Over the past week or two, a major focus on this diary has been on John Hagee--who has close associations with John McCain, runs a church that pretty much wants to nuke everyone and may well be one of the most abusive neopente dominionist groups ever formally documented in commonly available assays of coercive groups, and also fawns over the Jewish people--and in particular Israel--to the point of idolatry whilst condemning them to Hell in the same breath.
Now, recent revelations--inspired by an excellent series on Hagee by our very own Troutfishing--show that in fact Hagee's church is in fact part of the extremely militarised (and extremely worrying) Joel's Army movement...right down to the hymnal.
"Christians United for Israel" and fun with Joel's Army hymnals (and mass abuse of Scripture)
A recent diary on Talk to Action by our own Troutfishing has noted that at events held by Christians United for Israel--a front-group of John Hagee's "Cornerstone Church" (which also explicitly preaches on the use of Israel as an end-time trigger and mega-ghetto, and has a cell-church setup in which the twelve cell "families" are named after the twelve historic tribes of Israel--as if the replica of the Wailing Wall in Hagee's office and photoshops on CUFI's page of the Dome on the Mount replaced with the Third Temple weren't enough to get the point across) shows the disturbing use of a hymnal that Troutfishing rightfully sees as anti-Semitic--and which also is a red flag that Hagee's church is in fact one of those "Joel's Army" churches I'm always ranting about:
McCain and Hagee have co-endorsed each other, and members of John Hagee's Christians United For Israel routinely sing, at every "Night To Honor Israel" event they hold, a joyful-sounding song which, in scriptural terms, refers to Israel's coming, expected destruction. The lyrics in "Blow The Trumpet in Zion", sung at nearly ever Christians United For Israel event, come from the 2nd Book of Joel, below:
Joel 2 (New King James Version)
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand:
2 A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations.
3 A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them.
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like swift steeds, so they run.
5 With a noise like chariots Over mountaintops they leap, Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, Like a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before them the people writhe in pain; All faces are drained of color.
7 They run like mighty men, They climb the wall like men of war; Every one marches in formation, And they do not break ranks.
8 They do not push one another; Every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, They are not cut down.
9 They run to and fro in the city, They run on the wall; They climb into the houses, They enter at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness.
11 The LORD gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?
. . .
IN his 1997 "Prophecy Study Bible" [Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997] Pastor John Hagee explains his understanding of those verses (2nd Book of Joel, chapter 1, verses 2-11) :
"Joel uses the terrible locust plague that has recently occured to illustrate the coming day of judgment when God will directly intervene in human history to vindicate his righteousness. This will be a time of unparalleled retribution upon Israel (2:1-11) and the whole nation (3:1-17) but this time will culminate in great blessing and salvation for those who trust in the Lord...
It is a time of awesome judgment upon people and nations that have rebelled against God...
The land will be invaded by a swarming army; like locusts, they will be speedy and voracious. The desolation caused by this great army will be dreadful...
Joel ends with the kingdom blessings upon the remnant of faithful Judah." [John Hagee, John Hagee Prophecy Study Bible, pages 1026-1028, emphasis mine]
They rush on the city,
They run on the wall.
Great is the army
That carries out His Word.
The Lord utters His voice
Before His army.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, Zion.
Sound the alarm on My holy mountain.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, Zion,
Sound the alarm.
To say that this is Bad News may well be the understatement of the century.
"Joel's Army" links damningly confirmed
I've written about this before--and, for that matter, this particularly bizarre interpretation of Joel 2.
Specifically...in part because of my status as a survivor of one of the earlier churches in the US that promoted this stuff...I've written about a movement that alternately calls itself Joel's Army or Joshua Generation (the latter being more common nowadays, but the former is far from rare).
As it turns out, the only place you really see these sections of Joel 2--which in context is talking about the destruction of Israel by the hands of her enemies followed by a renewal--talked about in a positive manner is within the Joel's Army movement. Paw Creek Ministries, an evangelical group that fights against dominionism, has documented this:
The entire Evangelical church world is being assaulted with the Kingdom Dominion Theology. It is like mortal combat between those who defend the Biblical doctrines of the End Times (The Rapture of Christ's Bride, the Tribulation followed by the Millennium) and the "New Wave Theology." A book entitled Joel’s Army describes this "New Wave Theology" as promoted by one New Wave organization. The author stated that this ministry was "holding conferences overseas and throughout the U.S.A. Churches and denominations are being proselytized and preyed on with a 'gospel' they claim is ordained to bring forth:
- the greatest revival the Church has ever known;
- the greatest baptism of the Spirit the Church has ever experienced;
- the greatest Army (Joel's Army) distinguished by invincibility, immortality and divinity;
- the greatest purging (inquisition) in the history of the Church;
- the greatest ministry - the Prize of all Ages; and
- the greatest miracles, supernatural signs and wonders far exceeding that of the Apostles and Prophets of old." (JOEL'S ARMY, pages 1&2).
. . .
Let us look at the description of this army from the key leaders promoting the idea. A staff minister with Vineyard Ministries said the following in a message entitled, "Joel's Army."
"....this army is totally unique. This army, there's never been one like it and there never will be one like it in ages to come. ...It's so mighty that there's never been anything like it before. Not even Moses, not even David, not even Paul. What's going to happen now will transcend what Paul did, what David did. . .what Moses did, even though Moses parted the Red Sea. . .there'll be a numerous company. . .Revelation hints at this when it talks about the 144,000 that follow the Lamb wherever He goes and no one, no one can harm that 144,000. See, that's a multiple of 12. What's 12? Twelve is the number of the Apostles, 12 is Apostolic government. And when you take an important number in the Bible and you multiply it, it means you intensify it. So 12,000 times 12,000 = 144,000 [Author’s Note: Wrong math]. That is the ultimate in Apostolic government. Revelation talks about that. Well, here Joel is talking about it now in different words, a powerful, a MIGHTY ARMY with many Pauls, many Moses', many Davids." (JOEL'S ARMY, VINEYARD MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL 1990.)
One outspoken leader now deceased called this army Gods’ Elijahs. "This end time army will be made of the Elijahs of the Lord God." He even speaks of the temple being built and filled as a spiritual thing, totally ignoring the temple as a Jewish promise with absolutely no reference to the church of Jesus Christ. The same man said the following:
"This army will inspire fear and terror in the hearts of its adversaries. In Joel 2:4-6 it says this: 'They have the appearance of horses, they gallop along like a flame of fire (???) with a noise like the chariots they leap over the mountain tops like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. At the sight of them nations are in anguish, every face turns pale.'
"Bob Jones calls them, 'THE DREAD CHAMPIONS.' Those that will be raised up to champion the cause of God who will bring dread to the hearts of men."
He described their activities as follows:
"They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. Every miracle, sign and wonder that has ever been in the Bible - they'll move in it consistently. They'll move in the power that Christ did. Every sign and wonder that's ever been will be many times in the last days. They themselves will be that generation that raised up to put death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way. . .and the Church that is raising up in the government will be the head and the covering for them. So that that glorious church might be revealed in the last days because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a church that has reached the full maturity of the god-man!" (Visions & Revelations, Fall 1988.)
Let Us Reason, another anti-dominionist apologetics site (most of the really good info on "Joel's Army" groups has, alas, been from apologetics sites documenting this in attempts to keep evangelical churches from being steeplejacked) has written extensively on "Joel's Army" theology and has noted:
Joel 2:23 also speaks of a harvest of abundance. But the modern interpreters have given Joel's army new significance. Joel's army will purge the earth (the cleansing) of all wickedness and rebellion and even judge the apostate Church (which is those who do not join their fraternity of miracle workers). They will overcome death itself, they will redeem all creation, and restore the earth. The Church will inherit the earth, and rule the nations all before Christ comes back. When he (Jesus) does come we are to hand the kingdom over to him and he will say job well done, enter into the kingdom. The real Joel's army in Joel 2 does NO miracles and marches strictly through the land of Israel making destruction, there is no blessing from Joel's army marching. If one reads through about Joel's army they find that they will be destroyed in the end.
Because Joels army is called God's army they think that they are his people. they may be doing Gods will but they certainly are not his Church or saints. In the same way Cyrus was called Gods shepherd Isa.44:28 he was given all the kingdoms of the earth Ezra 1:2, 2 chron.36:23, He was called Gods anointed Isa. 45:1"Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held-- to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut." Sounds familiar? Nebuchadnezzar was also called Gods servant Jer. 43:10"and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will send and bring Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will set his throne above these stones that I have hidden. And he will spread his royal pavilion over them."One must consider the actions of these mens teachings in light of what Joel is actually saying. So despite their new interpretation, the Bibles definition still stands. They may be called Gods army but they are not his people. Joel's army is the raising up of a devouring army of locusts, (destroyers) to bring judgement upon the land. Whether its Israel or the church, its not good.
The "Joel's Army" folks have a decidely unorthodox interpretation, tied in with neopentecostal theology--in essence, it's taught in churches like Hagee's that neopente dominionists are the result of a literal second Pentecost--and are now the forefront of a third Pentecost to raise up an army of literal "God Warriors" in what amounts to an end-of-time mega-revival. (Hence the use of so much military imagery--and an increasing trend to actual paramilitary training, much less targeting and infiltration of the US military.)
"Unorthodox" is being charitable
Paw Creek Ministries has some notes about this particular passage of Joel 2 in context:
Here is Joel's description. "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. 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?" (Joel 2:1-11).
(The same apologetics site condemns the movement as unequivocally Satanic, comparing it with the army of the Beast as described in Revelation; this is closer to the interpretation used in most churches not influenced by Joel's Army theology. Of note, Paw Creek Ministries--like many other writers on "Joel's Army"--is a conservative evangelical group which writes about the movement in an effort to prevent steeplejacking of non-dominionist evangelical churches.)
It's worth noting what the rest of Joel 2 notes on this--the "Joel's Army" folks don't note (in what may be one of the most dangerous bits of scripture-twisting yet recorded--it's rare that scripture-twisting is used for an entire political movement whose goal is to turn the US into essentially a neopentecostal version of Taliban-era Afghanistan) the parts after Joel 2:11. According to the text of Joel 2:12-17 (per the RSV), the attack by "Joel's Army" is being done specifically because Israel has turned away from God; the verse then stipulates that the "blowing of the horn in Zion" is in fact meant to call people for national repentance. Joel 2:18-29 (which sections have been misused out of context and in fact in reversed temporal context by "Joel's Army" promoters as predictions of the "end-time revival") notes that after the national act of repentance that God will pour out blessings upon Israel and protect the Jewish people from harm; Joel 2:30-32 notes signs and portents of when the invaders are to be driven back from Israel (which have, again, been misused by Joel's Army promoters as signs of the Apocalypse).
Even greater context is given in Joel 1: A massive famine and locust plague (as the result of a massive drought which has dried up rivers and caused large wildfires) has stricken Israel to the extent that normal sacrifices cannot be given at temple and an invading army (the army noted in Joel 2, in fact) stands ready to invade. Joel 3 goes on to note a successful reclaiming of Israel by the Jewish people and reclaiming of national treasures that were looted by neighbouring countries (including the army noted in Joel 2), and predicts an end to the drought (and the miseries) whilst the neighbouring countries of Egypt and Edom are stricken with droughts.
In historical context, it's difficult to place exactly when this may have occured; Joel is a problematic book in general to date and may have been authored in sections (even Tanach scholars in the Jewish community who have researched the book without any Christian biases have noted different sections of the book are from pre-exile and post-exile periods); ironically, one of the best claims to the "army" noted in Joel 2 are the Edomites, who are traditionally seen as ancestral to the Arabs.
Funny how this is never quite mentioned in those sermons in context.
Tomorrow, we discuss the imperative in "Joel's Army" circles for literal holy slaughter...which should be gravely concerning for all of us, seeing as it's already been established that Hagee's church may be one of the more documentably abusive coercive religious groups documented.