The Lord’s Army? Or Hell’s Army?
MattS AMTM November 2018 Part 16 (heresy and false teachings)
I want to say from the outset that “Joel’s Army” and the “Bride of Christ” are two completely separate ideas. I have found that there may be some who will confuse these two things as being the same. They are not! as the “Bride of Christ” is scriptural and well supported, Joel’s Army as a Christian “End of the Age” army is not.
There is an interesting passage of scripture that I have just read in 2 Chronicles 16:7-14. This passage recounts something of the reign of King Asa of Judah. Hanani the seer (prophet) pointed out to King Asa, that he (Asa) had relied on a man (King Ben-Hadad) of Aram, to help him fight against King Baasha of Israel. Hanani pointed out to Asa that he had not relied on God in this instance, he also showed Asa a time when he had relied on God, and fought a great victory against a huge invading 1 million man army. Asa was greatly annoyed that Hanani had the audacity to call his (Asa’s) behaviour foolish. So Asa threw Hanani in prison and oppressed some of the people.
There is an amazing verse in this passage, the first part of verse 9in this passage. It says this;
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
King Asa pleased God for mostof his 41 yr reign but even in his last years Asa got some nasty disease of his feet and instead of bringing this to God first, he took it to his physicians. He failed to rely on God first in things that he should have been taking straight to God and instead relied on men and the things of man first.
Matt!! Is there a point to this? ……….. Yes there is!
In my reading on the folks that are talking up “Joel’s Army”, I hear much about what men and women will do (and what they are doing) and little about where God is in all this. I hear a smattering of religious phrases and scriptures that seem to justify this thinking, but I hear and see the driven behaviour of men overriding anything scriptural.
Like King Asa, all I see (from my perspective) are men doing fleshly things, fulfilling fleshly desires. Anyone who criticizes (questions, or points out error) these folk get, “touch not my anointed” thrown at them. So what makes these folks so “special” and anointed? Is there some sort of special anointing for them? According to scripture, we are all anointed according to 2 Corinthians 1:20-22, 1 John 2:20and 1 John 2:27. I believe it is just a defensive smokescreen to put others off being critical of “shonky spiritual interpretation”, in saying “touch not my anointed”.
One NAR leader (Francis Chan) recently warned, Those who criticize Christian leaders: “God will destroy you”I’m in trouble then according to Francis, as he names the leaders that should not be criticized; those being Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll and John Piper. Francis clearly has not read Paul’s warning on Alexander the Coppersmith in 2 Timothy 4:14-15.
Or you may find NAR folk “going on the offense” as in this article, which, (in the first paragraph is liberally laced with lots of New Apostolic Reformation language) sets the tone by suggesting that there is warfare going on against these NAR folk, and I assume it is NAR folk by the use of the language in the first paragraph such as;
“Since we entered the year of 5778, there’s been intensified warfare going on in the spiritual realmconcerning those who are advancing the kingdom of God. I felt heavy turbulence against fivefold ministryleaders, entrepreneursand Spirit-filled Christian believers. In addition, I sensed an attack against modern-day apostles and prophetswho are plowing in present truth to bring societal reformation,gloryrevivaland global awakening.” [Emphasis Added]
As Christians we have every scriptural right to examine and test the teachings of those that profess to be “Speaking for God”. Paul praised the Bereans Acts 17:10-12for checking out the validity of his teachings against scripture. When you understand that the devil will and is doing everything to create chaos and make misery and confusion for Christians, then you will understand why we need to examine all things carefully. Paul asks the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:20to examine all things. I believe these things have NOTchanged in any way for us (it may be more important being the time of great deception) and that we need to continue to examine all things carefully. I have included the whole chapter in the hyperlink, as it is such a amazing chapter of warning and encouragement for us today.
So, what does this have to do with “Joel’s Army”?
I’m hoping I’ve set the scene a little for some of the issues I believe will arise out of this erroneous teaching.
What is “Joel’s Army”?
Joel’s Army, the name, seems to be derived from the book of Joel in the Old Testament. Specifically Joel 2where there is a description of an army that God has specifically used to create destruction. We shall discuss this later in the article.
The idea that there is an army of believers arising to take the world for Jesus in order to “make it safe for His return” is not particularly new. William Branham, a Charismatic/Pentecostal “Latter Rains” preacher of the 1940’s – 60’s taught that Christians are the sons of God and that Christians have taken on the divinity of God or that they “manifest” God. This was in his sermon “The Mighty God Unveiled Before Us, part 20-1” He also preached other sermons on similar topics (Branham’s actual transcribed sermon on the sons of God).
For you keen researchers, you may want to check out the “connections” that link Kenneth E Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, William Branham, EW Kenyon. Phineas Quimbyand Mary Baker Eddy. This is both fascinating and disturbing.
This thinking has been greatly extended by NAR folks such Rick Joyner and John Crowder, (more on these NAR folks in a minute) or just downright continued as per this 3 minute videoof Todd Bentley and Bob Jones (now deceased) discussing the “New Breed” and espousing William Branham’s “manifested sons of God” false teaching.
In Rick Joyner’s book “The Harvest II” page 157, he states;
The Army Of The Lord
“As the spirit of antichrist is rising with its greatest determination to take dominion over the nations, the “nation within the nations” will also have its own army, which will be equally aggressive. World conquest will be her goal. She will never flee from battles, but will seek them with great zeal. This is the hour when the church will arise as never before to aggressively attack every stronghold of the enemy. A divine militancy is coming upon the church that will strike gripping fear into the heart of every power of darkness. This is the time when the church will come into the greatest discipline and authority she has ever known.”
John Crowder and Brandon Barthrop, (who definitely sit on the lunatic fringe of NAR) espouse the idea of Joel’s army in a more radical way as evidenced by John Crowder’s writing this article “When Will Joel’s Army Emerge? Part 1” and Brandon Barthrop just wears it on his “drunk in the spirit” sleeve. Here is a video of Brandon explaining Joel’s Army(beware, it is 21 minutes long) and way more than I can stand of this particular gent or his eyes (is he related to Kenneth Copeland?)!
The NAR folk will generally not refer to Joel’s army, but will refer to an army that is rising up, a “new breed”, an army of holy and perfected Christians invading the world. You may be familiar with my articles on Dominionism,7 Mountainsand (Kingdom Now), Heaven on Earth. These ideas are intertwined with and very much tied in with the Joel’s Army false teachings. Joel’s army may also be referred to as The Manifested Son’s of God, The New Breed, The Man-child company, and other such names as the “Joseph Company”, the “Phineas Priesthood“, and the “Elijah Company”. Many of the ideas associated with Joel’s army appear to vary in how this army would manifest itself. Some of the proponents say that it will be a strong but peaceful army that relentlessly conquers the world with love, giving the devil a kick in the pants on the way through, to those that would see an aggressive militaristic approach to world domination by “God’s chosen”.
Sometimes I have seen Joel’s Army confused with the 144,000 of Revelation as in this article. The 144,000 of Revelation 7:4-8& Revelation 14:1-5are from the tribes of Israel and are clearly Jewish.
Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj(another NAR prophet) has more specific teaching on this last days army of God and gets very specific about its characteristics in this video(20 mins) and a much lengthier video here(1hr 50mins) However he fails to recognisethat Joel 2 refers almost exclusively to the Jewish people.
This is very important to remember when you are reading scripture, or reading material such as this article to see if an “Exegesis” or “Eisegesis” is used in interpretation of scripture. Exegesis means to tease out the true meaning of Biblical text. Eisegesis means to put your own spin or interpretation on scripture, and I have found that way too many of the NAR folk use eisegesis and then cite “thus saith the Lord”, as if God actually told them the revelation. Here is anarticlewhich explains the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.
In regard to my own articles, I will generally tell you if I am speculating/proffering my own opinion, or using eisegesis on something from scripture that I don’t have a clear understanding of, so you are NOTto treat my speculation or eisegesis as absolute truth. In the use of scripture in articles, I will always look for an “exegetical” interpretation as much as possible.
What I suspect is that many folk espousing Joel’s Army ideas are Post MillennialPreterists(that was a mouthful), maybe even amillennialistsThey believe that the accounts of the book of Revelation have occurred in the first century, that we are now in the Millennial period and that Jesus will return at the end of the Millennium or that the book of Revelation is in some way irrelevant and their “New Revelations” take precedence. Or that “The Rapture” has either occurred, or will not occur. Some perhaps just throw out the whole book of Revelation for their own “revelations”. Or maybe the events described in Revelation and associated end times scriptures are just fanciful notions. This articlefrom the “7 Mountains NAR folk” speaks to some of these aforementioned ideas.
The scriptures mostly used by the Joel’s army advocates are Joel 2and Romans 8:19.
InJoel 2:2-11, the Joel’s Army folk would, (if taken literally) liken themselves to what appears to be a demonic army of locusts that bears resemblance to the demonic armies coming out of the pit in Revelation 9:1-11. They forget that this demonic army is commanded by the Lord to destruction in the sea, after He has finished with it Joel 2:20. This army is also clearly evil and destructive. The Joel’s Army folk also lay claim to the classic Acts 2:17-21from Joel 2:28-32.
And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on allmankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
You know this scripture, I’m sure……….
This passage in Joel 2 that Peter quotes in Acts 2 refers in part to what happened on Pentecost to the new believers receiving the Holy Spirit, and what will happen to the Jewish believers at the end of the age in the last part of the Tribulation period. So how do we know that this is so?
Joel 2 is largely speaking of the Jews with a small reference to both Gentiles and Jews, with the scripture referring to all mankind in Acts 2:17. However many of the things that are spoken after this did not occur at this time (blood, fire, vapor of smoke, darkened sun, blood moon etc) as there is no mention other than that they were speaking with other languages “as the Spirit was giving them utterance”.
Clearly the blood, smoke, darkened sun and moon stuff described Matthew 24is right before Jesus returning and the time of “Jacobs trouble” (or Jacobs distress). This is described inJeremiah 30and Joel 2:30-32, and can only be really be seen in the context of the final days (the book of Revelation) before Jesus returns.
So, who is Jacob, and why is this important?
InGenesis 32:24-32describes an account of Jacob (son of Isaac) wrestling with a “man”. This appeared to be a mysterious encounter where Jacob wrestled with a man who then asked to be let go by Jacob before the dawn came. Jacob said that he would not let the man go until He blessed him, the man then asked Jacob what his name was. Jacob told Him and the man then said he would now be known as Israel (this means “he who strives with God”) the man said to Jacob that he would call him Israel, as Jacob had striven with God and with men and had prevailed. Jacob recognisedhe had had an encounter with God and survived, and my thinking and opinion is that “the man” was Jesus, as he is the only form of “God as man” that we know of. The man did not give his name but Jacob knew that it was God. The man did bless Jacob, but he had earlier done a strange thing to Jacob, He dislocated Jacob’s thigh while they were still wrestling, Jacob retained this “injury” and limped afterward, however he was now known as Israel, and he was blessed and approved by the man who was God (Jesus).
I know this is a bit long winded, but it is very important to understand that when the Bible refers to the Jewish people as “Jacob”, they are in an “unbroken” state and have not encountered the man/God (Jesus) and wrestled, striven with Him (God) and man, and prevailed. After Jacob encountered the man, wrestled with him he became injured or broken and his name changed to Israel (this name reflects the change) This is a “type” or “foreshadowing” of what happens for the Jewish people in the last part of the tribulation in Jacobs trouble, and it is specific to the “Jewish” people when they as a nation repent, and see Jesus as the messiah. Jeremiah 30is an account of an event or unprecedented day of troubleJeremiah 30:7In Jeremiah 30:10this verse speaks of both Jacob and Israel, and this may refer to both “unsaved” Jews and “saved” (messianic) Jews.
Jacob and Israel are not the “grafted in” Gentiles, they are the root, or the branches that were broken off for their unbelief as inRomans 11:11-36 Ezekiel 37:1-23. They were the first and they will be the last. “Jacobs trouble” reflects a time of great tribulation for the Jews and many will perish, but the nation of Israel will be saved and will come back to the messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. This time of unprecedented trouble is reflected inJeremiah 16, 30& 31,Matthew 24, Ezekiel 5, 36& 37,Amos 5& 9,Revelation 3& 6, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Joel 2:28-32.
It is my opinion that if there are going to be “special blessings” and “revival” in the end times, then it will likely fall on the Jewish people in the time of great tribulation rather than the Gentiles. I also have a speculation (and it is only my speculation) that it is possible that those that have remained faithful to Jesus (the bride of Christ, remnant group, Jewish believers in Jesus) may be raptured prior to the “Great Tribulation” or “Wrath of God“. This may in part cause the unsaved Jewish people in Israel to realise their error in rejecting Jesus and repent, (as the saved Jewish believers will be raptured).I reiterate that I do not hold this as a fixed and firm belief, however it is a possible part explanation for the Jewish nation’s national repentance.
Moving right along……..
The other scripture used by the Joel’s Army folk is Romans 8:19. However as with many of the NAR folk, verses get taken out of context because the whole context or meaning of this passage is not referred to. Romans 8:19 refers to “the creation eagerly awaiting the revealing of the sons of God”, NAR folk take this only in the context of an army arising (Joel’s Army) and creation eagerly awaiting the Army of Christians to take Dominion of the world. But, they neglect to read the following verses up to verse 23. If you read Romans 8:19-23you will see that particularly in verse 20- 23 that this is a future event linked the initial creation and the fall, with the final redemption for those accepting Jesus as their saviour,
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it]in hope21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly forouradoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
This scripture is future, and it refers to the time when we are adopted as sons of God in correlation with the redemption of our bodies (new bodies), the creation groans in anticipation of being free of the curse and has done so since the fall of man some 6000 years prior.
There is another disturbing element that comes into the idea of Joel’s Army and that is Gnosticism.
In very simple terms, Gnosticism is about obtaining spiritual knowledge (often secret) to improve and elevate oneself to a state of perfection, or godhood. Sounds a bit like Genesis 3:1-5(KJV) “ye shall be as gods”. When you read this articlefrom Charisma magazine (and in my opinion Charisma magazine is a NAR mouthpiece) you get hints of the Gnostic elements when it talks about Christians becoming superhuman and conquering the world for Jesus. This is about “spiritual power” with humans doing the miracles and signs and wonders, This does sound a lot like 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12where the Antichrist and Satan come on the scene “with all power and signs and false wonders”.
The people propagating this idea of Joel’s Army are like king Asa, they are trying to do it under their own steam using God’s power for their own purposes, and it will fail if what they are doing is not in line with God’s plan… in fact it may be aiding the return of the Antichrist and his kingdom.
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
Here is a excerpt of a video series on the New Apostolic Reformation fromACTwith Jacob Prasch talking about the problems with the Joel’s Army theologyup to the 29:26 min mark. He raises another issue that NAR folk are guilty of and that is eisegesis(as mentioned), or putting your own spin on it, as opposed to exegesiswhich teasing out the real meaning of the text to determine the truth.
Here is a series of 3 articles from Jewel van der Merwefrom 1991, they contain extensive information for those keen on research into the Joel’s army heresy.
The serpent or devil was the first to introduce the idea of Gnosticism to Eve in the garden, his theme of Gnosticism or “godhood” remains to the end, and he is now deceiving Christians into taking up this idea with Joel’s Army. “The Luciferian Fingerprint” is that fallen angelic influence which appears in subtle ways connecting all the paths that lead to universalist, self centered anti-Christ, anti-God, anti-Gospel ideas, and any Bible that has been altered to reflect this type of thinking i.e. the “Message” translation by Eugene Peterson, and the “Passion” translation by Brian Simmons. This is all part of “The Plan”, Satan’s plan to destroy mankind. The devil will do anything to distract you from the one thing he cannot have…… salvation through Jesus and a way back to God.
Thank you for sticking with me on this topic, it has been a long article and you will have done well to get through it. God bless you, stay alert, watchful and always reading your Bible.
RESEARCH. (The author of this article may not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the research material)
For those of you who enjoy the research material, there is a great deal for this particular topic and I hope you enjoy searching through it as there is a massive wealth of information here.
https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.verses/ID/967/Jacobs-Trouble-verses.htm(warning, non-Trinitarian website)