The Return of Elijah

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The Creation Concept

This Generation...

How the heavens passed away with great noise

Atheists see blood

Rivers in the desert

Zechariah's wall of fire

The Return of Elijah

The stone cut without hands

Cyrus, a type of Christ

The Army of God

The Raven and the Dove

Creation and the Gospel

The Army of God

Locusts and grasshoppers are often mentioned in the Bible, and references to these insects as metaphors and figures of people are seen in many scriptures. The spies who Moses sent to survey the promised land reported that they felt as if they were grasshoppers in comparison to some of the big men who they saw living in the land. And in Judges 6 and 7 the Midianites and Amalekites, enemies of Israel, were described as coming "like grasshoppers for multitude." These enemies also destroyed the crops that the Israelites planted.

The prophecy of Joel 1-2, about a great plague of locusts, is set at the time called the day of the Lord, and so it has been supposed that it applies somehow to the church, and some have identified with a movement called "Joel's Army" that is expected to achieve great things.

But Joel's prophecy, while it describes an army in symbolic terms, is not about the church becoming great and powerful; it is about an invasion of the Christian church, and its heritage, represented by the land of Israel, by foreigners. Joel refers to them as "Goy" or Gentiles. Like the Midianites and Amalekites, the locusts in Joel's prophecy devastate the land.

The land of Israel was the land promised to Abraham and his seed, and in Joel's prophecy it is symbolic of the promises of God to the church. Paul said the experience of the Israelites recorded in the Old Testament was for "our admonition."

1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

The apostle Peter referred to the church as "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." [1 Peter 2:9]

Joel probably experienced a locust plague, and saw it as symbolic of the condition of the church at the end of the age. Joel describes the locusts as a great invading army.

They are "strong, without number," and their teeth like the teeth of lions!

Joel 1:6-7
For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.

The "vine" and the "fig tree" that are destroyed picture God's people, or the church, and the vine being made waste pictures their lack of spiritual "fruit." Jesus referred to himself, and his disciples, as the "vine," [John 15:5].

The lion-like teeth of the locusts picture a fierce, dominating attitude, of people who are spiritually Gentiles. Paul described people in the last days as "Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good," [2 Timothy 3:3].

The land of Israel, that they occupy as invaders, is the territory God promised to give to Abraham, and so represents the promises of the scriptures that belong to God's people.

Joel 1:11
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.

What harvest is it? When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the gospel, he referred to them as labourers in a harvest. [Luke10:1-2] It is the failure of church's spiritual harvest that Joel describes.

joy is withered away from the sons of men.

Is that true today? Joel said the wheat and the barley harvest perishes, which may mean few are being turned to Christ; fruit trees wither, perhaps representing the lack of fruits and gifts of the Spirit of God in the church; meat is cut off, and meat pictures the true doctrine, and understanding of scripture; [Hebrews 5:12-14] there is no joy and gladness. The seed rots under the clods; there is no pasture; the animals groan. What is the seed? In the parable of the sower Jesus said, "the seed is the word of God" [Luke 8:11]. The gospel that is being preached in the world rots in the ground, and does not produce its intended harvest.

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion

The sound of a trumpet was a call to battle. Mount Zion was the place where the temple was located, and in the NT, the church is identified with the temple [Ephesians 2:20]. The church is also called "mount Sion," which is "Zion" in the OT. "Ye are come to mount Sion." [Hebrews 12:22]

and sound an alarm in my holy mountain:

The "holy mountain" is identified with the hingdom of God, [Isaiah 2:2] and Jerusalem, [Isaiah. 66:20], and with the church, as the church is called Jerusalem in the NT. [Galatians 4:26, Revelation 21:2]

let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

Joel's message is for the church, and it is intended to sound an alarm, and awaken people;

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

Joel's message is meant for the time at the end of the age, called the day of the Lord.

A day of darkness and of gloominess;

The day of the Lord is described in several prophecies as a dark, gloomy day, probably because of the widespread confusion about the gospel. Zechariah said, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light." [Zechariah 14:6-7] Jesus called the age of the church a time of "night." He said "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." [John 9:4]

a day of clouds and of thick darkness,

Clouds may refer to teachers, or false prophets; "clouds without water," [Jude 1:12] or "clouds that are carried with a tempest." [2 Peter 2:17] The day of the Lord is a time when there are lots of confusing, contradictory false doctrines.

as the morning spread upon the mountains:

The morning sun reaches the tops of the mountains before the valleys, and the promises of God are represented by the mountains. They represent the great promises of God, the most important truths of the gospel, which are what we need to embrace. In the story of the flood, when the earth was submerged beneath the waters, those who were in the ark with Noah saw the tops of the mountains emerge first, as the flood waters subsided. The mountains are symbols of the promises of the Gospel.

a great people and a strong;

Joel's prophecy describes a group of people who are very numerous. They include thousands of sects, cults, and denominations.

there hath not been ever the like; neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

The invasion that Joel describes is unique, and so it must be the same as the invasion described in the prophecy of Ezekiel 38, where the invaders are the armies of Gog and Magog, gathered from all parts of the earth, which is interpreted in Revelation 20:9. And the prophecy also corresponds to the prophecy of Zechariah 14:1-5, were all nations come against Jerusalem.

A fire devoureth before them;

Fire represents God's word, as Jeremiah said, "Is not my word like as a fire?" [Jeremiah 23:29] Jesus sent a "fire" on the earth, the Gospel. [Luke 12:49]

and behind them a flame burneth:

A pillar of fire went before the Israelites in the wilderness, and stood between them and the Egyptians. It provided light at night. [Exodus 13:21-22] Faith in the promises of God and the Gospel message in the scriptures separates Christians from others in the world.

The land is as the garden of Eden before them,

The Israelites who came out of Egypt were promised "a land flowing with milk and honey," a paradise, where they would be God's people. Christians also look for a future "rest" and a heavenly inheritance. The author of Hebrews said, "But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." [Hebrews 11:16]

and behind them a desolate wilderness;

Christians have escaped from bondage to sin and the world, and inherit "exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." [2 Peter 1:4]

The wilderness alludes to the wilderness where the Israelites wandered 40 years, after the spies had come back with their report, in which they compared themselves to grasshoppers. The Israelites in wilderness are therefore represented by locusts, or grasshoppers. The wilderness pictures the state of the church, before the saints obtain their inheritance. [1 Corinthians 10:1-11]

yea, and nothing shall escape them.

Every scripture has been analyzed, and interpreted by the Bible scholars to suit various sectarian systems of dogma.

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses;

The Psalmist said, "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee." [Psalm 32:9] They appear like horses as they lack understanding.

and as horsemen, so shall they run.

Perhaps the "horsemen" are the ones who guide others.

This parallels Ezekiel's prophecy of the armies of Gog and Magog, which like the locusts, invade the land of Israel, and include many horses. "And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:" [Ezekiel 38:15]

In Revelation 20:9, people from all parts of the earth, who are deceived, compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. Fire comes down from heaven, and devours them!

Like the noise of chariots;

People complained about the clattering sound of chariot wheels on the cobble stone streets of ancient cities. In Rome the noise of chariots at night prompted Julius Caesar to forbid chariot riding after sunset so he could sleep. While the noise of chariots was loud, there was no intelligence in it. Much of the argumentation between Christians is lots of "noise" with little intelligence. Paul described the arguments of those who rejected his doctrine, as "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." [1 Timothy 6:5] Such perverse disputings are the "noise" that Joel compares to the sound of chariot wheels.

on the tops of mountains shall they leap,

The mountains represent the promises and revelations of God to his saints. The mountains were prominent parts of the land of Israel, the "promised land," and so represent the promises of God to his people, contained in scripture. The kingdom of God is a mountain that fills the earth, in Daniel 2:35, and it is one of the greatest promises of the Gospel. These people claim the promises of God, that pertain to God's saints. Many people hope to be included in the promises that belong to the saints of God! But is membership in some religious sect or denomination sufficient? Does baptism as an infant qualify a person as a member of God's kingdom? The locusts also like to exercise dominion over others. They want to be the chief, and the most important in the group.

like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble,

Jesus said Christians who do not abide in him are like branches broken off, and withered, that will be gathered up, and cast into the fire. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." [John 15:5-7]

as a strong people set in battle array.

David wrote, "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" Psalm 2:1Zechariah 14:2) In Ezekiel's prophecy about the invasion by Gog and Magog, the armies of the Gentiles come against the prophets of Israel. "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?" [Ezekiel 38:17] And they compass the camp of the saints about. [Revelation 20:9]

Zechariah said, "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."

Before their face the people shall be much pained:

The apostle Peter said, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" [1 Peter 4:17] The church is to be judged, which will lead to the world being judged too.

all faces shall gather blackness.

To "gather blackness" is the antithesis of "shine." Their light will go out. "The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out." [Proverbs 13:9]

They shall run like mighty men;

Those who are saints are not usually the rich and powerful. Paul said, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:" [1 Corinthians 1:26] Although most of those called to be saints are ordinary people, many have achieved great things. [Hebrews 11:33-35] However, included in Christianity are many of the rich, famous, and powerful people. There are kings, generals, and leaders of the world, who are all nominally Christian. They are part of the locust plague that invades the church.

they shall climb the wall like men of war;

The holy city has "a wall great and high" Revelation 21:12. Men try to get into the holy city, the kingdom of God. Jesus said, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." [Matthew 11:12] "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." [Luke 16:16]

and they shall march every one on his ways,

Deuteronomy 12:8-9
Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.

Judges 17:6
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Proverbs 30:27
The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.

Many Christian consider themselves to be kingless, like the locusts.

Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Proverbs 21:2
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

The attitude of many is, "I'll do it my way." But that is often the problem. In the NT, Paul says "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." [Romans 8:14]

and they shall not break their ranks:

Most Christians are associated with one of numerous sects, and cults, and denominations, of which there are said to be about 38,000. The effect of denominational labels is to separate believers from each other. Is that not the work of an enemy, the little horn of Daniel's prophecy, who makes war with the saints? [Daniel 7:25; 12:7]

Neither shall one thrust another;

John said, referring to the false prophets, "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." [1 John 4:5] He contrasts the apostles and those who are of God, with those who are of the world. "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." [1 John 4:6] Christians are engaged in warfare "against the rulers of the darkness of this world." Paul said, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." [Ephesians 6:11-12]

they shall walk every one in his path:

Proverbs says, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." [Proverbs 14:12] "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts." [Proverbs 21:2] In Daniel 7:8, the little horn that dominates the saints has "eyes like the eyes of man." It pictures a human point of view, which opposes the way of God. It is true that Christians all have their own paths to walk. We must "work out our own salvation." Paul said, "Wherefore, my beloved, ... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." [Philippians 2:12]

and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

The sword is a spiritual one. The sword is symbolic of the word of God, in the NT. [Ephesians 6:17] It does not cut the flesh. It is powerful, and is able to "cut" deeply, but does not make us bleed. Instead, it kills wrong teachings, and flawed interpretations. It is the word of God, that leads us to the truth.

They shall run to and fro in the city;

People hope to enter the holy city, and some have gone from one church to another, and have tried various denominations, looking for one that fits their theology, and ideas about the kingdom of God. John said the holy city would be trampled by Gentiles. "But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." [Revelation 11:2]

they shall run upon the wall,

The wall separates those who are within, from those outside. The apostle Peter encouraged Christians to "make their calling and election sure." [2 Peter 1:1-11] Paul said, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." [2 Timothy 2:19]

they shall climb up upon the houses;

Like locusts climbing up the walls of houses, people seek higher status in the kingdom.

they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

They need to enter in by the door. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." [John 10:1-3]

The earth shall quake before them;

The "earth" represents worldly society, and the stars of heaven represent the church. A lot of fear is caused by false doctrines and superstition about the unending torment of unbelievers in the after life.

the heavens shall tremble:

In Revelation 12:4, the saints are represented by stars. A third of the stars are drawn by the tail of the dragon, and cast to the earth. Isaiah said, "The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." [Isaiah 9:15] This suggests the "tail" of the dragon represents false prophets, who invade the church, and who are spiritually Gentiles.

the sun and the moon shall be dark,

Isaiah also described the sun being darkened in the day of the Lord. "For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine." [Isaiah 13:10]. The sun represents the Gospel, and the prophecy shows that the  message of the Gospel would be obscured. The sun becoming dark pictures the truth of the gospel being turned to darkness by false teaching. The sun is called a great light in Genesis 1:16, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is also called a great light. [Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:12-17; John 1:9]

and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

Stars represent the saints. [Daniel 12:3] They are hardly heard from; their light does not "shine" as it should because the abundance of false teaching acts like thick dark clouds, that hide their light, and because of false prophets, who are tares among the wheat. When the tares are gone, the saints will "shine forth as the sun." Jesus said, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." [Matthew 13:41-43]

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 terrible; and who can abide it?

The army Joel describes represents Christians all over the world. Although Joel refers to this invasion as God's army, the description he gives it is a reason for weeping and mourning. In verse 25 it is identified with locusts, and cankerworms, and caterpillers. "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." These of course are metaphors; the cankerous spirit of the invaders is what needs to be destroyed.

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?

Copyright © 2010 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.