The Flames Are Burning, The Pestilence Is Destroying & The House of the Lord Is Desolate

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Joel the son of Pethuel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the three chapters that make up this Old Testament prophetic book. When you come to the prophetic book of Joel you will find a book that is more often than not known for the apostle Peter’s use of words found in the second chapter in his sermon on the day of Pentecost. If you ask a number of men and women concerning their knowledge of this prophetic book you will encounter countless individuals who will reference the words which speak to the pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh in the Last Days, as young men will see dreams, and old mean will see visions, and how sons and daughters will prophesy. While this particular passage found within this prophetic book is indeed necessary I am convinced that it is but a fraction and part of a much larger picture that is found within this prophetic book. There would be those who would read the prophetic book of Joel solely for the words which are found in the second chapter, however, there is so much that is presented before and unto you in this passage of Scripture which the LORD revealed and spoke through His servant Joel. What makes the words of the prophet Joel so intriguing is that you are given no additional information concerning him other that he was the son of Pethuel. We know absolutely nothing of the generation in which this prophet of the most High God prophesied, for there is no reference to any kings of Israel or Judah. As the prophetic book of Joel opens it does so with a declaration of the word of the LORD which came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Immediately after this brief introduction to this prophetic book we find Joel beginning to speak that which the LORD commanded, instructed and ordained him to speak. Although it is only three chapters in length the prophetic book of Joel is a powerful warning of judgment and wrath which would come upon the house of Israel—one that ought not and dare not be ignored. You cannot read this prophetic book without encountering and coming face to face with the awesome reality that this ancient Hebrew prophet saw something coming, and was ordained by the LORD of hosts to proclaim and prophesy what he saw.

            In the second verse of the first and opening chapter we find Joel calling for the old men to hear the word he was about to speak, and for all the inhabitants of the land to give ear to what he was declaring unto them. The second half of the second verse, as well as the third verse set the entire tone and stage for what is going to be written in the rest of the book, for the prophet Joel not only prepares them for what he is about to speak, but he also prepares them for what is about to take place and happen. Consider the following words which are found in both the second and third chapter and how they set the tone and stage for the rest of the book and that which is contained therein: “Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation” (Joel 1:2-3). The prophet Joel calls the inhabitants of the land to look upon their own generation, as well as upon previous generations, and see whether or not what is being done in their generation has been done in previous generations. The second half of the second verse presents the inhabitants of the land during those days with an incredibly powerful confrontation within their hearts, within their souls, and within their minds, as they were forced to look at what was taking place in their generation, as well as that which was going to take place, and ask themselves whether or not it has been in their days, or even in the days of their fathers. In other words, that which the prophetic Joel was speaking unto the inhabitants of the land was that the LORD was doing something during their days which had not been done before—either in their generation up to that point, as well as during the days of their fathers. It is this type of language that is found elsewhere in the prophetic books as the prophets would speak of what the LORD was about to do and reference how the news about it would make the ears of all those within the land tingle. What’s more, is that when the nations round about the houses of Israel and Judah saw what the LORD was doing in the midst of His people they would respond in sheer and utter astonishment concerning that which they were witnessing and beholding.

            The prophet Joel would instruct that generation to tell their children about what was taking place in their generation, and to let their children tell their children about it, and their children to tell another generation about what had taken place and unfolded in that generation. We dare not and must not miss the awesome and incredible significance of what is found here, for the prophet Joel according to the word of the LORD is preparing that generation for something which is about to take place in their generation that had not been seen, nor had it been experienced in any of the previous generations. Joel the son of Pethuel was essentially preparing the people during those days for a great and mighty work of the LORD would be performed and completed in the midst of the land—the likes of which had not been completed or performed during their days and their generation. Immediately after this the prophet Joel goes on to speak of a certain devastation and destruction that would take place in the land—namely, the devastation of the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar. The prophet Joel would immediately transition to speaking unto the inhabitants of the land concerning that which had come upon and that which had entered into the land to bring about sheer and utter devastation and destruction. What we find in the fourth verse is actually quite intriguing and captivating when you consider it in light of one of the plagues which the LORD brought against the land of Egypt as He was executing His judgments upon the land. If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find the LORD pouring out His judgments and His plagues upon the land of Egypt, upon the inhabitants thereof, upon Pharaoh and his house, and even upon and against the gods of Egypt. I am convinced that in order to truly understand that which is found within the second chapter of the prophetic book of Joel it is necessary that we draw our attention back to what took place in the land of Egypt, for the prophet Joel seems to suggest and declare that the LORD was about to bring upon His own heritage and His own land that which He had brought upon the land of Egypt. What’s more, is the LORD wouldn’t merely bring locust within and upon the land, but the LORD would also bring the palmerworm, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar. Consider if you will the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Exodus beginning with the opening verses of the seventh chapter, as well as that specific reference which speaks to the day the locusts invaded the land of Egypt:

            “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron they brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hands upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1-7).

            “And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?” (Exodus 9:13-17).

            “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD. And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: and they shall cover the face of the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remained unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which growth for you out of the field: and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go? And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD. And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to I; for evil is before you. Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desires. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that He may take way from me this death only. And he went out from Pharaoh and intreated the LORD. And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go” (Exodus 10:1-20).

            ELSE, IF THOU REFUSE TO LET MY PEOPLE GO, BEHOLD, TO MORROW WILL I BRING THE LOCUSTS INTO THY COAST: AND THEY SHALL COVER THE FACE OF THE EARTH, THAT ONE CANNOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE EARTH: AND THEY SHALL EAT THE RESIDUE OF THAT WHICH IS ESCAPED, WHICH REMAINETH UNTO YOU FROM THE HAIL, AND SHALL EAT EVERY TREE WHICH GROWETH FOR YOU OUT OF THE FIELD: AND THEY SHALL FILL THY HOSES, AND THE HOUSES OF ALL THY SERVANTS, AND THE HOUESS OF ALL THE EGYPTIANS; WHICH NEITHER THY FATHERS, NOR THY FATHER’S FATHERS HAVE SEEN, SINCE THE DAY THAT THEY WERE UPON THE EARTH UNTO THIS DAY! STRETCH OUT THINE HAND OVER THE LAND OF EGYPT FOR THE LOCUSTS, THAT THEY MAY COME UP UPON THE LAND OF EGYPT, AND EAT EVERY HERB OF THE LAND, EVEN ALL THAT THE HAIL HATH LEFT! THE LORD BROUGHT AN EAST WIND UPON THE LAND ALL THAT DAY, AND ALL THAT NIGHT; AND WHEN IT WAS MORNING, THE EAST WIND BROUGHT THE LOCUSTS! AND THE LOCUSTS WENT UP OVER ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT, AND RESTED IN ALL THE COASTS OF EGYPT: VERY GRIEVOUS WERE THEY; BEFORE THEM THERE WERE NO SUCH LOCUSTS AS THEY, NEITHER AFTER THEM SHALL BE SUCH! FOR THEY COVERED THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH, SO THAT THE LAND WAS DARKENED; AND THEY DID EAT EVERY HERB OF THE LAND, AND ALL THE FRUIT OF THE TREES WHICH THE HAIL HAD LEFT: AND THERE REMAINED NOT ANY GREEN THING IN THE TREES, OR IN THE HERBS OF THE FIELD, THROUGH ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT!

            Pay close attention to the words which are found within the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus, for the words which we find here have some of the same language that is found in the prophetic book of Joel. What’s more, is that the language that is contained within the book of Exodus brings us face to face with the tremendous devastation and destruction the locusts had upon the land of Egypt. You cannot read the words which are found within this Old Testament book of Exodus and not encounter some very distinct realities—namely, the devastation and destruction the locusts would have wrought in the midst of upon the land, as well as the fact that the day of the locusts was a day that was completely unlike any other day the Egyptians had seen from the time of their fathers unto that day. Because of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, and because the LORD purposed and desired to bring forth His people out of the land of Egypt he would multiply His signs and His wonders upon the land of Egypt. What I find to be absolutely remarkable about the words and language that is contained in the Old Testament book of Exodus is what the LORD spoke and declared unto Pharaoh through His servant Moses, for the LORD through Moses would declare that He would now bring against and upon the land of Egypt all his plagues upon his heart, and upon his servants, and upon his people. It is in the ninth chapter where the LORD spoke and declared unto Pharaoh again that what He was about to do was bring against and upon the land of Egypt all His plagues which would unleash devastation and destruction upon the land of Egypt. These plagues and judgments would begin with the LORD causing a very sore and grievous hail to come upon the land of Egypt, and even the book of Exodus describes how there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. It was the hail which smote all throughout the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast, and it smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field. When you come to the tenth chapter of this same book—not only will you find Pharaoh’s servants declaring unto him that Egypt was destroyed, but you will also find Scripture recording how that which the was left after the hail wrought destruction and devastation upon the land of Egypt was destroyed and consumed by the locusts. In other words, both the locusts and the hail were intrinsically linked to each other—and not only were they linked to each other, but so also do we find that both were such as which had not been seen in the land of Egypt from the time of their fathers unto that generation.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced it is necessary for us to read those words which are found in the Old Testament book of Exodus, for within the tenth chapter of that book we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of the great devastation that was wrought upon the land of Egypt when the LORD brought the locusts upon the land. THE DAY OF THE LOCUSTS! Moses writes and records how the LORD caused a strong wind to blow upon the land all day and all night, and on the very next the locusts arrived in the land and emerged within and throughout it. So great and so grievous were the locusts that their presence darkened the land. Not only did the locusts darken the land, but they ate and consumed everything which had been left over from the hail which came upon and consumed the land. Whatever was not destroyed by the hail which the LORD rained upon the land of Egypt was destroyed by the locusts when the LORD brought them like a mighty army upon the land of Egypt to unleash a great devastation and destruction upon the land. It’s important for us to recognize and understand that which took place within the land of Egypt during the days of Egypt—not only to catch a glimpse of the sheer and utter devastation and destruction that came upon the land, but also to understand the language that what the LORD had done and what the LORD was doing had not been done in previous generations. The day the locusts arrived in the land of Egypt, and the day the locusts covered the face of the whole land would be a day unlike any other day the inhabitants of the land of Egypt had ever seen, and not even their fathers, nor their fathers’ fathers had witnessed and beheld such a sight in the midst of the land. I would dare say that we cannot truly understand that which the prophet Joel prophesied in the prophetic book which bears his name without coming face to face with the great devastation and destruction the day of the locusts brought upon the coasts of Egypt and throughout that entire land. When the locusts arrived in the coasts of Egypt they would absolutely and utterly devour and consume everything within the land—the fruit of the tree, the green of the vegetation, and the herb of the field. The day the locusts were brought into and upon the land of Egypt was a day that was unlike any other day, for it would be a day the LORD would completely and utterly devastate the land of Egypt by consuming all its vegetation, all its herbs, all the crops of the field, and its trees which were spread out throughout the land.

            As you come to the prophetic book of Joel you will find this ancient Hebrew prophet declaring unto the inhabitants of Israel and Judah that there was something coming—something which was unlike anything they had ever seen or experienced before. In the opening verses of this prophetic book we find the prophet Joel declaring unto the people that there was something on the horizon which they had not experienced at any time in their generation, nor in the generations of their fathers, nor in the generations of their fathers’ fathers. The LORD was going to bring something entirely new within and upon the land, and the prophet Joel goes on to being describing what was about to take place. In the fourth verse the prophet Joel describes how that which the palmerworm had left the locust have eaten, and that which the locust had left the cankerworm had eaten, and finally, that which the cankerworm had left the caterpillar would eat. There is not a doubt in my mind that such a declaration would have elicited a tremendous response from the inhabitants of the land, as the inhabitants would have thought back to the land of Egypt and how the LORD completely and utterly devastated and destroyed the land of Egypt by bringing the locusts upon the land. What’s more, is that the LORD didn’t merely bring locusts upon the land, but it was essentially a “day of the locusts” as they would enter into and invade the land like a mighty army, would completely darken the sky, would fill the field and house like, and would eat and consume all that had been left from the devastation of the hail. I can’t help but wonder how many of the inhabitants of Israel and Judah remembered the stories and narratives that were told them concerning the great wonders the LORD had performed in the land of Egypt, and how the LORD had caused a great day of locusts to devastate and destroy the land as a sign of judgment against Pharaoh, against the hardness of his heart, and against his refusal to let the people of God go. I can’t help but wonder if the inhabitants of the land of Israel and Judah thought back to the time of their ancestors concerning the locusts which the LORD had brought upon the land, and how the locusts was a sign of judgment and wrath upon a nation, upon a people and upon a land.

            As you continue reading the words which are found within the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book you will find the prophet Joel calling for the awakening of the drunkards to weeping, and the howling of all the drinkers of wine because the new wine was cut off from their mouth. Immediately following this the prophet Joel would declare unto the inhabitants of the land that a nation had come up upon their land, strong and without  number, and whose teeth were like that of a lion, and which had the cheek teeth of a great lion. The prophet Joel would go on to describe how this nation would lay waste His vine, would bark his fig tree, and would make them clean bare and cast them away. Pause for a moment and think about that which the prophet Joel is describing and declaring unto the inhabitants of the land, for with these words the prophet Joel was not only describing a day of waste, devastation and destruction, but the prophet was also declaring and speaking of a great day of an enemy and nation which would come up upon the land—a nation which was strong and without number. AN ARMY IS COMING! AN INVASION IS COMING! PREPARE YOURSELVES FOR INVASION! Immediately after the prophet Joel would speak of the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerwork and the caterpillar he would then go on to declare unto them that there would be a nation that would come up upon the land and would invade the entire land. This nation would be strong and without number, and would unleash a reign of havoc and terror in the midst of the land. With this being said, however, the prophet Joel doesn’t immediately describe the devastation this nation would unleash, but instead invites the inhabitants of the land to continue their weeping, their mourning, their lamenting, their sorrow and their anguish. In the eighth and ninth verses of the first and opening chapter you will find the prophet Joel speaking and declaring unto the inhabitants of the land, saying, “Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’s ministers mourn” (Joel 1:8-9). Such words continue a theme that might very well be considered the most prevalent and dominant theme within the entire book of Joel—namely, that of an invitation given unto the people to weep, to mourn, to howl, to lament, and to cry before and unto the LORD their God. It would be in the fifth verse the prophet would call them to weep and howl, while in the eighth verse the prophet would call them to lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth.

            In verses ten through twelve we find the prophet Joel beginning to describe the great and terrible devastation that would come upon the land as a direct result of the nation that would come upon the land, as well as the armies of the cankerworm, the locust, the palmerworm, and the caterpillar. It might very well be said that the inhabitants of the land faced a threat on two distinct fronts—namely, a strong nation that would come up upon and invade the land, and a natural predator and foe that would also come up upon the land. If you read verses ten through twelve you will find the prophet Joel transitioning the inhabitants of the land to tremendous picture of the condition of the land during their generation. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome truth, for not only was the prophet Joel speaking of what would come in the midst of the land, but the prophet Joel was also speaking of what already was within the land. There would be a threat that would come against and upon the land, however, the inhabitants of the land could not ignore that which was already taking place in the midst of the land—something which Joel would begin describing in the eighth and ninth verses. As you read the words which are written in verses ten through twelve you will find the prophet Joel inviting the inhabitants of the land to take a look at the condition of their nation, as well as the condition of their land, and to truly understand what was taking place among them in their midst. As certainly as there would be a danger and threat that would come upon and enter the land, the inhabitants of the land could not ignore that which had already taken place in the midst of the land. It’s true the natural force of the cankerworm, palmerworm, locust and caterpillar would unleash devastation and destruction upon the land, and it was true that a strong and mighty nation would come up upon the land as well, however, the inhabitants of the land could not at all ignore the condition the nation was already in. With that being said, consider if you will the following words which are found within the tenth, eleventh and twelfth verses:

            “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; For the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men” (Joel 1:10-12).

            LOOK AT THE CONDITION THE NATION IS ALREADY IN! LOOK AT THE STATE THE COUNTRY IS IN RIGHT NOW! LOOK AT WHAT IS AND HAS BEEN RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! Oh, I can’t help but read the words which are found in the prophetic book of Joel and not only see a warning of a nation, an enemy and adversary that would come upon the land, but also see a powerful invitation to examine the condition and state of the nation. That which is found in the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book doesn’t merely speak of that which was to come, but it also spoke of that which already was. Notice if you will the words the prophet Joel used in this passage of Scripture—namely, that the field was wasted, the land mourned, the corn was wasted, the new wine is dried up, and the oil languished. What’s more, the prophet goes on to describe how the harvest of the field has perished, how the vine was dried up, and the fig tree languished. Additionally, the prophet would go on to reveal how the pomegranate tree, the palm tree, the apple tree, and all the trees of the field were withered. WASTED! DRIED UP! PERISHED! DRIED UP! LANGUISHED! WITHERED! WITHERED AWAY! What I find to be so absolutely astonishing and remarkable concerning the words of this first chapter is the invitation the prophet gives unto the inhabitants of the land to weep, to mourn, and to lament over the condition of the nation and the land. The prophet invited the people of the land to take a good, long and hard look at the nation and to see the devastation and destruction that had already taken place in the midst of the land. In fact, you almost get the sense that even before the LORD would bring a foreign nation and an enemy and adversary from outside the borders of the land, He would bring about desolation and devastation from within. In all reality, I would dare say that the LORD would cause the harvest, the fruit of the vine, and that which was produced within the land to wither away, to dry up, and to perish as a sign and portent of judgment and wrath which would come upon the land. It’s almost as if everything that had been wasted, everything that had been dried up, everything that had perished, everything that had withered and withered away was a warning and wake up call to the inhabitants of the land that if they didn’t amend their ways and turn their hearts unto the living God something greater and more dangerous would enter into and invade the land.

            AN INVITATION TO MOURN OVER WHAT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED! AN INVITATION TO WEEP OVER THAT WHICH ALREADY IS! I cannot escape the awesome and powerful reality that when you read the prophetic book of Joel you will find the prophet warning of that which ws to come within and upon the land, however, he also sought to invite the inhabitants of the land into a place where they would recognize and understand what had already taken place in the midst of the land. It would be very easy to get caught up in that which was going to come upon the nation in the coming days and completely lose sight of that which has already happened, and that which was taking place in the midst of the land. I read the words found in this opening chapter and I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that the prophet Joel not only sought to warn of impending judgment and wrath, but the prophet also sought to invite the people of Israel to look at the condition of the nation and land, to look at what has already taken place in the midst of the land. Upon reading verses thirteen through eighteen of the opening chapter of this book you will find the prophet issuing the first invitation to not only weep, but also to gird themselves with sackcloth, to sanctify a fast, to call a solemn assembly, and to cry out before and unto the living God. In essence, this weeping, this mourning, this lamenting which the prophet Joel invited the inhabitants of the land to give themselves to was not only pertaining to that which was to come in the days ahead, but also to weep over what has already taken place in the midst of the land. The inhabitants of the land had already witnessed and experienced tremendous warning signs from the LORD that something was seriously and drastically wrong, and they needed to carefully examine themselves before the LORD that they might turn themselves unto Him with their hearts and their souls. The prophet Joel would in fact speak unto the inhabitants of the land and declare unto them that something was terribly wrong in the midst of their nation and in the midst of the land, and they needed to address that which had plagued and crippled the land already within their generation. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from 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 drink 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 shall it come. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. How do the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate” (Joel 1:13-18).

            I feel the great need to emphasize the tremendous invitation the prophet Joel gave to the inhabitants of the land during this generation, for through and according to the word of the LORD the prophet was calling them to look at everything that had been wasted, everything that had been desolate, everything that had withered away, and everything that had been dried up and cut off—even from the house of the LORD—and to weep, to mourn, and to lament over it all. ARE YOU WILLING TO WEEP OVER WHAT YOU SEE? ARE YOU WILLING TO WEEP OVER WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU? ARE YOU WILLING TO MOURN OVER THE DEVASTATION AND DESTRUCTION THAT HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE IN THE MIDST OF THE NATION AND LAND? As I sit here this morning thinking about this tremendous call to weep, to mourn, to lament, to sanctify a fast, and to call a solemn assembly, I can’t help but get the strong sense that we within this generation are being called and invited into a place where we take a good, long and hard look at the condition of our nation and the land, and to witness and behold the devastation and destruction that has already taken place in the midst of it. I firmly believe the word of the LORD being released unto this generation is a powerful invitation for men and women within this generation to weep and mourn over the devastation and destruction that has already taken place within the borders of our nation and land—the devastation and destruction that took place nineteen years ago when terrorists struck the both towers of the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon; the economic collapse that took place just seven years later after the events of September 11th occurred, all the devastation that took place from the various hurricanes which stuck the shores of our nation, and even the events which are currently unfolding in this generation. If you take a good look at the year in which we are living in you will find that this year has essentially been the year of the pandemic, the protests, and the pyro (wild fires) which has spread up, down, throughout and upon the West Coast. PANDEMIC, PROTESTS AND PYRO! You cannot be alive during this hour and within this generation and not see very clearly—perhaps even very painfully—the tremendous alarms and warnings that are going off as this nation is languishing and reeling in the midst of the earth. Undoubtedly the pandemic that has been in the land through much of the year, the wild fires that are burning throughout California and the West Coast, the hurricanes that are striking the southeastern seaboard, and even the drought and famine which has taken place in certain parts of the country are clear warning signs in the midst of this generation that something is and something has been seriously and drastically wrong.

            I believe that what we find within the prophetic book of Joel is a powerful statement and declaration from heaven that there was something seriously and drastically wrong in the midst of the land, and that the inhabitants of the land needed to look at everything that had taken place in the days leading up to this moment in which they found themselves. What I also find incredibly unique and intriguing about the words presented before us in this opening chapter is the direct reference to the house of the LORD and that which had been cut off from the house of the LORD. If you read the ninth verse of the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find the prophet Joel declaring how the meat offering and the drink offering had been cut off from the house of the LORD, and how the priests and the LORD’s ministers mourned because of that which had been cut off from it. As you come to the thirteenth verse of the same chapter you will find the prophet Joel again referencing the house of God and how the meat offering and the drink offering was withheld from the house of their God. Please do not miss what is being said here—particularly and especially because I am convinced it has a direct application to the days and generation in which we are presently living. You will recall that when the pandemic hit and state governors and leaders began limiting the number of individuals who could gather together in a single place—countless venues, business and companies, which would also include churches would be shut down and closed. Please don’t miss the awesome importance of this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that one of the greatest signs of judgment and wrath of the living God being upon a nation is that which is cut off from the house of the LORD. What’s more, is that I am completely convinced that one of the greatest signs of a nation under the judgment and wrath of the LORD is the shutting of the house of the LORD and that which is cut off from the midst of it. For months the churches within and throughout our land were forced to shut down and remain closed until state and local governments and officials would issue a new decree that they were permitted to reopen—albeit at a limited capacity. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest events we witnessed during these days and this generation was not only the cutting off of the house of the LORD, but even the offerings being cut off from the house of the LORD as men and women were no longer able to enter into churches within and throughout this nation and country.

            The prophet Joel saw a day and generation where both the field and the house of God were directly impacted as a result of the iniquity and transgression of the land, and what we have witnessed during this pandemic is not only houses of worship being shut down and their offerings being cut off for a period of time, but we also find the field being directly impacted and affected. There were countless reports of farms and fields being impacted by the pandemic that spread within and throughout this nation, and a great concern began arising for production within the land. There was a great concern surrounding grocery stores and supermarkets in this nation and country as many were wondering if there would be enough product to stock the shelves for millions of Americans to buy food for their homes and families. I remember the tremendously long lines outside grocery stores as men and women would line up to enter into the grocery store to purchase food to put in their cabinets and in their refrigerators. There is not a doubt in my mind that if there is one thing this year revealed unto us it’s that we are a nation that is living in the midst of and under the judgment of the living God as we have witnessed both the field with its harvest, the vine with its fruit, and the house of the LORD being directly impacted and affected. The prophet Joel called the inhabitants of the land to weep, to mourn, to lament, and to be broken over the devastation and destruction that was present in the midst of the land, as from the field to the house of the LORD devastation and destruction were present in the midst of the land. You cannot read the words which are found in this opening chapter and not encounter this awesome truth, for it is this truth which has direct implications for our generation and this nation today. We can clearly see that as a direct result of both the pandemic and the wild fires that are burning across the West Coast—both the fields and the house of the LORD have been impacted and affected. What began as a direct result of the pandemic as it shut down the houses of worship and threatened fields would not transition to the West Coast and Gulf Coast being assaulted in two different ways. It would be on the West Coast that wild fires would burn across the land, and it would be on the Gulf Coast that hurricanes would unleash a torrent of wind and rain upon the land.

            A NATION THAT IS REELING! A NATION THAT IS SHAKING! I am convinced that if you could see in the spirit during the days of Joel you would see the nation of Israel not only reeling, but also shaking. If you were given eyes to see in the supernatural realm you would see the houses of Israel and Judah shaking and trembling before a holy God and under the weight of His judgment and wrath. Much like Horeb shook and trembled in the wilderness under the enormity of the weight of the glory of the living God upon it, so also would the houses of Israel and Judah shake. We know that the prophet Amos would prophesy two years before the great earthquake would hit, thus indicating that there would in fact be a physical shaking of the earth. Even more than a physical shaking of the earth I would dare say that the houses of Israel and Judah would be shaking and reeling under the tremendous weight of the judgment and wrath of the living God. What’s more, is that I firmly believe that if we were given eyes to see in the spiritual and supernatural realm we would see this nation shaking and reeling under the same judgment and wrath of the living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that there has been a great shaking, and there is still a great shaking taking place within this nation and upon the land as the people and nation have been reeling from the events which have taken place during this year. We can absolutely make no mistake about it that this year has indeed been like any other year, and has perhaps been a year unlike any other generation has seen. Although we aren’t able to speak to those who have died before us and gone the way of the earth, I would dare say that if we were to ask them concerning these days they would indeed say that such events had not occurred during their lifetime and in their generation. With this being said, I firmly believe that the living and holy God is indeed doing something in this generation that hasn’t been seen, felt, or experienced in generations past, and we are living in absolutely extraordinary times. Any one who has paid attention to the events which are unfolding during this year can indeed and can in fact say that we are living in unprecedented times—times of which we haven’t seen before. What’s more, is that it’s almost as though all these shakings, all these warnings, all these alarms are converging one upon another, and are causing the entire nation to reel and to shake.

            If you turn and direct your attention to the final two verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find words which I am absolutely and completely convinced directly apply to this generation, and to the days in which we are living. In these two verses you will find the prophet Joel speaking of a great devastation and destruction that was taking place in the pastures and in the fields, and which were consuming everything in their path. Within these two verses we find the prophet Joel speaking of fires which were burning in the midst of the land, and which had not only affected the pastures of the wilderness, but also the trees of the field, and even the rivers of water. Consider if you will the following words which were spoken and prophesied by Joel the son of Pethuel concerning that which had taken place, and that which was taking place within that generation: “O LORD, to thee will I cry: For the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: For the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness” (Joel 1:19-20). THE FIRE AND THE FLAME! You cannot read these words and not come face to face with the awesome truth that they have direct implications and applications for the generation in which we are living as the fire and the flame are certainly devouring the land. Although the fires are being contained to one specific part of the nation and country—namely, the West Coast—we nonetheless can clearly see that the fire has devoured, and the flames have burned. What’s more, is that there are and there have been multiples fires which have burned—and are still burning—up and down throughout the West Coast as houses, fields, trees, vineyards, businesses, and the like are all in danger from the flames. Although there haven’t been any reports of flooding on the Gulf Coast—at least not like what we have seen in the past with hurricanes such as Katrina—we can basically say that this nation is being directly impacted by both the fire and the flood. What’s more, is that I firmly believe that the living and eternal God is warning this generation with the fire and the flood that it might turn from its evil and wicked ways, and might once more return to the LORD.

            After writing about the fires and flames that were burning in the midst of the pastures and within the field, after writing about the meat and drink offerings being cut off from the house of the LORD, and after warning of impending judgment and wrath of the LORD the prophet Joel would then go on to call the inhabitants of the land to blow the trumpet and to sound an alarm in Zion and in the holy mountain of the LORD. Moreover, Joel would also call for all the inhabitants of the land to tremble, for the day of the LORD was coming and it was nigh at hand. It’s something worth noting that when reading the words of the prophet Joel in the second chapter you will find the call to blow the trumpet and sound an alarm—not necessarily because of what had already taken place within the land, but because of what is about to come upon and strike the land. We cannot and must not miss the truth that is contained within these words of Joel, for they bring us face to face with something I believe the living and eternal God is speaking and declaring unto us during these days and within this generation. I firmly believe that within this generation the same prophetic call to blow a trumpet and to sound an alarm is being issued among the inhabitants of the land, and the LORD is calling upon all His watchmen to stand upon the wall and to set the trumpet to their mouth and blow with all their might, thus indicating that danger and trouble was on the horizon. The prophet Joel called for a trumpet to be blown and an alarm to be sounded in the midst of the land because he saw and heard something coming—something that completely and utterly devastate and destroy the land. The prophet Joel saw a great and terrible day of the LORD—a day filled with judgment, wrath and indignation, as the LORD would call and invite His people to return unto Him and to repent of their evil and wicked ways. With that being said, I invite you to consider the words which are found in the first two verses of the second chapter:

            “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: For the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: 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” (Joel 2:1-2).

            The prophet Joel was instructed of the LORD to blow a trumpet in Zion, and to sound an alarm in His holy mountain that he might cause all the inhabitants of the land to tremble. The reason and underlying purpose for this warning and alarm was because the day of the LORD was fast approaching and coming upon the nation and the land—a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness. What’s more, is Joel also so an enemy and adversary that was great and strong—such as which had never been until that time—coming up upon and entering into the land. If you continue reading in the second chapter you will find Joel the son of Pethuel going on to describe this great and strong army that would enter into and invade the land of Israel, as he would do more than just reveal an enemy was coming, but would also reveal the nature of this enemy and adversary. If you begin reading with and from the third verse of the second chapter of this prophetic book you will find a tremendous and terrifying description of this nation and people which would come up upon the land. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to read these words and to consider how the LORD not only warned of an invading army that would come upon the land, but would actually go on to describe the nature of that army, and the advance of that army. Please don’t miss what is being presented within this portion of Scripture, for I am absolutely convinced that the words found in the prophetic book of Joel are a powerful warning for our generation—not only concerning what is and what has already been, but what is yet to come in the days ahead. Take all the evil we have seen in recent years and add up all the devastation and destruction that has taken place in the midst of this nation, and I would venture to say that it might very well pale in comparison to that which the LORD can and will bring upon this land in the coming days. I firmly believe there is a powerful warning that is being released within and given unto this generation as this nation is not only reeling and shaking from the weight and pressure of what is taking place right now, but is also on the verge of something much greater, something much stronger, and something more powerful coming upon it. With that in mind, please consider the following words which are found in this second chapter of the book of Joel beginning with the third verse:

            “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 mountains 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 LOD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it” (Joel 2:3-11).

            In light of the army that was approaching, and in light of the day of the LORD which would come upon the land, the underlying question that must be asked when reading these words is how should we respond. Knowing that fires are already burning, knowing that the offerings have been cut off from the house of the LORD, knowing that the day of the LORD is quickly approaching—what should we do in light of this great and terrible warning? As you continue reading the words written and recorded in this book you will find the prophet Joel not only giving a warning unto the inhabitants of the land concerning what was on the horizon, but he also issued a very sobering and powerful invitation in the hearing of the people. What is truly inspiring about the prophetic book of Joel is that in spite of the great and terrible nation that was going to come up upon the land the LORD would call and invite His people into a place of repentance and turning their hearts unto Him. Although the LORD would indeed bring a great and terrible enemy upon the land, He would offer the inhabitants of the land room to repent and to turn their hearts before and unto Him. What’s more, is that the LORD would also proclaim and declare unto His people His response to the turning of their hearts toward and before Him. Before I even get into the words which are found within the second chapter of this prophetic book I feel I must first draw and call our attention to the words which the LORD spoke unto Solomon in response to his prayer of dedication for the Temple of the LORD. In the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles you will find a powerful declaration of the LORD that has widely and largely been used at the very heart and foundation of any call to repentance, and any call to national revival and renewal. In fact, I would dare say that you cannot talk about any type of repentance, revival and renewal without these words which the LORD spoke, and the words which He spoke must be understood when reading these words found in the prophetic book of Joel. In fact, I would dare argue that they are intrinsically inextricably linked together and must be read in tandem one with another. In the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles we find the following words which were spoken by the LORD unto Solomon king of Israel: “Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected. And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, OR IF I COMMAND THE LOCUSTS TO DEVOUR THE LAND, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:11-15).

            Notice within this passage that the LORD speaks of drought, pestilence, as well as locusts, and it was locusts which the prophet Joel spoke of as being that which would come into and upon the land of Israel and Judah. When speaking unto Solomon in a dream by night the LORD declared unto him that if he brought pestilence upon the land, or if he brought locusts to devour the land, or if he shut up the heavens and there was no rain—if His people which were called by His name humbled themselves and prayed, and sought His face, and turned from His wicked ways, then would He hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. HUMILITY! PRAYER! SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD! TURNING FROM WICKED WAYS! HEARING FROM HEAVEN! FORGIVENESS OF SINS! HEALING OF THE LAND! It should be worth  noting that the LORD’s response to His people humbling themselves before Him, seeking His face, praying and turning from their wicked ways would be hearing from heaven, however, forgiveness of sin would always precede the healing of the land. The LORD did in fact promise to heal the land, however, what is most important above and beyond that healing is the forgiveness of sin. This principle is seen time and time again within the gospel narratives of our Lord Jesus Christ, as He would directly link forgiveness of sin to the healing of one’s physical body. What’s more, is that there were occasions where Jesus would address this heart and spiritual issue first before even addressing the physical need. There were times when Jesus would speak and declare forgiveness of sin, and then He would release healing upon the physical body. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for we dare not allow ourselves to get caught up in the healing of the land above and before forgiveness of sin. We must not confuse the healing of our land and of our nation as being greater than forgiveness of sins, for at the very heart of restoration is that of forgiveness of sins. This is precisely what we find in the Old Testament prophetic book of Joel, for after Joel prophesied and spoke of the LORD sending a great army within and upon the land he would then issue a strong and powerful invitation for the people. It is with this in mind I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of this prophetic book:

            “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 greats: 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 rule over them: Wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the LORD be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: but I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things” (Joel 2:15-20).

            With these words we find the prophet Joel inviting the house of Israel and Judah to enter into a powerful place of repentance before the LORD—a place where they turn their hearts before and unto the Lord their God. Moreover, the prophet Joel would invite them to rend their hearts and not their garments, and turn unto the LORD with all their heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. Additionally, the prophet Joel would invite the people to blow the trumpet in Zion—this time, however, it would be a different trumpet, for it would be a trumpet calling the people to humble themselves in prayer before the LORD their God—to sanctify a fast, to call a solemn assembly (which was already mentioned in the first chapter), and to gather the people, and sanctify the congregation while assembling the elders. The prophet Joel called the priests, the ministers of the LORD to weep between the porch and the altar, and to let them cry aloud with their voices, and say before the LORD, “Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not your heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them.” That which the prophet Joel was doing was inviting the people of the land—in light of, and in spite of the enemy and adversary that was marching into and upon the land—to turn unto the LORD once more with all their hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. The prophet Joel called and invited the people to rend their hearts and not their garments, and for the priests to weep between the porch and the altar. What a truly powerful invitation is given in this second chapter—directly on the heels of the declaration that an enemy was going to come up into and upon the land and unleash devastation and destruction. The offerings were cut off from the house of the LORD, fires and flames were burning and devouring through the land, and the prophet Joel was now warning of an invading force that would march up into the land and unleash devastation and destruction before and behind them. In fact, Joel describes the land before them as the garden of Eden, but behind them is nothing but a barren waste filled with devastation and destruction. It would be in light of that foreign enemy and foe on the horizon Joel would invite the people to turn their hearts back to the LORD, to rend their hearts and not their garments, and to even fast and pray before the LORD.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely astounding to read the words which continue to be found in the second chapter of this prophetic book, as the words we find in the latter half of the book not only contain the promise which the apostle Peter referenced on the Day of Pentecost as that which was spoken by Joel, but we also find a powerful declaration of the LORD healing the land, and once more bestowing His blessing upon the land and people. What we must realize and recognize, however, is that the promise of healing for the land which is found in the latter half of the second chapter is directly linked and intrinsically connected to the turning of their hearts to the LORD through fasting, through weeping and through prayer. We must recognize and understand this truth, for it has the ability to truly help us understand what the LORD promised His people if they would turn their hearts unto Him in prayer, in repentance, in fasting, in weeping and in mourning. What we must understand and recognize when reading the words found in the latter portion of the second chapter is that the promises which were spoken unto the inhabitants of the land were promises that were directly linked and connected to their willingness to turn their hearts to the LORD through repentance, and their truly seeking the face of the LORD through prayer and humility. It is with this before you I now leave you with the incredible and tremendous promise that is found in the second half of the second chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the twenty-first verse:

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: For the LORD will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beast of the field: For the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: For he hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locus hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army, which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call” (Joel 2:24-32).

One thought on “The Flames Are Burning, The Pestilence Is Destroying & The House of the Lord Is Desolate

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