times are often characterized by the direct link and connection between the monarchs and the prophets. Prophetic times are often characterized—either by the harmony between the monarch and the prophet, or the discord and disunity between the monarch and the prophet. What’s more is when you consider that there were specific times when it wasn’t enough to simply have one prophetic voice present within a generation, but multiple prophetic voices. There were days, and there were times, and there were generations which warranted the presence and the emergence of multiple prophetic voices, for one trumpet and one voice wasn’t enough. ONE TRUMPET ISN’T ENOUGH! ONE VOICE ISN’T ENOUGH! ONE ALARM ISN’T ENOUGH! The more I read of specific generations within ancient Israel containing multiple prophetic voices, the more I can’t help but be confronted with the reality that there are specific times when the Lord is not content with raising up a single prophetic voice, but deems it absolutely necessary to raise up a second, or perhaps even a third and fourth prophetic voice within that generation. One question I find myself asking is how many voices are necessary within a generation to confront—not only the monarch upon the throne, but also the inhabitants of the land. There were multiple times when the prophetic ministry of the prophet directly clashed—not only with the political realm within the land, but also with the religious realm as well. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah seemed to constantly and consistently find himself directly confronting both the political realm of his generation—the monarch who sat upon the throne of David—as well as the religious realm—the priests and the Levites.
One truth we must understand and come to terms with is that more often than not, prophetic times may very well find the prophetic ministry of the Lord at odds with both the political, as well as the religious system(s) of that generation. In the case of Jeremiah, we not only found him indicting the monarch who sat upon the throne, but we also found him indicting both the prophets and the priests. There were certain Hebrew prophets who found themselves going head to head with the prophetic ministry of their generation—prophets such as Ezekiel and Jeremiah. If you journey to the final book within the Old Testament—the prophetic book of Malachi—you will discover that even Malachi was instructed to raise up an indictment toward and against the ministry of the priests within that generation. This ought not surprise us, for if we read and study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, we notice that even He found Himself directly at odds with the religious system of His generation. Jesus the Christ was constantly at odds with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, as well as with the chief priests, the scribes and the elders. In fact, during the days and time of Jesus, the line that once existed between the religious and political realm had actually been crossed, and even merged, as the Sanhedrin was the governing body within and over the land. It’s actually quite interesting to read of the life and ministry of John the Baptist, and to read how he eventually found himself in direct opposition with the monarch within the land, as he found himself at odds with Herod, as well as with Herodias. There would come a point in time when Herod would have John the Baptist imprisoned, and through a fateful evening within the palace, Herodias would call for the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. We don’t find Jesus ever confronting the political realm of His generation, for Jesus’ main confrontations took place within the religious realm. Jesus constantly and continually found Himself at odds with the religious system of His generation—and not just with the religious system, but also with the supernatural realm. If you study the life and ministry of Jesus, you will read of His constant struggle with the priests, the scribes, the elders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, as well as His constant encounters with the demonic forces of His generation. In fact, it really wasn’t until Jesus stepped onto and emerged upon the scene that we even encounter the demonic realm within and upon the earth.
I find it incredibly intriguing that John the Baptist seemed to find himself at odds with the political realm of that generation, and Jesus found Himself at odds with the religious and supernatural realm of that generation. Between the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and the Messiah Himself, all three arenas and realms were directly confronted with the word of the Lord and the kingdom of God. One of the most interesting realities and truths surrounding the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, is that on more than one occasion he found himself at odds with both prophet and priest alike, as well as with the monarch and rulers of the nation alike. Jeremiah who was of the priests of Anathoth was taking from among the priests, and raised up as a prophetic voice within that generation. I am convinced that we are living in similar prophetic times, as we are noticing a strong clash between the prophet and the monarch—the prophetic word and ministry of the Lord, and the rule and government of men. We are living during times of tremendous tension between the prophetic ministry and word of the Lord, and even the religious system that is present within this generation. If we are being truthful and are truly paying attention to what is taking place within our generation, we have to admit that the prophetic word and the prophetic voice of the Lord within this generation is at odds with both “priest” and “prophet” alike, as well as the rulers and leaders of the land. There seems to be an apparent disparity between the prophetic ministry in this generation, and the rule and government of men during these times. Prophetic times are oftentimes characterized by a clash between the prophet and the monarch, as the prophetic word of the Lord directly confronts the rule, the reign and the government of man upon the earth. I find it absolutely amazing that there were times when there wasn’t simply one prophetic voice that was raised up during the reigns of kings, but there was multiple prophetic voices that were raised up.
THE DAYS OF MONARCHS AND PROPHETS! If you take the time to examine this nation in which we are living, you will undoubtedly discover that this nation is and has been characterized by monarchs and prophets. It is true that we don’t call the leader of this nation a “king,” but rather “the President,” but there have been a number of times when the prophetic ministry of the Lord has found itself at odds with the government and rule of monarchs within the land. One thing we must understand is that there have been times within our nation when the monarch and the prophet have been able to function and operate in direct harmony and unity, while there have been other times when the prophet and monarch have been at direct odds with each other. There have been times when the prophet(s) within, and the prophet(s) of the land have found themselves marginalized within the land, as the monarch which was appointed to lead and govern the land was not one who followed after the Lord with their whole heart. Thank God there were Presidents within generation who followed and served the Lord, and thus found themselves being able to coexist and work in harmony with the prophet(s). There have, however, been other times when the monarch which governed this nation have followed the imaginations of their own heart, and have found themselves in a direct conflict and confrontation with the prophetic voice and ministry of the Lord. The prophet Joel called for the blowing of the trumpet and the sounding of the alarm, and I am utterly and completely convinced that we are living during similar times as that of the monarchs and the prophets. We have been living in days of monarchs and prophets, and we have been living during days and times when the prophetic ministry of the Lord has found itself confronting and indicting the political arena, the religious arena, and of course, the spiritual and supernatural arena. I am utterly and completely convinced the Lord of hosts is issuing a powerful call within this generation to blow the trumpet and to sound the alarm. The Spirit of the Lord is calling for the trumpet to be blown within the land, and for an alarm to be sounded that calls men and women to awaken themselves to the spiritual realities that are present all around them in this generation. One of the greatest alarms this nation ever experienced was sixteen years ago when two planes struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center, thus causing both to collapse. What’s more, is that another alarm would sound when then financial industry collapsed within this nation, thus creating financial chaos for millions of men and women. We have to be aware of the sound of the alarm within our nation and generation, and we have to be able to discern its sound in our midst. There is not a doubt in my mind that we are living in prophetic times—times that are incredibly similar to those of Jeremiah and Jesus.
The prophet Joel called for the blowing of the trumpet and for the sounding of the alarm in the Lord’s holy mountain—an alarm that would cause all the inhabitants of the land to tremble. The alarm that would be sounded would awaken a generation to the reality of the day of the Lord which was quickly approaching. The alarm which was sounded during the days of Joel was an alarm that warned that an enemy and adversary was lurking on the horizon. If you study the prophetic book of Jeremiah, you will notice that his prophetic ministry began with a continual and repeated warning of an enemy and adversary that was lurking just beyond the horizon. When Jeremiah began prophesying the word of the Lord, he did so by warning of a danger and threat that would emerge and converge upon the land. Jeremiah continually warned of a danger and threat that would come from the north. Consider if you will the words the prophet Joel spoke concerning the threat that would emerge upon the nation and land—“A great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.; The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountain shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble. As a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: and the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terribe; and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:2-14).
While it is true that the prophet Joel speaks of the blowing of the trumpet, and of the sounding of the alarm, it’s important to note that there is another sound that is called for during these times. If you take the time to read, study and consider the prophetic words of Joel, you will quickly discover the additional sound that is called forth within the earth. We first encounter this sign in the first chapter beginning with the thirteenth verse—“Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drikn offering is withholden from the house of your God. Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord, alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty it shall come. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?” (Joel 1:13-16). This sound is continued in the very next chapter and is found beginning with the twelfth verse—“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should ruler over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God” (Joel 2:11-17).
As surely and as certainly as there is the blowing of the trumpet, and the sounding of an alarm that is intended on warning of impending danger that lurks just beyond the horizon, there is another sound that is heard within the earth. What I so love about this passage of Scripture is that there are essentially two sounds that are being heard within the land—one sound being the sound of destruction, of terror, of devastation, of dread, and the like, while the other sound is the sound of salvation, of deliverance, of hope and of peace. I believe with everything inside of me that not everyone hears these two sounds within the land—either the sound of the alarm, or the sound of the assembly. If there is one thing we must understand, it’s that while it is true that the sound of an alarm can indeed be heard within a prophetic generation, there is a second and additional sound that can be heard side by side with this one—it is the sound of a sacred assembly and a fast. While it is true we have been and are being called to listen to and pay attention to the sound of the alarm within the land—a sound that warns of that which is to come—there is a secondary sound that must be heard in the midst of the land that calls men and women to a place of humility before the Lord. THE SOUND OF THE ALARM AND THE SOUND OF THE ASSEMBLY! There is most certainly the sound of the alarm that is being heard within this nation, as men and women are aware that we are most certainly living in turbulent times. There are a number of men and women who are aware of the sound of the alarm within this generation and within these days—even if they don’t know specifically that it is the sound of the alarm that is spoken of in Scripture. The tremdendous need we face in this generation is to recognize and understand the presence of both sounds, and to not only call men and women to listen for the sound of the alarm. There would be those among us who would only seek to call us to pay attention to the sound of the alarm, yet the Lord has always and will always call for a secondary sound to be issued side by side with that sound. We must be ready and prepared for the sound of the alarm within our generation, and we must recognize and understand what that sounds means in our days, but that is not the only the sound the Spirit of the Lord is releasing upon the earth. There is a secondary sound that we must pay careful and close attention to within this generation—a sound that I am convinced very few will actually hear, and even fewer will actually respond to.
The sound of the assembly is one that calls for men and women to turn to the Lord with all their heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. The sound of the assembly calls for men and women to turn unto the Lrod who is gracious and merciful, and who is slow to anger, of great kindness, and who repents of evil. It is this sound of the assembly that pleads with the Lord to be merciful unto a generation, and to show kindness and grace to those who so desperately need it. The sound of the assembly is a sound that calls for a sacred and solemn assembly to gather together before the Lord with fasting—they type of fasting the Lord spoke of through His servant, the prophet Isaiah. “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed to free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:5-7). I am convinced with everything that is inside of me that the Spirit of the sovereign Lord is calling for the sound of the assembly to be heard within and throughout the land, and perhaps even grow louder within the land than the sound of the alarm. With that being said, I can’t help but wonder if the sound of the alarm is actually a precursor that prepares us to hear and recognize the sound of the assembly. There are many who may very well hear the sound of the alarm, yet aren’t hearing or even paying attention to the sound of the assembly—this despite the fact that it is the sound of the alarm that prepares us to encounter, experience and hear the sound of the assembly. Oh that we would this day—not only hear the sound of the assembly, but actually rise up and respond to it within our generation.