The great army of Joel 2
In Joel’s prophecy, God’s people are described under the figure of a plague of locusts. [vs. 25] The locust metaphor alludes to the Israelites in the wilderness. After the Exodus, Moses commissioned representatives from each tribe to survey the land that Israel was to inherit. When they returned after 40 days some of the spies gave an evil report, describing the people dwelling in the land as giants, and themselves as grasshoppers. People who have not entered the saints’ promised land are represented in Joel’s prophecy by locusts.
Prophecy reveals how God’s plan is working out. When properly interpreted and understood, it explains God’s purpose, and what Christ is doing.
Jesus taught his disciples to watch, and warned that his prophecies would come to pass, while most people in the world are unaware of it. Referring to the time of his coming, when he will be revealed in his saints, he said:
“For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” [Luke 21:35-36]
In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus said to his disciples:
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
Isaiah said that God speaks to us with “stammering lips and another tongue.”
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” [Isa. 28:9-11]
Ezekiel wrote of Gog and Magog:
“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.” [Ezek. 38:8-9]
“The land brought back from the sword” seems to allude to the garden of Eden, which was guarded by an angel or a cherubim brandishing a flaming sword. [Gen. 3:24] And Eden represents the knowledge of God revealed in the Gospel and in the Scriptures.
In Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog, all the armies ride upon horses.
“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord God; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? 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:” [Ezek. 38:14-15]
In prophecy, horses are symbolic of people with no understanding. David wrote: “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.” [Psa. 32:9]
The armies of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 come against “the mountains of Israel.”
“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” [Ezek. 38:8]
In Ezekiel’s prophecies, the mountains of Israel are metaphors representing God’s promises to his saints. When Jacob blessed Joseph, he said, “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.” [Gen. 49:26] God’s promises are eternal, and have a lofty spiritual meaning, so they are compared to high mountains in prophecy.