No Other Gods

“Besides me there is no God” is repeated in one form or another at least nine times in Isaiah 45, enough times to catch my attention. I’m reminded that something similar is found in Exodus 20:3, leading off The Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” This theme prompts me to ask myself, “What other gods do I put before me, other than Him?”

The first I almost immediately thought of is the god of comfort. I want nothing to rob me of it, or to disturb it. Yet in God is all comfort. He does not ask me if I’m comfortable, like flight attendants used to do, but he does say he provides, and in fact, embodies comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3

The next is the god of certainty. I don’t want risk in my life. I want to always bet on a sure thing. There are many who live on the edge, but not me! What’s for certain is that there is nothing that is known for certain. But I’ve got to know, so I try in vain to cover my bets!

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33

Third, is the god of security. I will do everything in my power to keep myself and my family secure, physically and financially. I study all the angles. I try to batten every hatch. I spend an inordinate amount of time watching my backside, and game-planning every eventuality. Perhaps I should say such wargaming is an obsession. From security systems to weaponry to FDIC backing, I need constant shoring up, or at least I think I do. But we will eventually, undoubtedly, be exposed in some facet of our lives. There’ll be a chink in the armor. Some breach in the wall. A break in the dam.

While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Finally, and there are surely more, is the god of life. I go to great extents to keep myself alive. Nobody gets in the way of my cycling time, but they do, and it aggravates me. I worry that failing to ride on the appointed day will cause me to lose my enviable under-50 BPM heart rate. Worse is the constant worry about any “novel” malady that comes down the pike, and the fear of the ever-lurking COVID-19 virus. Avoiding illness—to stay alive—can be become an illness. Both the pursuit of endorphins—to feel alive—and the fear of sickness—to stay alive—are gods to which I tend to voluntarily bow the knee.

Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life. Matthew 6:27

The truth is, there is a capital G God of comfort, of certainty, of security, of life, and everything! He’s got this. All of it.

There is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these. Isaiah 45:6–7

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The Nation’s in an Uproar

1Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3“Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” 4He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Psalm 2:1-4

To say these are tumultuous times is a gross understatement. The nations—our nation—is in an uproar. Collective veins are popping out of necks and vileness is spewed, if one has not been de-platformed (a new word in our society). This meant quite another thing for those daggling from a noose!

In a sense, there will be a turnabout, and it will be fair play for an Almighty Righteous God. He hears them rile and rage against him, and that is what they are doing, because He stands for and is all goodness.

He has let out the line and they are running with it, but his hook is deeply implanted in their jaws. These fools sense some gained advantage, a false sense of freedom, and in their rashness exploit every conceivable opportunity, and create new ones, only to be still tethered to God, who sets the hook even deeper. He laughs and scoffs as He reels them in. They will thrash about in a final spiteful fit, but they will be swiftly gaffed, brought aboard, and ultimately consumed with fire.

While the world reviles, roars and rages, we watch and wait and pray. We are on the right side.

In the meantime…

Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Psalm 2:11-12

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Just Say the Word!

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:3-7

When things seem to be falling apart in this world, and when does it not, the prognosticators come forth from the woodwork to exclaim that the coming of the Lord is near. On cue, there are those who will chime in saying, “I think it’ll have to get much worse before He does.” Both are wrong. It has never had to reach a certain degree of badness for God to have had enough and dispatch his Son back to earth. It may, in fact, be more accurate to say that a certain degree of goodness needs to be reached for Him to come back! (2 Peter 3:9)

Paul and other writers wrote of the imminence of Christ’s return. It’s a part of basic sound doctrine.

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Romans 13-11-14

This discussion is academic among those who read eschatological tea leaves. The bottom-line assumption is that the Lord will return someday soon. On this there is no material disagreement.

Peter takes issue with those who don’t believe in God’s plan, or his existence for that matter, and mock the sky watchers, placing them squarely in the “kook” category. Peter reminds us the world came into being by a spoken word, then was destroyed by water on the utterance of another, and annihilation by fire awaits, with permission to ignite perhaps on the tip of the Almighty’s tongue.

There’s a lot of reality to ignore to waltz merrily through life with no theological underpinnings, without awareness of the obvious. The presence of an inscrutable world populated with higher forms of intelligence, clear evidence of a previous worldwide deluge (if one merely looks out one’s airplane window over God’s sandbox), and a resilient nagging group of Cretans called Christians carrying around their precious bound Manifestos euphemistically called “The Word.”

Truth is, the truth is all about “the Word.” Deny it and you’ll become charcoal, so says Peter. Believe it, and you’ll be part of the Lord’s triumphant arrival to set things straight.

One last thought, a little more than 2,000 years ago God met with his Son in heaven and said a word, and the rest is history, that’s if you’re into that kind of thing. Scoff if you’d like, but His band of merry men were said to have “upset the world” with this story (Acts 17:6), which ended tragically with the Son’s death, and miraculously, quickly thereafter, his resurrection. It was then said in an account by the reputable doctor (Luke in Acts), in the presence of many eyewitnesses, that the Son ascended into the clouds, with angels pronouncing that He’d return in the same manner someday.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11

This “someday” has always been soon, but apparently delayed long enough for the mockers to come to their senses.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9

Say “the word” and be saved!

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On False Prophets and Teachers—Part 2 (2 Peter 2)

Peter starts his letter with a pathway to sacrificial love:

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

All these attributes, if possessed and increasing, render a person useful, fruitful (1:8) and stable (1:10) in their Christian walk.

But then he then discusses at length the ways of the false teacher (Chapter 2). It is ironic that some start an authentic spiritual journey hearing the words of a false teacher when they know nothing better, while their “guru” in secret wallows in sin. Tuck that away for now.

We need to understand that Peter addresses both the obvious, and, what the Lord sees (or perhaps the “spiritually appraised” sees, see 1 Corinthians 2:15). What the Lord wants in his servants is the constant process of searching their souls for any “hurtful ways in me,” as David put it in Psalm 139:24. The problem with the false teacher, he never invites the Lord to search his heart, but consciously exits the spiritual grid.

An unmasked false teacher is a pretty despicable and a sad sight.

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 12-13

Here are the road signs on the road to perdition laid out by Peter. I’ll stick with masculine pronouns as I go down this road, but there’s equal opportunity here. The road only descends by the way.


First, there’s greed for fame and fortune (v.3). Soul winning takes a backseat to sole possession.


Then comes all the “a” words (if you check out all the Greek words behind these, they all start with the prefix “a” similar to “un”): ungodly (asebon) (v. 5-6), unprincipled (athesmon) (v. 7), unrighteous (adekous) (v. 9), and unreasoning (alogos) (v. 12). Here are the definitions: ungodly (living without regard to religious practice or belief), unprincipled (lawless), unrighteous (unjust), and unreasoning (brutish, absurd).

The false teacher is marked by liberal, lavish, loose, lustful, licentious, and lawless behavior, only thinly veiled by an the air of piety.

Here’s the final few chapters of the down-spiraling former “man of the cloth.”

It’s a slippery slope when you go there. Only one false step can bring about a free fall. The false teacher living on the wild side is characterized by daring self will (v. 10).

Second, the false teacher’s life is marked by reviling, reveling, and self-destruction (v. 12-13).

Third, the false teacher has eyes full of adultery. While in this vicious downward spiral, the eyes are “full of adultery that never cease from sin (v. 14).

Normal men are bent toward frequent thoughts of the opposite sex, but false teacher-types (as Peter describes them) have abandoned themselves to wanton full-on adultery in their minds, and, if at all possible, in person.

Who are the victims?

For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error. (v. 18)

“enticing unstable souls.” (v. 14)

Enticing by “fleshly desires” can be best captured in the work “lure.” The vulnerable or “unstable” are weak and changeable in views and attitudes.

Imagine the cunning it requires to shield from public view or the knowledge of a dutiful wife a torrid escalating affair! The lies begin early answering the question, “You’re not yourself, what’s bothering you?” Soon, the creeping around and control of communications becomes lax. You can’t remember your last lie. Then the crushing fall into bitter reality.

Fourth, “madness,” “black darkness,” and a dry spring (v. 16-17) await the false teacher. It’s only a matter of time.

Fifth, there’s arrogance, vanity and corruption (v. 18) in and around the false teacher. Despite the hole he’s in, the false teacher doubles down in his attempt to bring others with him, who are lucky (a non-biblical term) to “barely escape” his grasp.

The false teacher, while promising freedom to the masses (v. 19), is an abject slave of corruption, “entangled,” or interwoven, in a much worse state than at first, because he’s seen the other side, yet dimly (v. 20), but not gone there. He would have been better off if he never knew the ways of Christ. Sadly, he’s been paid in full for the wrong he’s done (v. 15).

To think about: How to spot heresy: Does the teaching destroy unity? Does the teaching deny Christ? Does the teaching lead to a decline in morality? Alliterated, does it destabilize doctrine. dilute the Deity and/or deemphasize purity? Be on the look out for all these things!

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On False Prophets and Teachers

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1

False prophets of old and the false teachers of Peter’s day preyed on the people’s ignorance of scripture. Both brought heresy alongside truth (their own choices, opinions). Both purposely introduced what they wanted to see in the future, and in scripture, to acquire power or wealth, or likely both. Both said things to tickle the ears. And nothing has changed since then.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. 2 Timothy 4:3

Know this. False prophets fail the test of time. Only authentic prophets of the Lord utter what will be proven true in the future. And it’s important to understand in this day, the office of prophet or gift of prophecy is the act of pronouncing canonized scripture, nothing more or less. For example, Peter was writing and transmitting “2 Peter.” He had nothing more to add after that, or else there would have been “3 Peter.”

As for teachers, only God’s truth withstands close scrutiny. Sound biblical teachers cut it straight. What is taught is “healthy.”

We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

To spot heresy, you must first be a student of sound doctrine.

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 1 Timothy 4:6

Practically, be on the look out for the words, “I think,” and for opinions and interpretations contrary to the “verily, verily” statements of Jesus Christ (that is, “truly, truly”). For example, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. John 6:47

If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Timothy 6:3-5

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Battle Royale

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Daniel 10:13

What this heavenly conflict means to us is this; what was true then, should be true today. What would have changed for there not to be one of God’s angels assigned to the respective kingdoms of this world to fight for good? On the other hand, can we not expect one of Satan’s choice demons to be hanging with Xin Jinping or Putin, or rulers in America?

Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. Daniel 10:20

There is indeed sufficient evil influence lurking behind the curtains to sway the minds of these leaders to do wickedness, to connive and cheat, and to ultimately destroy goodness and love. Where there are no restraints built into the law of the land, or, more importantly, into the heart of the leader, this destructive influence is unabated. But if a leader desires to do the righteous thing, the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) will pull out all the stops to rein him in.

To Daniel, his prophetic message of truth was foretelling of the ultimate demise of all evil, and the Satanic angel of Persia fought tooth and nail against it, since the forces of evil learned from it that they would not prevail.

This stunning revelation left Daniel bewildered and beleaguered. He cried out for understanding, and the Lord dispatched an angel to him. Imagine this, that God cared enough for Daniel to pull a very important linchpin in his security force to help his faithful mouthpiece understand his message! But this angel needed reinforcements. Chief prince Michael was indeed stronger in the end, since God’s goodness, truth, and will are always stronger.

Leaders today are swayed by the same unseen forces. It’s a battle royale. But consider this. We Christians bear the very spirit of Jesus Christ. We’re the modern-day Daniels, because we possess and understand end times. Like Daniel, what we see today nauseates us, and we pray fervently that the Lord will win out soon! We too are distraught that the Lord appears to tarry, and that ground is being permanently lost to evil forces. We worry that our nation’s leader’s good angel is outmanned or outgunned!

Fear not. Michael, other chief princes, and these dogged resident angels, are still in the fight, tenacious as ever.

“However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.” Daniel 10:21

But be reminded, Daniel’s prophecy is yet future, and it gets worse before it gets better. It may well be the future is now, and what is happening is the Lord’s doing. He may be working his plan, and we’re simply not privy to what’s going on, since it’s happening in the heavenly background.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

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The Right Side of Justice—Joel 3

There will come a day when the fortunes of the Lord’s chosen people (Israel) will be restored. It would seem that Jerusalem was restored at the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C., but the Jews were again dispersed by the flattening of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Again it would seem that Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948. But both events did not fully involve what is foretold in Joel 3.

As noted, Joel’s prophecy telescopes to a future day, when the King of Kings finally settles all scores. In Joel’s day, Judah’s immediate enemies boiled down to the Philistines and the Phoenicians (Tyre and Sidon). But in the end, the whole world will stand on the neck of this tiny nation.

At a time known only to God, he will seek retribution. In his vice grip, the world will attempt to recompense for wrongs done, “but if you do recompense Me (he says), swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense on your head.” (v. 4)

This is how it will be done. He will cajole the nations to assemble for war in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, also called the Valley of Decision. This really means the valley of “judges” or “judgement.” He’ll say,

Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.”
Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations,
And gather yourselves there. (v. 10-11)

In this “valley” the Lord will roar (v. 16) and all Israel’s enemies will be harvested (v. 13), “and strangers will pass through it no more.” (v. 17)

There are at least three important truths in this passage.

  1. There will be a time when the Lord’s patience runs out. “This will be the day when the Lord will avenge the blood which he has not avenged.” (v. 21)
  2. There will be a time when he seeks retribution. “I will return your recompense on your head.” (v. 4)
  3. There will be a time when he doesn’t “care” anymore. “What are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon and all the regions of Philistia.” (v. 4)

We say “there is no justice in this world.” Actually, we’re all on the clock. And if we’re on the right side of justice, we will be blessed.

And in that day
The mountains will drip with sweet wine,
And the hills will flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water;
And a spring will go out from the house of the Lord. (v. 18)

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Seeing Evil, Hearing Evil

Christians should be keenly aware of the evil one, and all his machinations. Learn from his subtle goading of Jesus in the wilderness with half truths. Study his word games with Eve. Examine the utter ruination of a disciple who chose to betray Christ. Read about the alluring manner of Delilah with Samson, or the entrapment of Joseph by Potiphar’s wife. For accounts of evil kings and queens, examine the actions of Ahab and Jezebel, and Herod. Better, think about how the scribes and Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus. Then there is all that Jesus said directly about the “prince of the power of the air.”

44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

In all cases, it is obvious Satan has a playbook, and he returns to it time and time again.

Moreover, he operates both in our meager realm and in the the spiritual world above.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

You might wonder out loud why God has allowed such a force to run rampant and roughshod over all of humankind for so long? Well, the Almighty has an endgame, and it does not end well for the “father of lights.”

In Joel 3 we read of God’s plans to finally rid himself of the evil nations who had their way with his Chosen People. In the end, he will do all the goading, drawing them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (or “Decision” as in v. 14) to meet their fate.

1“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
Then I will enter into judgment with them there
On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
And they have divided up My land.
They have also cast lots for My people,
Traded a boy for a prostitute,
And sold a girl for wine so that they may drink. Joel 3:1-3

I digress for a moment to address a current topic from a few miles up. What’s quite clear from history and our present state of affairs, Satan is alive and well, still dishing out misery, death and destruction, pain and confusion. If he was effective with Nero, Stalin and Hitler, and countless others down through time, we cannot downplay a return to the playbook with other leaders in power now. Immediately, thoughts go to the present administration. Know this for sure, though, if there is any leader who truly aligns with God and/or his people, or His purposes, Satan will seek to destroy that leader using every tool, trick or weapon he has at his disposal.

We tend to be duped into thinking Satan scorns who we may scorn on face value, but we should be smart enough to know that he contends with anyone who is touching a raw nerve (his), meaning that person is trending toward right rather than wrong.

We tend to think that God only uses the pious, dignified, and saintly. If that were so, he’d never use me or you! God used Cyrus the Great (see Isaiah 45), the king of Persia, obviously not in the blood line of King David, to return Israel to her land. Today people would scowl at this choice, yet great good was done and the temple was rebuilt.

We must, therefore, cut through the noise, and think like God thinks. He uses willing and unwilling participants, but he tends to tack on blessings to those who give him the credit, or hang out with those who do. We cannot know where someone stands spiritually by outward manifestations or mannerisms alone, or 280-character messages. We can observe, however, the force with which Satan applies to rid himself of these do-good types. If the devil is attempting to move heaven and earth to bring someone down, know for sure that he is striving ultimately against the goodness and influence of almighty God, not because that person is uncouth.

Know this also. The more stubborn and strong a man or woman is in resisting or attacking evil or injustice, the more aggressive, radical, and desperate Satan becomes. It is actually a testament to that person’s authenticity and favorable stance before God, or heavenly assignment (or calling) without belief as with Cyrus, that engenders such unbridled antagonism.

Of course, nations and what they stand for can also be Satan’s target, but at the tipping point, he normally favors cutting off the head of who he considers, or who he would cause us to believe is, a monster.

Now returning to the passage, it appears (at least here) that the Lord is more apt to refer to particular nations as malefactors, rather than kings (Tyre, Sidon, Philistia, Greece, Edom, Egypt). Joel 3 addresses the problem of those nations who appear to have gotten away with murder. To them there looms a future day of reckoning in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. More on this coming.

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Seeing is Believing

I find it hard to believe that one saved by Almighty God, who has been given his spirit, can lead a life totally devoid of any Christ-like change. I guess it is possible, but that person would have to take in no food, i.e. never read God’s word, hear no sermon, and quench every word of exhortation from the Spirit. This would have to be one miserable soul, one at least due some temporal discipline to snap him out of it.

The reality is, you see, some profess Jesus but fall away, never showing any spiritual pulse. Others are changed men and women from that moment, devouring the word, perhaps stumbling a bit initially, but immediately moving forward. Here Peter addresses the third group–the miserable souls–who are in, but not seeking any of the qualities that he lists.

These people have no assurance of salvation. You see, doing these things creates a series of spiritual milestones to remember, to prove that something indeed living and powerful resides within us. There will be many occasions when you can say to yourself, “where did that come from!” And all along you are being useful and/or fruitful! The beauty of milestones set is that they’re just a mile back, and easier to remember. You don’t strain to recall the day you said you received Christ, you remember what the Lord revealed to you in the morning!

Seeing what God’s doing in your life in real time is where you want to be.

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Overrun But Not Undone–Joel 2

Movie goers in the late 20th century and certainly now have seen films dominated by computer-generated graphics (CGI). Myriads of warriors can be depicted moving with synchronicity against the enemy. Similarly, Joel does his best to describe a past scourge of locusts, the coming Assyrian invasion, and the promised arrival of God’s celestial army on “that glorious day.”

They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like soldiers; and they each march in line, nor do they deviate from their paths. Joel 2:7

As you study Joel, you can remain confused, or you can understand that the book is both historic and prophetic, possibly at the same time. Telescopically, Joel can be referring to the looming threat from an army to the north, such as that led by the Assyrian king Sennacherib, or the triumphant future coming of the King of Kings. Both will be frightening undertakings, and those on the wrong side will be struck with unshakable fear.

Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale. Joel 2:6

Obedience

So what person does not have to worry about the approaching armies of man, or God? There are a few hints in Joel 2. Here’s the first, the obedient.

For strong is he who carries out His word. 2:11

Can there be anything but success, as God would define it, carrying out “His word?” As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the person who puts God’s word into action will do so with the unlimited might of the Lord.

Without question obeying God’s word is synonymous with doing his will. The Hebrew word here to “carry out” is “asah,” used generically hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It’s primarily translated “to do” or “to make,” but it’s also translated “to accomplish, administer, commit, perform, offer, and prepare,” to name a few. In every realm of life, in every aspect, in every way, the word of God applies, and should be “carried out.” James has some important things to say about this “doing.”

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22–25

If you make the decision to apply God’s word in your life, you will be empowered to do so. As Christians, this power resides within, and it is the Holy Spirit. This passage in Joel was quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first filled the early believers (Acts 2:17-21).

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. Joel 2:28–29

It is not the approaching armies that should cause us to tremble, but not carrying out the words in scripture, from the prophets in the Old and New Testaments, and Jesus himself.

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20–21

Contriteness

Obedience is an affair of the heart. So the contrite have nothing to worry about as danger approaches…

And rend your heart and not your garments.” 2:13

…for when we act out of obedience to God’s word, the Lord looks favorably upon us.

“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. Isaiah 66:2

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17

“Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. 2 Chronicles 34:27

And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered. 2:32

Reliance

When besieged, the reliant pour out their hearts before the Lord for deliverance. The model here is King Hezekiah of Judah, who, when looking down the Assyrian king’s barrel, literally laid out his ultimatum in the form of a letter, before the Lord, and prayed for deliverance.

14 Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 19 Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.” 2 Kings 19:14-19

He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. 2 Kings 18:5-6

Hezekiah is described as Judah’s greatest king, because he did what was right in God’s eyes, that is, whatever He said to do. As such, Hezekiah “was strong because he carried out His word.”

As a result, no Assyrian arrow was shot into Jerusalem.

32 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, “He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he shall not come to this city,”’ declares the Lord. 34 ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’” 2 Kings 19:32

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