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An Army of Christians … Or Locusts?

September 23rd, 2006 | 9 Comments | Posted in Jesus Camp, Twisted Scriptures

Locust A key teaching of the apostolic-prophetic movement is that God is raising up an end-times army of Christians, led by apostles and prophets, to establish His kingdom on earth. This army is called “Joel’s Army.” Todd Bentley’s “Fresh Fire Ministries,” for example, promotes this teaching, and his Web site records many prophecies given about this army. Read them here.

Many advocates of this fast-growing movement teach that the current generation of children will be the last generation of the church — and will have a pivotal role in this army. This doctrine is what’s behind “Jesus Camp” — a documentary about Becky Fischer’s children’s camp, which, as I pointed out in an earlier post, is connected to the apostolic-prophetic movement. Visit the documentary’s Web site here.

The main biblical support for such an army is Joel 2, where God sends a great army, described as locusts, to punish his wayward people of Israel. But then God destroys the army and restores Israel. Read Joel 2 here.

So, how do the leaders of the apostolic-prophetic movement figure that this army of locusts is an army of Christians? True, the army is described as “God’s army” in verse 11 of the passage, but God often refers to pagan kings (like Nebuchadnezzar) and pagan nations (like the Assyrians and Babylonians) as His servants and His armies that He is raising up as instruments of His wrath against Israel (see Isaiah 10:5-7, 13:4 and Jeremiah 25:9, 43:10). But, like the army of locusts in Joel 2, these kings and their nations are, ultimately, judged and destroyed by God.

So, how can the leaders of the apostolic-prophetic movement continue basing one of their key teachings on Joel 2? I find it very odd that they identify themselves with this army that attacks God’s people and is destroyed by God.

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9 Responses to “An Army of Christians … Or Locusts?”

  1. Mich Says:

    Great discussions, Holly. Like herb says: “Love required”. I happen to know a bit about Bill Hamon and Apostolic / Prophetic “movement” having been involved in prophetic ministry for at least 15 years and previously in Word of Faith. Yes, there are plenty of holes in the cheese and great discernment is required. Satan is quick to counterfeit the true works of God, but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!
    There is plenty of military metaphor in scripture to provide basis for the Jesus Camp ministry. Wouldn’t you rather see kids excited about Jesus than Harry Potter? All that the camp is doing is acting out Ephesians 6 and the dozens of verses relating the life of the righteous to spiritual combat. The OT is replete with types and shadows pointing to Christ and the ages that were to follow. The Wars of Canaan exemplify the attitude a christian must have to overcome the strongholds of the enemy within his heart to establish the Kingdom of God and the complete rule of Christ. Are we not, as Paul admonishes, to “fight the good fight”. No one is telling these kids to actually take up arms. Satan is the clear enemy.
    I must admit, I’m a little taken aback by the confusion. I would kill (an expression of intense desire – not to be taken litterally) to have such on fire youth in my church. No, I don’t expect the world to understand. So we should stop teaching our children about spiritual warfare?
    Why are you so fixated on Joel? It is not a “key teaching”. There is a raft of other military allusion. I would be glad to go get my sword (I mean Bible. Pardon the military reference.) and pile on a bunch of scripture, but I am too lazy right now.
    Right on about absolute apostolic authority and extra-biblical authority. As stated, I spent several years in Bill Hamon’s organization and can assure you that he subscribes to neither. Your references are taken out of context. There are others, tho, who do promote such. As I said, tares among the wheat. Be discerning. Jesus reserved his harshest condemnation for those scribes who ascribed his works of power to satan. You don’t want to be among them.
    Taking the Kingdom by force

  2. Holly Pivec Says:

    The doctrine of “Joel’s Army” is a key teaching in the apostolic-prophetic movement, and the main Scripture used to support it is Joel 2 (thus, the name “Joel’s Army”). The page I linked to from Todd Bentley’s Web site contains several prophecies from leaders in this movement about this army (showing that it is a key teaching).
    If you can share other biblical passages that you believe support an idea of an end-times army of Christians, led by apostles and prophets, please do so. I haven’t seen one yet. My objection isn’t to the use of military language in describing our spiritual warfare. My objection is to the teaching that God is raising up an end-times army, led by apostles and prophets, to establish His kingdom on earth.
    I don’t believe I have taken anything Hamon said out of context. If I have, then please show me where. Hamon is most definitely promoting new doctrinal revelation — as I mentioned in an earlier post, his book “Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God” devotes much space to discussing the revelations he claims to have received from God about “what is coming” in the end times. These revelations are not found in Scripture. This is the meaning of extrabiblical revelation.
    I believe Hamon is one of the most dangerous leaders in this movement, as he is one who blatantly promotes the need for new doctrinal revelation, and he twists Scripture in absurd ways to support his teachings (for example, in “Apostles, Prophets, and the Coming Moves of God,” he suggests that the two witnesses in Revelation are an army of apostles and an army of prophets, and he also argues that apostles and prophets are referenced in the Song of Solomon). These interpretations don’t follow any sound rules of biblical interpretation, but he is willing to twist Scripture to make them support his teachings. This is troubling.
    I don’t see how your warning about attributing the works of God to Satan applies in my case. I am simply asking if a teaching has biblical support. This is something we are told to do in Scripture. This has nothing to do with attributing the works of God to Satan. This accusation is often used by people in this movement to silence their critics.

  3. Mary Says:

    There are many discernment ministries that have been sounding the alarm on this movement for quite some time. Holly is not sharing “just her take” on it.
    See this article from one of these discernment ministries for an overview of this movement: http://www.intotruth.org/res/theglory8.html

  4. Doyle H. "Bud" Millington Says:

    The Army of Locusts
    by Dr. Daniel Botkin
    Note: The linked article proves that Protestant scholars of the past were not Futurists in their interpretation of prophecy. Instead, they were Historicists. Unlike modern interpreters who apply most of Revelation to a short period after the Rapture, these ancient heros of faith applied the Trumpets (Revelation 8, 9) to actual events in the history of Christianity. As Dr. Daniel Botkin clearly demonstrates, our Protestant forerunners applied the 5th and 6th trumpets to the rise of Islam in Arabia. In the light of September 11, this interpretation is very relevant for us today.

  5. Alise Says:

    Your discussion intrigues me. I am currently very confused about this entier apostolic-prophetic movement. I have grown up with no exposure to these teachings about calling heaven down to earth through an end times army. As I have attended college, I have been exposed to the movement through friends. I feel like the motives are truly good, but the interpretation of scripture is skewed. I am confused as to why the prophets or healers seem to always be the leaders of the churches who believe these things. Why is it that the person with the greatest vision, or greatest healing powers, usually one of the pastors of the church? Why is it that people like Benny Hinn, who are a part of the prophetic healing movement along with others like Bill Johnson and so on, have so much spirit because of faith that they have the power to make others fall off their feet. And why does he heal them of things internally such as depression, hearing, sight….it seems as if these things are not visually able to be proven, only audibly. Why doesn’t Binny Hinn raise people from the dead? Or make the paralyzed walk? I do not understand why these men who are prophetic healers always encourage prosperity through faith. Why does an indian man wear a starched white suit and live in a multimillion dollar house if his goal in life is to spread God and his teachings throughout the world?
    I often hear people say oh Bill Johnson is so great, or Binny Hinn is so great…but doesn’t that take the focus off of Jesus?
    And as far as kingdom coming to earth…There is a reason that when Jesus left earth, he ascended…UP….Into the heavens…above. It is very apparent that heaven is not meant to be on earth…for it says that Satan prowels around earth like a roaring lion. How can Heaven be where Satan is if Satan was kicked out of Heaven for eternity? Why would THIS generation be the chosen generation, to be special over others? Wouldn’t it be hard for the generations previous to us to find motivation to live for God if God basically told us that the young generation was his Chosen one? Isn’t that following the old testament of God’s chosen israelites, instead of the new testament where Jesus came so all would be equally God’s people?
    I think Christianity “following Christ” is more about our individual decision to follow Christ’s plan for our life, and working together as a body of Christ to together Love others like Jesus, I feel that Hebrews 6, which teaches us to look past the elementary teachings of Christ, is talking about this prophetic movement idea. I don’t believe there is a prophetic movement, but a gift of prophesy that is give to certain people, in all generations, who seek Him. Our generation is no more special, has no greater calling than all before us…for the calling is to surrender to Christ’s will for our lives, look past ourselves, and look to aid others…

  6. Joyce Says:

    I have been researching a group called “Joel’s Army” Joel’s army is becoming more and more prevaliant in the Chrismatic movement with websites popping up with Internships like http://www.freshfire.ca

    Does anyone know what this is?

  7. David Capps Says:

    Let every man be a liar, yet God alone be true!!!

    That is not an exact verse in the bible, but there is one like it that gave me the comforting impression that God alone remains true and his words alone can be counted on from age to age. Man is but a flicker in time and his words a puff of wind. We think something is the absolute truth one day. Ready to heal the world we can’t stand to see suffer even full of zeal to die for the cause at the moment, only to later recant with a blush of embarrasment when we find out our zeal blinded us to the humble truth of the gospel for everyone to give their entire lives over to love, peace, charity, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

    When Jesus cured the sick and cast out devils and gave kind words to the poor, he did it with this truth ALREADY COMMITTED in his mind: He was willing and resolved to give his life and experience incredible pain, rejection, abandonment and humiliation as a sacrifice for not only these people that came to him, but for those many more that were abusing him and rejecting him.

    Producing and receiving the fruits of this sacrificial love are what really develop and solidify our faith and breath new life into impoverished souls.

    The miraculous healings and deliverances are wonderful fruits that draw attention to the source and substance of our faith: Jesus, the living God, the kingdom of God, the alpha and omega, the humble lover of the poor and washer of feet. Humility and obedience are fruits that should accompany the miraculous. By their fruits you will know them.

    I would love to pray for someone on the street and see them healed and restored to Christ. But would I carry a towel around my waste and wash their feet first? Would I take apart my own church building to give the poor material to build a shelter or wood to burn for warmth? Lastly, am I willing to die for them as Jesus did? Not just at the heat of the moment when I am all syked up in church or when anyone would throw themselves infront of a bus to save a baby. But with a premeditated resolve to suffer love as Christ did.

    The Kingdom of God is here and it reigns in us and we live in the world. Our commission is to preach the kingdom of God and restore all things to Christ. To undo the works of the devil whom Christ overcame on the cross so many years ago and who Christ overcomes in each of us as we give ourselves to Christ in that abiding love. That Abiding is the conduit for the peace that only comes from him. It is our heaven on earth.

    It is in that abiding love that we can walk in the kingdom of God as Jesus did with his father while walking on earth as a brother to all mankind. It is a co-existance and a co-laboring with the Almighty. WOW! What a wonderful gift to be a part of the royal family of Christ! Yes, let us all be part of the army of humble lovers of the lamb of God, ready to die for even the least of his kingdom. For that is all we really have in this world is to bare witness to the truth we live in as we die to the world we were saved from.

    So let the armies of the world do as they may. The Kingdom of God is here, Now. Let us dance and rejoice and find shelter in the kingdom while we labor and suffer to witness of it and bear its fruit in the world around us! Seek unity in Christ alone and share that unity with our brothers and sisters. Any thing that seeks to build itself for control or power is of the world. Since we live in the world, it is difficult to keep our distance from such unities. It is in our schools, our workplace, our government and our churches. We even seek to live in saver places around people that we believe are safe. We are all guilty of placing such controls over our lives and of making allies for security of one type or another. God knows this and in his awesome Godleness, he will work with such things to insure his kingdom come and his will be done. He is the only truth. And we, all mankind, are all liars, whether we can see it, admit it or not. Jesus is all truth and Lord Most High! King of Kings! Lord of Lords! The One God!

  8. Clay Says:

    I am one who has come out of the false prophetic movement. The movement is like a meat grinder to your soul. I have been away from the movement for 6 months now and the pain that it caused me is with me everyday. I warn everyone that values life, liberty, and a loving realtionship with Jesus to stay away from the false prophetic movement. I rememer a time when I was happy before I went to IHOP. While at IHOP, it was as if there was a spiritual vacuum sucking everything good out of me and turning me into a prophetic robot. It’s as if you start losing your mind and are contolled and manipulated into believing all of the latter rain doctrines.

  9. John S Says:

    First, I ask this of every blog I read- where is all the true revival, true gospel and life of Christ on this website?

    We need to quit letting angels, rainbows, supernatural experiences (and on the natural- internet, media, films, science, education, music and art)- and other Biblical items/ nouns be stolen by ‘Christians who are scared of being deceived’– seriously, – If you run away from every authentic Biblical experience/item/ Scripture you are going to have to tear up half your Bible! This is how the devil is pilfering the church today- its why when you go to Bible College there is maybe 3-4 degrees- Senior pastor, associate, youth pastor and worship leader. How is God going to just fill the world, do you just think it is through critical blogs where you discuss doctrines?

    if Daniel followed alot of Christians, he would have ran out the palace saying ‘goverment is unholy, unholy, run away!!’ Then he would have written a blog about how unbiblical it was for Joseph in Egypt to serve as Pharoah’s prime minister, while being married to an Egyptian. People on the net are ‘good at disqualifying their own brother’- just like Joseph’s brothers.

    I think you should give it a shot- actually view the revival for a week and maybe consider going. I was there, and found it to be totally opposite to what you wrote- the interesting thing is…. you could be using Scripture to fight Scripture- for example in Acts 2, you would probably use the same Matt 7:15 against Acts 2, judging by your tone. If you want to be totally fair and sincere, tune in for a week or two- but take care. Don’t take shots at leaders/people who actually have more ‘revival’ (the true Life of Christ) than yourself, more souls saved, more orphans helped and more widows helped in Africa. As an African missionary, I think you need to be fair, instead of just critical- for example anyone can have a blog that criticizes leaders… but few people actually go out and serve others. Anyone can tear a house down, but few carpenters can actually build a good house. This doesnt mean we should not use discernment- but please, lets not shoot our own brothers/ soldiers in Christ! Honestly, the way some people talk on the internet (supposed ‘Christians’) they would never want to be ‘talked about’ like that– or their family, friends or churches.

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